Monday, February 28, 2011

How We Chose Our Family

If it often said that you can chose your friends but you can’t chose your family. The older I get the more I find this statement to be false.

Yes, you have no choice in who you are genetically associated with but you have a choice in the person that you marry and the way that you include people in your life to create a family in the spiritual sense.

Some believe that we have certain obligations when it comes to family but these feelings of responsibilities are in fact choices. Labeling something in your life as an obligation doesn’t mean that you don’t have a choice in the matter. Rather it’s a prioritization that is based in such deep seated values that we don’t’ questions them.

This all hit me a couple weekends ago at my cousin’s wedding reception watching my family celebrate this incredible event. This was my paternal cousin and it was truly a remarkable thing that this family could share this time together.

Recently that side of the family has gone through major changes.  Twenty years ago my paternal grandparents lived near Seattle. Two of my dad’s aunts lived nearby and one of uncles also lived within driving distance.  My other two aunts lived in Denver and Taiwan. Even with those two aunts far away it seemed like we were getting together as a family all the time. I grew up playing with my nine cousins and the time we spent together was just a part of life, nothing special.

Then thing started to change.  My older cousins started going to college and we saw less of them. Before I knew it I was going off to college myself and we simply didn’t get together as a family as much as we used to. Then six years ago, my grandmother passed away. Three years my uncle left us and last year my grandfather died.

Now my family feels very different.

Currently my paternal extended family resides in three different countries and five different states. The lynchpin, what held that family together, my grandparents and my uncle are gone.  Instead of our connection being within them it’s in all of us.  We can chose to celebrate this or not.  And we chose to be a family.

It’s in emails, phone calls and trying to get together when we happen to be in town. Most of all it’s making the most of the moments we share together.

Watching my family coming together I was struck with a feeling of peace and contentment knowing that even though we all live very different lives in very different palaces we are still connected.  Yes, there is blood that ties us together but there’s also traditions, values and our culture. But there’s something else. It’s a choice, it’s the effort, the decision we make to value each other.  In that, we continue to be a family beyond the loss of those who have passed, embracing the new people we welcome into our family and sharing our lives together as a family.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Week 20: Talking Union

Yesterday, I attended my first faculty association meeting at my new school, and my belief in the importance and purpose of these organizations was renewed in a meaningful and significant way.

When I was asked to I would join the faculty association at my new job at the beginning of the year I said yes without hesitation. I didn't do this because I felt pressured to or even because I had to. I knew that even if I didn't join, I would still get the benefits of the contract that was bargained collectively on behalf of all the of the faculty. I joined because I have faith in the power of professional associations, more commonly referred to as unions.

Ever since my first year as a teacher I've been a union member.  I believe that workers benefit from speaking with one voice, and they operate better in a job in which they feel a level of equity and camaraderie with their peers.  I am proud to be part of a tradition that is an expression of democracy and our never-ending struggle to create a more just and fair society.

Last week, Wisconsin Governor Walker, in an effort to balance the state budget, proposed a bill that would adjust the benefits of state employees and take away collective bargaining rights. (Today it passed the state assembly.) In reaction, teachers, other state workers and their supporters have been protesting in Madison. In reaction to this, a national dialogue about the legitimacy of unions has erupted throughout the country.

Teacher unions are not perfect. I've read about unions that are corrupt, stand in the way of educational progress, and have policies that keep unqualified teachers in positions. In some political circumstances, teacher unions hold an unreasonable amount of influence. On an anecdotal level, I've read or heard of illogical and unreasonable requests some groups have made during contract negotiations.

All of these issues are completely valid but they are not reasons to abolish unions and the right to collectively bargain.

It is illogical to get rid of a business practice just because there are people who misuse it. Should we take away peoples’ right to short stocks because some people illegally manipulate this practice (naked shorting) or because others misunderstand this concept and just think it is bad? No, of course not.

You cannot and should not judge a practice on the worst-case situations.

During the industrial revolution, workers were exploited and unions acted as society's conscience. Things have changed a lot since then and there are many great companies who operate without unions and their workers are satisfied and happy.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all people. Even with the best management, unions need to exist in certain situations to advocate for groups of workers to help management understand different perspectives and needs.

