Okay, so why do all these folks vote against their own best interest? Why don't politicians turn hero by admitting that we're on the brink of extinction and talk honestly and eloquently about climate change? Why on earth do we allow Wall Street to cheat and win and keep the dough? Why do we settle for mediocre healthcare while paying more than the rest of the world?
Of course I could go on and on. Heck, I do! Believe me, I know that I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. It fascinates me, though, that fixing this world seems like such an obvious task and we continue to spend our time worrying about celebrity couples and iPhones.
Maybe we peaked with rock'n'roll and air conditioning.
Communicating with the Divine happens in lots of ways. I suppose that I'm lucky to have been exposed to a few of them. For me, they all lead back to rock'n'roll. If the spirit doesn't grab you by the collar when Little Richard barks, "A wop bob a lu bop, a wop bam boom," then you need to look somewhere else, I guess.
Do all your fighting with love, the divine weapon of choice.
Well, now, I just might be the hardest working man in show business. I might not. It could be that I'm the laziest s.o.b. on the planet since Stepin Fetchit retired his lovable, scandalous character from the big screen.
Maybe I'm always working on that play. Maybe not. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm sitting' around doing nothing or I'm doing research for my next record. Who cares? What's the difference?
This rock'n'roll life's for me. Pirates had to dig, plunder and pillage. I would like a parrot on my shoulder, though, I have to say. I'd kinda' like to toss back a grog or two with one of those wenches in low cut dresses, too.
As long as the script is mine I'm writing all happy parts for me. Maybe I've figured out that I have no control over the other parts. Who cares? Watch me roll. Love fast and love hard. Don't discriminate.
Okay. So we're looking at a world without bees, polar bears, Indonesia and oranges. What about peace and love and compassion? Of course we do have Google glasses and iPhone 5s. I had in mind a more dignified exit.
You've got the King Of Broken Hearts and a heartbroken king. There's a line that separates them but it hardly means a thing. You've got the scarlet writers reading aloud the purple prose along
a road out of Memphis we call "The Overdose." Haunted by tragedy, scorched by desire, two hearts full of song two souls full of fire.
You've got a motherlode of music in a volunteer state, fighting dirty, talking physics to illuminate what the poets of the war show the boys of music row, painting purple mountains fuchsia everywhere they go. Alcohol and dope, great hopes gone wrong, hillbilly hearts full of fire with the soul in their song.
Rock'n'roll hearts beat in 4/4 time. Hope fades, truth balances in the name of the rhyme.
With the sons of fortune knocking on the doors of desire, haunted by the tragedy, scorched by the fire. A rare and elusive American point of view, spilling the blood of Arabia in The Paris Review. All the beautiful losers from the heart of the South, western boots on their feet, gold teeth in their mouth.
You've got the masters of photography praying for rain and the radio programmers flattened by a train. You've got the tastemakers taking odds over periwinkle blue, either this wallpaper goes, or by God, I do. You stand for the ones who need your help and you know it, with the heart of the warrior and the spirit of the poet.
Rock'n'roll hearts beat in 4/4 time. Hope fades, truth balances in the name of the rhyme.
Hurt, hope, politics, battleground states; you've got the Possum on the bottle, onstage with the shakes. You've got the king on the floor where he fell from the throne and I'm watching from the swamps, chilled to the bone. This stuff I'm doing's not real and I know it. Invitation from Clovis and I'm about to blow it.
Rock'n'roll hearts beat in 4/4 time. Hope fades, truth balances in the name of the rhyme. You're trading on your name for the sake of crime. Grace fades in the face of karma every time.
Now I never told you I walked twelve miles in the snow to school. I grew up poor and I didn't know I was poor. Sounds dumb, huh? It's dumber than that. I grew up with rich kids and I still didn't recognize that I was poor. Oh, my mom hinted to me and I could see that I didn't live in a mansion on the golf course.
By the time that I was beginning to figure it out I started playing rock'n'roll and that was the big equalizer. In the middle sixties there were clubs all over the country for kids to go to hear music. We made about the same money then that I make today playing music. Not adjusted for inflation- the same money. What happened?
Well, of course I mean for that to be a rhetorical question but let me go ahead and answer it for you. Beer. That's what happened. Beer.
While the audience that I played for once lived for the rock'n'roll, once they were old enough to drink, it was all about the alcohol. The music became part of the trappings. You know, like wings or ashtrays or go-go girls or peanuts. Jukebox, dj, live band- it no longer mattered. It all hit some kind of bottom when the proprietors began to leave the sports on the flat screen tv's while the bands played. They didn't want to lose any Red Sox fans.
