Monday, June 30, 2014

The Work

Well, now sir, I've written so many times that I started playing rock'n'roll fifty years ago to pick up girls. That, of course, never worked out so well. I suppose I'm only half- kidding when I tell you that.

Truth is I play for the love. I'm shy around people that I don't know. Climbing up onstage behind a guitar allows me to beg for attention and love without actually asking for it.

Maybe it would have been smart to play prettier music if I had wanted more love. The pretty writer asked me the other day, "What do you think they mean when they refer to you as a cult artist?" 

"It means that I'm unsuccessful," I replied. Unfortunately I know exactly what they mean. I've always zigged when it was time to zag. I don't think that I've ever attempted to avoid the love. Maybe I've just wanted them to work for it. I'm the brussel sprouts of pop music. Brussel sprouts with cayenne pepper and vinegar.

Oh, I would be thrilled to be able to fill a stadium tomorrow or to find a big check in the mailbox today from BMI. I don't know that I would really be happier, though.

All I ever wanted was love. All I ever had was rock'n'roll.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Here's Heaven

All the rock'n'roll I can listen to is right here under my thumb. A dog and a cat live with me. They provide an abundance of love. If there's anything out there that I want, I'm unaware of it.

What about my occupation? Yeah, I write what I want when I want to. Nobody yells at me to do more. No boss tries to push me to do more or do better. 

Yeah, I know. I can't fix everything I've done wrong. I don't have to do any of it again. I am overwhelmed with the goodness around me. 

There are surely folks out there who need your love.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wear It Out

Sometimes you just have to do the best you can with what you have. For every failure and every shortcoming of mine where other people have suffered, I apologize. I will try to do better. 

For all the sacrifices made on my behalf, I am eternally grateful. 

Sometimes karmic debt is bigger than student loans. Please believe that I am working to pay what I owe. Love is the currency. I don't want to ever rationalize withholding it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

You're A Waltz

There's a noble melancholy in those deep blue pools and they say that they're bottomless. I don't know if that's true but I see the history of heartache and hurt and all of the joy of several ancient cultures in the sparkle.

All that I've hidden I've now given away. Oh, it has no value on the street but I've passed along the secrets. It's always been the stuff that flows in my veins. Now it's hers.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Written In The Stars

What if all the pretty songs have been written? What if she never loved me? Sometimes it all just rhymes when I open my mouth. Sometimes I can't make any sense out of it at all.

If I had all the money in the world and nothing to spend it on, would I be rich? Seems like I would just have a bunch of green paper.

It feels like all the love in the world just gums up my heart.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rindy's Candy

Well, let's just pronounce the pipes blown out. Way out. If you follow this drivel you know that my roommate, Rindy, moved out about a year ago. Yesterday evening as I watched the NBC evening news, worrying about the fate of mankind when I'm gone, I decided to open the bourbon. As I opened the freezer for ice cubes I noticed a baggie sticking up in the door with "Rindy B-Day. DO NOT EAT!" containing a very fancy packaged candy bar inside. How had this gone unnoticed for the last twelve months? Obviously meant to be dinner with the bourbon and Coke. I didn't feel guilty. Rindy's not even around.

Half an hour later at the computer, feeling really sorry for myself by now, I ran across some kind of political post about the neo-cons and Iraq on Facebook. I began laughing. I continued laughing. When I re-posted it to my page I could no longer sit up. When did politics and war and hate get so funny? Who cares.

By the time Sheila, my new roommate, came in I was crying with hilarity. I showed her the post and, to tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed that she didn't seem to really get it. I explained that I had indulged in bourbon but only a little bit. As I attempted to defend my inappropriate behavior I mentioned the candy bar.

We went digging through the garbage in the kitchen and uncrumpled the discarded wrapper. 

"Warning! May cause sexual feelings and the urge to remove clothing!"

There were arty drawings of naked Indian women diving and some kind of mandala on the label. Probably should have been a clue.

