Friday, January 31, 2014

Needle In A Haystack, Diamonds In The Snow

I know you get tired of my whining. Heck, I get tired of my whining. I will say this on my behalf, though: I don't blame anyone else.

My story usually goes on about worrying for some time that I have lived with a fear of success and have subconsciously undermined all career endeavors, personal relationships and pretty much everything that I have undertaken. Then I patiently explain that I have considered the possibility and have concluded that I have merely stuck to my principals and refused all compromise. That, of course, leaves me above the fray. You know, the running joke that we call life.

Well, even I can see through that one. What, you may ask, is the common element in every one of my bands, every musical project? Yeah, that would be me. So all of these near misses, all of the "that close" stories; just bad luck? Nope. The number of opportunities that have been right in front of me and the talent and the hard work that kind folks all around me have given so selflessly is overwhelming. I just haven't come through with the goods.

My personal life has run on similar tracks. Again, the common element? Me! If women don't like me am I to conclude that something is wrong with women? Now, there's self esteem, huh? Allow me, here and now, to recognize that no one could put up with me. Not for long.

Oh, I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I'm just trying to understand me. Rodney Dangerfield made a big career out of less.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Pain They Call Love

The cat likes to get me up around 5:00 am. I tricked her. Heartache woke me up around 4:00. Everything serves a purpose, I suppose.

Maybe this country has seen its best days and maybe I've seen mine. I'm making plans for happiness, though, and I'm humming happy tunes. Don't ever give up on love, my friend.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

We'll lose them all eventually. I'm just not sure that we can afford the loss of a Pete Seeger at this point in history. Not any more than we could afford the losses of John Kennedy or Martin Luther King or Bobby Kennedy or John Lennon. He brought us his own songs. How could we have struggled through the mire without If I Had A Hammer? Maybe even more importantly, he opened our eyes to other magic: Goodnight Irene, This Land Is Your Land, We Shall Overcome and Turn, Turn, Turn.

He was our conscience. Looking back, he wasn't always right. He always did it for the right reasons with all of his heart and all of his soul. He was still doing it a week ago, preaching the truth for a celebration for the life of Dr. King.

I was only onstage with him a couple of times but it helped change my life. For the better. Boy, I wish I had a hammer, too. I'd ring it for Pete.

Monday, January 27, 2014

All Of It

What if this is really all there is. What if there is no mystery, no afterlife, no heaven. Maybe we had better have a little more fun, don't you think? Maybe we should consider better rock'n'roll and more fried peach pies. Love is surely the most fun and conflict is a big waste of time. Okay, that's it. After Downton Abbey tonight I'm wasting no more time. No, wait... I'm only doing that stuff that we call wasting time.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cheap Wine, Good Music

Dogs and babies, rock'n'roll, egg nog, Boston Blackie, wall of death and marbles. I guess I've seen it all. I'm probably the luckiest guy on the planet, don't you think? My role has basically been to prove that God won't let fools freeze or starve. I was born for the part.

My promise to you is that you won't run out of love no matter how you spread it around. Get busy. Smile at somebody. Call someone from the past and apologize. Adopt a dog. A kitten, too, while you're at it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

No Fool

I've always thought that the legend would be even better if Elvis had croaked, onstage, early in '57. Just think, none of the bad movies, no Fat Elvis vs. Skinny Elvis, no sad divorce. I hope this doesn't sound disrespectful. I didn't even get to meet him 'til he got back from the army. Let's face it, though, the danger was gone by then. Heck, Frank Sinatra welcomed him home.

It may be the Bob Dylan effect. I've always liked Mr. Z just fine. I have to say, however, that I never worshipped at the altar, if you know what I mean. That act was a good one and it brought the proper attention to some magnificent rock'n'roll. Finally the act became the legend and took over. I understand that some scrawny little Jewish kid from Minnesota needed a little mystique once he showed up in Folkville and was one of the herd.

Now, though. Whew! I'm a fan. That old guy's nuts. How about those videos? Girls in their underwear! The act and the artist have become one.

