Monday, December 19, 2011


Emmett and Anne

Wonderin' when my next hug is coming
and from who and how...
'been hugged before without a clue
show me, I want to know now
if it's gonna be like yesterday with you

Love is it fair
and is life so dear
Do I ask as I wonder
if you'll just stare
and leave, leaving me here

Lookin' for a kind thought and touch out there
It ain't just a memory
Poets say one word can change a life
will it hurt or heal me
risking all, cherish the changes we're feeling

Love is it fair
and is life so dear
Do I ask as I wonder
if you'll just stare
and leave, leaving me here

A thought
A word
A voice
A touch
A hug,
oh, honey.

© 2012 by Anne Leighton, All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 21, 2011


(On The Highway To Elucidate)

The word of the day on the day
I reached the light at the end of the tunnel
was "elucidate."
--to make lucid, especially by explanation or analysis and give a clarifying explanation."

OK, I understand
I wasn't supposed to have grown up,
become stronger or on top of woman and man,
but be a child with joy in my purpose
--an idea with light, like that lightbulbbulblightlightbulbbulblight.

In order to think like a child
become like a child and speak as a child
go on line like any child might
find the dictionary for my word of the day--first thing at night.

I want to use that word in a sentence;
am I doing it right, for sure?
You mean other people are not always elucidate
I mean, Do you mean other people are not always elucidate
when they explain something, huh?

"I think not," said a stranger in the chat,
"Elucidate is a verb."
Lesson one: Definition includes the word's type!
OK, OK, OK! How cool the word exists,
Seems the wordmakers know how hard it is to elucidate!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Even hard times can bring some happiness

I didn't want to work on my finances, but I did. And a reward came when I called my bank. One of the cool things is they hire people from different countries so I can call at 4 in the morning and talk with a human being in India, for instance.

This time I got Ashrith, (meaning, "one who gives shelter") on the phone. I could have sworn I had spoken with him before, said, "We talked about music, you had a band. You knew who the guy was that wrote the movie about the homeless kid who won the TV game show. You know the movie, what's it called?"

He said, "no, that was my friend Ashith (which means "happiness")."

Even so Ashrith and I talked about everything from music to what bands really make in India, and how it costs the equivalent of four or five dollars to hear Jethro Tull in concert iwith other bands) in Bangalore.

And then he turned me on to two bands:


and Parikrama

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"No one needs to be a superman, just your biggest fan.” Jani Lane's Inspiration To Me From Heaven.

Jani Lane, 2/1/64-8/11/11

Jani Lane's passing caught me at a time when I felt condemned for being myself. You know, relationship problems.

People's opinions--especially on little issues--can get me down, make me insecure.

After a lifetime of being on the receiving end of picky condemnation, I spent two days trying to remember what word defined "wondering if you're capable of accomplishing anything, even something simple like cracking a joke or crossing the street by myself." In the evening of the second day, the word came to me: "unsure."

Even if you're doing great work, you can feel unappreciated. Sometimes one person (that you care about) scolds you, other times it's as though a singular person uses the domino theory to influence a crowd to scorn you.

In Kansas City, before I started an in-person interview with Jani while he was on the road with Poison in 1991, he looked at a fax his management sent on a Sunday. He slammed the paper on the table, and harshly folded it up. It was a less-than favorable review from ROLLING STONE on CHERRY PIE. The critic's opinion mattered.

I should have told him to look at the other reviews in the mag over the course of a few issues. Even records, that sell well, are despised by people in the music business. Besides that, if people pick on you that much, then maybe you're doing something that makes you stand out. I remember a band first suing him, claiming they wrote “Heaven,” (which he wrote before he joined Warrant) and then that band almost succeeding in getting an opening slot from Warrant in California. Maybe these negative people could be better at their craft, instead of being jealous of what an artist has to offer. Through the years I told him to listen to the fans; they felt the perfection of CHERRY PIE--all great songs. A fun listen.

To this day, I want to believe that if Jani Lane had been his own biggest fan most of the time, that maybe he would never have put the music second and the drinking first. He apologized that CHERRY PIE was sexist instead of proclaiming, "This is a pop art video." (It is great pop art!) I think he apologized too damn much because of other people's opinions. Was he surrounded by too many music snobs in LA? Was he trying to impress his contemporaries in other bands--what were the real reasons they didn't like him? Some of it was because he was more into his newer songs, and wished people would listen to him.

In the end, he came to terms with what made him famous, and wrote his own bio a few days before he died at It included the enthusiastic, "And YES, I LOVE THE SONG “CHERRY PIE!!!'….SWING IT!!"