Well, it was a long evening. Probably a really long evening for her. I watched her make two apple pies while brilliant neon fired off the stainless appliances. I laughed until I hurt and then I mourned lost love and then I laughed some more.

This morning I'm worn out. My life is a pretty good movie.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Work To Do

Sometimes I'll glance at my watch during a show and realize that I've got so much more to share with the folks but it's almost closing time. Life's feeling like that now. Romance? Done. I probably should have skipped that one and shot pool instead. I can introduce you to women who will back me up on that one.

Somehow, though, I feel like I'm only beginning to figure out who I am and what I do. I'm pretty sure that you're supposed to feel like this sometime around your twenty first or twenty second birthday.

Songs are pouring out of me. I can feel that they need to be played. We're getting ready to celebrate my 50 year anniversary in rock'n'roll at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa. It seems like I can't turn on the radio in the car or step into an elevator without hearing, I'm so tired of feeling lonely. I still have some love to give.

Of course I don't pretend to know what was going on in Roy Orbison's life when he sang that line. I can tell you, however, that it was no throwaway line stuck in there for the sake of a rhyme.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Exclusive Club

Always fascinated by the characters who become the real thing as time goes by. You know, how crazy was Screamin' Jay before he paraded in zebra skin tuxedos and set his head on fire? How weird was Gorgeous George before he took to the peroxide?

Now, though, I worry that I've become the real Prince of Heartache, the true Heartbreak Kid. Maybe I should have written novelty songs or the ones where the guy gets the girl.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Forget google glass. I'm seeing through my child's eyes again or, at least, I'm trying. Oh, I don't have any kids. I'm referring to to the innocence that allowed us to see what was really in front of us before the grown up world fogged it up.

I was loved and I was nurtured. Nobody lied to me except for stories about Santa and the Easter Bunny. Well, I was a lucky one. I love folks who weren't so lucky. I'm referring to innocent victims who had their youth stolen from them, usually from the ones who had suffered the same thing.

On the broader front we have power brokers who will lie to us to make money or improve their social standing. I would mention a former vice president who comes to mind but I don't want to fall into that trap and waller in that mud.

Yeah, somehow I'm seeing the real person, the kid, when I'm talking to people now. Oh, I'm sure that I can be fooled. Lord knows I've been fooled. I talk to some naughty kids but I surely don't find many evil ones.

There's still treasure buried out there. You just have to open your heart to find it. Rock'n'roll's dead. I've said that for some time now. That's not sad. Alan Freed began "selling" it a long time ago. That beautiful music that always changes the world and saves souls is with us. I saw and heard plenty of it last night. The only thing to bury is that business concept that Rick Rubin and Clive Davis sold at the top of the market to those greedy ones who don't have any interest in the beauty or the music to begin with. The internet leveled the field. Oh, folks are downloading my music for free? Well, I've been giving it away since before it was fashionable. I see that BMI just deposited $2.34 into my checking account so I guess, technically, I'm not really giving anything away.

Now, I'm aware that this is something of a ramble, even for me. If you're asking yourself, "Is he talking about love or innocence or business or politics or art?," the answer is yes.

If you love hard enough, there is no judgement. You can't stop love.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Comic book light bulbs don't appear over my cranium very often. I've only had a few true ah ha moments in this life. Well, I just had one. I am truly grateful. I've seen Havana and I've seen Dunoon. I've lost the great love of my life and I've heard the most beautiful music ever made.

We all need a purpose, right? Maybe some of us more than others. I wanted to join the Peace Corps as a young man but couldn't get up the nerve. I couldn't figure out what I might offer anyone in some other culture. I can't really do anything.

All the aptitude tests pointed to me preaching. Well, I can't. I don't believe anything. No, that's not right. I believe everything. It's all love. Unfortunately, there's no such church. Maybe Lord Buckley's Church Of The Living Swing, but that's his church.

