Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Younger Than That Now

My message is for the young ones. Oh, I don't prefer kids to geezers. It occurs to me, however, that folks my age have mostly made up their minds. About everything. They're left or they're right. Some of them are avid environmentalists and some of them still bow down to Wall Street. From my perspective you're either looking under every rock for the truth or you're busy waiting to die.

My I pod has changed my life for the better. That doesn't mean that I've enjoyed sitting across from friends at a back table in the diner while they tweet about where we are on their I phone. I love technology. I hope never to be a slave to it.

Some things never change. War is bad. War has always been bad. It's never gonna get good. Next time we watch a crowd of rowdy boys chanting, "USA, USA," let's hope we're tuned into an olympic event, not a foreign invasion involving shock and awe. Love is good. It's always gonna be good. Love with all of your heart, all the time.

My music brings me more joy than ever at this stage of my life. I'm preaching to the kids, however. Big Joe Turner preached to me when I was a kid. So did Elvis and Little Willie John and Sam Cooke. That's where I pieced together whatever little message that I have. I have a big debt to pay.

I hope old folks listen to my music and I hope they like it. I'm playing it for my audience, though. The kids.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I'll Let It Come To Me

It's a lucky fellow who asks a dumb rhetorical question about chasing happiness and gets serious, thoughtful answers. My old pal, Bill Mann, got the ball rolling. His idea is to lock myself away in a quiet, sunny room with my dog and get to work on some positive, happy songs. 

I know that I've told you this before but I never knew that I wrote sad songs til it was pointed out to me. Okay. Now it has been pointed out to me and I hear it. While I've never set out to put together dark ones, I think that I can write happy ones if I try.

Bill's idea is that sometimes life imitates art and I keep living these sad songs. You know what? I think he's on to something. I ran it past my buddy, Walt, at lunch. He thinks so, too. I've got nothing to lose but these blues.

For the time being I'm gonna let happiness pursue me. If it works out I'm gonna try the same thing with women and success. Maybe wisdom, too.

Please buy this new record because I'm hoping that it's the last sad one. I'm starting the new, happy one today. I don't care for sarcasm and this seems to reek of it. Nope. I love you all.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chasing Happy

With way too much time on my hands I find myself chasing happiness the way that you try to focus on a floater. You know how the little tricksters jump to a new spot when you try to look right at one of them? I got to be something of a master at blue. No future there.

Now I obsess over the past and worry about missed opportunity and fret over any impurities in my heart. My dog and I spend far too much time in the great state of anxious. She worries that I'm gonna leave the house. I don't know what I worry about. 

I'm open to suggestion here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


What if I don't save the world? What if my negatives outweigh my positives at the end? I keep promising myself that I've finished all preparations and that it's living from here on out. Next thing you know I've got dark thoughts in my head and I'm wasting my time doing nothing. I did cut my hair today, my fingernails, too. I can't help but wonder if Einstein or Eleanor Roosevelt or Hank Ballard wasted time on that kind of mundane crap.

Welding with stardust, patching holes in the cosmos- that's what I'm wanting to spend my time on. Of course dating showgirls and sipping champagne sounds fine, too. I should probably meditate and masturbate more. A bonobo's life for me, hoho.

Grave Matters

A wife once asked me, "Is there anything else in life that you want to do? Are there any ambitions that you work towards?"

When I answered that I really just wanted to live life and see what happens I got in trouble. Wrong answer, I suppose.

When all of these films came along and old geezers began comparing bucket lists I checked out. My bucket's got a hole in it. Oh, I still hope to see the rest of the world and I want to fight the good fight to save the planet. I'm still hoping to write a song that burns with truth and hope and beauty.

For the most part, though, I want to live and love. I believe everything will work out for the best. Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Guess I Am

"Are you a hippie?" It was the summer of 1965 and my younger friend Mike Regar's question caught me off guard. There wasn't much of a negative association with the term yet. I suppose that maybe I struggled for just a moment to clarify my worthiness. I hadn't really taken any drugs to speak of. I think I had smoked dope once. I surely believed in the concept of free love but I was hardly any kind of participant. Peace and love? I was okay on that one. My grandmother had taught me that there are no good wars. She was a hippie.