Even though it's hard to imagine that hillbilly from Mississippi turning, or returning, to the bop cat king role, the image keeps me awake at night. I will always believe that Elvis had another couple laps in him.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cowboys and Alcoholics

"It's a nation of cowboys and alcoholics," I just overheard at the diner. Marie says it snowed diamonds last night. Well, sir, I've looked all over the driveway and I've checked the soles of my shoes and I can't find any. I seem to have let too much love build up in my heart, though. I can feel the seams straining.

Do you ever wake up and see the patterns of dark and light in every facet of your existence? I choose the light when I'm lucky enough to see that it's my choice. I know that all the secrets are right in front of me. Life and love are easy if you loosen the reins.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Small Ponds, Big Egos

Now, nobody appreciates a little self esteem more than I do. That said, cocky musicians, conspicuous consumers, conceited beauties and swaggering athletes leave me cold. It's a big old world out there and everybody's a local act somewhere.

Elvis stood and talked to me until he was late for his movie shoot. He was Elvis!

Life is way too short to spend time with folks worrying about how smart they are, how rich they are or how pretty they are.

The beauty is in the soul, the heart. The riches are all over the ground. Seashells and broken 7 Up bottles. The prettiest music comes from the mockingbird. Beethoven knew it. All the great ones know where the best melodies are to be had.

Yeah, you're special. Everybody's special. Lord Buckley told us.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Last One Standing

Okay, so are we really down to the wire? I remember when the last of the big band guys were dying off. It fascinated me but it didn't seem like anything historical or momentous even.

Now we're down to the last of the rock'n'roll pioneers. This is my history, my life. You can put your money on Jerry Lee or Fats; Chuck or Richard. I don't really like to think about it too much.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Corner Of Charisma and Truth

Oh, I have my heroes. When the message of love is delivered by a charismatic figure through sheer eloquence and force, mountains move. They don't come along all that often. Dr. King changed everything. We have a long way to go.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Who's Gonna Save The World Now?

Yeah, Buddy and I had missed some real opportunities for fame and fortune in the rock'n'roll game so we were determined to get it right. We met daily at my mom's house to plan out our new group. We called it Noah's Ark. Mostly because we wanted to save the world. From what, you ask. Whatta' ya got? You know, war, poverty, bigotry. All the usual suspects. 

It was a fine band but we made some real business mistakes early on and never came close to the real potential of that group.

I'd still like to save the world and I'll bet those other guys would, too.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stiff Upper

Sometimes my heart struggles with the wide gulf between the homeless dog with mange on the busy street and the beautiful smile and the magical laugh of the baby being pushed in his stroller down the street. No wonder bipolar disorder is so common and so fashionable.

Use your love to fix what's broken. There's plenty to go around and nothing to save it for. You've got more in there.

Friday, January 17, 2014

My First Fifteen

Just be still. Stay true to who you are. Fashion will find you. I was and I will be forever out of step. For just a little while, right after the Beatles hit the Ed Sullivan Show, I was alright. First time ever, I believe. Definitely the last time.

Fight for what's right and stand up for the ones who need you, the ones without a voice. Study love and try not to keep score. Enjoy every little thing out there.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let's Put On A Show!

Okay, so I find myself holed up in the bitter Florida winter. Unable to go out in the elements I settle in for some work on my play. What do I miss? Well sir, I miss romance and magic and dancing. I don't get nearly enough smut or show tunes or ventriloquism. Where are all the good mentalists and mind readers? I'm craving mystery and slapstick to make the milk run out my nose.

My fine cast is assembled and just waiting for rehearsals to begin. I'm hoping to make the same mark on this theater crap that I have on the music business. Keep an eye on me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Blah, blah

When I was a kid I knew that movie stars all saw psychiatrists. I suppose I knew that from all the time that I spent behind movie magazines. My conclusion, of course, was that all movie stars were nuts. I was aware that they all married and divorced regularly, too. The only divorce that I knew of in real life was my mom's.

By the time that my third wife dragged me to a therapist for corroboration of my mental deficiency I was ready for help. It was great. Of course she told us that I was nuts. When she suggested that #3 could use a good tuneup, as well, the tears flowed. It became clear to me that movie stars have therapists because they can afford it. We all need help. Turns out that it's not such an exclusive club.