Suddenly, hidden in some innocuous article, I see a cryptic message about joy in service. I wasn't created to make money, sell records or make history. Sour grapes? Maybe a little. Rationalization for laziness? Probably.

This is all for you. I'm probably the luckiest guy in the world. I wish I could paint widows' houses and patch the roofs in tornadoes' paths. Yeah, Mother Teresa had a bigger task. She had a bigger heart and broader shoulders. She was quoted as saying, though, "Life is a song. Sing it."

As usual, I'm where I'm supposed to be. Tell everybody everything you know about love.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Nobody's Victim

Nobody wants to be someone else's bad memory, I suppose. Yeah, she always had a smile on her face and I guess I usually do, too. Maybe that's where I got it. She was way too sensitive, though, and I guess I got that, too. If she felt betrayed she was broken hearted. Boy, could she forgive, though. And love, oh my! I never thought much about how often I heard her say, "I love you," to people all around her until someone mentioned it at her little memorial service.

Sometimes I worry that Jamaica and Angel get sick of hearing me tell them that I love them. I don't worry about it so much that I'm gonna cut down on it. I couldn't if I tried.

Audiences. Yeah, I've embarrassed more than a few of them by gushing about my feelings for them. I have figured out that it's physics and biology and love. That's it. That's all there is.

War and greed and jealousy and hate are merely aberrations in the human condition. I love you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Where's Asunder?

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, worried that I don't give enough credit to all the women who brought us rock'n'roll. I mean, I certainly do in my head. I just don't remember writing that much about all the girls who pieced together hillbilly music with gospel and the blues to get us to the glory days of heaven. I'm not going to start rattling off names because I would surely leave out half of my favorites and have to hang myself in shame at sundown.

I will say, though, that Lavern Baker held her own when I saw her on bills with Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley, Big Joe Turner and lots of others. It may not be fair to throw Brenda Lee into the mix since I'm so prejudiced. I've told you before that I was madly in love with Little Miss Dynamite. She sure could rock. Rose Maddox and Ruth Brown, Tina Turner and Memphis Minnie, Jo Ann Campbell and Mahalia Jackson... yeah, I'm doing what I said I wasn't going to do. My nerves get rattled, though, and I picture the women who meant the world to me. They still do. Not only that, but I look around and marvel at the wonderful talented females who make such magical art for us today. Take off your hat, fool! There are ladies here! I love them all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Puppies and Kittens and Babies

There's not much point in pouting if you can get to a baby laughing or you can pet a puppy or hold a kitten. There are tests of joy all over creation. That's where rock'n'roll came from.

Sometimes I just wish that I could find my joy as easily as I seem to find my sorrow. I've probably let myself blame other folks for my sadness when I know all too well that it's my own doing. Well, sir, here's to happy. Practice love. Nothing else matters.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Sweet Folks

My pal, Walt, is on me to get rid of all the negativity in my music and in my stage ranting. Of course he's right. I've told you before that I wish that I just sat around writing positive, happy songs. When people get hacked up in my songs it's supposed to be funny. I don't hate Dick Clark. I don't hate anybody.

Now, I have to tell you; I don't want to write songs about heartache and heartbreak, either. I don't want to study sad no more.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

This Soul Swings Wide

Sometimes I walk on diamonds and complain about the rough road. If you can't see me in the mirror, I can't see you. Would I trade the joy in this old soul to get rid of this heart full of blues? I might. Make me an offer.

Give your love away freely. You don't want to be left with a bunch left over at the end.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lost Souls Club

Maybe you can't save them all but you sure better try. Sometimes the folks who need your love the most may not be the most lovable. Sometimes you'll find yourself with the short end of the stick. That's alright. Rock'n'roll levels the field. So does love.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rock'n'Roll Has Been Very, Very Good To Me

Oh, you know, I've never made any money. I've told you before that I made more dough playing music as a kid than I ever have as a grownup. Let me say again, though, that I have never enjoyed my work as much as I do today. Rock'n'roll provides me a platform to preach my simple message of peace and love. No church would have me. I can't blame them. I'm aware that most of what I have to say is simplistic and a bit shopworn. I'm not a man of grand delusions and I'm not a particularly eloquent soul. I do mean everything that I say, though, and I'm as honest as I can be at any given moment.

