Okay. So I'm trying to run this little thing without any attachment to my obsessions over politics, romance or whatever causes me to spin out and go over the wall. I'm not making it!
Why does BP, that inglorious piece of crap that threatens our very planet for shareholder returns to evil jerks, get to advertise on the remaining networks regarding their self-righteous concerns about safety and the environment? Why are they allowed to lobby, no, own our spineless government?
Why have I ended up here, at the intersection of heartbreak and insignificance?
Why is The Voice the determining factor in hip?
Make medicine out of poison. Power the love machine with hate. It needs to be burned and it shouldn't go to waste.
Throughout my life I suppose that I have remained almost willfully oblivious to actions that would have major impact on my life. I have given more thought to quitting a band than ending a relationship. I've spent more time fretting about the color of a new car than I have put into big career decisions. I like to think that I've had other folks' well being in mind as I've blundered through but that is probably just an attempt at avoiding guilt. I can surely glance in my rearview mirror and see that I've left major pileups behind me.
Now, here I am. This is it. Existence. Oh, I suppose I can walk the dog. I could have another cup of coffee and walk her later. Maybe I'll go to the Y and bob around in the pool for a bit. That mulch ain't gonna move itself. There are those songs that aren't finished but what am I gonna do with them?
I seem to have a batch of love and nothing to do with it. I've got a career, if you can call it that, with no decisions to be made. Only my dog has patience to put up with me. That's alright, she's the only one who has to.
I know what it sounds like but this is not me feeling sorry for myself. Lots of folks would love to be in my situation. It's just weird. I guess I always assumed that some zen existence was something that you sought out and pieced together. Never occurred to me that it might just show up at the door one day.
My take has all been that we're all crazy. Well, a little crazy. None of us are like any of the others and never will be. Someone is going to set the criteria that determines who's okay. Well, that one is a little crazy. Let's just all work to be better. Make love, not war. You know what I'm saying. Just follow the bumper stickers and the ten commandments and the t shirts. Practice random acts of kindness, blah blah.
While we're at it, let's work to get rid of the stigma surrounding real mental illness and take care of those folks, too. All you need is love. Maybe some meds but, mostly, just love.
I'm pretty sure that I've told you this before. I notice that the only time that Jamaica is mad is when she's scared. I'm pretty sure it works that same way with humans. Unless we're provoked by another human it seems to me that we're only angry when we are frightened.
So here I am up at 6:00 am because I have to do a radio show at 9:00. Of course the cat started working me over at 4:00. Didn't matter. At 2:00 I was wide awake worrying about a line that I read somewhere yesterday.
"He was the only man she ever really loved."
Isn't that all there is. I mean why would any man aspire to anything beyond that on his headstone. I give up a little every day.
Did I ever tell you about my refrigerator? It was in the house when I bought it. Wasn't really old enough to be truly funky but it had a good scale and nice rounded corners. Kept the beer cold. It was just a touch boring, sitting there all white and everything.
Well, I never saw a hot rod that didn't look better after some fine flames were painted on. I got my pal, Ed Brown, to go to work on her. When I tried to tell Ed what I wanted, "You know, blue and yellow tips with green outlines..."
"I know, I know. Get out of the way."
Of course, he did. Ed knew everything about high art. Well, according to Ed, he knew everything.
It was, as you might imagine, a beauty. Its existence fascinated everybody who came through the kitchen and it still kept the beer cold.
You're gonna think I'm making this up but it caught fire in the middle of the night after about ten years. Fortunately it set off the smoke alarm and the firemen got there in time to help get the thing doused and save the house.
Seems this was a new one for them. Of course they were pretty young. The idea of a refrigerator with flames burning up in the kitchen was really something. One young bumpkin in the crew pointed out the irony of hot rod flames, symbolic of streamlined speed, being painted on a big ol', boxy refrigerator. I didn't have the nerve to tell him that it had never occurred to me. Of course it was the middle of the night, as I said.