We cannot just get rid of unions as a concept because there are some union organizations that are broken. Instead, we need to work to reform specific unions that need to improve and celebrate the ones that are doing great work. We should not tolerate union practices that misrepresent the needs of workers, and we should be angry at how some organizations have polluted Americans' right to organize and express viewpoints as a group.

After the meeting yesterday I'm really proud of the faculty in the room and our association president who ran the meeting. It was an incredible exchange of ideas, an affirmation of values, and an opportunity to come together—not against the administration, but for each other.

Being in a union is not about the money and benefits. It’s not about being a Democrat and it's not about being adversarial against management. Being a part of a union is about shared values, being part of a larger community, and the powerful and uplifting feeling of being part of a democracy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Round 7: Stevie Wonder Vs. Coolio

In 1976, Stevie Wonder released Songs In The Key Of Life which featured the song "Pastime Paradise."

This beautifully and subtlety layered song reflects on people who are stuck in the past. These are people who have become compliant with the injustice in society and view the past, however flawed as paradise.  Wonder urges them to work towards a "future paradise" and realize the past is not the paradise that it seems.


In 1995,  Coolio scored a huge crossover hit with "Gangsta's Paradise" featured on the soundtrack of Dangerous Minds.

Coolio passionately raps about what it's like to be raised and live as a modern "gangsta." The picture that Coolio paints isn’t a pretty one. It’s a life that some may idealize as a paradise but in reality is a frustrating and hopeless existence.

The Winner:
NEITHER! A third contender just swooped in and beat both songs out!

Next week: Buffy Vs. Angel!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Abt Electronics: How cookies and a fish tank create a consumer paradise.

“How much extra are you willing to pay for a great shopping experience?”

I asked this question my wife a couple weeks ago as we tried to figure out where we were going to get our new television.

Lord knows I wasn’t going to get my new TV at Best Buy. They carry sub-standard brands and my experience with the salespeople there have been lacking. The couple times I’ve asked them for help they’ve known less about the products I was shopping for than I did.

The other option was Now I love I remember when this site first launched when I was in middle school and ordering a book from them at a shockingly high discount. I order products from probably two or three times a week and it’s not just books. I’ve gotten electronics, cleaning supplies, stuff for Buffy and even considered getting toilet paper from them once.

The great thing about is that they have editorial reviews, customer reviews, competitive prices and great shipping prices even if you aren’t on amazon prime (which I have and love).

The last option was a store called Abt Electronics in Glenview (1200 N Milwaukee Avenue), which is a northwest suburb of Chicago (probably about 1/2 hour north on I-94). I visited this store about a year ago and bought an air filter and had a pretty good experience and after reading this article in the New York Times I knew I had to consider going back their for our TV.

Diana and I often speak about the changing economy and the relationship between online retailers, big box stores and mom and pop brick and motor retailers. When I asked if she would be willing to pay as much as $80 more for the same product but with great service at Abt, she told me that she thought it was worth it and I’m glad that she did.

Abt Electronics is huge but it doesn’t feel like any other electronics store. There is marble tile flooring, an enormous fish tank in the middle of the main room an atrium with a fountain that has shows coordinated to music. The fountain is located in an atrium that lets in natural light (seriously, natural light in a store!!). And on weekends they bake fresh chocolate chip cookies and that smell permeates the entire store.

Now men, who are often the people who like to buy electronics probably don’t care about all of these things but their wives and children do. By making the experience better for the whole family it makes the shopping experience just that, an “experience” not just a chore.

The salesman we worked with was Larry Solomon. I immediately felt great about this guy when he explained to us that the only reason that Sony television were more expensive was because of the brand name. Instead of trying to convince us that this TV, which would have given him more commission, he told us the truth and that meant a lot.

Larry had an opinion, which he was not afraid to offer and he clearly knew what he was talking about. I want a salesmen who knows more than me and has made judgments based on that knowledge and Larry did just that. This extends beyond just Larry as Abt is a story simply does not carry mediocre products. You will find a smaller variety of brands at Abt than at Best Buy and that’s because they chose to carry the best products.

After selecting a television, I asked Larry about home theater systems. Now Diana and I had talked for months about getting a new TV but this whole home theater thing was news to her.  Larry sensing this quickly defused the situation and suggested that we go home see how we like the sound on our new TV and if I wanted to come back and get a speaker system he could get me a great price whenever. This was another example of investing in the customer’s experience rather than simply working towards making the largest commission possible.  This is exactly why if I ever had any electornics needs in the future I will not hesitate to go back to Abt Electronics.