By this time we had the Music Industry, old suits with no interest in music beyond the money that could be made. Now we can go to a stadium and watch rich fools jump around onstage with a huge screen stretched out behind them. Folks like Rick Rubin and Clive Davis tell us who is worthy of million dollar paychecks while they take credit for the genius of artists like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Sometimes the truly talented, hard working good guys like Buddy Miller or the Avett Brothers get swooped up in the soup. Good.
Music will be back. Bluegrass tries. Punk was supposed to do it. Crooks like Malcolm McLaren turned it into an arm of the big time. Rap and hip hop might have taken Louis Jordan and Harry the Hipster and Lord Buckley as models and saved us. Instead the gangsters proudly turned it into an immoral, boastful money machine almost immediately.
Well, sir, I'm poor again. This time I know it. I don't care. I get to play rock'n'roll.
Do you suppose that work is something to keep our minds off of our sad existence? I'm just asking. Why don't we just hang around loving? I guess I would play rock'n'roll and do pretty much what I'm doing.
Sometimes, though, I feel like I'm missing parts. I'm thinking that maybe I need to make a new record every day. Even that high lasts for only a short time.
It occurs to me that lots of problems arise from a lack of communication. You know, folks hedging their bets. Not expressing their real feelings. Well, I have decided that if the two bimbos on 2 Broke Girls can talk all smutty and get away with it on network TV, that I should be able to sit on the bus and talk about my physical needs. I should be able to hold my head up in Sunday school and bring up the subject of my secret desires.
In the first place, why are they secret? I have always considered it my good fortune that nothing that floats my boat is illegal. Not in all fifty states, at least. I am all against anything involving victims. That takes care of any issues with minors and animals. I don't get very excited about anything that mixes pain or violence with good, dirty fun, either. Seems like a real contradiction to me. On the other hand, if someone promises to love me forever I'll consider letting them rough me up just a little. I'm anxious to make other folks happy.
We're always right, right? I listen to songs about revenge and clearly the girl just needed killing. War? Hey, God is on our side. Those other guys claimed he was on their side but they had the wrong god. Fuck 'em.
Rock'n'roll has been my vehicle for communication since I was a teenager. Funny, it has taken me this long to notice that I'm always the good guy. The victim. The one done wrong. Maybe it's a coincidence. I've written my history. I suppose some god was on my side. Now, I've heard some mean songs. Mine are meaner.
Let me now get down on one knee and apologize to every woman that I've ever wronged in song. While I'm at it, let me say that I'm sincerely sorry for every mean thought and every unkind word. I've had to look through the binoculars backwards to see that war is pretty much like any other conflict. There are no good wars. There are no good fights. We're all different. We've all been hurt by things that have shaped us and changed us. We all need love. Don't waste your time on the other stuff.
When I first showed up for college and the helpful folks asked what my major would be I answered, "Marine biology." I hadn't thought about it at all but it came to mind right then. I had watched Sea Hunt as a boy and I sure loved the beach. By the time I had flunked a couple of classes I realized that I wasn't cut out for marine biology.
Well, when I decided that I would be a writer I hadn't really given it much thought. I suppose that I pictured myself well compensated and respected. Of course the rock'n'roll would assure the social side of things, if you get my drift. Girls like rock'n'roll musicians, right?
Nobody told me about the loneliness and the solitude. Without hits there is no demand for your work. That leaves a fellow questioning his abilities, his work, his worth.
Up to this point I haven't really put away the money or the respect. I suppose the hits could still be coming. What time is it now? I'll bet that I would have fared no better in the romance department if I had stuck with marine biology.
I hate to sink to cliches but I would do the same thing again. Love hard.
Well, sir, if you waste much of your precious time on this drivel of mine you know that I tend to obsess over endings, loss and good byes. In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, there will be an article about Paul Kingsnorth, a British scientist and writer who has given up hope that mankind has any chance of "saving" the earth as we know it.
I just happened to tune into an interview on NPR the other day and heard Paul Ehrlich, (remember him?), saying essentially the same thing.
Both of these heavyweight thinkers have concluded that it is disingenuous, at best, for these pop scientists to go around spouting plans to change our course of action in order to reverse the damage that is doing in our planet. Both conclude that we should do all we can to insure quality of life for the entire population without scheming to turn this train around.