I would be lying if I said that I remember how I answered Mike's sweet, innocent question. I hope I said yes.

Who was the first hippie? Who knows. Jesus or Buddha might get my vote. In this polarized culture these days you have to have your "opinion"ready for the argument. Therefore, I go officially with Harry, The Handsome Hipster, Gibson. He had already renamed himself Harry The Hipster in 1940. On the radio in 1945, though, Stan Kenton referred to him as "Hippie."

We need the hippies now. We need peace and we need love. We need to fight poverty. Someone's gonna have to reform our prison system, our entire system of justice, in fact. We need a leader with the fortitude to stand up to the NRA. Who's ready to expose the military industrial complex and shut down these arms industries. Where are the heroes to face our complex immigration problems. We need to take turns holding and hugging and rocking the orphans and showing all the love and respect that our elderly population needs and deserves.

Come home, hippies. We need you now.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Old Cowboys

In all of Shakespeare's finest westerns the young, fast gun finally falls to a younger, quicker hotshot. The tragedy always follows the same course. The new kid with the white hat is looking for peace and justice. Usually he's looking for a little love, too.

As he grows older our hero has typically been tested, tempted by dark forces hidden behind every sage brush, every cactus.

The U.S.A. got its white hat quickly and fiercely, shooting the villains in the back when necessary, stealing the land, itself, from the original inhabitants; building a new system of wealth on the back of slavery and taking other gunslingers' land through drummed up war and patriotism. We didn't steal Texas and California from Mexico because Davy and Sam and the boys liked to sing the Star Spangled Banner. We took it because Mexico had outlawed slavery and that act threatened the ancestors of those rich white guys who still run that burg. 

Obviously, the next big wars won't be fought with bombers longer than football fields or even drones. We won't be dropping G.I.'s out of airplanes over the middle east. Computers will shut down infrastructures, banks, utility grids.

We're still building those bombers and those tanks. The wealthy crooks who bought our government some time back make a great deal of money with the stocks of the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about.

Oh, we have some heroes fighting the good fight. Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich and a handful of other brave, noble cowpokes with noble dreams and nerves of steel.

In the final chapter, however, Willy The Shake would have the young China Kid ride into town and pin the star on his own vest. 

I'm already looking forward to the sequel. I'm waiting for the really good guy to ride in.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Our World

It's not their world. It's our world. As long as folks are hungry and prisoners are locked up; as long as people need medicine and the earth is being defiled; as long as bankers are moving honest citizens out of their homes and crooks who have bought our governments are stealing from the rest of us, we have an obligation to stand up and change things. Hey soldier, put down that gun. Hey guard, help that prisoner. Show him some compassion and share some love.

Let's demand a ban on assault weapons now. The NRA doesn't own my government. They may have bought it but I'm demanding it back.

It's time for a revolution of love and common sense, fairness and equality, peace and compassion. Not just the U.S. either. Those Canadians don't have any right clubbing those baby seals. Those Japanese pirates can't go around disregarding international law and taking our whales.

I don't like to think that Gandhi and Jesus and Buddha and Einstein and Mother Teresa and Woody Guthrie worked for nothing. Get up. Pay attention. Cram flowers down their gun barrels.

All you need is love.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Honestly, I'm weary of working to figure this stuff out. I woke up this morning worn out from dreaming about women leaving. I couldn't tell who was staying and who was going. 

I remember more than one therapist trying to explain to me that I had issues regarding my father, whom I never met, whether I could call them up or not. I talked to him on the phone once about ten years ago. He may still be alive. I don't know.

Maybe the terrifying fact of abandonment has more to do with my fragile state than my failure of romance. Who knows? Who cares?

It's hard to face the fact that I'm far more damaged and wrecked than I have ever wanted to consider. I cry when sad dog songs come on the radio. It happened yesterday when Fred Eaglesmith came on. I fall apart when I stumble upon sad girls, too. What kind of over-inflated ego jumps to the conclusion that an individual might help?

I still worry about that one-legged seagull who wasn't getting his share of bread crumbs sixty years ago. I wouldn't change this crazy behavior if I could. I wouldn't want to.

