Books I Read in 2023

I managed to squeeze in a bit of reading this past year. I read or reread the following books in 2023:

  • Buddhist Suttas for Recitation: A Companion for Walking the Buddha’s Path (Bhante Gunaratana)
  • The Right Stuff (Tom Wolfe)
  • Richard II (Shakespeare)
  • The Birth of Loud (Ian Port)
  • Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah (Ajahn Chah)
  • Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit (Dane Huckelbridge)
  • Come and See (Bhante Gunaratana)
  • Impermanence in Plain English (Bhante Gunaratana and Julia Harris)

Great stuff! If fortunate enough to compile more of these annual reading lists, I’ll be listing several of these books again.

The Jerrys Release “Gloria,” Announce Covers Album

The Jerrys will release an album of cover songs in early 2024 and have dropped a new single, “Gloria,” ahead of the album. The as-yet-untitled album of cover tunes will include songs by The Beatles and The Kinks, among others.

Written by Van Morrison, “Gloria” was released by Them in 1964, but the song was made a bigger hit the following year by a Chicago band, The Shadows of Knight. The latter version contained lyrics that were more radio-friendly, and the song became hugely successful as well as a staple among garage bands everywhere.

While The Jerrys have released cover songs on occasion, the upcoming album will mark the first time the band has released an entire album of covers. The band is also working on new original material.

Listen to “Gloria” now!

A Summer Without Baseball

It’s been nearly 30 years since I went an entire summer without watching baseball. I’ve been a fan of the game since my dad took me to my first White Sox game as a kid, and I’ve spent many summers since then watching and playing baseball. I love the game. That’s why it feels so weird not watching baseball this year.

The summer after the MLB strike in 1994-95 was the last time I gave up watching baseball for a season. The Sox had the best record in the American League when the strike ended it, but at least I could follow Michael Jordan’s progress in the minor leagues. Things could not be more different this time around. As I write this, the Sox are 19 games below .500 after six years of a major rebuild that should have produced something by now. There are days when these guys couldn’t beat the Little Sisters of the Poor.

As a Chicago sports fan, I’ve watched more than my share of losing sports teams because they were my team and because they were still fun to watch. I’ve even greatly enjoyed watching teams with terrible records. As a recent example, I had a blast watching the Bears win just three games last year. Why? Justin Fields is fun to watch. There’s nothing fun about watching these White Sox.

Listing the team’s problems would make for a lengthy read, so I won’t. Besides, this isn’t a baseball post. It’s a summer post. A summer without baseball post. A summer without one of the very things that make it summer post. I’d forgotten what a summer without baseball feels like. I haven’t forgotten what optimism feels like, though. My favorite football team starts training camp today, and I look forward to cheering on a team again. Go Bears!

The First Days of Spring

The first days of spring always remind me of a favorite poem. With “Loveliest of trees, the cherry now,” A. E. Housman picks up his pen and smacks it out of the park.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

I don’t read poetry anymore, but the poems I enjoyed most when I was younger remain with me. Among other things, I admire the simplicity of this one and the “riddle” feel I get when reading it. I marvel at the wisdom the poet has acquired in only 20 years of living, and I’m reminded again how wonderful it is to see another spring.

The Jerrys Drop New Single “Think for Myself”

The Jerrys have released a new single, “Think for Myself,” their first new music since last year’s full-length Ready or Not. Fans of power pop will like this one, complete with big guitars, handclaps, and attitude.

I’m not a big fan of people thinking for me, so once I decided on a song title, writing the rest was easy. Each of us has our own life, and each of us gets to make our own decisions. While writing “Think for Myself,” I kept recalling Eric Burdon singing “It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want,” and I thought, yeah, that’s me. Don’t push me.

I’m happy to say that after a short absence, Robert Porche has rejoined me and Jim Losby on the new single. Both Robert (drums, backing vocals) and Jim (bass guitar) have appeared on numerous recordings of The Jerrys, and we’re working on more releases for 2023 and beyond.

Listen to “Think for Myself” below.

“Think for Myself” is out now.

