The Best American Band: The Aerosmith Observation

Our family dispute began when I innocently stated that I thought a strong case could be made that Aerosmith is the greatest American rock ‘n’ roll band, ever. Although controversy ensued, and we discussed a number of other candidates for that distinction, I still think my initial observation is eminently defensible.

Wikipedia reports that Aerosmith has been around for almost 40 years, and apparently has sold more records than any other American rock group. These kinds of statistics don’t mean much to me. My acid test is whether the music sounds good in a car, and produces a sound that breaks through the stale offerings that you hear on the radio. Aerosmith passes those tests with flying colors. I defy anyone to listen to the first few power notes of Walk This Way or Same Old Song and Dance and resist the impulse to crank up the volume to eardrum-bruising levels. When I was in high school I proudly owned Aerosmith, and Get Your Wings, and Toys In the Attic. All were wonderful, but Toys In The Attic was special; I played it until it was rutted and scratched — and even through the pops and hisses the music still sounded fantastic. Great bluesy guitar riffs, a strong beat, and terrific, raspy vocals. The music still stands up, more than 30 years later. I thought the Walk This Way remake with Run D.M.C. was great, and while I haven’t liked their later recordings as much as their early work, I think their early stuff is so good that Aerosmith demands consideration on any “best American bands” list.

I’ve got 10 Aerosmith songs on the Ipod — 11 if you count the Run D.M.C. cover of Walk This Way. They are Adam’s Apple, The Train Kept A Rollin’, Back in the Saddle, Dream On, Same Old Song and Dance, Walk This Way, Big Ten Inch Record, Sweet Emotion, Last Child, and Back in the Saddle (Live). If you matched those 10 songs against 10 songs from any other American group, you’d blow most of the competition out of the water and you’d be competitive with anyone.

Edited to add: Time to Vote for your choice for Best American Band!

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Road Rage

Today my boring drive to work in the morning became more exciting than I would have wished. It was about 7:15 a.m., and I was heading west on I-670 and nearing downtown. Traffic was moderately heavy on the three-lane highway. I was in the far left lane when I saw sudden movement in my rear-view mirror. In a flash, a car going much faster than the general traffic flow darted out from behind a car in the lane to my right, sped up, and cut right in front of me, missing my front right bumper by inches. As my adrenalin surged and I cursed that driver I noticed another car behind me that was flashing its headlights and driving recklessly in pursuit of the first car. The two cars then chased each other down the road, swerving through the rush-hour traffic. As I approached the stop light on Third Street, I saw one of the two cars come dangerously close to the other, and then the drivers rolled down their windows and proceeded to yell at each other, their raised voices matched by angry gestures. Fortunately, both drivers stayed in their cars and the situation did not escalate; one car turned right, another went straight ahead, and that was that.

This particular instance of road rage ended without any violence, but it still was very disturbing. Angry, reckless drivers on a busy road put everyone at risk. And when I witness one of these kinds of incidents, I always think two things: first, what has caused these two people to snap; and second, what if one of them has a gun?

Inscrutable

North Korea is one of those countries that is so cut off from the outside world that it is almost impossible to know what is really going on there. As a result, when North Korea does something unexpected — like its test firing of a nuclear missile yesterday — people are left to guess about what caused North Korea to act. This article, which identifies three possible reasons for the nuclear test, is a good example.

Anyone trained in negotiation will tell you that a significant part of being a successful negotiator is knowing who you are negotiating with and understanding their motivations so that you can develop a proposal that they will find attractive. How can you do that with a country like North Korea, where outside governments don’t even know for sure who is in charge?