Pray for peace. Search for truth. Settle for love.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Life With And Without Romance

Most folks learn from their mistakes. Hardly anyone puts his hand on a hot stove twice. Of course I would love to believe that I can live alone happily, that I don't need romance.

It seems that I have believed that women were in love with me because they said they were. I guess I have wanted to believe it. Now, I don't dread the end so much. I just don't want to be alone. The other side of the coin is that I'm now terrified that it could happen again.

A few will put their hand on that stove again. Meet the King of Romance.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Don't Know What I'm Looking For

I suppose we would all like to think of ourselves as seekers, looking for the truth, searching for meaning. What if I don't know what I'm looking for. Oh, I know, I know, the search is the whole enchilada. Still, what if I stumble right over it. Worse yet, what if I already had it. What if I had it once and let it slip away.

I should go out and do a little yard work for the neighbors' benefit. What if the love of my life calls while I'm out there and doesn't leave a message.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hard Times Welcome

Maybe I look for a broken heart so that I'll have something to write about. I'd like to think that I have enough imagination to fill up a songbook. Maybe not. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Nerves

I'm afraid that I sometimes get too much credit for a literary bent that exists mostly in some critics' minds. Of course I'll take it. I seem to have been a little something of a critics' darling and I'm pretty sure that it's due to my obscurity. You know, we all like to feel like we are in on the best kept secrets.

When I was a kid my grandmother always told me, "My nerves are bad tonight," when she had the blues. Now I never wanted to see Grandma sad but I always liked the ring of that phrase. When I came as close to growing up as I was ever gonna get I knew that sometimes my nerves were bad.

I wrote a throwaway song called My Nerves Are Bad Tonight and named the record after it. I still get e-mails from kind folks letting me know that they admire my work and the poems that t.s. eliot left us. Who knew that sometimes his nerves were bad at night, too.

I remember when it occurred to me that "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," meant just that. You don't. I'm a bigger fan of Bob Dylan's now than I was in 1964. Every Jewish kid from Minnesota needs an act to be in showbiz. This crazy, old croaking guy is the real thing. Luckily for all of us he lived long enough to become the act.

I suppose that I should disclose here that t.s. and I are unrelated.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Love Letter To Cool

My friends can tell you that I rarely use slang. I've never felt worthy. My pal, Gary Dobbins, was a slang machine. He was cool. Jesus was, too. Elvis was for a little while. I suspect it may be impossible to maintain once the world bows at your feet. I guess that the difference was that Jesus' act wasn't too big while he was here.

I've known some other cool folks. Not many. Seems that if you worry about cool, you'll never get there.

We all know it when we see it. Kinda' like pornography in that way. I love you all. Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Learning To Live

You always read about and hear about folks having to learn to speak again after a stroke or some other brain trauma. Maybe the same thing is true after breaking your heart. Oh, I can speak. I never seem to shut up. I seem to have found myself trying to learn to live again, laugh again.

Seems that I boarded the bad karma train a few years back and couldn't seem to get off the damned thing. Everything that I had ever read about loss suddenly seemed real. Too real.

I whined and people hugged me. I found out more about friends and love than I had ever known about before. I can't recommend the method but it's great to know that we're all knee-deep in the stuff if you look around. I hope to change the world some tiny little bit by loving like crazy. I have a debt to repay. Besides, it's fun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Well, it's my favorite time of the year and I thought it would never get here. I'm shuffling through song lists and doing laundry getting ready for Oklahoma. Woodyfest in Okemah, Woody's home town, is unique in every way. Love flows on the streets of this little spot in the middle of the Indian Nation.

Woody was always a hero but, I have to admit, a minor one on my roster. I always thought of folk music as that stuff that white folks messed with due to a lack of soul.

My first year changed all that. Onstage with everyone trading verses on This Land Is Your Land for the finale I looked out into the eyes and the lights and saw tears streaming down the cheeks as far into the crowd as I could see. I realized they were running down mine as well.