He was a terrific performer. He knew how to work a crowd, and feed off his band and the vibe of a room. There are videos on youtube where he's interpreting hits in different ways--including a bluesy acoustic performance of "Cherry Pie" for Guitar Hero and a piercing cover of Judas Priest's "Electric Eye." The first four Warrant albums are state of the art in arrangements, performance, and songwriting. I wish all my artists had seen Jani live. He had such a range of emotion as a performer. There was that strutting "down boys" eroticism, something that inspired one male fan to write, "I come to your shows for the music, but love when the girls show their titties!"

He was tender with pure love songs and also the "I'm hurt" break up pieces that made even the most macho guy relate to with "I Saw Red." As a fan, I was slammed for believing in his music even though--quite simply--I loved it. Once, members of an entire music industry bulletin board scolded me when I stated that Jani was the Joni Mitchell of hair bands. They wrote, "Joni Mitchell was a great artist." Yeah, so was Jani!

I worked with him on a benefit for the late Ray Gillen of the blues-rock band Badlands in 1992. Another musician from that era cancelled out on rehearsals and a benefit because he didn't want to be associated with Jani or Trixter who were also on the bill. I asked Jani, "Maybe you'll be friends someday, and you two can dialog," and he responded, sternly, "I don't think so." Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner loved him, as did the other musicians on the bill--all old school talent. Glenn, in particular, wanted to help Jani with his addictions; he saw himself in Jani. They sang together that night, and were honored to be with one another. Robert Mason, who is the leadsinger for Warrant now and was in bands with George Lynch and Ozzy Osbourne, was also on the bill. For a few months afterwards, I stayed in touch with him, and he always talked about his fondness for Jani as a musician and a person.

A couple of times he went overboard, showing his bitterness on stage. He seemed spoiled rotton, as he criticized the venue. It made the audience feel uncomfortable. He reminded me of Lenny Bruce but without purpose, just a few too many beers.

He lacked dependability. Artists can have a career in any industry, if they're dependable. After that, they'll only go as far as their friends are willing to put up with them. I remember three tours he left, some actually quitting the band. Most notably he left the DOG EAT DOG tour in 1993, and the Poison tour during CHERRY PIE without consulting with the headliners. That would certainly cause everyone involved in marketing the band and their album frustration. Jani should have conferred with their management and they negotiated with Poison's people to make the tour work... or maybe create a publicity campaign even if it was a press war.

It's also about bootstrapping. Being determined as in "You've Got Another Thing Coming" by Judas Priest, "If you think I'll sit around as the world goes by, You're thinkin' like a fool cause it's a case of do or die, Out there is a fortune waitin' to be had." Poison, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Sebastian Bach, and smaller acts: Dream Theater, Firehouse, and Southgang's Butch Walker all weathered the influx of grunge and other trends in American music.

In recent years, Warrant as a band--without Jani--rebounded, just fine, too, because they loved music enough to put that first. Without Jani, the group was not ashamed of what they were doing.

Jani tells a famous story about walking into the CBS President's office after the success of two albums, and seeing a poster of ALICE IN CHAINS on the receptionist's wall, "We were no longer a priority for the label because there was a new movement coming, and we just didn't fit in.” I never subscribed to that as the reason Warrant never got famous again till the day Jani died. A label head not paying attention to you is a setback, but it is up to you and your team as to whether you want to work through this adversity, and make it on your own.

Dependability means being sure that you'll do the work without complaining, and that will help you become more sure of yourself, even if you're afraid. We put up with crap every day, but we also get good things. Everyone has an opinion, and most of them are assholes. So it's them, not you--you're an individual. They don't have a life. For instance, if I knew Michelle Bachman, whose credo is "Anyone who is gay is just wrong," I'd be perfectly justified to tell her that her form of scolding, de-programming causes people to be unsure of their unique selves.

Down the line he was calm with me, telling me about finding sobriety. "Jeff Pilson says he's starting a song in the morning, thinking about it all day, and then finishing it at night." How much happier can you get thinking of your writing, and then ending the day with a completed song! Success! Bliss!

I took my gnarly, macho, diehard (and "I Saw Red"-relating) musician friend Paul Nanna to the Lowdown, a 200-capacity club in Mount Vernon, for a routing date for Warrant. Paul's band played there, and he quipped to Jani, "Look, don't spit in the mic... I have to sing in it next week." His eyes popped out of his head as Jani and then keyboardist David White duo'd on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody": two voices, one keyboard, a full house of sound and amazing vocals. "He appreciated being there, was thankful for the gig," Paul said. "He was gracious to the crowd."

I appreciated knowing Jani, not just for the music, but because he was a human being who exchanged info about craft without prodding. On the best days of my life, it was because I started the day writing. That self-centered work helps me realize my personal accomplishments.

