You'll never catch me dying my hair. I won't be caught in today's fashions, either. Of course I never was.
Remember when women of a certain age began to wear "grandma shoes" because it was expected of them? Now at that point in life it's time to get a personal trainer and look up some old boyfriend from college.
Maybe it's rock'n'roll. I don't struggle to stay young but I surely refuse to grow up. Peter Pan? So what! I'm not sure that I didn't start out old. I am who I am. I like to think that I've grown. I suppose I flatter myself to think that I do better. I'm just now starting to learn my job, to get the hang of this thing.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
My grandmother saw the transition from horse and buggy to the automobile. She would have been eleven or twelve years old when McKinley was assassinated and a young seventy one when we lost JFK. The 19th amendment gave her the right to vote in 1920 and she breezed through prohibition. She heard about the Wright Brothers and their little invention, took her first airplane ride in the early '60's and watched Walter Cronkite show us footage of a man walking on the moon.
She was here for the birth of rock'n'roll, too, and she always loved it.
Grandma, Elvis & Mom
Oh, I've got some stories but nothing like what she had. I was here for the beginning of rock'n'roll, too, though and I will always be grateful for that.
Let me admit right off the bat that some of my business ideas have lacked a certain level of common sense, reality-based planning. Figure 8 Bicycle Racing never got off the ground. Let me say, in my defense, that if Princess Grace had lived, the grand opening in Monaco would have permanently changed the hoi polloi as we know it.
Over breakfast with my pal, Harry, this morning lightning struck again. Don't mail cash yet. I need to get a few legal details ironed out and my attorney is out of town.
My new non-profit, People For The Ethical Treatment Of Idiots, is my ticket out of this burg. Harry is, of course, begging to be my treasurer and cfo. When I pointed out that he is an idiot, he pointed out the logic. It's hard to argue with that kind of reasoning.
Soon you will be able to order t-shirts and tote bags with Harry's face. We will probably launch some kind of telethon soon after we get on Oprah or Conan or something. Meanwhile, be kind to the idiots in your life.
Well, none of us can be surprised that ol' No Show has gone on. Eighty one years is a good run even if you haven't worked hard on self destruction for decades. Makes me start to really appreciate the power of heartbreak communicated through song. I love happy music. I could march around the kitchen to Sousa all day or slide across the floor to Arthur Conley until I wore out my socks.
Ray Charles tore my heart out, though. On a regular basis, too. When Hank Williams told us how lonely he was it killed me, even as a kid. Little Willie John wreaked havoc with my emotions. It's a long list. It would be impossible not to mention Billie Holiday and Arthur Alexander.
I never had in mind singing sad tunes. Never knew I did until folks started asking me about it. I don't see much of a future in peddling sadness. Hasn't really paid that well for the last fifty years. You do what you do, though. I'm a happy guy.
Talent? Overrated in my opinion. It's on every street corner. Looking for your fifteen minutes that Andy promised you? Create a look that changes everything and build it around an outrageous hairdo that no one can ignore. This is Esquerita. He was wildly talented. His hairdo caught the eye of Richard Penniman who was going by the moniker, Little Richard. Oh yeah, he was wildly talented, too. When I first read Esquerita's claims that Richard had borrowed the look I was appalled. Then I heard Mr. Penniman gushing about Esquerita and saying that he had borrowed the idea of the look from him.
Next thing you know little Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota has become Bob Dylan. He had always wanted to be Little Richard. Well, up until he decided that he wanted to be Woody Guthrie. By the release of Highway 61 Revisited there was the hairdo again. This time he hit it out of the park and he was famous. No, he was a legend.
You see, originality is not the key here. We all saw Moe Howard's pudding basin coiffure long before we saw newsreel footage of the Beatles on Jack Paar. No, it has more to do with attitude and putting that look out there.
I don't need to provide any kind of complete list to make my point here. For me and lots of others rock'n'roll got a kickstart from Bill Haley. Rock Around the Clock was magic but that spit curl was other worldly. Of course Elvis threatened all western civilization with sideburns and a ducktail.
Is this sexist? Marilyn was the blonde, right? Jayne just went blonder. It's all across the board, all over the map, all through history. Einstein, Gorgeous George, Angela Davis, Yul Brynner, Jerry Lewis, Jesus.
Yeah, my showbiz advice: get a ruthless agent. First, though: get your hairdo right.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
When are we going to begin celebrating the real heroes in our culture? Let's give awards to the special ed teachers, the garbage men, the first responders and the babysitters.
We should certainly be paying our firemen more than we pay our legislators, shouldn't we? After all, if the firemen just went home on vacation in the middle of their work we would all be in trouble. Have we decided that big pay and the car that we drive determines the pecking order? Why does a rapper or a linebacker who prances in a municipally subsidized arena every week make more than a principal in an underfunded urban middle school?
Our working class heroes shouldn't be waiting for some reward in heaven. Who's in charge here?
So some guys decide that squiggly lines that they draw on maps determine what they own. If their ancestors killed someone else's family to take the land, so be it. Those same guys will determine which body of water separates one country from another and who gets to come and go and how long they can stay. When my pals and I get fed up with the arrangement we call for a revolution so that we can become those guys.
