Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Only Star

Hey, Sugar, crawl in here with me. I shot out the lights before I said my prayers and I've got painter's tape over all the digital clock faces. It's darker'n an Oklahoma well and I'm scared to be by myself. You never know what I might do.

They never give Gene Autry the credit he deserves. I'll tell you this much: when my blue moon turns to gold again we'll shoot off some fireworks and I'll write your sweet name across the sky with sparklers.

I'm always promising to be good and I mean it when I say it. What am I supposed to do with all this love? Wake me up when this is over and tell me that you love me. You don't have to mean it.

If It Muddles Like A Duck

Yeah, that's Maxine. That's my mom. I suppose that I got more than just temperament and an appreciation for the rock'n'roll from her.

Maxine was a romantic all the way through. She was named for an American actress, Maxine Elliott, who was known as much for her stunning beauty as she was her dramatic skills.

I'm left with no choice but to wonder if she married my father in order to get her last name. Sounds crazy. You remember where the nut falls, right? They divorced before I was born.

She had a tremendous flair and a beautiful soul. She had more love in her than anyone I've ever known. She also had a capacity for the blues that ran deep in her heart. She really was a touch too fragile for her time. Or any time. She surely loved hard.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Cork

Twice in my lifetime the genie has been let out of the bottle. Elvis was the culprit when I was nine years old and the Beatles took the cork and threw it as far as it would go in 1964. 

Oh, yeah the rise of the personal computer comes close to getting in on it. Mostly because the internet has brought truth to young folks around the world living under tyrants. It has brought them rock'n'roll, too. It's fun to hear Brian Williams say, "Pussy Riot," on TV, isn't it?

Rock'n'roll, though, has twice changed the whole game. Societies have been forced to re-think sexual mores, art, war and peace, racial equality, environmental quality and so much more because of the blatant demands and messages in the music.

My grandmother came along just fifty years after the industrial revolution. She lived long enough to see the sight of automobiles replace the horse and carriage; the Wright Brothers first flight; two world wars; the great depression; and a man walk on the moon. 

She was still around for the heyday of rock'n'roll, too, and she knew that nothing would ever be the same. Maybe it's served its purpose, I don't know. Seems to me we're still a little short on the truth and love scale. It's good to have a purpose. Search for truth. Pray for peace. Settle for love.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It Comes In Waves

Seems that I have so much to tell you and nothing much to say. You don't suppose that all the good times have rolled, do ya?

Monday, July 28, 2014

What If The Heroes Had Failed?

What if Tutti Frutti hadn't taken off? What if Elvis hadn't wandered into Sun? Most of the great stuff never gets recorded. Most of the greatest recordings don't sell. That weird intersection of art and commerce has always been there.

Of course that leaves me thankful that I ever got to hear "That's Alright Mama," and worried sick about what I may have missed. 

This crapshoot that we call life is one cosmic giggle I tell you. Don't take any of it too seriously. Except the love. Take that very seriously. Oh, and Elvis and Little Richard. Take them seriously, too. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bigger Than Life, Older Than Dirt

Well, I have a high school reunion coming up next year. I just got back from a family reunion in Birmingham a few weeks back. I've used up two lifetimes of luck and good fortune. I've been on the receiving end of more love than any person could ever deserve. I've lived a lifetime of rock'n'roll. It's way too late to die young. I know about the secrets and the power of love. I try my best to keep it from being any secret at all.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Wounded

Was there ever a heartache that a Little Richard record couldn't fix? Just sit there and listen to Earl Palmer kicking off Keep A Knockin'. Great goodness!

Sometimes I fret about the love that I've tried to cram down the throats of someone who didn't need it. Didn't want it. Couldn't accept it.

Then I remember being sent home from the playground with my little red box of 45's. Right. Didn't need them. Didn't want them. I'm kinda' the brussel sprouts of humanity, I suppose. I've got good intentions and a heartful of love. I'll play you Little Richard records all night long if you want me to.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Almost Cut My Lawn

The thunder rolls in the background and the dog frets. Life happens right here in front of me and I wring my hands. I know love. I'm lucky. 

Is that a little ray of sunshine that I see through these black clouds? You bet! Some of us don't have the good sense not to get back on the bus.

