I'm not a computer guy. At all. In the least. In fact, it's a minor miracle I've managed to keep this blog going for as long as I have considering my lack of computer skills and/or knowledge. Without the assistance and support of my lovely wife Debbie - my I.T. department, my editor, often my inspiration - Growing Old With Rock & Roll would not still be a viable entity. (Also, special thanks to Will Kenworthy for setting all of this up for me, so all I have to do is type.)
I blame computers for a lot of things - for the marked lack of human interaction that has taken place since people pour more & more of their energy into staring at their Smartphones than they do into their lover's eyes; for the fact that children spend a lot more of their time indoors being lulled and/or over-energized by video games than they do outside playing in sunlight; for the decline in audience at rock & roll gigs as increasing numbers of people (young & old alike) prefer their music delivered by I-Tunes or YouTube more than they do by living, breathing musicians at a gig - because I'm old, so desperately old, so hopelessly old, and that's the way I'm wired.
At the same time, I must admit there are times in my existence that the internet has come in pretty handy. So let me tell you about The Best Present I Ever Got From A Computer; access to The Neighborhoods Universe. One warm Saturday night in 2006, Debbie and my good friend & fellow music aficionado Kyle Garabadian went to see Kenny Loggins appear with our local Columbus Symphony at the Orchestra's annual summer Picnic With The Pops series. (You might have something like it in your town.)
Not being the world's biggest "Footloose" fan, I stayed home, downed a couple of Bailey's Irish Creams and bleerily played on the computer. Debbie had just recently showed me how to use search engines and check out websites. (Yeah, this was happening in 2006, people, I TOLD you how computer-backward I am). While I was playing around I happened onto the fan-launched Neighborhoods site www.thehoodsonline.com, which still exists, but I don't think has been updated in quite some time. (It's still really cool, though, a bunch of REALLY great Neighborhoods back-in-the-day pics, circa 1979-2005.)
Anyway, that site led me to a host of other finds: YouTube videos of The 'Hoods from 1979, 1982 and onwards; tape traders who had literally dozens of live 'Hoods sets from 1979 right up through their "Last Rat" show in 1992 (which wouldn't see official release until 2010). Two of those traders - Vic from Michigan and Mike from Tennessee - I consider friends to this day for the CD's they've provided to me over the years. Thank you, gentlemen, from the bottom of my rock & roll heart.
See, here's the deal, it just WAS NOT EASY to come up with Neighborhoods-related material in Ohio in the 21st century. The 'Hoods were not exactly a household name out here in the hinterlands of the Great Midwest. I had the Ace Of Hearts "Prettiest Girl" b/w "No Place Like Home" single and the Fire Is Coming, "...the high hard one..." and Reptile Men triptych of LP's that I bought on rock & roll vacations in the 1980's (see blog entry Fighting With Ric Ocasek, February 2012) but that was about it. (Okay, I also had that Brad Whitford-produced CD from the 90's, but I think we may all agree the less said about that the better.)
By 2006 it had been 19 YEARS since I had heard a new (old) Neighborhoods song. And a lot of what 'Hoods chronicler Eric Van (easily my favorite Boston rock writer of the 1980's, see below) detailed as David Minehan's finest songwriting moments - "Mr. Reeves," "The Patriot," "Innocence Lost," "Electricity," "Fools," I Am The Witness," "Cultured Pearls" - I had never heard AT ALL. So when the live tapes began rolling into my mailbox with all of those tunes and many, many more ("Monday Morning," "Flavors," "One Day Older," "You Can't Go Home," "We Don't Do The Limbo") I was in Seventh Rock & Roll Heaven, my friends.
Later, while I was a roadie for Hamell On Trial, I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Mr. Eric Law - Boston rock & roll bon vivant, raconteur and personal friend of David Minehan - who further filled in some Neighborhoods gaps for me. (Eric, I love ya.) (By the way, readers, I've still never been able to track down a live set from the short-lived 1982 Tim Green bass-playing period of The 'Hoods. Hint, Hint.)
So is this the point in the blog where I'm going to start making extravagant claims regarding The Neighborhoods? Claims like - 1) The Neighborhoods are the Best Band Ever Out of Boston (keeping in mind the likes of The Remains, Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band, The Real Kids, The Cars and 'Til Tuesday). Yes, I am. 2) The Neighborhoods were the Best Band of the 1980's (keeping in mind The Replacements, REM, and Prince & The Revolution). Maybe, but Prince might have just edged them. (And I think we need to keep in mind, no less a rock & roll genius than Paul Westerberg had the good sense to hire David Minehan as his lead guitarist & onstage foil in his first post-Replacements touring band. See blog entry The Paul Westerberg Band, April 2012.) (Am I stating in print that The Neighborhoods were a better live band than The Replacements? I saw both bands more than five times each. Yes, I am saying The Neighborhoods were better live, but that Westerberg MAYBE had better songs, if he just could have kept his band somewhat sober enough to do justice to them onstage.)
I owe all of this to you, my cybernetic internet friends, most of whom I will never meet face to face. (Excepting Vic from Ann Arbor, with whom I got to have lunch once during a Hamell tour stop years ago.) To all of you; my sincerest, humblest and most heartfelt rock & roll thanks.
© 2013 Ricki C.