So let me add to my list now:
Rock-'n-roll is over.
Romance is gone.
The world is ending.
Oh well. Worrying seems inadequate. They can't stop love.
Suddenly it occurs to me that the collective unconscious that drove Jung was mostly filled with love. Now don't all you folks who know all about this stuff start pointing out my misunderstanding. This is for me.
Who are the lucky ones? The fools who wile away the hours waiting for the next romantic drama to pass through life or the ones who feel less and remain oblivious to cupid's arrows?
Who cares? I suppose I know where I fit. I'm not sure I'd change it if I could.
The Nationals played three long sets the other night. First show with the band in a long time. If I needed a reminder, this will do. I'll do this 'til they carry me off. I have so many friends who hate what they do. They live for the weekend. I have pals now who have retired and don't know what to do.
I live for the rock'n'roll, a fire and a joy down in my soul.
You're not the only one who thinks that I think too much. Let's face it, everyone can't have it wrong. I've been reading a very close friend's memoirs and I find it all breaking my heart. It's not sad stuff, though. It's funny stuff. Really funny stuff. Well written, too. I'm having to read it all in small doses to keep from falling apart.
When I told her about my conundrum she wasn't surprised. She said that it's because I love her. She's right. The loss of innocence that we call growing up is too much for me. The beauty and the sweetness that we lose so much control over as we start to play adult roles is overwhelming for me.
I've never grown up. It's nothing to be proud of. I just wish I hadn't wasted so much time pretending that I had. I never fooled anyone anyway.
Real art doesn't require suffering and planning and dedication. That stuff all comes later with introspection and self conscious awareness. Elvis didn't happen in the Sun studio until he began fooling around with Scotty and Bill after hours of "hard work." The young Picasso churned it out once both eyes started going on the same side of the nose. Einstein's real genius showed up when he daydreamed. He worked hard to master the violin and it never happened.
All I really need is for others to do what I want. Since my persuasive skills don't seem to be that sharp, I'm thinking of magic potions. Can anyone help me out? Once I have the ingredients I can always get the next batch by using the first. Suddenly everything is starting to look like some kind of perpetual motion scheme to me. I don't want to drink anything that makes everyone fall hopelessly in love with me. I just want to selectively attract my choice. I don't want to use the term "victim." That doesn't sound right.
Somehow I feel like I'm just beginning to understand what everyone else knew in junior high school. I feel desperate for some kind of do over. I think I could get some of it right this time. I'm wondering if this makes me some kind of evolutionary or means that I have accepted reincarnation. Could be just settling in on the concept of mortality.
I would get busy but I'd rather go watch tv. I do love you, though.
Maybe there's enough to learn from the sad ones, huh? My mom was full of love but she always had something of a victim's aura about her. I tried to spend my time with her and learn to go the other way. Sometimes I find myself struggling to keep the blues from the door. It always seems to help if I take inventory. I've had everything. I really can't put together any kind of bucket list. It's too late. I've never wished for anything that didn't end up in my life. You know all those nuts sitting there meditating on hundred dollar bills? I've never had to put that much effort into it.
All my heroes have come through my life. Most of them lived up to my wild expectations. In my selfish dreams I've coveted rare guitars and exotic hot rods. I've had them all. From the first time I ever held a girl's hand I've dreamed of holding the girl I love in my arms and knowing love. Real love. Maybe I should have studied more on making the love stay.
I've seen way more of the world than I ever thought I would and that's mostly because of playing rock'n'roll which is a grand gift in itself. Funny, with all that I've seen I live in the best place that I've come across.
Oh, I have dreams. I want to save the planet and I want to stop war. That's kinda' like wanting to drink the oceans, though, isn't it? I want to save all the strays, too. Yeah, I know. You do what you can. Mostly I just want to play rock'n'roll and I still dream of holding a girl.
We all have to agree here on a common goal. We've got a planet to save and those bozos who think they're in charge aren't doing anything about it. There's only one tool and that's love. Ignore anyone who tells you anything contrary to that.We've got kids starving in Syria.
Somehow I always knew that it would come down to us class clowns to do the heavy lifting. Okay, you nerds get us a plan to slow the climate change. You other smart ones get busy changing our forms of government. You money folks get to work on fixing our wealth disparity.
Let's have fun while we're doing this. I'll bet Jesus and Buddha enjoyed getting up, going to work every day. If Mickey Rooney was with us he help us put on a show.
