Thank You, 2021

Sweet Baby Jesus, what a year.

I left Facebook. And I launched Essential Industries. I turned fifty. I took “Friends & Neighbors” weekly. I began writing a book. I recorded a new album in Muscle Shoals (due in 2022); remixed, remastered and reissued my “greatest hits” (listen here!); and played a few rock shows. 

I tried to slow down, listen more closely, feel more deeply, and embody the Saint-Exupéry quote that hung in Fred Rogers’ WQED office for nearly forty years: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

It’s often been difficult and dark. Still, I’ve never felt more connected to the living, breathing world around me – especially all of the people who helped make my year brighter.

Someday I’m going to throw a party to fête ya’ll, just to watch the magic you all make together. In the meantime…

Thank to all of my “Friends & Neighbors” guests for sharing their time, talent, experience and insight: Roger Clark, Joe SmithMeg Watkins, Tim Madigan, Kara Golden, Anna Sale, Negin Farsad, Áine Kerr, and especially former MTV colleague, Bill Flanagan; his insistence on an audio only interview inspired me to take the show audio only – and weekly – moving forward. If you haven’t already, for Heaven’s sake, please subscribe to our podcast now; next season is loaded with essential goodness.

Thank you, Chris and Meg, for being the kind of friends that are juggling work, kids, marriage, rock ‘n roll, adventure, learning, growth and civic engagement just like us. Ya’ll got it covered: sacred and profane, substance and silliness.

Thanks to Whit, for helping me keep true to my goals.

Thanks to Craig for your periodic blasts of leadership, inspiration and advice during out Inner Harbor 5ks throughout the pandemic. I promise my pace will improve next year.

Thanks, Ron, thanks for always going out of your way, making me feel at home, and making it safe to say just about anything.

Thank you to Bob and Karen, my Ivy League, Brooklyn Brownstone, McKinsey-meets-Zen wonder couple friends, mentors, and our colleague, and to Charlie, for the continued and ongoing collaboration around building communities, finding our truths and sharing our voices. 

Thanks to the fellas in Downstate Darlings: Chris, Jamie Alegre, Paul Maddison, Dan, Jamie, and Tony Maceli for helping me make a great bunch of songs in Brooklyn and over the internets. Special thanks to Tony for music direction and rallying the troops – to say nothing of his twenty years of steadfast friendship.

Thanks, Jeff Berner, for hours upon hours of excellent studio conversation, great takes and sweet mixes. And Jeff Domanski for meeting me in the mountains.

Thanks Paul Perreault and Ryan Vaughn for traveling thousands of miles to bang on instruments in my back yard, and then sit and watch the clouds pass the moon until well after it fell below the trees.

Thanks Jon Locker and his impeccably organized ProTools files, for remixing in an instant, like a pro, and with a smile.

Thanks to Casey Shea for rolling the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Stevie Wonder into his patented, super-secret background vocal black magic that makes every song sound better.

Thanks, Ty, thanks for meeting me in Nashville despite next to no plan, and for traipsing all around town making cool, fun things. Which, come to think of it, is our thing, I guess. What a blast!

Thanks, Annie Reuter, for showing me around your Nashville. And thanks to John Shearer who welcomed me into his corner of Music City, and shared his luminous talents.

Thanks Tom Spiker for opening your home, studio, and beer fridge.

Thanks, Jason Walsmith and Mike Butterworth of The Nadas for their constant, unyielding support, and collaboration this and every year. And special thanks to Jason for always being an ever-ready advisor.

Thanks, Matt Currie, for making Rockwood Music Hall feel like home, even after all these years.

Thanks to Gillian at Oddity Bar for booking not one but TWO big events we had to cancel due to COVID. One of these days we will put on our big rock show!

Thank you, Denison and Lindsey, for welcoming me into the neighborhood, recruiting me into the Highlands Community Association, and for endorsing, amplifying, augmenting and otherwise encouraging my cockamamie ideas, and connecting me with our interesting neighbors — as chronicled on our Highlands Live conversations with Mayor Mike Purzycki, Vance Kershner, Dr. Jamé McCray, Wendy Hatch and others.

Thanks Logan, Charlie, Eph, Jen and everyone on the REACH Riverside team for showing me how inspiration and perspiration meet to change the world.

Thanks Vince Watchorne and Brenton Grom for helping me dig deeper into the extensive, fascinating history around our community.

Thank you, Senator Sarah McBride, for, above all, modeling for my daughters what a profound sense of self looks like, and for showing them that they are who they say they are, and can be anything they want to be.

And thank you James Spadola and Nathan Field for showing me that civic engagement is a shoe leather thing.

To my Five Pioneers (I cannot believe we actually gave ourselves a corny nickname), Sibby, James, Tous, Larkin and Degus: thanks for thirty years of authentic and often hilarious friendship. We’ve Zoomed a ton, sure. But we’ve also gone for more runs and hikes. And walks and we’ve talked about more real things and made more real progress as men and as friends.

To the rest of my Conestoga Crew, who would have known we’d be so connected after all these years! Especially Amie Potsic who pulled her acoustic out of the closet to perform with me for the first time since she taught me my first chords thirty years ago. And to Heather Mayes with whom I ran for student council in 1984, and from whom I’m still receiving sage guidance.

Thanks to Amy Hollingsworth for brief, momentous calls loaded with insight, inspiration and usable tactics to make every day brighter. And to Tim Madigan for always advising me with humility, and his heart on his sleeve.

Thanks, Martine, for always being a champion of what’s right, just and beautiful and for connecting me with Audra Brandt, whose animation of “Adventures in Birdland” for my “Fort Hood” music video was just the bolt of sunshine and rainbows and magic that we ALL needed. 

Thanks, Brian Ives, for going deep on rock n roll and the meaning of life for more than twenty years of life with nary a dash of cynicism, sarcasm or negativity.

Thanks Ben Steinberg for being a great listener and a creative catalyst.

Thanks Kyle at Elite PT, Michelle at WCC, Jackie at FIT, and Anna and Aditi at Peloton Yoga begin to heal and rebuild a battered body battered by thirty years of marathons, triathlons, and twelve-hour days behind a desk.

Thank you, Joanne Rogers and Joan Didion. Thank you Michael Stipe, Michael Penn, Kathleen Edwards, Ruston Kelly, Kacey Musgraves, Jason Isbell, Dawes, War on Drugs, Phoebe Bridgers and Fruit Bats. Thank you Ben Folds, Ezra Klein, Michael Barbaro, Terry Gross and Brooke Gladstone.

Thanks, of course, to Abbi, for endeavoring to understand, endorse and otherwise support my ongoing transformation; to Maggie and Elsie for their shining light; and to my brother and parents.

And thank you. May your 2022 be bright.

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