In The World, But Not Of It

I wish Bruce Springsteen had not cancelled his North Carolina show tonight due to his stance in favor of LGBT issues. I know I don’t agree with Bruce on many things, but I just would like to enjoy his music and shows. If he had cancelled in Dallas this week, it would have ended a love affair.

I wish the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas would not be political from the pulpit. He can write all he wants and appear on TV shows, because I do not watch those. But to start out a sermon with political anger interferes when I want to listen to his message about Christ from the Bible. I cannot be ministered to by a political activist.

I wish I could watch just one TV show without them having to weave a LGBT character into the plot – every single time. Even in a period show, can’t anyone write about a British/Scottish story two hundred years ago without including a gay issue? You see, I really don’t care until it gets shoved in my face. I scoffed at Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy a few years back.  But I actually do prefer it.

I wish the Pope had not continued to cave in with his recent position on LGBT issues. I am not Catholic, but I look fondly at the Catholic Church. Linda and I were once part of a huge Marriage Encounter movement that was started in the Catholic Church. We were involved with our wonderful Catholic friends to start the program in the United Methodist Church. But the effort to save a church by boosting the effort or making it obligatory to recruit the LGBT folks is what bothers me. I am okay with worshiping God with a gay person next to me. But the in-my-face stuff, even a desire to support a LGBT recruiting program, is where I stop.

Oh, you could say, then Lewis, don’t watch those shows and don’t go to those places where you are going to be offended. It may surprise you, but I am perfectly okay with me removing myself to a certain extent. I’m not interested in fighting. It’s not that kind of anti-LGBT thing for me. I just don’t like being compelled to be pro-LGBT.

But I like artistic things of all kinds. Brilliant acting. Dramatic plots. Rock ‘n Roll. I’m a little bit conservative and a little bit liberal. I can handle a wide range exposures. I just don’t like it when the LGBT message is the main message. How can People Magazine devote that many front covers and stories about the “woman” formerly known as Bruce Jenner?

This is not my world, but I am forced to live in it. “Of the world, but not in the world” as some Christians might say. I don’t want to convince anyone to give up their LGBT lifestyle and to be like me. I just don’t want the LGBT folks to proselytize me. I don’t see the movement as progress. If it is, I don’t want to be progressive.

If I am headed toward the life of a recluse, then I’m actually okay with that, too. If it weren’t for having grandkids, I would worry little about what is ahead for generations. The Greatest Generation was the one my parents were in, but I know that was lost a long time ago. And I’m okay both relishing the good parts of their generation and glamorizing the bad parts. Since I am in the second class of Boomers, I know my generation was the transitional phase. My generation managed to screw up and set the stage for what came afterwards. In fact, the early part of the Boomers is quite different from the middle and later part. But we managed to let go of something that is not likely to ever return.

I do know that if an organization, whether a business, church, military, education or non-profit, is to survive when there are Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials working together, it takes organizational and management skills beyond me. I’m okay with admitting a lack of patience or skills. I’m okay with turning all of it over for someone else who cares to fight and lead. God bless them.

I do have the skill of being able to filter at times. I’ve never agreed with Bruce Springsteen’s politics, but I only hear his music. I can still enjoy a Rock Hudson movie and not see him marching in a LGBT parade. Because he didn’t. It might have been just after his heyday that I stopped watching any of the awards shows. Now you have to endure everybody wanting to champion their political or social issue instead of celebrating the talent factor of the awards ceremony.

I no longer believe this is my world, and there is not a damn thing I can do about it. The pendulum has swung too far, and it won’t swing back in my lifetime. I hope it does by the time my future great grandchildren and beyond are here. But I doubt it will.

My statistical lifetime almost exactly coincides with the end of the next two presidential elections. I don’t see anything getting better and the probability of them getting worse is extremely high no matter the presidential candidate.

But I will be happy or at least content. The things I cherish in life: family, Christ and friends will stay intact. I can turn off the TV, and I do. I can pick and chose the music I listen to. We already carefully research the musicals and plays ahead of time. My analytical skills and tools I use continue to advance. I’m having more fun than I ever have had with my work. I can be in the world but not of it due to decisions I make and things I control. And I will not compromise on those. LFM



The Energy & Legacy of Bruce Springsteen

The news story below does a decent job of describing the show my son Kenneth and I enjoyed last night. Most of you know my great love of Bruce Springsteen. I’ve listened to Bruce just about every day since the mid-1980s. He started just a few minutes after 8:00 p.m. was did not pause or break for 3-1/2 hours. Boundless energy. Especially since he can do this night after night.

“The River Tour” started in January 16, 2016. This was his 30th performance. He will do 8 more between now and April 25. He then heads over to Europe to do at least 25 more. That takes him through July 23. That’s just basically the first half of his year.

As I recall from an interview some time ago, he said he never has done drugs. He quickly saw what was happening to other rock stars early in his career. But he also says he knew he had been given a gift, and he wanted to protect it. He has a rich catalogue to show for close to 50 years of writing music and lyrics. If you listen closely, he has a religious reference in the bulk of his songs. Most are subtle. But he often introduces songs talking about his Catholic upbringings and how it was a component of his life, along with his relationship with his family. Some good and some not so good.

Last night Springsteen & The E Street Band delivered big time. Songs he has sung hundreds of times in major concerts came across with emotion felt by everyone. You simply have to listen to him and watch him live. This was the first time Kenneth had seen Bruce live. He seemed genuinely impressed and said so. Bruce touches every generation, and his audience is proof. He is simply having fun, feeding from the energy in the crowds. Uplifting. Reflective.

And then he does things like invite 20+ young girls about 8-10 years of age to come on stage to sing with him. The single most impressive memory I carried away from last night’s was the camera focused on a girl with Downs Syndrome in the group of girls. She was smiling to the limits, her eyes as bright as headlights, rocking with Bruce to her heart’s delight. That is classic Bruce Springsteen.

I’m mostly trying to share rather than proselytize, although it is inevitable when talking about something that moves you, is part of you. But it you are a fan or would like to get a sampling of what a house-full of us enjoyed last night, there are thousands of samples on as well as It’s pure unadulterated Rock ‘n Roll. LFM

Springsteen in Dallas: From ‘The River’ to ‘Thunder Road,’ diehards dug in and sang out
Hunter Hauk, Music Critic Dallas Morning News

The thousands of fans who turned up and pumped fists Tuesday night at American Airlines Center will be the first to say it: There’s no show like a Bruce Springsteen show. With the large and supercharged E Street Band behind him, the 66-year-old rock legend gave his Dallas diehards the same remarkable energy he’s banked on for decades.

His latest tour devotes more than half of its time to recreating the diverse and arena-ready magic of Springsteen’s 1980 double album, The River.

“‘The River’ was my coming of age record,” Springsteen said after kicking off with one of the album’s outtakes, “Meet Me in the City.” “All the ones before that were sort of young-man records.

“By the time I got to ‘The River’ I wanted to make a record that felt like an E Street show.”

As the band and Springsteen (a.k.a. “Bruuuuuuuce!”) worked their way through the album’s 20 tracks, its power as a self-contained setlist became more clear by the song.

“The Ties That Bind,” “Two Hearts” and “Ramrod” found the people on their feet, shouting the words and following Springsteen as he paced the open stage and shook fans’ hands. He basically handed most of “Hungry Heart” over to them, allowing them to sing much of it while he connected and, yes, crowd-surfed.

As buoyant as the faster tunes were, with their full-throated chants and the rock posturing of Springsteen’s bandmates (Steven Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren and Max Weinberg were particularly fun to watch), the stripped down sections impressed us even more. Springsteen’s voice on “Independence Day,” “The River” and “Wreck on the Highway” sounded world-weary, layered and beautiful.

Otis Redding Has Returned!

Otis Redding is very special to me. Linda and I used to sit in a small basement area of the Union Building at UNT back in the late 1960s when it was NTSU. There was a juke box there. We were often joined by my best friend from junior high and high school days, Steve Witt. We would spend hours there between classes since Steve and I were commuters. Sam & Dave took us away from exam pressures. Al Green gave us a shot in the arm. But it was Otis Redding who wooed us. He was all soul.