We will allow the ones who think correctly to vote but we'll keep adjusting how the voting is conducted and how the votes are counted to make sure that the guys in power stay in power. Sometimes those other guys take the power for a bit. Nothing to worry about. They're on the same basic team.
When you add in the fact that war is their biggest pastime and most profitable endeavor the picture is complete. Oh yeah, we're still at #27 for infant mortality in this country. Now the picture is complete.
We will always justify all of this by reminding the others that God, Himself, is on our side. Those other pesky heathens make the same claim. Somebody's going to hell here, boy.
We'll change it with love but I hope you're not in a hurry.
Newspapers, buggy whips, rock'n'roll. I guess I miss 'em all. The future dazzles me, though. It all just goes 'round and 'round any way. I hope I don't croak before I get a chance to grow up. Wait. Let me think about that.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
It's hard to watch the mobs shouting, "USA, USA!"on all the cable news shows. I'm afraid that it brings back the sad, sad memories of shock and awe as we cheered on the troops marching into Iraq. I'm certainly thrilled that the city of Boston has shown such resiliency in the face of tragedy but I long for a kinder, sweeter society. We're slow learners, aren't we?
Let me just declare rock'n'roll holy and let's get down to fixing this old planet right up. In the name of Chuck Berry and all that is righteous I bring you the message of peace and love and rock'n'roll.
All those tired, worn out cliches bore me like they do you. Just because you find most of them to be true doesn't help. Now, here I am. I don't want anything. I need even less.
If that genie pops out of this bottle in front of me I'm ready though. What I wouldn't give for five more minutes with my mom to tell her what a special and perfect life she gave me. If I could just hug Grandma one more time and rub Charcoal's ears again it would fill my heart.
Don't ever miss an opportunity to pour out all of that love. Somebody needs it. No, wait, everybody needs it.
All you need is love. Everybody needs somebody to love. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. I could go on.
Just finished a birthday and here's another one. I'll be celebrating this weekend enjoying the company of Harry and Walt at the Hideaway Cafe in St. Pete this Saturday. I'm living in 78 r.p.m. I'm a single act.
Can't say that I dream much about celebrities. Glad of it, too. I woke up this morning, though, with the idea that Bob Dylan was making important investment decisions and all of the bankers were scurrying around to help. Went back to sleep to find Mr. Zimmerman starring in a new one. This time he was predicting Gypsy Moths. Yeah, they were coming and plenty of them, too. What do you suppose this means? Now, I've never been one of those Dylan nuts. I mean he sings pretty and he's had some fantastic hair dos, at least for a white guy, but I've never fully worshipped at the altar if you know what I mean.
Do you suppose that celebrities ever dream about me? I mean does the aging Tuesday Weld ever sit straight up in bed and wonder out loud, "Who is this guy?"
We can never afford to wait for tragedy like the terrible events at the Boston Marathon to come together in peace and love. Don't ever let a bad mood or some trivial disappointment in your routine slow down your commitment to spread love.
All that crap that you've always heard about telling someone that you love them today? Get busy. Don't just tell them. Love! It's our most important job.
You're probably sick of all my bragging about my good genes. I don't blame you. Since I don't have the good sense to take care of myself I have to consider my good fortune with the good hand that I was given.
Now we know that compassion is all tied to our genetic makeup and I consider this to be my greatest gift. I surely don't consider myself better than anyone else. I am, however, eternally grateful to have a heart that overflows with love and a desire to take care of everything around me.
Most of my role models shared plenty of my DNA. All you need is love. Pass the word. Spread the love.
Yeah, my Ten Commandments are around here somewhere. In fact, I updated them and wrote another ten some decades back. I think I've probably published them here before. It's obvious to me by now that anyone who puts any thought into right and wrong knows, instinctively, right from wrong. Beware of anyone who wants the power.
The first time that a wife ever dragged me to a therapist it was so that the issue of my craziness could be made semi-public. Well, I already knew that I was crazy so we could have saved a few bucks. When the nice lady informed us that we were both crazy the tears began to flow. Didn't see that coming.
Now I'm going back to see the therapist next week. If I could afford it I would probably go on a Woody Allen schedule. Looks like once every ten years isn't working so well. I'm pretty sure that mental health is just around the corner. Unfortunately death by old age is nipping at my heels.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
If it seems that I quote myself too often here it's because those are the things that I can remember.
"The joy in your soul means more than what you earn."
Heck, if that turns out to be true, I'm rich! I have found myself onstage making light of that line. I suppose I'm afraid that some cynical soul in the audience will take me for a bleeding heart patsy. I am. I believe in all of those lessons from Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Snow White and the bible.
Looking over my shoulder I can see that I have often allowed someone else's image of me warp my happiness. Well, that's not their fault. Let's face it, I'm no prize.
I do, however, posses more of this "joy" than should be allowed by law. I always have. Sadness? Banned from my soul. Goodbye forever. I've said it before: a bonobo's life for me.