If you live within two hours driving distance of Abt Electronics, it is worth the drive to go to this store. Abt Electronics has created a consumer experience that cannot ever be replicated online and while other brick and motor stores are loosing out to online retailers stores like Abt never will.

Did Diana and I pay more because we shopped at Abt?  Maybe a little bit, but not that much more.  Regardless would I pay $80 more for a TV if it meant that I got the Abt Electronics shopping experience?

Without a doubt.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Buffy's Vacation Blog 2

Last January Buffy stayed with Aunt Janet & Uncle Jim when Diana and I were away visiting my parents.  During this vacation Buffy sent us e-mails about what she was up to in this Buffy's Vacation Blog.  Last weekend Diana and I were out of town and Buffy went back to stay with Aunt Janet & Uncle Jim.  Here were the e-mails that we got from Buffy last weekend.


Sub: I'm Awesome

Good sleeping! Slept in Janet and Jim’s room all night and I was cozy. Potty early, Pilates forces people to get up which is great for me because I was so happy to have people awake!!! Kibbles is trying to eat my food so when I found that out I had more interest in getting in there to get my share. Lots of butts to smell. Awesome! Early walk, no salt…beet juice rocks!!! I climbed over some snow piles following Bitsey and I kept up really great despite short legs. Outside. Sun. Chewees. I keep following Bitsey so she can tell me what’s next. I plan on barking soon so all the boys wake up. Have a great vacation! I’m doing fine!

Love BuffMeister


Sub: Family Secrets

Dear Mommy,
Staying here as a secret agent has shown me the Peterson's house isn't really all that it appears. I have found a lot of dysfunction. First, did you know when Ryan cleans his room, he actually has carpet? Wow. We found it yesterday. I want you to know that Bitsey has a mental problem. She chases the vacuum like crazy and while I ran away from the noise, she was a maniac in attack mode. I think she needs therapy.

Also, I am sad to report that Kibbles really isn't a dog. He fetches better than me and wants my food. However, after repeated butt smellings, he finally told me to bug off yesterday. This only hurt my feelings and I paced around a lot realizing that he was actually a cat. This was so confusing to me. Last night I slept on Bitseys bed in the beginning but when Janet woke up, I had moved to my own cozy bed with my blankie and smells of you all.

I am having fun in the yard with Chris, and yesterday I chased him around and got stuck a couple times in the drifts. This is only increasing my amazing agility. Say Hi back to Torpedo. Tell him he is lucky that I'm not there to herd him. Today I have big plans. It is supposed to be warm and sunny and I've gotten really in to the yard, the sun, and peeing on every possible part of the yard (and neighborhood) to show I'm here. It's been great. Right now I'm chasing around with Bitsey in the yard. She actually can play and is not just a drama queen. I'll send you a video of me in the snow, later.



Sub: My Video

Here is me barking and playing with Chris outside yesterday.



Sub: I need Therapy

Hi! I'm so glad you are having fun. It sounds like it's nice and warm. I miss you. Grandma and Grandpa Peterson called and they will be coming home soon. They say hi.

I was speaking very high and mighty last time about Bitsey needing therapy because now it looks like I might need it too. I showed my true craziness yesterday. I have this crazy hate relationship with Janet's boots that she just bought - rain boots with polka dots (they are so NOT cool). I'm not sure why they make me nuts but I couldn't stand it when she was in the yard yesterday and I was just driven to bite them like crazy and then I was attacking the shovel. Bitsey was looking at me like I had to get a hold of myself. I was just so out of control.

After my insanity, I spent a couple hours outside with the boys and I had so much fun that I became very very tired. Afterwards, I hung out on the couch with Alex and became a couch potato. You can see me here. His feet were nice and warm. We bonded.

I am a very good puppy even though some things make me nuts. Today the boys are at school so I am going to have a nice relaxing day at home.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Round 6: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terell Vs. Amy Winehouse

In 1967, Motown released one of the most beloved duets in popular music, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

Marvin Gaye's and Tammi Terrell's voices blended beautifully as two lovers committing their deep love for each other.  The Funk Brothers, Motown's session band created a mysteriously haunting opening that blossomed beautifully into the celebratory chorus.  


