Monday, December 31, 2018


As far back as I can remember, the last day of the year has had a vibe all its own. Christmas Eve offers both joy and melancholy, depending on your age. Summer holidays and long weekends are about beaches and vacations. Like them or not, Mondays feel like no other day of the week. But New Year's Eve, at least for me, has a thickness that I have always had trouble penetrating. The last day of the year seems to beckon you to take it on, one way or another. It can be the end of something old or the beginning of something new. But unlike any other day of the year, the pressure is on. There is an almost desperate need to do something/anything on New Year's Eve that just doesn't exist on say March 3rd or October 11th.

I felt a paradigm shift in the way I approached things after 9/11. For a few months in the aftermath, I really thought I might die on my way to the corner for a container of milk. Every subway delay reeked of terrorism, but it was usually just someone holding the doors or a litter fire on the tracks. Then, of course, time flew by as it does, and by 2003, I no longer thought about it. I didn't forget what happened. I never will. I just didn't need to be reminded, as there was more life to live. I needed milk and I was going to get it.

Then, my beloved New Orleans was devastated by Katrina, and from 2005 through 2007, I felt as if it was my duty to walk in the rain without an umbrella, to stop complaining about every little discomfort and take a cue from the beautiful survivors of that flood and be thankful for what surrounded me. Resilience, at least on the outside, was important to me. "Never let'em know how you really feel," my friend would remind me a few times a year.

That died, too. And so did my business, so by 2008, I had my own type of survival.

It's been thirteen years since my business partner and I said goodbye to our shop. We rang up our last sale on Christmas Eve of 2005 and moved to an office, where we existed on mail order fumes until 2007. Occasionally, I am okay with it, until I dwell upon what we could have done to make it work. Regrets? I've had more than a few. Sorry Frank.

Ten years gone in the blink of an eye. It's now the end of 2018. This year I've dieted and lost 14 pounds. I've tried meditation to help combat the stress of everyday life. I just recently downloaded an app called "We Croak," which reminds me five times a day that we are going to die, with alerts and quotes about the importance of living. I'm making an effort, albeit with baby steps, to make myself a bit more tolerant and tolerable. I want to be less selfish. I think we can all afford to be less selfish. It's not easy.

Maybe we aren't the makers of our own fate. We can only do so much on our own. If there is one thing I hope for in 2019, aside from the usual Top 5 which includes peace on Earth, good will towards man and decent starting pitching for the Yankees, it's that we all realize that others exist in our lives. Cherish the good people around you and never assume the brave face can take care of itself. We need each other and being hopeful shouldn't be a luxury for the brave.

"Never let'em know how you really feel."

Well, that's okay in theory. But sometimes, you need to let'em know exactly how you feel. We need each other.

Let's raise a glass to hope and to everyone!

"This train carries saints and sinners
This train carries losers and winners
This train carries whores and gamblers
This train carries lost souls

I said, this train, dreams will not be thwarted
This train, faith will be rewarded
This train, hear the steel wheels singing
This train, bells of freedom ringing"



kevin m said...

Happy New Year Sal! Best to you and BW community in 2019!

Anonymous said...

I just turned 60 this past October. It was the first birthday in my life that bothered me because when my father turned 70, he seemed to have turned into an old man overnight and I figured his clock began ticking at that time towards 'The End'. So... turning 60 meant that another clock began ticking... the clock to 70. So... that's where I'm at right now and that's what I'm trying to deal with.

That being said, what I attempt to do is to appreciate the little things in everyday life and not get upset by things I can't control (much easier said than done).

The following is one thing I really appreciate - easily my favorite song of the year.

Stew & The Negro Problem from the recently released Notes Of A Native Song.

Sonny. Please listen.

Thanks for everything, Sal - Hope you have a great 2019.


P.S., I can't remember that you've ever had a favorite 'Song Of The Year' post???

Mr. Baez said...

Elegantly stated Sal. Thank you for keeping the logs burning. BW is an an oasis in this 'swirling mass of grays and
Black and white' (been listening a lot lately to "Beggars Banquet" with "Salt of the Earth" being my end of the year toast song.) I wish you and the Burning Wood community a healthy, productive and positive 2019.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Happy New Year!

Hey-its Mike said...

Happy New Year, and thanks for the insight.
(And I need to find that app!)

daudder said...

Happy New Year!

Shriner said...

Happy New Year to you Sal! And everybody else who leaves comments, too!

Anonymous said...

sorry, Sal, but the Astros have dibs on the good pitchers. thanks for a great year see you in the new one!

Ken D said...

Maintaining hope must be doubly difficult for you in a year when the the Red Sox won the World Series and in rather, um, convincing fashion. So my hat is off to you (that's a blue hat with an old-style, pointy-serifed, big red "B" on it!).

Happy New Year and thanks again for another year of BW—that goes out to all the participants as well as the master of ceremonies.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sal, for this amazing site as it's one of my favorites I seek out daily to expand my knowledge and love of music. Your personality (everyone who posts) is what makes the reads so great. Here's to a wonderful 2019 and thanks for echoing the song that keeps me going as well. Maybe we'll get a new tune from the Boss, right?


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year from a Midwesterner, middle school teacher, music lover who lurks here every day, who learns new things and is reminded of old things every day, but doesn't comment. The width and depth of your knowledge is beyond my ability to grasp, and I appreciate the effort you ( and sometimes, others) bring to this page. I am happy this is in the world, even when things presented aren't my cup of tea, or you are having a bad day. I am still glad to visit daily. Peace.

A walk in the woods said...

Reflecting back the positive vibes your way. Here's to a great 2019 - even with all the worry in the world!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sal for another wonderful year of Burning Wood. This has been a rather horrific year for me personally, but you (and Buzz and all the other contributors and commentators) helped me get through it.
Here's to a much better 2019!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year and thanks Sal


To everyone at Burning Wood -- if 2018 was tough ... I hope your 2019 will be better. If your 2018 was good here's to an even better 2019!

These days I look for little moments of joy -- I wanna hit singles more than swing for the fences.

A few examples:

* each morning I wake up, go to the toilet, take my vitamins, then get back in bed and just lie there -- in the dark, in the silence -- for a few seconds...

* In the winter I skate when I can and that first step on the ice ...

* In the summer I swim; the first push off the wall ...

And ...

* I check in at Burning Wood!

This blog -- more than most any other source other than my kids -- gives me those little shots of joy.

Sal, I thank you and wish you the best for 2019!

M_Sharp said...

Great post! Thanks for all you do, and a great 2019 to you and everyone else.

Chris Collins said...

Happy new year, Sal.

thanks for the reminder.

Unknown said...

A very happy new year to you, Sal.

dogbreath said...

I'm so glad I stumbled over this blog a few years back. What a little treasure it is, an oasis from life's daily aggravations such as Brexit overload over here & I'm looking forward to more good stuff in 2019. Many thanks for keeping on keeping on & all good wishes for the New Year. Cheers!

GeorgeKramer said...

Happy New Year Sal.

Sad to read of your troubles over the last 10 years but you seem to be fighting on.

Keep on keepin' on etc.

Michael Giltz said...

Happy New Year. Thanks for the inspiring words! Healthier and happier sounds like a great start.

Yours in music,


Tinman said...

To quote my father on being depressed "Keep your pecker up".