The love is in the rock'n'roll. So is the truth, the magic. Love with all your heart. It's all about peace.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hope Fades

In the words of Chuck Berry, "Same thing, every day...". I get up and check my memory and think that maybe something has faded. Just a little. I quickly check for overnight e-mails. I go to the antiquated answering machine, hoping against hope that a message was left so quietly in the wee wee hours that I slept right through it.

Then I busy myself with everyday humdrum while sadness wrestles to keep control. It usually wins. My pal, Rebekah, says that's the price I pay for being an artist.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Babies and Puppies and Kittens

In the presence of a baby I seem to lose all sadness. The pure love and trust that emanates from a tiny kitten or a rambunctious puppy melts my heart and makes everything right for me, at least for a moment.

It's not a matter of changing your heart to get back there. It's merely allowing it to return to its natural state. 

Love is like oxygen. It's everywhere. Don't struggle for it. Here's what I read in the New York Times on Sunday:

Love people. Use things.

Yeah, the New York Times. The message is simple and it's everywhere. I love you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not That Kid

No filters. That's how folks describe the ones who say too much. You know, the ones without Tourette Syndrome who still manage to make inappropriate comments on a regular basis.

This social media has allowed me access to the club, I'm afraid. Oh, I'm aware that no one has ever really broken my heart. That would be murder, wouldn't it?

When I'm not whining about my failed romance it seems that I'm pointing out my lack of success in the rock'n'roll business.

Oh, I don't have anything against losers. I won't say that some of my best friends are losers but you know what I'm thinking. Wink.

If anything it's the successful ones that fascinate me and it's their stories that break my heart. It doesn't take Margaret Mead to tell you that Elvis was loved. Heck, I loved him. My mom loved him. The fact that he was sucked down that lonely path to the real Heartbreak Hotel is the part that gets me.

I know what he wanted. It didn't really exist. I know what I want. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Time Left

I've never had too much interest in the latest fashion. You've probably noticed. Certainly the women in my life have. I read in that Bob Dylan autobiography that he reads newspapers. Just not today's. Why should I care about the New York Times' best seller list when I haven't read all of Mark Twain?

Oh, I'm no whimpering nostalgist pining for any good old days.

Oh, and another thing- I see stuff. Yeah, I came equipped with some sorta' x-ray specs for the soul. It's no power that is unique to me. Sometimes I think that I'm just tuned in to a slightly different frequency than most folks. I pay a price in that I miss things that should be obvious. Things that are obvious to other people. I suppose it would be simpler to say that I'm naive.

Tell someone that you love them and chances are pretty good that they'll tell you the same thing back. Heck, a parrot will do it if you have the patience. If they don't, in fact, love you, conflict and drama must ensue to reverse the situation. No one wants to say, "Well, I know that I told you that I loved you but that wasn't really the case. You put me into an awkward position and I lied to buy time. I thought that maybe I would love you eventually. I don't."

This phenomena along with petty theft supports the pawn shop industry.

Considering yourself naive if the alternative is dumb is good for self esteem. Now, if I can convince myself that I'm an independent playboy instead of heartbroken and lonely, I'll be on top of the world. Now, where's that copy of Pudd'nhead Wilson?

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Sometimes I worry that this void may just consume what's left of me. Maybe the rock'n'roll can save me. Again. I'm whole onstage. No wonder all those crusty vaudevillians always expressed a desire to die out there. That's where the love is.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Adam And Eve Of Destruction

Some things never go out of fashion. The world's blowing up again. I know that peace starts with me and that's shaky at this point, too. My restless soul pines for what never was. My heart breaks over a telephone that doesn't ring.

I've had everything and then some and yet, somehow, I have nothing. Love has been elusive. How will I ever get home?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Golden Age Of Rap

Maybe you think I don't get tired of listening to young, condescending, well meaning chumps trying to educate me regarding the virtues of hip hop. I suppose that they assume that being white and older than dirt, I don't know diddley, pardon the pun, about real rap.

If I had more patience I would sit them down, one at a time, and tell them where it came from. Hey, I'm talking about the good stuff. The really good stuff.

Have they listened to Louis Jordan, Woody Guthrie, Bo Diddley, Nervous Norvus, Dave Bartholomew?

Hey, I'm no sentimental, nostalgist. I just like the best of everything. When one of those jokers makes a record that stands up to "Beware" or "Transfusion" or "Say, Man" wake me up, roll me over.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Heart Attacks and Pinwheels

All of my memories are becoming good memories. The sweetest folks in the world have crossed my path. I hope that I've done okay by them. I hear the grandest music in the world and the beauty all around is almost blinding. 