Amy Winehouse featured "Tears Dry On Their Own" on her breakout album Back to Back.  This song flawlessly rerecorded the insturmental backgrouds of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and added new lyrics and a new melody.

It's like a dream to hear the backgrounds recorded with such reverence and soul.  It's a reminder of the power of live musicians and how great the Funk Brothers original arrangements were.  Winehouse adds a flowing melody and through her unique almost Tom Waits-like singing tells a passionate and bluesy story.

The Winner:

I love Winehouse but she's no Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terell.  The way that they duet is pure joy.  You could listen to just the insturmental background of both "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Tears Dry On Their Own" and be floored by the power of that music, heck you would feel it with the just bass line.  And listening to just the vocal teack of Marvin and Tammi is a relevation.  However Winehouses performance on this song is just not on the same level.

Next Week: Coolio Vs. Stevie Wonder

Monday, February 14, 2011

Squeeze Box by The Who

“Come on! What happened to the angry defiant Who of ‘My Generation,’ ‘Won't Get Fooled Again’ and ‘Mama's Got a Squeeze Box.’?!?”

Homer’s Simpson’s plea to the Who to rebel against the other side of Springfield in the classic Simpson's episode “A Tale Of Two Springfield’s,” is a hilarious statement about one of my favorite Who songs.

Ok, so “Squeeze Box” isn’t the most socially relevant song and it doesn’t contribute to some grand rock opera like Tommy, but man this song is fun. It’s a song about the mother of a family who likes to play the accordion, ALL THE TIME. I mean even the dog can’t sleep. Dog’s can sleep through preety much anything. My puppy Buffy sleeps through my piano playing, guitar practicing and the loudest most violent action films I watch on the television.

This accordion must be really obnoxious

For a band who used a wide variety of innovative sounds in their music you’d think that if they were going to do a song about an instrument they would include it in the instrumentation. That’s just the thing though. “Squeeze Box” isn’t really about an accordion. It’s about the unbridled joy that come from playing an instrument even if everyone around you hates it.

“Squeeze Box” has a light relaxed groove to it as Daltrey paints a picture of a household tormented by music. Then there’s the whole “in and out” part that some have claimed are suggestive lyrics. Yes, I see how repeating that phrase can imply another meaning but if you take that meaning and place it in the context of the song it doesn't sense, which makes this implication ring false.

Now the bridge is a different story. I don’t know where thye are going with this thing. I could argue for the straightforward meaning of the rest of the lyrics but “squeeze me, c’mon on squeeze, c’mon and tease me like you do.”

Maybe this is the narrator looking into another room in the house or even crazier, maybe it’s the accordion's perspective. Ok, I can’t really explain this section, all I know is that musically it’s a great moment of release. The time stops and there is a sense of freedom and longing that comes from being away from something that you love.

“Squeeze Box,” isn’t meaningful in a social sense but Homer is kind of right grouping this song with “My Generation.” This song is about defiance and rebelling.  It just comes from an unexpected source: a mother who simply loves to play music.

Now, Sheryl Crow singing this song with an accordion brings a whole different meaning to this song.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Week 19: The Other Side Of Teaching

One of the things that young teachers often reflect when they start teaching is how most of job of being a teacher is not spent in front of students. Yes, teaching is the central part of what teachers do but honestly it’s only a fraction of the job. While some teacher mourn this situation, it’s not always such a bad thing.

Now a lot of time is taken up by lesson planing.  This activity can be a pain sometimes especially when you don’t have time to create a lesson but when you do, it’s awesome. Whenever I teach a song in class I spend time researching the material which I love doing. If we are really life-long learners as teachers lesson planning is a great opportunity to continue learning about out passions.

There is a science in the way a lesson is sequenced and a unit is organized. As I’ve discussed in earlier posts, I love making plans and I love it when a plan come together.  And sometimes it's even better when they don’t.

Then there’s the teacher meetings.  The gatherings include full faculty meetings, division meetings and department meetings. These meetings can be organized in many different ways. Sometimes it’s a book club discussing books related to education, these meetings can address specific problems and processes in the school and other times they feature guest speaker.

At their best these meetings rejuvenate, solve problems in the school and supply great new ideas on how to teach. At their worst, these meeting can well. . . be a waste of time.