I am drawn to artists, and have stayed in touch with most of my friends through the years. One of the first people who told me about Jani's passing was a writer/editor colleague I worked with at HIT PARADER. I told her about this article and the personal anxiety I'd been dealing with, how I'd been unsure of myself. She reminded me to believe in myself and all the things I accomplished, "Everything is baby steps, and you've done it before. You'll do it again. Keep looking at what you've done already." Always go forward, away from those who hold you back and put you down.

The blessing about Jani's death is hearing and reading that he and Warrant did have a place in rock and roll. The band was cherished by the fans, and critics from different eras were sympathetic to him. Now people are listening to his songs without prejudice. "This is a good song," wrote Kenny, from the progressive classic band Wonderous Stories, after he posted "Bitter Pill" for his Facebook page. Former Akron-Beacon Journal and Spin magazine editor Chuck Klosterman wrote that Jani was "less pretentious than most of the credible musicians who usurped his role in the popular culture." in Grantland.

Chuck Eddy resurrected a story in his Rhapsody obit, ""Warrant's funkish and pretty 'Down Boys' is proto-bohemian--Dion's lonely teen sits at home, whining 'I wanna go where the down boys go,' so he's obviously not a down boy himself, at least not yet; he just worships the wild street kids who head out at a million miles an hour. The synth lines come from The Police via 'The Spirit of Radio,' a Rush song that mimics the Velvet Underground's 'Sweet Jane.' And Warrant's guitarist plays 'Sweet Jane' chords." Jani Lane, like so many Midwestern boys, went to L.A. because that's where the down boys were. For a few years he got to be one, on TV."

I'm not going to beat myself up for not connecting with Jani the last years of his life. I wanted him to know about my artists, especially Jann Klose and Joe Deninzon who have Ohio roots, and have also been major inspiration to me. I reached out to him via his manager, through his myspace, to friends of friends, never to the ex-wives to get to him. I reached out to them to make sure they were all right. My friends remind me that I wouldn't have saved him, that Jani had to admit to having a problem and take time to learn why he did those things and to find out was who he was.

In spite of what he didn't accomplish for himself, Jani Lane has inspired me to keep writing and to be sure of myself. He was the real deal. I had wonderful times with his music, and will forever remember our conversations. I wish his legacy were longer, and hope he knows how much he inspired other folks, including me.

Jani's "Song And Dance Man" stands out as a theme for Jani. It has the lyric, "spoke of a million things before I die I should see. Open up your eyes, life is poetry in motion." After the song he raps about how other bands criticized his group for not playing their instruments in concert. Warrant did, and was very well-rehearsed. All you have to do is watch Joey (the blond acoustic guitarist), and see how he's listening to Jani, and in the moment with his frontman. It took years for Jani and the guys to get respect from other musicians in the scene.

This is "Bitter Pill." My opinion is we never would have had a famous Jani Lane without the savvy and hard-working Warrant. This band really does know what it's doing and is a great judge of talent--listen to Robert Mason, the group's singer. Give him a chance.

"Memories come rushing back, and it makes it pretty hard." What?

I found Jani's version of Frank Sinatra's "This Life" from the hard rock compilation album, "Sin-Atra." The download mistakenly gives credit to Billy Sheehan, but it's Jani, and it's great. I found the full recording on youtube, but I think you should buy it. 

I always felt that Jani's albums reflected his life at the time he made them. He had created a rock singer-songwriter-styled group around '92-'94 called Jabberwocky. (Jani and ALICE IN WONDERLAND writer Lewis Carroll shared February 1 as their birthday.) "Comfortable With Sad" is one of the songs from the Jabberwocky sessions.  You will have to do a search for it on the social networks, as the versions I keep posting are removed from the site. 

I wrote about Warrant for a number of Rock magazines including Hit Parader, Live Wire, Powerline, Music Life Japan, Rock Hard France, and worked as a tour publicist for them after they were on CBS and helped with the band's media transition to CMC Records before they recorded ULTRAPHOBIC.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

LaToya Jackson, Role Model With Determination

Determination is the most important factor in making things happen for your life. When I was in high school, and wasn't picked for All County Chorus, I went to my guidance counselor and asked him to talk with my choir teacher, and got in to All-County three years in a row. As a publicist, I call journalists instead of just sending e-mails. If I'm booking my artists, I send e-mails every month to venues, asking them to book my artist. I make follow-up calls. When we get gigs, I start calling and e-mailing my friends, asking them to come to shows; sooner or later, some of them make it. I have checklists of people to contact. Persistence makes a difference in achieving results. Talent only works a little, but speaking up for yourself will set you apart from everyone else.