Another day, another comic book light bulb over my head. As I bob spasmodically in the shallow end of the pool lost in my own version of water aerobics I keep an eye on the babies in the far lane learning to flip over onto their backs. This simple trick will save hundreds of kids each year. A baby will float. That's physics. If the baby floats face down, he drowns. If he picks up the instinct to flip over on his back he's safe in the water.
Well, you watch these little angels cry for their moms and it breaks your heart. The agony on the mothers' faces is obvious. Everybody knows it's for the best.
Once the little ones are placed back on the deck and bundled in beach blankets for security and warmth the joy is contagious.
Wow. It occurs to me that I'm witnessing pure love.
Once we've been hurt, let down, lied to the whole game changes. From that point we love with a backup plan. Now we have a defensive team going. Unconditional love is over. Jealousy, control and suspicion take their place on the field. No good can come from this.
Me? I'm going back. I'm sacking the defense and loving the way I did as a kid. If I tell you that I love you, that's it. No strings, no conditions.
If patience is, indeed, a virtue I'm a pretty bad guy. I want peace and I want it now. I'm not willing to wait for equal rights for our LGBT friends or equal pay for women. I demand a fair immigration policy and I want those hacks in D.C. to do something about our gun laws now. Let's re-haul the tax code and let's do it immediately. Why should anyone in this country be denied proper medical care including psychological help. This planet belongs to all of us and there's not a corporation out there that has the right to foul the air or the water.
So Elvis worshipped Jesus and John Lennon wanted to be Elvis and happened to innocently notice that the Beatles were bigger than Christ. Bob Dylan wanted to be Little Richard while he was still Bobby Zimmerman and then decided on Woody Guthrie.
Me? Oh, I've wanted to be Marlon Brando and Nikolai Volkof. Elvis, Einstein and Buzzie Reutimann, too. I shouldn't leave out Audie Murphy or James Dean. Clearly, Jimmy wanted to be Marlon, as well.
Seems that the hippies longed to be beatniks and, of course, the beats hated the hippies. At least Jack did.
Now, I just want to be me. Ragged, broke and out of tune, I know. Lord Buckley said that we're all special. He didn't convince me, he just opened my eyes to it. I'm drawn to the hurt. It is the height of arrogance to consider that you can ease another person's pain. Hurting someone is the lowest blow, the darkest foul. We all remember what the road to hell is paved with.
I will let love and fate determine my future. As though I had any other choice, huh?
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war. I love you.
Tear off the rear view mirror. There's no use looking back. The Iron Lady's stiff. All we have is what's before us. It's not what we've been, it's what we are. You can watch Mad Men and see what sorta' mess is possible if you put your mind to it. Leave the drama in the corner and live. Love.
I know you've been hurt. We all have. I know about the damage. If you give in to it you can suffer forever. Count the stars and breathe in pure love. It's everywhere. It's your world. It's your life. Take off your clothes and throw 'em in the corner.
Somehow I've always waited for the stars to align. Suddenly it occurs to me that they're always in the right place. I need to shift a little more often.
Have you ever stared into a bowl of marbles. More beauty than anything in any of Tiffany's showcases. If we ever declare them rare, rich folks will be paying through the nose for them. Maybe that's the same thinking that causes so many friends to suggest death to me as a career move. I might need new friends.
The New York Times reminds me again this morning that governments kill people. It's not evil, of course. They only kill bad people. They decide who is bad. No wonder we struggle to keep government and religion separate. Ain't gonna study war no more.
Seems that maybe I've used up all of my bad. Stars twinkle and folks seem to glow. Politics is starting to become the joke that I've been unable to ignore for so long. Love is all in my heart and not waiting for some romantic version of Godot.
“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.” Beckett.
Uncle Morgan used to take me and my cousin, George, to the stock car races at Phillips Field most Saturday nights. It was a quarter mile asphalt track around the football field used by the University of Tampa. At the west end of the oval was the Hillsborough River. If a driver missed the number one turn it was into the dark, dank drink. Man! That's show biz. Buzzie Reutimann transformed himself into star. His '35 Chevy 00 was iconic. While those other hillbillies sported greasy t-shirts Buzzie was resplendent in his red satin shirt that his mom had tailored for him. Did I mention that he started when he was fourteen years old? Of course he learned it all from the old man. Emil, his dad and the proprietor of Reutimann Chevrolet in Zephyrhills, was always dapper in his blue satin shirt. His 00 with "Go First Class" painted on the roof ran in the A class.
My rock'n'roll sensibility comes as much from the Reutimanns as from Elvis. I was inspired by Audie Murphy, Gorgeous George, Y.A. Tittle, the Von Brauners and Annemann. Give 'em their money's worth. Leave puddles; yours and theirs.
What a trip. What wonderful scenery and what beautiful characters. I'm gonna have to admit that I have long worried that once you get it figured out, it's over. I hope that's not right. I'm finally there. Life couldn't be better. Those Korean threats are just like the concept of the music business failing. Distractions. I'm not in the music business. I play music.
There are only a few important things out there. They all involve love. Where there's hunger and hopelessness somebody needs your love. Where there are power mongers bellowing about politics, there's a call for love. Try it. There will always be distractions. There will always be love.