Books I Read in 2022

My reading this past year included the latest issues of Tape Op magazine, The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2022, and content received via Feedly (I still like RSS feeds). I also read or reread the following books in 2022:

  • Buddhist Suttas for Recitation: A Companion for Walking the Buddha’s Path (Bhante Gunaratana)
  • A Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets (Jay M. Pasachoff)
  • 7 Treasures of Awakening: The Benefits of Mindfulness (Joseph Goldstein)
  • The Kentucky Bourbon Trail (Berkeley and Jeanine Scott)
  • In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (ed. by Bhikkhu Bodhi)
  • The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering (Bhikkhu Bodhi)
  • A Hard Day’s Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song (Steve Turner)

I read dozens of books a year for decades, but now I’m lucky to read more than a handful–and not one work of fiction, even! But here we are.

Creating Goals for the New Year

For most of my adult life, I’ve used the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year to create measurable goals for the coming year. These goals never included professional ones, as those goals only helped me achieve the success I needed to support my family. The goals I create for myself are infinitely more meaningful and focus on what I need to do next to achieve my bigger lifetime goals.

An honest assessment of the previous year’s goals versus achievements goes a long way when it comes to creating better goals for the next year (it’s important to create measurable goals so that it’s easy to determine whether the goals were reached). The whole process gets easier each year. Similarly, the experience gained over time helps when creating the strategies needed to meet those goals.

I find it helpful to divide my goals into several main categories, and those categories change according to need. For 2023, my main categories are musical, literary, and personal. While I’m still in the drafting stage, I already know what my priorities are for the new year, so I’m off to a good start. I won’t be pinning all my hopes on a future that’s not guaranteed, but I like having a roadmap. As George Harrison put it, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

The Jerrys Release New Album, Ready or Not

In February, The Jerrys released “Alicia” ahead of their upcoming album. That single, the band’s first new music in three years, was quickly followed by another, “Love Me Now and Leave Me Never,” a 007-inspired spy rocker. Today, The Jerrys are releasing Ready or Not, their first studio album since 2011’s Let’s Groove, as well as a third single from the album, “Lean on Me.”

I liked Ready or Not as an album title for a couple of reasons. For one, I’d barely started recording the album when I had to put my studio in storage between moves. My wife and I had sold our house but hadn’t found another yet, so we lived with my father-in-law for a few months. By the time we found a place of our own and settled in, I joked the album would have to be released “ready or not.” Also, I’d written a raga and a country song that I wanted to include on the album, so I was thinking “here they come, ready or not!”

Listen to “Lean on Me” below.

Ready or Not is out now.

The Jerrys – “Love Me Now and Leave Me Never” (LISTEN)

Last month, The Jerrys released “Alicia,” the first single from their upcoming album Ready or Not, due out 5/4. Today, the band is putting out the album’s second single, “Love Me Now and Leave Me Never,” a Bond-inspired spy rocker.

I’ve always enjoyed watching spies on the screen, and I wanted to know what it would sound like if my band did a Bond movie theme. After creating a fictional movie title, everything fell into place, including using a sitar (I always loved that sitar in the Bond-like intro of the soundtrack version of The Beatles’ “Help!”). The lead guitar solo is a tribute to Johnny Rivers’ solo in “Secret Agent Man,” an old favorite of mine. I was encouraged throughout the writing process by listening to several really bad Bond movie theme songs.

Listen below.


Also, in case you missed it, a new lyric video for “Alicia” was released a few weeks ago, and you can check that out below as well.

Get ready. Or not. Ready or Not is out 5/4.

The Jerrys Share New Single, “Alicia”

The Jerrys will release their new album, Ready or Not, on May 4 and they just shared the first single, “Alicia,” a power pop homage to the real-life Alicia.

As a teenager, I wrote a song about my girlfriend Alicia dancing to the record player. To fit the lyric, I used her first name, but no one knew her by that name and The Shadows of Knight and others had already made the name a hit anyway, so I ditched the idea. Decades later, I returned to writing a song about Alicia, even spelling out her name and singing about her dancing when the music’s streaming. For the record, though, she’s my wife this time around.

Listen to “Alicia” below.

Ready or Not is out 5/4.