The worst meeting I can  remember was at my first job a couple years ago. They had brought in a speaker on this new initiative called “problem solving.” It was this new process of solving problems that included like five different steps and was one of the most asinine ideas I had every heard in my entire life.  Has anyone tried to teach you something that you already knew how to do?  Yeah it was like that with the added bonus of the speaker's superiority complex.

As annoyed as I was at this experience, it was a great bonding experience with the other teachers at the meeting and a source of continued jokes in the following weeks. That’s just the thing, sometimes it’s the moments of frustration and annoyance in a shared experiences that make you feel like you are part of a community.  This is why the other things that I do in my day that aren’t teaching are some of my favorite things about the job because they do what that horrendous presentation do: help me become part of the school community.

I love standing in the hallways at the beginning of the school day and during dismissal talking to students, teachers and parents.  I make a point to eat lunch with other teachers, talking with students during recess and visiting classroom learning about what students are learning with other teachers.

Teaching cannot exist within a vacuum. Curriculum must reflect the environment in which it is taught to be relevant and effective. That environment is the larger society but more importantly it is the school community. If we are to truly understand what it means to teach within the context of a school we need to spend time being a member of that community.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Round 5: Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers Vs. Pras, Mya & Ol' Dirty Bastard

Can you imagine if this was an actually fight?  My money would totally be on Dolly Parton.

Anyways, in 1983 Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton released "Islands In The Stream."  At this time Dolly and Kenny were two of the most popular celebrities in America.  The idea of them singing a duet was a dream come true for many fans.

This love song written by the Bee Gees exemplifies the genre of Country Pop which permeated the 1980s.  Wholesome, optimistic and catchy, "Islands In The Stream" may not be a well known song nowadays but for people who were around when this song first came out, they have never fogotten it.


"Ghetto Superstar" by Pras featuring Pya and Ol' Dirty Bastard is my favorite rap song of all time.  Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying it's the best rap song ever recorded, there's just something about this song that has always stuck with me.

From the soundtrack of the film Bulworth, this song sampled the chorus of "Islands In The Sun" which Mya sings (not very well, mind you) and has rap verses from Pras of the Fugees, Wyclef Jean's breakout group and the late 'Ol Dirty Bastard from the Wu-Tang Clan.

Adding an awesome infectious bass line and an undeniably funky beat, this song really gets you grooving.  Pras and 'Ol Dirty do their thing rapping about paranoia, power and life in the ghetto.

The Winner:

"Ghetto Superstar" is one the great examples of sampling done right.  The chorus is not simply lifted but is re-interpreted to create a completely different emotion.  "Islands In The Sun" is a beautiful song but it really sounds dated.  While the lyrics of "Islands In The Stream" are universal and timeless, the raps in "Ghetto Superstar" are relevant even now in our society more than ten years after its release.   

Next Week: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terell Vs. Amy Whinehouse

Monday, February 7, 2011

Buffy Vs. The Snowpacalypse

This is my tenth year of living in Chicago. We have snowstorms every year, often multiple ones a year. The local news seems to build every single one up like it’s going to be the end of the world. This time they weren’t too far off.

Whatever you want to call it “The Snowpacalypse,” “Thundersnow” or my favorite “The Snowstorm of O’11” (I’ve decided I will always refer to years as the O’something), this storm really was a doozy.

My wife, Diana, sat on a Metra train (our commuter rail) for two hours, waiting for it to get going during the storm. She waited on three trains packed with people and through several rounds of technical problems (switch freezing, signal failure) before the trains got off.

I drove home in whiteout conditions on Lake Shore Drive and luckily got home before the madness of it getting shut down and people abandoning their cars. And Buffy, well, she seemed to handle it the best out of all of us.

I got home around 4:45 after my 20-minute commute took almost an hour and a half. I took Buffy out for her to do her business, and while it was a blizzard, it wasn’t that bad. She did her little excited trot, shoved her face deep into snow drifts and seemed to be completely unconcerned about the raging storm.

Toward the end of the walk, the wind started to pick up. Turning the corner to walk back to our condo, a strong wind almost flattened me. Combined with stinging snow, the wind was blinding. Holding up my arm in an attempt to block some snow from my eyes, I noticed Buffy looking straight ahead into the wind. Before I could get her to turn around, she barreled straight down the sidewalk.