This is the story of LaToya Jackson and how she set a deserved precedence on TV's Celebrity Apprentice. She was asked back to the show after Donald Trump fired her the previous week. Why? Because she believed so much in her talent and abilities that she went back, and asked to be hired.

I know some regard her as "the untalented Jackson, standing in the shadow of Michael, Janet and the other Jacksons," just because she once posed in the buff for PLAYBOY. Even so, that particular issue of the magazine sold more than any others up to that point in history. LaToya is intriguing, eclectic, and bohemian, co-writing "Reggae Nights” with Amir-Salaam Bayyan (who has a big catalog of songs by name acts) for Jimmy Cliff, speaking out for gay rights, and has made albums, appeared on reality TV in the States and abroad. She even has a dessert named after her at West Hollywood's Millions of Milkshakes. She's adorable, soft-spoken, her music is sweet.

She's one hell of a role model to me--smart, creative, gentle, and diplomatic. I started noticing LaToya's quiet, but strong leadership abilities in this year's season. Twice, when she was a team leader, her team (ASAP) beat the men (BACKBONE). She has a very humane outlook, and able to tell which women were the manipulators, the followers, and who were good sports. If lawyer/TV personality/writer Star Jones wanted a team member eliminated, Star encouraged that person to be the team leader, "Well, it's time for your charity to make money." Then she'd encourage the rest of the team to argue with one another.

Because of ASAP's bad vibes, the team created flawed product. Sub par product is bad customer service, bad business.

On Easter, April 24, ASAP and BACKBONE's assignment was to design advertising pages for one of Donald Trump's hotels. Star was in charge, and wanted LaToya and Nene Leakes (one of the Desperate Housewives of Atlanta) to run some errands. LaToya was uneasy about working with Nene, who had come down hard on LaToya previously, arguing the "untalented Jackson" had gotten by all these years because of her family name; Nene called her "old." On that Easter Sunday, Star suggested a "Come to Jesus" meeting to clear the cobwebs of hate. The two developed an appreciation for one another as they completed their project.

LaToya, who studies people and is a bit analytical, zoned in on Star's weaknesses that episode. It included taking charge of everything, working too much to the point that her product was weak. ASAP's presentation had each woman stating singular words to describe the luxury of Donald's hotel. After the presentation, LaToya had her own word to describe it, "corny."

Donald had to fire someone from Team ASAP. Of course the women pointed to LaToya as a "weak player." LaToya's voice was extra weak that day as she had laryngitis. Softly she explained that Star's work was poor because she was just doing too much. Star became more irate. Despite Donald's awareness that LaToya's talents and team leadership was equal, if not "sometimes greater than her team members," he decided that the women's team would be more formidable if the members got along. "Your team doesn't seem to like you, and they like Star. LaToya, you're fired.”

All of Donald's people seemed disappointed in the decision to the point he was even justifying himself to them. Still showing dignity at the elevator down, LaToya ignored Star, and hugged Nene, nodded to the elevator attendant, and left. In the limo ride, LaToya stated, "Truthfully, I think Mr. Trump made a mistake. I am not a weak player, and it's not a good feeling to be fired when you know you have something to offer."

Then she tweeted, "Most of you R as surprised & shocked as I was 4 getting fired. But keep N mind, I'm Joe Jackson's daughter, I was raised to NEVER give up!"

Then Nene gave Star notice, "I got my eye on you. You orchestrated all this, and you're willing to cut off your head to win." I don't know if Star was giving Nene lip service or sincere when she responded, "This is something I can learn from."

The following week, Star suggested Nene be a team leader, which made Nene believe that Star was throwing her under the bus.

Nene did some good work, and also noticed that the men's team brought in ASAP's former team member Niki Taylor to model for their presentation. She let all the women know and to be aware that she was working for the other team, "Don't tell her what's going on."

Of course Team BACKBONE beat ASAP. Nene complained that Star was indeed not playing fairly, and taking charge when she should not have.

Right before the firing debate portion of the show, Donald said he's doing something for the first time ever in the show's 11-year history, bringing back a team member. Everyone turned their heads, expecting to see Niki. Nope. Instead, my heroine, the accomplished, determined, and self-assured LaToya Jackson strutted into the meeting. She sat down with the BACKBONE men. She smiled. So did the men. Nene smiled. Star closed her eyes; maybe she was praying, maybe seeing red.

Donald said, "LaToya came to my office, and made a strong case as to why she should be allowed back, and I respected that. Never give up. People say, 'How do you become successful, Mr. Trump?' Never ever quit. Never ever give up."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


A heads up that my poetry and prose book, MY BRAIN, THE PARK AND OTHER THINGS will be published in July 2011.

The web page for it is up, and includes this downloadable flyer that you can share with friends and art lovers!

Here's the site: