Features First Person

Life Analysis: Through Music

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

It has happened to all of us. You hear a song that takes you back to a specific time and place. Whether it be your childhood, college or an experience that has drastically changed your life, for the good or the bad, you’re transformed back into that moment in time.

Last weekend Monica and I worked from home and she played music from her Gaslight Anthem Pandora station (we’re obsessed with this Jersey band so much so that I think we’ve convinced Farrah to come out to their next show). While some obscure bands came up that we never heard of, I was ecstatic when Jimmy Eat World’s “A Praise Chorus” came on.

“Are you gonna live your life wonderin’ standing in the back lookin’ around?
Are you gonna waste your time thinkin’ how you’ve grown up or how you missed out?
Things are never gonna be the way you want.
Where’s it gonna get you acting serious?
Things are never gonna be quite what you want.
Even at 25, you gotta start sometime.

Someone’s gonna ask you what it’s all about
Stick around nostalgia won’t let you down
Someone’s gonna ask you what it’s all about
Whatcha gonna have to say for yourself?”

For my complete article, visit Busted Halo.

Features First Person

Music As Religion?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve turned to music when questioning life and making major decisions. While some find solace in prayer, going to church or synagogue, I simply go to my iTunes playlist.


To some.

For me, not so much. My criteria is simple.

Major life questioning: Switchfoot

Simply unwinding: John Mayer

Nostalgic for my childhood: Backstreet Boys

And my most recent addition:

Sheer disbelief and being thankful: Pat Benatar

For my complete article, visit Busted Halo.

Features News

Faithful Departed: Michael Jackson

While music fans often cling to memories of their first concert experience, I vividly remember the very first music video I watched — Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It was at my cousin’s house sitting on her mom’s plastic covered couch while our parents sat in the dining room having coffee. “Thriller” gave me nightmares for weeks, and I still cringe every time I see Jackson transform from sweet guy on a date at the movies to a character from the crypt. But, that is the job of a true entertainer — leaving your audience with something to remember. Lucky for us, Jackson has a legacy that will last for years to come.

I don’t know what first sparked my interested in music, but I know Jackson had something to do with it. He paved the way for so many artists, inspired and let each know it was okay to step outside his limits and express his creativity through music. Maybe that’s why I chose music journalism as my career path. Interviewing bands who worked with and were influenced by Jackson has been a humbling experience. Who knows where they’d be, or where I would be, today without that kind of presence in this world.

Growing up, all I ever listened to was New York City’s oldies station, WCBS-FM 101.1. It was my dad’s favorite. The Jackson 5 was part of my childhood, along with Elvis Presley, the Temptations and the Beatles. Songs like “I Want You Back” always put a smile on my face. At nearly three minutes long, it was an endearing track about wanting a girlfriend back. I had no clue what the song was about at the time, but loved it regardless.

His influence and power to inspire go on
Jackson’s life was a rollercoaster ride and there’s little doubt that he was a deeply troubled soul. Over the last few months of his life, Jackson was rehearsing for his upcoming tour dates at the O2 arena in London, which he hailed as his “final curtain call.” It was also supposed to be the answer to the enormous debt Jackson had amassed. He died less than three weeks before his first show, and the rehearsal footage made it to the big screen as This Is It. The film provides a glimpse into what could have been Jackson’s most electrifying performance yet. While watching the film, I was moved by the opportunity to witness what such an incredible performer was really like up close.

I still remember hearing the news of his passing and realizing the effect he had on the world. Whether it’s up-and-coming indie band Lights Resolve titling a song after him, Justin Timberlake or Black Eyed Peas’ praising his work, it is evident that his influence goes far beyond what any of us realize.

Jackson himself was very conscious of his desire to inspire others: “That’s why I write these kinds of songs,” he said in This Is It. “It gives some sense of awareness and awakening and hope to people. I feel so blessed that I can give the world that.”

I couldn’t agree more. Whenever I’m out and I hear a Michael Jackson song come on the radio, I can’t help but smile. His songs will remain an important part of my life. Jackson’s music not only jumped musical hurdles, but cultural and spiritual ones as well. His music is a form of escape, giving people faith and belief that everything will be okay. And, from a three-minute song, sometimes that’s all you need.

This article was originally posted on Busted Halo last week for their Faithful Departed series. You can read it here.


Features News

Faithful Departed: DJ AM

Photo Credit: ChildofMidnight

After collaborating with numerous musicians and dabbling in acting, it was DJ AM’s last project that was his most memorable.

Adam Goldstein, best known as DJ AM, battled with addiction for much of his life and remained clean for 11 years. In his last months he filmed Gone Too Far, a series on MTV where he provided intervention for those who struggled with addiction.

An intense series, the show explicitly reveals a day in the life of an addict while offering help to those willing to change their lives. While I’ve never dealt with addiction personally, the show really made an impact on me and restored my faith in the music industry.

Being a music journalist, I’ve heard the horror stories of bands dropped by major labels and the destruction that the touring lifestyle causes on loved ones. However, I’ve hardly ever read about a musician that is truly selfless and making a difference in society. Goldstein changed this. He provided hope and help to numerous addicts and their families and his spirit lives on in those lives he saved.

A troubled soul, who, in the end, lost his life to an accidental overdose, AM gave hope to the families and addicts featured on his show. The opening segment demonstrates his optimism and compassion.

“Some will change. Others won’t. But, I have to keep on trying because everyone deserves a second chance. There is one reason I’m doing this show. To help other people get sober,” he said.

Everyone deserves a second chance

This line stuck with me. Everyone deserves a second chance. Goldstein had one, why can’t others?

A former member of rock/hip hop group Crazy Town (the band is known for their chart-topping 2001 hit single, “Butterfly”), Goldstein worked on albums for numerous artists including Papa Roach, Madonna and Will Smith and was a regular collaborator with Blink-182’s Travis Barker.

Goldstein led a difficult life combating addiction. After many bouts with rehab, he remained clean for more than 11 years. Perhaps what is most tragic is how Goldstein narrowly escaped death last year when his plane crashed after a performance. Barker was also injured while both crew members and two other passengers were killed. Maybe it was this near death experience that gave way to Gone Too Far. Often, when we are faced with adversity; God has a way of changing a near tragedy into something memorable.

Goldstein truly is an inspiration on Gone Too Far, and I can only hope that I can touch as many lives with my writing as he did on that show. While talking to Amy, a 23-year-old heroin addict who stole thousands of dollars from her family, he advised: “Just know that there is hope and that’s what I’m here for.” Having struggled with addiction, the people featured on the show respected and related to Goldstein. “I can’t cure addiction but I can offer Amy a chance at a different life.”

And that he did. In his last months, Goldstein helped numerous addicts and their families combat addiction and receive a new chance at life. Twenty-three-year-old Breezy explained her experience.

“My life from when I first met Adam is so different. I’m very grateful for what he did for me and all the people that were involved in this,” she said. “Adam, if you were here today, I would thank you for giving me my life back and giving me the opportunity to be a better sister and a better daughter, and granddaughter and friend. I can’t express how grateful I am to have been able to meet you and receive this gift from you.”

While DJ AM may have lost his life earlier this year, he saved countless addicts from death and continues to inspire with his last work on Gone Too Far.

This article was originally posted on Busted Halo last week for their Faithful Departed series. You can read it here. Watch the first episode of Gone Too Far below, and for more of the series click here. Warning: Explicit content.

Gone Too FarMTV Shows