The wind plastered down her hair so she resembled more a torpedo than a dog. Her narrow snout leading up to her shoulders seemed to cut straight through the wind. Before I knew it we were at the end of the block and at the entrance to our condo. This little twelve-pound dog just walked straight into 40-mile-per-hour winds in blinding blizzard and at the end of it looked up at me like, tail wagging, looking like we just played some kind of fun game.

The walk later in the evening was even more intense as the snow and wind picked up. Again, Buffy was undeterred, did her business and came in without trepidation.

First thing Wednesday morning, Buffy and I were the first ones out the front door. The door was stuck behind a huge snowdrift. We wrestled it open and it opened about 6 inches, enough for Buffy to go out and do her business.

Through Wednesday morning, the storm still brewed and as much as Buffy could handle being out in it, Diana and I couldn’t. So we waited until the afternoon to take Buffy out and explore. As you can see in this video, the snow that went up to her shoulders didn’t really bother her as she played joyously in the winter wonderland.

I’ve always thought that Buffy in snow was hilarious. The way that she jumps into snowdrifts, chasing snowballs, and goes insane with joy when the white stuff falls.

What I learned about Buffy in this snowstorm of the century is that she is one tough dog.  I've always believed that the people in your life should be the people admire.  The strength and fearlessness of my little girly-bear during this storm is something I truly admire about my Buffy.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Week 18: The Social Workplace

At my first teaching job I spent all of time my time either in my office or teaching in the classroom. I felt envious of other teachers who I saw relaxing and hanging out but I felt so overwhelmed by my job that I didn’t feel I had the time to socialize.

About half way through the year, I realized how isolated I felt. I hadn’t taken advantage of new teacher events and the “oh you’re new here” openness people expressed to me had worn out.

The next year I made more of an effort to get to get know people but in way it was too late. Now, part of it was the fact that I didn’t gel with the people I worked with. I’m not saying that they weren’t all nice people, it’s just that sometimes people just don’t click and it’s nobody’s fault. But honestly the biggest part of it was me. I don’t think I could have done any different with my time but I wish it could have been another way.

When I started this new job last fall a couple things were different. I had more experience so I was more efficient with my time, I had significantly more prep time in my schedule (which is my new argument for how to make teachers better in America) and I wanted to simply have more fun with my job.

So in my first month at my job I visited more than 20 different classrooms in the school, spent time hanging out with in the different school offices chilling with administrative assistants and got to know as many people as possible.

I found that I seemed to click more with the people at this school than with the people at my first job.  This had as much to do the effort I put into getting to know people as the type of person at my new job, who are a lot like me.

There are also practical reasons to be social beyond the joy of hanging out. You do not want the only time that you talk to your boss to be when you have bad news. And even though it’s a tech person’s job to help you with your computer, he or she is a lot more likely to be actually help you if you have some friendly interactions before you faced the beach ball of doom.

Almost all jobs are the business of working with people. While it may mean that you have to stay at work a little later taking time to get to know the people around you makes you a happier and more productive worker. 

Also, it makes work that much more entertaining. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Round 4: Tommy James & The Shondells Vs. Billy Idol

Inspired by the Mutual Of New York building (M.O.N.Y. . . . Mony, get it?), Tommy James & The Shondells scored their biggest hit in 1968 with "Mony, Mony."  An true rock anthem, this song has endured as statement of freedom, fun and everything that is great about rock.

With a simple but infectious keyboard riff and a one of the coolest break-downs in the middle of the song you will ever hear, it's nigh-impossible to listen to this song and not rock out.


Spike, I mean Billy Idol covered this song in 1981, which became of his biggest hits.  The only major change to this song was updating the insturments to more 1980s sensibilities.

Invigorating this song for the new generation, Idol's version featured synthesizers and thicker guitar parts.

 The Winner:

What makes this song so great is it's garage band-like energy.  There is something so much more organic and genuine feeling about Tommy James & The Shondells' version.  It's more raw, not as polished and not as commercial.  While Idol brings great energy to this song the Tommy James version captures a moment in rock history and an exuberance that Billy Idol imitates but doesn't fully replicate. 

Springsteen on the other hand gets pretty close.

Next Week: Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers Vs. Pras, Mya & Ol' Dirty Bastard