Don't we all have a lot of making up to do. Never mind the native Americans and the descendants of slaves. What about the shy kid that you blew off in the hallway in junior high so that you wouldn't look bad to the cool kids. Let's think about the number of folks that you have told how much you love them, only to trash them to friends after the flame of romance has gone out. Oh, it's always their fault, isn't it?
Passed any truly needy homeless people on the streets lately and worked hard to avoid their gaze so that you wouldn't have to give them anything? Yeah, me too.
Seen any dogs or cats coming near the street and decided that you didn't have time to stop to help or that you might get your suit dirty.
Oh, I remain an optimist. I really believe that we inch along. The amount of love in your heart is kinda' like the number of brain cells. We don't use most of it. Go on, knock yourself out. Waste some. Waste a lot.
You reach a stage in life where, if you're lucky, you know where all the gold's hidden. Doesn't really matter if you don't have someone to share the fortune with. Yeah, I know. I ended the sentence with a preposition.
Love without expectations. Kindness brings happiness. I oughta' be in the goldarned fortune cookie business.
Whoa! The earth was tilted and I could feel it. Of course the earth is tilted on its axis but we don't detect it because of gravity. Suddenly I could see the curve of our atmosphere and I noticed huge patterns of concentric circles everywhere I looked. Man!
A fine start to another day at the office. I was in Atlanta to check out the Hampton Grease Band for my boss, Phil Gernhard. I had brought my friend from home, Gary Dobbins, and we were staying at his girlfriend Peggy's apartment. Peggy had given us each a three way tab of synthetic psilocybin to brighten up the day in Piedmont Park. I'm gonna tell you, it worked.
By the end of the day I had learned more than any ten years of school could have ever taught me and Gary was flat on his back, surrounded by self-appointed gurus, begging to be taken to a hospital. To say that the trip and the trip were better for me than Gary would be a wild understatement.
Well, I've been back to Piedmont Park. The earth is clearly tilted and the patterns really exist. In fact it's hard for me to ignore them. Bruce Hampton is a good friend of mine and Gary has gone on. I don't know whatever happened to Peggy.
Trying not to sound like any kind of advocate for drug use I must say that this adventure changed everything for me. Forever. The power of the mind and the fragility of the heart make us who we are. If we can just keep our hearts and our minds open, it's a beautiful, beautiful world out there.
Maybe it's the dharma. Maybe it's the drama. I seem somehow destined to live this stuff over and over. Why am I so willing to hand over the reins to the one with no license? Folks are always quick to reassure me, "Hey, you get a lot of songs out of it."
Yesterday I passed a homeless family on the street. They seemed to be scoping out comfortable, shady areas under the expressway overpass downtown. They had a little mutt on a leash. The little dog's presence changed my entire perspective about their plight. He seemed very obedient and very content. He couldn't have been prouder. He was loved and he was needed and he knew it. The Queen's corgis don't have a better deal. All you need is love.
Saw my old pal, David Amram, play a wonderful show with John McEuen last night and, as usual, learned more than I ever did in school. Maybe we all have a purpose in life. I'm not sure. Dave, however, exudes joy from the soul.
You put a spinning top on the floor and it only goes in one direction. Maybe I spend too much time, way too much time, worrying about what's wrong. I've got the joy in my soul, too. Oh, you can break my heart now and then and I can worry about global warming. I've got a mission, though, to get love out there. My resume doesn't mention rocket surgery. That's okay. I'm a messenger boy for peace and love and I'm proud of it.
Nobody likes to be wrong, I suppose. It's worse, though, much worse, to listen to a description of yourself that is of a terrible person and find out that you've had it right. That your fears were not unfounded. Go off softly, I guess. Try harder. Love better.
Playing another tribute to Kerouac tonight in St. Petersburg. Of course it always makes me sad to think of him failing at the end. I suppose that he was the product of his success with the help of alcohol.
Me? I've never had the temptation of substance. Or success. It's too late to die young. It's difficult to make that a sad thing. If I don't write well, I write a lot. One way or another I'll die an old man.
Oh, I've considered becoming a drunk. Sounds romantic, doesn't it? I'm just not good at it. Success? Yeah, I've given it a half hearted effort several times between suicidal career decisions.