Today, Steve and I are prone to send each other links or encouragement to Google a particular group or just an individual song. We do this a few times each month. Most of these are melodies that go back to high school and college days. To revisit George Harrison after the Beatles broke up is to be reminded of a talent not showcased when he was with the group. I didn’t even recall some of the songs he made until Steve pointed me to George’s own albums. They are brilliant. His talent, smothered by John and Paul’s, is pleasantly revealed.

So when my friend Steve emailed me to Google “St Paul & the Broken Bones,” I was expecting to find a Christian rock group. His son, Chris, had actually encouraged Steve to check out this group. On I was able to find the particular recording he wanted me to enjoy. It was called, “Call Me.”

I was delighted. Otis Redding has returned! But these guys are white. The lead singer’s voice is like Otis, but not quite Otis. Close enough. The horns are identical. And Otis’ soul voice and horns are intertwined like a mature vineyard.

Try these out today and enjoy a modern day fresh version of Otis Redding. The group currently seems to be playing for small venues. I am expecting that to change in the future as they get better known. Straight out of Birmingham, Alabama.

Call Me:

Grass is Greener (my favorite):

A full session:




I’m In Love With An 18-Year-Old Girl

Linda and I met just over 50 years ago. We have a benefit over many people. We don’t have to think about what we say too often, because most of our lives have been together. Our arguments have been few, and mostly as teenagers or young marrieds. We’ve never needed marriage counseling, but there is a reason for that. The first involves love letters, but I am going to save that topic for a future blog. Today is about the results.

I Do.

When we are asked about how we have made it this long, our answers come in varying lengths. We are prone to respond that we say “I Do” every day. Those two words were an answer to several questions at the altar. But those words are not just for the altar. They are said in various ways daily, some verbal and even more in non-verbal forms. We have recited our vows aloud several times over the years. It is a healthy thing to do.

THAT Moment.

A part of my response that I seldom verbalize is that I am still in love with an 18-year-old girl. I can and do revisit the early days regularly. It is in a safe place in my memory, easy to bring back in vivid HD color. Since I really didn’t date in high school, my memory and imagination have a tendency to go back to THAT moment. Fortunately, Linda and I were just friends for a few months at first. But we both have relived the very moment we were sitting in the UNT Union Building by ourselves after usually being there with other college friends. It was when we first verbalized that we were more than just friends.

The Feeling.

There is one overwhelming feeling I recall in those early days – literally from hot chocolate in the UB and the several days that followed. It was the first time I had been familiar with the feeling of having a girl love me. It was filled with warmth and joy. It was also a moment of disbelief. How could a girl love ME and only me? How could that discovery be so real after years of wondering what it would be like? How could I return to that moment and savor the oncoming realization and then, pow, the undeniable announcement that my life had changed?

I Wonder.

What are the ways to bring back that moment most of us have had? I wonder if that is why people sometime argue. Even a little tension between Linda and me is the same as a big argument in our minds. When we aren’t in sync with each other or just out of sorts for circumstantial reasons beyond our control – almost always the case – we are unsettled until the air is cleared. Perhaps it is this latter scenario that dominates most people more than the early courtship dream-state you can related to.

My Offering.

One of the reasons I listen to music is to pause, think back and relive the best moments of my life. I offer you yet another Bruce Springsteen song today: Back in Your Arms. Sometimes the intensity is needed to set us afire – as a mechanism to return us to courtship even if it in the form of making up. I invite you to listen to this YouTube video and to read the lyrics as you listen.

Then find a way to say “I Do” today. And then say it tomorrow. And every day. To your spouse. To your parents. To your siblings. LFM.