The truth is within you and that's where the peace is. Don't take anything for granted. Folks will lie to you to get what they think they need and that includes your government and your church. There are no good wars and there's nothing that can't be fixed with love. If somebody tells you that's naive they're overthinking it.

Be mindful of the other fellow's struggles and help when you can. This is paradise. Enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Call Me A Cab

My good fortune and everything fine that happens to me just reenforces my despair over the less fortunate. I don't dwell on sadness and misery but it's never far from the front of my mind. I suppose that using the love in your heart to try to make the world a little softer for the rest of the world is about the best that I can do.

It's a waste of time to rehash the things that I've done wrong but I hope I've got some of it right now. There will always be opportunities to help. To love. This is heaven. Make the most of it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In This Corner

Remember rasslin' bears? Well, no of course you don't. You're not as old as I am. Unless you're Tom Robbins or Don Garlits, in which case you've probably got better things to do than wallow in this mire.

In the days before the interstate highway system there were frequently shabby little tourist attractions in the West where you could fill 'er up, relieve yourself, get an Orange Crush and rassle a bear to shut up the kids and make you feel better about your manliness. Some of these same critters would tour the professional circuits from time to time and go head to head with some of the lesser stars.

Now, I've seen a lot but I've never seen a man or a woman wrestle a bear. This is what I've always heard- the bear won't squeeze too tight or try to hurt you unless he senses that you're trying to hurt him. Then, Katy bar the door, pun intended!

Well, it occurs to me that I'm a little like that, myself. I'm a lover. Well, in my mind I'm a lover. I'm surely no fighter, though. Backed into a corner, however, I find a well of meanness that scares me half to death. I suppose I've messed with words all my life and I've kept a private stock of hurtful ones stored in my soul that I had forgotten about.

I'm emptying that quiver now. I'm so very, very sorry that I ever found them there to begin with. No one ever fixed hurt and sadness with hate and anger.

What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Clarity and Loneliness

Why does it all make so much sense every now and then? I have never been good about waking up with a song idea and writing it down so that it will still be there in the morning. Who cares? Does the world really need any more Ronny Elliott songs?

Now, however, I find myself with a clear vision of my life, including a detailed map to happiness, at 2:00 am every once in awhile. I don't write them down either and wake up with some vague notion that self actualization whispered in my ear during the night. 

Whatever it appears to you, I'm big in my dreams.

Help everyone love. You can start by being lovable. Do all that stuff that t-shirts and bumper stickers suggest. You know: "If you see someone without a smile, give them yours." That stuff. It's more important than red state/ blue state junk.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

50 Years Ago Today

Well, I guess it sneaked up on me. How long have you been at your job? I just realized this morning that I've now invested fifty years in this racket. In the words of a brilliant critic, "my so-called writing." I wouldn't trade a minute of it for all the tea in China.

Invest your love wisely. Everybody's been hurt somewhere along the line. Give it away. Don't be drawn into conflict and drama. They'll find someone else to torment.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mud Baths and Pipedreams

Do you ever wonder whether you've really learned anything at all along the way? All that stuff about "all I ever really needed to know" turns out to be true, doesn't it?

Oh, it's not that I was wise at eighteen. It's really more that the light bulb over my head went off and all I've figured out since then concerns facts and specifics. Sunday school taught me more than college and it didn't teach me much. I guess Grandma had already covered most of that. 

Mom brought me the rock'n'roll for my double measure in life. I'd like to win something so that I could publicly thank both of them. My Ph.D in love has served me well. I should have taken a course or two in romance.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Out There, Outta' Here

"You know your pal, Butch Hancock, thinks Buddy Holly was an alien?" Dave Marsh asked me as I ranted about Roswell and the government and rock'n'roll and peace and love.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, he says it sure the fuck didn't come from Lubbock, Texas."

