Features First Person

Gaslight Anthem Lands No. 3 Spot On Billboard Hot 200


If you’ve been following You Sing I Write at all over the past four years then you know of my love for New Jersey punk rockers the Gaslight Anthem. In fact, it’d be fair to say that my obsession runs deep.


In college I worked with drummer Benny Horowitz at Rutgers University’s award-winning newspaper The Daily Targum. It was during that time that I realized my dream career of becoming a music journalist. I knew he was in a rock band but I was too into my pop music and boy bands to pay any attention. Fast forward to an internship and later freelance work at Rolling Stone in 2008 when Gaslight Anthem were featured in the magazine as a breaking band.


I still remember that day so vividly. Looking at the photo of Gaslight Anthem and thinking, “That looks a lot like Benny. What does the caption say?” It read Benny Horowitz. When I went home I IM’d everyone on my buddy list from college to see if they knew anything about his band, a group that was compared to Bruce Springsteen.


No one knew of Benny’s blossoming rock star career. So, I went to my closest record store to investigate (Virgin Megastore RIP) and bought a copy of The ’59 Sound and Sink or Swim. I instantly fell in love with the music, the stories and imagery in the songs.



Benny being featured in Rolling Stone was HUGE. It meant that it was possible and attainable to follow your dreams and make things happen. I knew I wanted to be a music journalist from the first time I watched Almost Famous and the first concert I covered in college for that very same paper I worked with Benny at.


Sometimes all it takes is one success story close to home to make you realize you NEED to pursue your dream. Seeing Benny succeed was a confirmation. If he can do it, so can I. What do I have to lose?


After numerous failed interview attempts I finally interviewed Benny on the phone this year, just days after I attended the taping of their music video for “45” in Asbury Park. As luck would have it, my recorder didn’t work. But for some reason it didn’t matter. It was as if we just needed to have a conversation one on one to learn each other’s back story. I told him exactly what I just wrote (in fewer words), and he revealed that the day he joined Gaslight Anthem he told himself it’d be the last band he would play in. If it didn’t work out he’d just have to settle for that boring 9-5 job and live in the suburbs.


“I think that’s why you hear that desperation on Sink or Swim,” he told me.


He and some of the other band members felt that the album might be the last album they ever made so they gave it their all. It’s funny how sometimes in your darkest hour something grandeur can be created.



Benny has gone on to become a member of my favorite band and even directed their latest video for “Handwritten.” Frontman Brian Fallon reflected on this in a recent interview, saying, “It was a cool experience to be directed by your friend who you’ve known for 6-7 years. You’re watching him blossom into another facet of his personality.”


That’s exactly how I feel seeing Benny rock all the big stages on a nightly basis.


So now you know where my obsession of Gaslight Anthem comes from. It’s something even bigger than their music. It’s knowing that it’s possible for dreams to come true firsthand.


The boys continue their ongoing success having landed No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 200 chart this week for their latest album Handwritten which is the chart’s highest debut with 40,000 sold. I have a feeling this is just the beginning for them.


7 Spots From John Lennon’s New York

In 1971, John Lennon moved to New York to escape life in the limelight and the constant watchful eye of the press. He first retreated with Yoko Ono to St. Regis Hotel before they transitioned to Greenwich Village and eventually, the Dakota, where he was murdered. The last 10 years of the former Beatle’s life saw a surge in his solo work, which included collaborations with Elton John, as well as his family centered lifestyle. Below are some of the spots Lennon frequented while he lived in New York.

The Dakota

John Lennon’s final residence, it was here, in his seventh floor apartment, that Annie Leibovitz shot her iconic 1981 Rolling Stone cover photo (see above). “I promised John that this would be the cover. It was taken a few hours before he died,” Leibovitz wrote in Rolling Stone. “I shot some test Polaroids first, and when I showed them to John and Yoko, John said, ‘You’ve captured our relationship exactly.'”

One of the few times they allowed a photographer into their home; it would be the last as Lennon was shot later that night, December 8, 1980, in front of the Dakota.

For my complete write-up, visit CBS.


Woodstock Remembered

It was the music festival that defined a generation of rock & roll. This weekend marks Woodstock’s 40th anniversary. Relive the festival below with videos of Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana performing.

For more coverage, be sure to check out Rolling Stone‘s Woodstock hub here with exclusive photos and interviews with the artists as well as promoter Michael Lang.

Watch Jimi Hendrix playing “Purple Haze” below.


Carlos Santana performing “Soul Sacrifice.”


Which sets were a must see at the 1969 festival? Do you think there can ever be another Woodstock? Love to know your thoughts!


Rolling Stone’s Six Breakout Bands to Watch

If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year’s Bamboozle festival Rolling Stone has it covered for you. I love featuring new bands on the blog, and wanted to share with you their selection of six up-and-coming bands to watch from this past weekend.

