Posts Tagged ‘Barnes & Noble’


fullsizeoutput_1379For a variety of reasons, our once-routine weekend excursions to B&N have become rare occurrences these past few months. So yesterday, when provided the opportunity, we happily returned to what we sometimes call our home away from home – where, as is our custom, we took up residence in the cafe for a spell. Diane sipped Fiji water and perused several books; and I chugged a high-octane caffeine drink while flipping through the British music magazines Mojo and Uncut.

Reading through the reviews, which is what I like to do, is always interesting. I usually find one, two, three or more albums I want to check out. Also, because the magazines often feature many of the same albums, fullsizeoutput_1375reading them back-to-back can be interesting for reasons beyond just the music. What may be afforded a full-page rave in one, for instance, may be reduced to a half-paragraph slap in the other. But if something is lauded in both? It’s a good bet that it’s worth tracking down.

As a result, through the years (decades?) of such excursions, I’ve discovered much good music from both magazines – including, yesterday, Courtney Marie Andrews. She’s a 26-year-old, Arizona-born singer-songwriter who now lives outside of Seattle. Uncut referenced Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill and Emmylou Harris in its review of her recent album, Honest Life; Mojo just mentions Joni. Such lofty comparisons seem a tad unfair, but such is the shorthand used by most music fans, including myself. I’d add two more: Klara Söderberg of First Aid Kit; and Iris DeMent.

Anyway, this KEXP performance-interview features a few of her new songs plus some insights into her character and life, including the fact that at the time of the interview she was digging into the music of Townes Van Zandt and Aretha Franklin. How cool is that?

Honest Life, I should mention, is well worth the listen. I’ll be digging into it this week.


Sept. 27th, 2016: A line of predominately middle-aged men and women snaked through the aisles of the Barnes & Noble store in Freehold, N.J., as if an intricate design of human dominos. If one toppled, a staggered, spectacular collapse was sure to follow – well, maybe not. We weren’t packed in that tight. In fact, some sat on folding metal chairs while others plopped on the carpet. A few weeks before, the lot of us – 1200 in all – procured the right to purchase an autographed copy of Bruce Springsteen’s new memoir, Born to Run, and – wait for it – nab a picture with him.

img_2153Bruce was slated to be in the store from noon to 4pm. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up, even though the allotted time per person – 12 seconds, if my math is correct – was super short.

Diane and I arrived at 7:20am, met up with friends, and were quickly shepherded – by a small army of B&N personnel – into a cattle pen set up in the parking lot. (We weren’t the first in line – far from it – but closer to 150.) At the store’s normal opening hour, 9am, an orderly process unfolded: Those first to arrive were allowed inside to buy a pre-signed book and then placed at the front of the domino line. Additional clusters followed until the store was filled with fans awaiting a chance to shake Bruce’s hand and say…

img_2202“Lower your damn ticket prices!” That’s what I joked to Diane and our friends I’d tell him.

As it happened, Bruce arrived closer to 10:30am than noon, and the line started to move shortly thereafter. At a few minutes before 11, I handed my phone to a suited fellow, who handed it to the suited person next to him, and on down a small assembly line, and within a minute or so I was on a small stage beside the Boss. He offered me a hand and smiled for the picture, but I wasn’t thinking in terms of that. “Thank you for your music,” I told him.

“You’re welcome,” he croaked.

“It’s made a difference,” I continued. “It’s made the good times even better and the bad times much more manageable.”

“Thank you,” he said.

And before he or I could say anything else, one of the suits placed his hands on my shoulders and gave me a gentle nudge. My 12 seconds (actually, closer to a minute) were up.

It’s not the first time I’ve shared that sentiment with a music artist, I should mention, nor will it (hopefully) be the last. Life can be challenging. We wake, roll out of bed and, often, dread the day to come – maybe it’s the morning commute or pile of work awaiting us at the office; perhaps a dead-end job for dead-end wages; or, at times, something much, much worse. But the music takes us away from whatever it is, albeit for a few minutes, and helps us muster the strength to soldier on. On the flip side, it elevates life’s wondrous moments in ways that are near-impossible to put into print (and, for once, I won’t try). In short, it’s the great intangible that enriches daily existence. To be able to thank someone who, for whatever reason, has devoted themselves to doing just that? How could one not?

There have been a handful of artists – okay, maybe a dozen – whose songs I’ve turned to time and again, in thick and thin, throughout the decades. That Bruce Springsteen is one of those artists should come as no surprise to anyone reading this; for me, his artful treatises on life and dreams, and the many in-betweens, reflect his audience as much as they do himself. He doesn’t sing at us, but for and with us. He gives voice to our hopes and fears, joys and tears, no matter where we find ourselves on life’s highway.

To quote from something I wrote years ago, “no matter one’s age, the future isn’t here yet. Hope is to be had and, indeed, the darkness shall lift – at least for a few hours – when Bruce and band play the Wells Fargo Center two nights next week.” For him, I’m sure that our fleeting meet-and-greet blurred into the mass of faces and hands he saw and shook. How could it not? But to me? I’m grateful to have been able to say “thanks,” and not just for what his music has done for me in the past, but what it still does for me in the present.