Well, I went for a checkup yesterday. I'm still nuts but I seem to know a lot more about it. I get along well with those folks. I'll tell anybody anything. As you know.

While I'm rambling, please allow me to skip around a bit here. I just came from my neighborhood diner and realized that I'm not the worst out there. You'll never see me using a toothpick, blowing my nose or checking my e-mail. Not in a diner.

Only one of my records is out of print. Poisonville. If you've got four hundred bucks, though, you can get a shrink-wrapped copy on Amazon. I always knew that dying advice was a good career move. Too late now.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Record Producer

Somehow I never believed in the concept of record producer. Seems to me that Phil Spector's great gift was for self promotion. I have to make an exception for Leiber and Stoller. Those Coasters' records were theater and they were magic.

Monday, January 13, 2014


For someone who claims to have no shame or guilt regarding sex I surely seem to be an amateur in the ranks of the adventurous! I've always known of the connection between rock'n'roll and the dirty stuff, I've just never known the specifics. If you think that I've failed at the music, and I have, interview me about the sex. Not looking for sympathy here, I just thought you should know.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Brown Dogs and White Dogs

Just heard again that we're all prejudiced to one degree or another when it comes to race in this culture. I surely hope not. If I'm a little bit of a racist I can't find it. I grew up worshipping the work of African American musicians and the work of hillbillies who learned it all from African Americans.

To me it's just like white dogs and brown dogs. I've lived with and loved both. They were all dogs. I don't mean just dogs, I mean divine products of love, molded of the same stardust that Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson and I came from.

Unraveling who and what I am is my life's work, I suppose. It's getting late and I'm just getting started. Love with all your heart.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hey Fool, Your Mom's Here!

So if weather is nothing more than the disproportionate heating of the earth's surface by the sun and my heart is only a pump for blood what gives my life any meaning?

What about romance and drama? How can art be explained? Remember when they tried to tell you that lobsters didn't feel any pain?

Hey, I do! I remember and I feel pain. Maybe the mystery is the whole dance. I know that rock'n'roll's the key. I'm never sure of the question. Could you repeat that, please?

Friday, January 10, 2014

These Dreams

If things don't feel right, they're not. I may be a slow learner, make that a very slow learner, but once slapped in the face with reality, I get it. If you're gonna be indiscreet you need a high quality partner in crime. Most high quality individuals don't indulge in crime. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rock'n'Roll Exotique

Oh, do I remember the mystique of the sound from the tiny little speaker in the little black and cream RCA transistor radio. I heard Joe Clay's version of Ducktail and rushed to the dime store downtown by bus to purchase the new Elvis record, Dog Tail, that I insisted to the clerk was currently playing on the airwaves. I wasted several more trips before I heard it again and caught Joe's name.

I pondered the many dark mysteries hidden in clues in Buchanan and Goodman's silly Flying Saucer Part 1 and 2. Just who was Skinny Dynamo?

Why did so many of my heroes have names that began with adjectives? You know, Big Joe Turner and Little Willie John and Fats Domino and Little Richard.

I pondered the references in all of the Coasters' 45's. Honestly, I'm still wondering about some of them. I knew who Boston Blackie was from the earliest tv but just who or what was Bulldog Drummond?

Of course the main thing was the sound itself. Nothing had ever sounded even remotely like Heartbreak Hotel or I'm Walkin' or Peggy Sue.

I guess I must be about the luckiest guy in the world.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The King Is Naked

Regardless of what you hear from my friends, I am an optimist, an eternal optimist. I believe in love and hope and the good that lives in the heart of most people.

Like you, I would like to fix our government. I know that sounds boring and like too big a task but it beats the alternative which would seem to be to allow them to have their own caste system with them at the tippy top.

The obvious place to start is to reduce their compensation to the federal minimum wage. Simple enough. I think other nut jobs have proposed similar plans. Once they earn the same thing as the kid behind the counter at Burger King we might have their attention. 

Next, why not have all sessions of congress conducted with the participants naked. I know, I know, the thought of Mitch McConnell's talleywhacker on C-Span is terrifying but, honestly, nobody is watching that crap as it is.