Must admit, I was super psyched to see one of my favorites, Lights Resolve (photo above) added to RS’s list as I’ve covered them a bunch this past year. From interviewing the guys to reviewing one of their show’s for MTV, they deserve all the press they’ve been getting!

To read the Rolling Stone article in it’s entirety click here. And be sure to check out their six picks below on MySpace!

All The Day Holiday

Danger Radio

Hey Monday

Honor Society

Lights Resolve



The RS 100: Agents of Change

About a month ago I was freelancing at Rolling Stone, building and compiling research for The RS 100, or “The 100 People Who Are Changing America.” Reading the mini biographies on each person puts your own life and accomplishments in perspective, making you wonder what more you can do to make a difference.

From Bono to Dave Eggers, President Obama and Taylor Swift, each person has a story to tell. The opening page on states, “We’ve ranked 100 artists and leaders, policymakers, writers, thinkers, scientists and provocateurs who are fighting every day to show us what is possible — whether it’s engineering a new electrical grid, reinventing the way movies are made or challenging us to let go of our illusions and face the brave new world that stands before us. This list is not necessarily about power in the old-fashioned sense but about the power of ideas, the power of innovation, the power of making people think and making them move.”

Read all about the top 100 here and be inspired.

Band of the Week

Band of the Week: The Gaslight Anthem

It’s one of those moments you never imagine happening. You open up Rolling Stone and see someone’s band you know being featured within the pages of the magazine. So surreal. That’s what happened to me last week when I was flipping through the October 2nd issue of Rolling Stone. I turned to the “Breaking” section and did a double take. Low and behold, there was Benny from Targum (the former night pro manager of Rutgers University’s daily newspaper, The Daily Targum).

It’s funny, actually, from the countless hours I spent night editing during my four years working at the newspaper, I knew he was in a band, but didn’t know the name of it or that he played the drums. But, I couldn’t be happier turning the page and reading the raving review of their latest album, The ’59 Sound. This is what Rolling Stone contributing editor, Christian Hoard had to say about the album:

The ’59 Sound [is] the New Jersey quartet’s excellent second album, a collection of tuneful, passionately sung stories about working-class folks and young romance . . . Though the Gaslight Anthem are signed to the SoCal punk label SideOneDummy and they regularly open for mohawked acts, their sound is only sort of punk: It’s more like a supercharged version of early Bruce records or a no-frills take on the Replacements.”

Many reviews have been comparing the Jersey-based band to fellow Jersey native, Bruce Springsteen. While I definitely hear the influence of The Boss, there’s something more. Their music is catchy and you can listen to each story within every song while rocking out to the solid drum beat and guitar accompaniment. Like Hoard wrote, it has that punk feel to it, but also a mix of that classic Springsteen sound. In fact, it’s hard to pin the Gaslight Anthem down to one genre, which for a band is often a good thing. Watch their video below for “The ’59 Sound” and see for yourself.


If you like what you heard, be sure to check them out on MySpace and let me know what you think!
For more of the Rolling Stone feature and video on the Gaslight Anthem, click here.

First Person

College Reminiscing

This past week has continually reminded me of why I first decided to become a music writer. While preparing for an edit test, I began paging through various notes from journalism classes I had taken at Rutgers (still in disbelief that it’s been over a year since I graduated). I came across one of the first music-related assignments I wrote in my junior year. I still remember the class, it was Professor Fitzpatrick’s News Reporting and Writing and while my news writing wasn’t the strongest, I took full advantage of writing feature and entertainment-related articles in his class, this specific assignment being no different. We were assigned to write a profile on whomever we wished — politician, entertainer, etc. — and I decided on my favorite artist at the time, Kanye West. When reading through my profile assignment I was thoroughly impressed by my research and could clearly see that even back then, well over two years ago, it was evident that becoming a music journalist was in my future.

Even before interning at MTV News or Rolling Stone, you can see in my earlier articles that this is what I excelled at and had passion for, despite not realizing it for myself at the time. I had always wanted to write thought-provoking, moving pieces as well and partly, I think this is why I love discovering and featuring new bands on my blog. In a way, by me writing about lesser known bands and getting readers interested in listening to a song or checking out their MySpace, I’m making a difference, even if it is in a very small way.

This week I’ve decided to roll back the clock and post some of my very first music-related articles. Whether it be my first artist profile on Kanye, first concert review or in-depth magazine writing assignment, I hope it gives you a little taste of how it all began and motivates me to keep pursing music writing when the career path isn’t always clearly laid out for me.


Sia Interview Featured on Rolling Stone

You read it correctly! Part of my interview with Sia is featured in this week’s Rock & Roll Daily blog on You can check it out here. Feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think!