Well, yeah, I knew the day was coming. I'm always honored to have the responsibility of caring for my neighbor's goldfish, Elvis, when she goes out of town. She goes out of town a lot. He's been struggling lately and I've been worried. I was due to move him back to my house on Thursday. He didn't make it. I had to go get him and give him a little service in my side yard yesterday.
Other folks seem to get over this stuff. I never do. It's all just who I am. I'm the happiest guy you ever met with the deepest well of blue that you ever saw. Sweet dreams, Elvis.
Yeah, I know that I promised advice on your love life today but I was kidding. You know, kinda' making light of my own shortcomings in that department. I'm really here today to express my gratitude to the universe for allowing me this existence. I play rock'n'roll. I never had to grow up. The sweetest folks in the world have passed through my life and spent time with me. I don't even want to start on the dogs and cats and other critters. I guess my life and my luck are about perfect. I wish everyone had it this good.
Love just as hard as you can. You don't have to be good at it.
Oh sure, I have advice for the struggling artists out there. Don't ever do what the rest of 'em are doing. Ever. Soak up all that you can. it will all show up in your work. Live. I mean really live. Don't keep your heart on a leash, not even a short one.
These simple secrets will assure your wild success such as I've had. Oh, wait...
Tomorrow I will pass along wisdom regarding your love life.
Love is fuel. You can quote me. So is money. You can waste money, though, and love just keeps replenishing itself. It's like one of those water engines that sci-fi dreamers keep pining for. It's just not gonna happen with the free energy thing. Physics gets in the way. With love, it was the perfect design.
Now, I've wasted what money I have had. Me and all the other fools. I suppose I've tried to waste love, too. My heart is full. There's plenty more where that came from, buddy.
Oh, the arrogance of youth. What puppy doesn't think that he knows when to cross the street? Youth has always been wasted on the young and the young have no concept of mortality. I suppose the only thing I may have learned is that I don't know much.
There was still something of a union presence in Tampa when I was a kid. I proudly joined the Musicians' Union, paid my dues and filed my contracts for work. The executive secretary was an old geezer named Joe Riesgo. He hated rock'n'roll and was just waiting for the fad to pass. Trouble was, we kids were the only musicians working. Joe finally passed. Rock'n'roll is just now in its death throes.
The Tampa Tribune featured a big debate between me, the local rocker, Jack Golly, the local legitimate musician and the head of the music department at the University of Tampa whose name escapes me. Give me a break. It's been fifty years. Wait... I think it was a Dr. Noel Stevens.
The other two really made it clear that they didn't even feel comfortable sitting in a room with me. They argued that rock'n'roll wasn't even really music. Primitive, crude, loud and simple they sneered. I could hardly disagree. That's what we had in mind.
Jack Golly who had worked with Mel Torme and Spike Jones, speaking of loud and crude, argued that there were no standards that had come from the rock'n'roll annals. I pointed out that, by definition, there couldn't be any standards yet. Time would have to pass to see what we were left with. They pushed, demanding to know just exactly which current music had any potential for being considered a standard. I insisted that pretty much the entire Beatles' catalog would end up there, for starters.
Well sir, I'm here today to declare myself the winner of that fight. I'm gonna have to put Hound Dog and Be Bop A Lula in there, too.
Once in awhile I hear from someone far away thanking me for getting them through a rough time. Thank goodness. I need the reminder. I've told you before, I got into the rock'n'roll racket for girls. Never got girls. Never made any money, either. I would most certainly do it all again.
Stop the presses! I have figured it all out. I have never gotten over anything. No, really. I mean any thing. I'm the anti- Buddha. I know better. I just can't help it. I remember every hurt, every fight, every word said in anger. I'm aware that all meanness comes from hurt. Peace of mind can only come from letting all of that go, right?
Well, as sad as any of it, no, the saddest of any of it is the hurting that I have done to others. I suffer with memories of things that I said to other kids in elementary school. I regret every dog that I've passed on the street without stopping.
Wringing my hands won't help but changing my ways will. I've never much cared for sarcasm. Seems like a poor man's substitute for clever. I'm sarcastic. I was. If you catch me backsliding, help me out. I'm living with love from here on out.
The work has never been more fun, more rewarding. Retirement seems to be forcing its way on me. I've never much looked for work but now I find it doesn't much look for me either. I do believe that I'm getting the hang of it now, though.