I guess I write because I'm driven to communicate. Writer's block, I'm guessing, is just being shy when you pull out the Bic. I'm shy but I've never suffered any kind of writer's block. I don't often have anything important to pass on but I always seem to come back to this. Love is all that matters.
Suddenly I find that other folks' crazy doesn't have to be mine. I'll do what I can to save the planet. I'll discuss politics and religion with friends and neighbors. I'll even get riled up when it's appropriate. I hope that I can always relate to the fears and pain in the hearts of the people around me. I'll be there to help when I can.
For me, though, the lantern has been lit. All that joy down in my heart that I sang about in Sunday school is stirred. It occurs to me that you don't make ecstasy appear and thrive, you just let it in. Ah, beauty and love and rock'n'roll. Clothing optional.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
Something in the ether woke me up at 1:00 am this morning. All of the gates that slow down sensory input were down. Kind of like when your cable goes down but the opposite. All the beauty of the cosmos streamed through me and I could feel and taste and see and hear all of the beauty. The first thing that I need to do this morning is to give my gratitude for all of the folks who have been a part of my life. I am indebted to all of you. Forever.
I suppose that I haven't told the animals who have shared my life that I loved them nearly often enough. Let me start to make up for that. I love you, Jamaica. I love you, Angel.
Now I need to get outside and make sure that I soak all of this incredible beauty in. Don't ever waste a minute. Pray for peace. Search for truth.
Love comes. Love goes. You give your heart to a dog and his sweet, short life comes around all too soon. Danny sang, "Rock'n'roll is here to stay." Then he blew his brains out. Youth? By the time the concept really sinks in you're one of those old coots complaining about it being wasted on the young.
Folks still sit around worrying about trees falling in the forest with nobody around. I fret, thinking about a heartful of love and nothing to do with it.
With the grip of old age on my throat I can scarcely afford the days getting shorter. Jamaica and I have a whole lot of living to do and a whole lot of love to give. I'm gonna lay some bricks and write some songs today.
If I could just scrub some of these memories from my mind I could get on with the job of life.
Love like there's no tomorrow. Someday there won't be.
Karma homework. Let's get busy. There's not time to worry about what should have been. Let's love and move forward. If folks aren't ready to move along with you, leave them behind. Maybe we can circle around and come back for them.
Oh, to wear a jaunty beret and white pants with a million colors smeared all over the front of them. I never showed any artistic aptitude, I'm afraid. The art teachers in elementary school were never shy about my lack of talent. Of course the music teachers were hardly encouraging but that's another blog.
I've taken art classes several times as an adult and I'd be lying to you if I said that naked models weren't a big part of my inspiration. A big part.
Somehow my teachers seem to like my work, if I may refer to it as work. The last one asked, "Do you know Matisse? Your drawings look a lot like some of his."
If I strained I could see a similarity. The problem is that Henri could have made his nudes look like the models if that was what he had in mind. Mine were exaggerated and impressionistic because that was the best that I could do. Again, to make a musical analogy, it was a little bit like my intonation. I hear in perfect pitch.
I have the soul of an artist. I wish I could say more.
Me? don't approve of drugs. I suppose I'm lucky. I don't have any moral problem with substances. I just don't like messing with things. Alcohol ruins lives and we've all watched it in action.
You have to see, however, the effect that dope and booze has had on our rock'n'roll as an art form. I mean the positive side. I read an interview with Jerry Wexler once where he recalled the early Atlantic days. He said that they would get word that Ray was in town and they would set the studio up. When The Genius showed up the tapes were rolling. He recalled that they would set him up at the piano and roll 'til he fell over backwards. Now, heroin didn't make those records perfect. Ray Charles did. Nothing ever touched that level of perfection again, though, once he moved on from Atlantic and junk.
Well, I've met some really fine folks in this business. Van Morrison isn't one of them. I have no idea whether he drinks now or not. It would be impossible, though, to dismiss his version of Caravan with the Band in the Last Waltz or his stunning take on 4% Pantomine with Richard Manuel on Cahoots. Maybe alcohol can fuel pain and genius.