Sometimes I sit with my memories and I wonder what planet these heroes did come from. I remember trying to make sense out of the name, Elvis Presley. I still do. What about Little Richard? How could that happen? Tiny Tim?

What about the stuff I never saw, the acts I never heard of? It's the stuff that runs in my veins. Let the love flow, boys. Let the love flow.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Guests In The Attic

Okay, Cowboys and Cowgirls, start your engines. There's a world of plenty and a planet of love out there. They've managed to numb us and pacify us with I phones and Netflix. Now the cows have come home to roost... or whatever cows do.

The backlash is upon us. The future is now. Build your world. Do what all those smart folks tell all the graduates at all the commencement ceremonies.

It's all about the love. They may lie to you while they're spoiling the planet but you don't have to pretend to believe them. This is our party and they're not really invited. Love away.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It's The Chains

What makes you free? What changes so that you realize there's not a lock on the cage door? Well, I've had school and I've had career. I've had so called romance. I've been places and I've met some wonderful folks. I've been used and treated unkindly, but not often.

Well, the white flag is flappin'. This is obviously the final lap. I'm free.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Talkin' Dog

Yeah, I talk to Jamaica. A lot. She puts up with it as I tell the story over and over of bringing her home as a tiny puppy from the pound. She has the same "whatever" look on her face that I'm pretty sure that I always managed when my mom told me stories about my childhood. You know, my bronzed baby shoes and almost dying from the tonsillectomy. Of course my mom spoke to me in English, my native tongue. Jamaica speaks DOG, mostly.

She sure is a good girl. I've learned more about love from the dogs and cats in my life than from all the Sunday School lessons put together. I'm rich with love.

Poets And Scientists

"I remember you. I don't like you."

Now I can't remember if it was the art teacher or the music teacher who said that to me on the first day of school. Doesn't really matter much now. Let's just say that apparently it wasn't easy to get me to color in the lines. We all know that it would be impossible to teach me to sing on key.

Unfortunately, for me at least, I'm dying to please. I want to be loved. Really. Would I still be whining about what that teacher said after nearly sixty years if my feelings weren't hurt?

My academic classes were something of a mess, too. I would always test well. This was the very beginning of advanced classes and they would move me into small little groups of smart kids who sensed that I didn't belong. 

I usually had friends in high school who were gifted athletes. Oh, I would have loved to be a football hero and wear a fancy letter jacket. No chance. A lack of skill and coordination hurt. Poor eyesight and pure D laziness played a role, too.

When I tell you that rock'n'roll saved me, I'm barely exaggerating. I knew from 1956 that it was my only chance. It took me another seven or eight years to get up the nerve to take that step.

Now, over a fifty year career it appears that no one has been able to teach me to do it right. Only my closest friends and the wonderful musicians that I work with know that I'm always trying to sing on key. To color in the lines. Sometimes I claim to be stubborn. Often I tell folks that I just play the stuff for me. No regard for commercial success. I don't lie but that's probably not really true.

This stuff has always been my attempt at big hits. Stuff to please you. When you see those weirdos from another planet on American Idol, be kind. Most of them would sing on key if they could. They're singing for you.

There are only two lessons that matter. Love and loss. You're in control of one of them.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ramp To Ramp

This journey that everyone is on, how's it going? I suppose we do all have excuses for our quirks. I'm relying on the sweet music to get me through.

When I spend too much time worrying about Elvis' happiness or Bill Haley's demons I realize quickly that nothing is going to pave any road to Utopia. That was just a Crosby- Hope movie.

I'm just hoping to do all my burning while I'm here.

Nobody hurts anybody else on purpose. I'm sure of that. If love weren't so very complicated we would only have Shake, Rattle and Roll. Hey, that doesn't sound so bad.