Seems to me, though, the simple combination of those two changes would put everything into a whole new framework. During this time of year you always see some self appointed king of the nudists on local news programs responding to a reporter's question about how those folks deal with the nippy weather. The response is always some clever twist on, "We're nudists, not stupid!" The idea that class distinction fades when the duds come off seems honest and true.

Think about it. If a whole different bunch show up to run for office, we've succeeded. Wildly. We can't do worse. I'm a male. I love stupid. My basic philosophy of life came from the Three Stooges. There's a reason that we call them political parties.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Loser Rock

We all know that the Everly Brothers put the sweet harmony into rock'n'roll. Every article about the great loss of Phil Everly this past week mentions the influence that the boys had on the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkle, the Louvin Brothers, the Byrds and pretty much everyone else.

That was just the tip of the iceberg, really. Oh, sure, there has been sad music since Pythagoras heard the bells. The really lowdown, cry in your beer, loser song in rock'n'roll seems to have sprung right from Don and Phil, though. In 1960 they released possibly the all time pitiful ballad, When Will I Be Loved, that Phil had penned. Later that year they moved to Warner Brothers Records and released their first single, Cathy's Clown, which they had written together.

There are others in the catalog. Lots of others. Do you think that we would have ever heard I'm A Loser or Help! without those Everly gems. Not in my opinion.

I've been asked forever about why I write such sad songs. Not only have I never had a good answer, I hadn't even noticed until I was asked. 

Well, now I know. We all know a little heartache. I suppose that turning it into song can get to be a habit. Thanks, guys.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Money, Ego and Regrets

Well, whattta' ya know. Life is actually happening without my interference. Everything seems to go precisely as it should if I don't yank the wheel. If you let them, they'll trick you into worrying about money. Really? Green paper that they print up and decide who to give it to? Really?

If you give them the power, they'll have you worrying about social status, too. Do you mean to tell me that those crooks in D.C. have a better insight into folks' worth than we do? Or that a bunch of lawyers dressed up like pirates, throwing up on each others' boots once a year, get to decide who is and who is not important?

Well, sir, they have their reality and I have mine. Mine's better. Listen to pretty music. Dance when you want to or when someone else wants you to. Love with all your heart. It's our only real currency. Don't study war. The day will come when our resources go into peace and love and protecting the planet. Watch the puppies and the kittens. Keep an eye on the dolphins. Read up on bonobo culture. 

All the good guys have the same, simple message. Love.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

On The Rock'n'Roll

How fortunate for me to have been born at exactly the right time for rock'n'roll. The music itself would be enough but the social change that was left by that high tide has more to do with who I am than all of my schooling combined. My entire world was shaped by Elvis and Chuck and Buddy and Bo.

We all know that the music will survive but art survived Picasso and Matisse's demise, too. Once the last of the pioneers have passed through it will all be history. Just history. Thanks again, Mom.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sad Won't Do

You run these pesky blues off and they come back. Bigger, meaner than before. Unable to even get to the worst of it, let me just say that this seems destined to be a hell of a year. I've got a sadness that flows in my veins.

When we lose a rock'n'roll hero it always hurts me to my soul. Losing Phil Everly is different. It's like half the hero passed. Heaven help us all.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Wake Up

What time is it? How much time do we have left? Is this the last set? Funny, I never cared before.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Talkin' Animals

With all credit and love to my pal, Duncan Strauss, my new year rolls out with me thinking about all the animals in my life. Talk about your unconditional love.

My home is not all that I share with Jamaica and Angel. They're both in on every plan and every heartache. I'm one lucky guy.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dear Sweet Friends

Well, I never claimed to be smart but I'm getting closer. It suddenly occurs to me that if you're not all that bright, surround yourself with brilliant folks. That's always been my method in music. Not by design, really. I'm still not that smart.

Make sure that you're around loving, kind, thoughtful people. They seem to pop up in my life all the time. I've always been pretty sure that I'm some kind of proof that the universe takes care of the ones who can't take care of themselves. I'm plenty grateful, too.