An “Essential” Conversation, Part II

Last week, I released a new collection of remixed, remastered and repackaged “greatest hits” (favorite songs, anyway) called “Essential (2001-2021).”

It’s available everywhere you download and stream music. And this week on Friends & Neighbors, it’s the topic of the second part of my two part conversation with rock journalist, Brian Ives. 

I’m writing a book interrogating my relationship with music as a means of coping, healing and catalyzing personal growth predicated on the theory that we’re all musicians — or creatives in our own way.

Which is part of the reason I wanted to remaster, repackage and reissue my “greatest hits.” I wanted to mark the moment, to pause and assess: Why do I do it? What impact does it make? What’s next?

These are not pressing questions for a guy with 215 Spotify listeners. (Please, click here and make it 216.) But to me, they’re at the center of everything.

Things are dark: COVID, Part III, Trump vs. Biden, Part II, inflation, division, fake news.

Even without current events, contemporary life is inordinately shallow and complex. Just getting reimbursed for a doctor’s visit is a Sisyphean task. We watch ads while pumping gas as 100-year tornadoes ravage the Midwest and another ice sheet cleaves away from the Arctic.

Things are dark.

Which makes this conversation with Brian is timely — and relevant. And not just because we’re going to answer these burning questions: 

  • What did I learn from The Pixies?
  • What was the only song my wife ever censored?
  • What gave me the temerity to cover Bob Marley?
  • What’s the real legacy of these songs?

Light is everything. And there’s only one way to it, and that’s through the darkness.

And there’s only one place to find it.

Fred Rogers knew.

“Deep within each of us,” he said. “Is a spark of the divine just waiting to be used to light up a dark space.”

What are you going to do with yours?

Listen to “Friends & Neighbors: An ‘Essential’ Conversation, Part II,” on AppleSpotifyYouTube or wherever you get your podcasts. And listen to “Essential Benjamin Wagner (2001-2021)” on Apple MusicSpotify, and everywhere you find music.

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