Back In Your Arms

In my dream our love was lost, I lived by luck and fate
I carried you inside of me, prayed it wouldn’t be too late
Now I’m standin’ on this empty road where nothin’ moves but the wind
And honey I just wanna be back in your arms
Back in your arms again
Back in your arms
Back in your arms again

Once I was your treasure and I saw your face in every star
But these promises we make at night, oh that’s all they are
Unless we fill them with faith and love they’re empty as the howlin’ wind
And honey I just wanna be back in your arms
Back in your arms again
Back in your arms
Back in your arms again
Back in your arms
Back in your arms again

You came to me with love and kindness
But all my life I’ve been a prisoner of my own blindness
I met you with indifference and I don’t know why

Now I wake from my dream, I wake from my dream to this world
Where all is shadow and darkness and above me a dark sky unfurls
And all the love I’ve thrown away and lost I’m longin’ for again
Now darlin’ I just wanna be back in your arms
Back in your arms again
Back in your arms
Back in your arms again
Back in your arms
Back in your arms again
Back in your arms
Back in your arms again

Bruce Springsteen Conducts a Leadership Workshop

Written August 11, 2015
Updated March 13, 2016

Not many people would attempt to turn Bruce Springsteen into a leadership lesson. If any of my readers out there DON’T know what a fan I am of Bruce Springsteen, then I’ve failed in my communications over the past two decades. I listen to Bruce almost every day and have since the mid-1980s. I was slow to learn about Bruce. He is just a couple of years younger than I am and had already been playing for 10 years before I heard his music. In fact, he has been playing since a teenager. There is no doubt that I will have many blogs about Rock ‘n Roll in general and particularly Bruce and a few others. I can’t sing, and I can’t play. But I love to listen to music, especially with my headphones.

To test a blogging widget, you can see on that there is a countdown to his April 5, 2016 concert at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. I have only been to two other Springsteen concerts. They are legendary. The last one I attended in Houston, he played for three hours straight and only stopped because he would be fined $1,000 per minute after 10:00 p.m. He actually stopped right on the minute as the band left him to play acoustically for another half-hour with the decibels below the allowed level after 10:00 p.m.

He had rather play in Europe where he has been known to play 4-hours, 15 minutes to several hundred thousand fans and then come back the next night to do it again. In this last two-year tour, I think he played almost 200 separate songs. His catalogue is that big, and they say he has hundreds in the book never made public. In fact, many of his newly released songs were written years ago, pulled out, amped up and released. My wife Linda has been instructed to bury me in one of my Springsteen shirts. On my behalf, would you please hold her to it? The decision will be out of my control.

Bruce and the core E-Street Band have played together for many years. Still, he does not tell the band the songs or the order until just as the show starts. And his members say the list doesn’t matter much, because he almost always changes mid-stream. He is also prone to decide in the moment to play a different version of the intended song. He will do this on his own sometimes, like taking to the piano to play Independence Day as a solo in a hauntingly beautiful rendition of the song telling his dad he is leaving home as a teenager. But, as this link below will show you, he often throws in an unplanned song suggested by a fan to the band. This is where the leadership example comes in. I invite you to watch this video not just to pump up your day, but to literally count the number of leadership traits you can observe and learn.

There is risk involved as you will see. There is a spontaneity that doesn’t give anybody time to posture or second guess. The band is watching and waiting while preparing for an experience. They have probably played You Never Can Tell before, but this Chuck Berry classic is about to become a live product that they hear as they make it.

Note the showcasing of the band members, especially the horn section. They have not been with the E-Street Band very long compared to the core members. The young Jake Clemons on the saxophone is the nephew of the great Clarence Clemons who died from a stroke in 2012 after playing with the E Street Band since the beginning. There is no consulting about their readiness. Yet he pulls, not pushes.

Most of all, note that Springsteen and everybody else is simply having fun. It’s contagious. When I last saw Bruce and the band in Houston a couple of years ago, I especially watched them closely in the third hour. They never tired. In fact, a new energy drifted into the third hour as they clearly were just flat out having fun, feeding off each other. Like in this video, he often cranks up the band and then just rides with the momentum.

And finally, listen to his very last sentence at the fade out. It sums up teamwork. It is the embodiment of entrepreneurial ingenuity. It is the trophy for possessing the creative spirit and having a leader pull it out of a group of highly focused people. Use his last sentence to evaluate your own leadership skill set. LFM