I surely don't recommend anything that hurts anyone for the sake of art. There have been folks who sacrificed, though, and that stuff is precious.
All the scary meteorites that whiz past us and miss the planet by inches disappear from my imagination when the sun comes up. All the monsters under the bed and in my closet go away, too.
My life's all in 4/4 except the bittersweet 3/4 memories. In the daylight I'm fearless. Table for one! I can entertain myself endlessly. When the sun goes down it all crumbles. Maybe that's why we sleep at night.
If I can just settle in on the things that really matter and forget this shutdown stuff. If I can concentrate on what needs to be done. There's peace to make, love to share and a planet to save. Oh yeah, there's rock'n'roll to be made.
Okay, what's the test? How do I know that if I were suddenly a man of means that I would split up the jackpot? You have to admire folks like Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet. What makes me so sure that I would invest in the well being of the planet. Yeah, I like to think I would. We all do.
As something of a pauper I set my sights on peace and love and I bring it to you via rock'n'roll. It's all I've got.
Well, I guess we have pronounced radio dead. Again. We thought satellite would save it. Now it seems satellite radio is like cable tv. Still bad stuff, just a whole lot more of it. We'll see. Gotta' get your rock'n'roll somewhere.
Struggling with my insignificance here a bit this morning. Oh, I can accept it as fact. It's just that I find myself pondering why I spend so much time and energy thinking about me. I know we all come packaged in a body that separates us from the others and a brain that's wired up to that particular body. Nevertheless, there's a world of stuff that really needs to get done out there. I play rock'n'roll to keep my mind off it.
Maybe Pope Francis will show us the way. As he continues to change and criticize the Catholic church we might take a lesson. Has our federal government become fat, selfish, dishonest and immoral? Polls would indicate that most of our citizenry believe just that.
Nobody had to change the music industry. Clive and the guys looted the vaults on their way out. Suicide did that one. Oh, we have music. We go see it as background noise in bars and we download it for free off the internet.
Books? On the way out. Art? Yeah, to show that you're the wealthiest tycoon in Las Vegas. The rest of us just frame posters like we did as college students.
Seems like fertile ground for creativity and peaceful revolution to me. Use your love as a tool and as a weapon.
The closest that the Beatles got to Tampa was Jacksonville and Miami. In 1965 The Dave Clark 5 brought the British invasion to our sleepy burg. To us Curtis Hixon Hall was the center of the universe that night. We played on the bill with them in the Outsiders. The Roemans and the Tropics did, too. There were 6000 kids there and I'm sure it was the biggest audience that I had played to at that time.
Knocky Parker reviewed the show the next morning for the Tampa Tribune. Knocky didn't get paid for his writing. I think he just did it because he hated rock'n'roll so much. He was able to vent in a major fashion.
Oh, he earned the right. Knocky had played piano for everybody before settling in Tampa to teach at the University of South Florida. Google him. The list starts somewhere around the Light Crust Texas Doughboys and ends up somewhere in the vicinity of Ziggy Singleton and Doc Evans.
His History Of The Silent Film is probably the highlight of my college career if not my life. Knocky would whoop and holler in the dark auditorium while all of the great silent stars lit the screen. He would set the mood with amazing piano. When a sliver of light indicated that a student had attempted to slip out the back he would leap from the piano bench and run towards the door screaming, "Come back. Come back. It's not over!"
While the French pilots dodged the German aces in Wings, Knocky scurried up and down the aisles yelling, "There's a Fokker on my tail! Get the Fokker off my tail!"
As a kid I was fascinated with the ones who were "too old." You know- Big Joe Turner, Professor Longhair, Ernest Tubb. I always liked John Lee Hooker alright. Never a big favorite. Once he sat down on a chair and showed those nylon socks I was pulled in. All the way in.
Now, I find myself "too old." With my obscurity assured I have to question wearing silky shirts and blue suede shoes. I'm forced to wonder if a "beatle hairdo" is undignified for an old guy.
Then I calm myself by remembering that Benny Joy always showed up to meet me with his collar turned up in the back and something of a ducktail hanging over it. Benny had all the class in the world, especially as he got older. I miss him.