Thursday, October 07, 2010


Elton John Leon Russell feature on and in Billboard

We take a brief rest from soccer commentary to return to the reason we're here in the first place: music.

The story I've been working on about new album, "The Union," a collaboration between
Elton John and Leon Russell is in Billboard this week and on

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Sunday, October 03, 2010



by Wayne Robins

You know that a visitor from another planet, or an American watching in New York, could find the team uniforms for Barclay's Premier League (aka the English Premier League) a bit confusing. Team names are rarely visible to the TV eye, even the HD version. It seems odd and a little unsporting for an American to complain about excessive commercialization of sport—I thought we were the world champions—but we've got nothing on English, or in fact, any nation's, professional soccer.

So if I were tuning in for the first time to the Premier League match of the weekend, it would have been easy to think of the teams as the Samsung vs. Fly Emirate—or, as I prefer to call them, The Fly Emirates. (Possible band name, North Londoners?) But I've been watching long enough—since the season began some seven weeks ago—to know that the team in Samsung blue is Chelsea, and the Fly Emirates, in red, can only belong to their London rivals, Arsenal.

Both teams played wide open, attack/counterattack: There was very little stalling around playing footsie, 90 minutes of high energy back and forth. Chelsea won 2-0, on two highlight-reel goals: Around the 39th minute, Didier Drogba made a perfect kick from an improbable angle just inside the near post, off the bar and into the net. It's been quite a week for Drogba, born in the Ivory Coast, who had a stadium named for him in Levallois-Perret, France, near Paris. The French fourth division team Levallois is where Drogba started as a youth league player at age 15.

Trailing one-nil after the first 45 minutes, the Fly Emirates looked ready to rally in the second half, putting Chelsea on its heels in defensive mode for 10 or 15 minutes. Reversing the American football cliche, Chelsea realized the best defense was a good offense, and eventually returned the pressure. A yellow card around the 84th minute handed to Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny led to a free kick for Chelsea. At first it appeared that Drogba would take it, but it was Alex (Alex Rodrigo Dias da Costa, who like many Brazilian stars goes by just his first name) who stepped to the ball and wailed it, a fast, quick rising missile that soared and twisted into an unreachable far corner of the net. (Alex is not to be confused with Arsenal's Alex Song, from Cameroon, who is immediately identifiable for the apparently dyed gray hair that makes him look like, oh, a keyboardist for Parliament-Funkadelic.)

The other great haircut I saw on TV soccer Sunday morning was in the Italy Serie A match between Roma and Napoli. Napoli's Marek Hamsik, who also sports some nasty tattoos, has really let his Mohawk grow out, higher and stiffer than it was in South Africa, where he played in the World Cup for his native Slovakia. also named Hamsik "top of the match" player: I only watched the scoreless first half, so missed Hamsik scoring the first and decisive goal in the 72nd minute as Napoli won, 2-0.

Marshaling the energy I knew I'd need to watch Arsenal-Chelsea, before the American football day started, I stepped away from the TV, drank coffee, and pondered the meaning of part of a dream last night, in which Lyle Lovett asked my advice on how to improve ticket sales on his concert tour. Wondering if it was some kind of zen riddle, it was a question to which I had no answer.

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