Who knew that I was such a patriot? I'm not talking about waving flags or chanting, "U.S.A., U.S.A.," every time we bomb another nation. I'm thinking here of setting the standards for kindness and fairness and freedom. I'm thinking of a land of opportunity for everyone and a population that stands up for the oppressed and the disenfranchised.

I never thought of myself as a commie, either. Then I started to realize that some folks were beginning to think of me in that way. Heck, I was no more a commie than Woody or Jesus. Wait a minute. By the definition cooked up by Fox News, I am a commie.

I'm going to see folks that I love in Oklahoma. I can't wait.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What About The Plan?

Somewhere along the line something went wrong. Or right. At the age of eleven or twelve I had a master plan. I was gonna go to Florida State University after a distinguished high school career based on being a big football star. Scholarships would surely be involved. I think that the school selection was probably based on the natural beauty of all the moss draped oaks as I would gaze out the window of the Greyhound on the way to Birmingham for the summer. I seem to make decisions based on that kind of information and data today, too.

After college, of course, I would need to serve my country. Jet pilot in the air force seemed right. 

Bachelorhood was obvious for a playboy lifestyle and I would always ride a motorcycle instead of being tied down to a car. Of course I was planning to race cars, probably for my livelihood. Winning at Indianapolis was a definite plan. Fuel dragsters were somehow in the scheme, too, but that one wouldn't get as much attention for a few more years.

At the tender age of eight I had seen To Hell And Back, the Audie Murphy story. Actually I saw it seven times in a week. It was the more or less true story of America's most decorated war hero from WW II, the big one. He had slipped off his Texas farm at fourteen, lied about his age and shipped out to the front to fight for democracy and glory. Somehow this was the catalyst for me.

Turns out that Elvis had planted another seed. Of course he was a god and that one seemed farfetched compared to fast jets and race cars. I could never quite shake that one, though. 
Then the Beatles turned my head around and I never looked back. They were humans. Mortals. They had crooked teeth and girls screamed at the mention of their names. They played Chuck Berry songs!

Audie Murphy was a war hero, then a movie star. He died young, a troubled drunk.

I do what I do.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Last Lap

It's hard to ignore the facts. This is probably my last dog, my final car, the last home I'll ever own. It becomes more obvious to me every day that my last romance has come and gone. My new record, I've Been Meaning To Write, will be out in a week or two and it will likely be the last one I do. The record business, as I have known it, is over. Good riddance.

I'm not whining. It's not sad. There is a certain melancholy that washes over all of this. Somebody told me once, "Somewhere out there there's a kid that you've influenced whose life has been changed by what you do." I hope so.

Here's a song from the new record.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Waiting To Write, Waiting To Live

It was years ago that I figured out that I'm constantly waiting to start living. There's always a job to get or a class to finish. A wedding coming up, usually mine, or a fence to be painted. Well, sir, let me announce to the world that the time has come. Go! I'm living. I have nothing left to wait for. That's good, right?

I'll cut my nails when I want to and I'll do my laundry when I'm in the mood. Luckily, I suppose, I'm riddled with a bad case of the Christian work ethic and I'm not about to let much go. I will live, though. 

My new record is due out in August. It's titled "I've Been Meaning To Write." I'm writing, too. I'm gonna finish my book and I'm writing my new play as fast as I can. I hope that something that I do makes someone a little happier. Love everybody and tell 'em. Stand up for the ones who can't stand up for themselves. Forgive everybody who has hurt you and start with yourself.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Who Cares?

First it was just those patches of whiskers that I would miss. I always stared in bemusement at old men who seemed to leave random regions of their necks and faces unshaved. I suppose that I always took it as a sign of freedom from the rigors of bother. I'll bet that Robert Mitchum missed wide expanses at the end.

At any rate I never thought that the day would come for me. Well, it did. It came quickly, too. The music's often too loud for me now, too. I no longer worry about what women who could be my daughter are thinking about me. Now it's women who could be my granddaughter. They're probably considering offering me help to cross the street.

At least I'm me. What you see is what you get. I try to tell the truth as I know it and I try not to judge others. I've never gotten too good at anything. I suppose that will keep you in an acceptable range of humility. People are good to me and I'm glad. I look forward to whatever's next.