Love: that's the whole deal.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The New Ones

What about the ones I haven't written yet? A lot of work has gone into dragging this old heart through fire and mud in search of true love since ink was put to paper.

Roger Penzabene took his own life a week after the release of "I Wish It Would Rain," the song that the Temptations took to the top of the charts in 1967. Penzabene, one of the great staff writers at Motown, had discovered his wife's infidelity and realized that his love was mightier than his anger.

"Save The Last Dance For Me" was written by the magnificent Doc Pomus on the day of his wedding. Of course Doc was in a wheelchair as a result of polio. He was happy to watch his bride on the dance floor but wrote a reminder that she would be going home with him.

The truly sad ones, the ones that cause the tears to well up when you hear the first few notes coming out of the radio- those are the ones forged from real heartbreak.

Sometimes I wish I had a better business plan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Changing Shorty's Pyjamas

All of the god and all of the zen and time still runs the show. Maybe there is only "now." Maybe the past and the future are concepts of our imaginations. My imagination. Maybe you and I are the same. 

We should live as though that's the case anyway. We're all pulling for discovery of intelligent life, on this planet or any other. We'll know it by the love.

Me? Studying love from here on out. Only love.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Did You Miss Me?

All the lessons are about love and all the lessons are about loss. I think I've told you that before. I just got home from Okemah. The lessons come fast and furious. Most of it's probably over my head. They give you what you need or they give you what they got. This love stuff's addictive. You're welcome to mine. I've got more.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

You're Doin' Fine

Well, I'm off to Oklahoma for the week for the Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah. Woody, himself, described the place:

Okemah was one of the singinest, square dancingest, drinkingest, yellingest, preachingest, walkingest, talkingest, laughingest, cryingest, shootingest, fist fightingest, bleedingest, gamblingest, gun, club and razor carryingest of our ranch towns and farm towns, because it blossomed into one of our first Oil Boom Towns.

Seems the little town has finally embraced our hero now. Took awhile. It's hard to ignore most of what Woody preached in this day and age.

I'll be there preaching my own brand of salvation so you'll have a little break from it here. Honestly, my only worry is that I'm not anybody's good memory. I love you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Where They Hide It

It's the innocence, Captain, it's the innocence. Maybe I'm lucky that I never have to pry my heart open. Hurt me once, shame on me. Hurt me twice, shame on me. Hurt me three times, shame on me. I know a pattern when I see one.

Well, now, I suppose that we can all look at a photo of an infant elephant looking up with adoration at a proud mom and melt into stupid. Play Old Shep on the jukebox and we'll bawl together. They produce television spots of starving babies that are designed to break your heart and open your wallet. Either they work or you've learned to quickly change the channel.

I'm finally learning that most folks don't want you to see their innocence. It's kinda' like spinach in your teeth or your underwear showing, I guess.

We're all the same little kid who needed love and approval in the beginning. I'm drawn to it like that stupid moth to that proverbial flame. Some lessons come slowly. Me and Popeye, we are who we are. I love you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

No Clue

Play rock'n'roll for love. Get famous with ambition. Well, nobody wants to be loved more than I do. Nobody has less ambition. Nobody. I don't suppose you've ever heard of me. That's alright. I play rock'n'roll.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Crown's Too Big

There was a time I described myself an addictive personality. Sounds good. Romantic. Dangerous. It eventually occurred to me that I am the opposite. I don't enjoy any substance to the point that I bother with it. Much. Don't mistake this for any kind of superior rant. I surely don't have the good sense to avoid anything just because it's bad for me. Take romance. Please.

Rock'n'roll is the exception. All sadness melts. The joy is close to holy when 4/4 starts. I must be the luckiest man alive. I love you. You know very well who you are.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Leave The Mask At Home

While being dressed down, told off and insulted I was informed by my colleague that I was certainly more self-aware than most. In the context, I can hardly consider it a compliment. 

Trying to figure out just exactly what I've done to disrupt this friendship, I will say that I spend a lot of time studying who I am. I'm not going to tell you that I always like what I find but I do tend to tell myself the truth about it.

Failure will cause you to examine yourself under a higher powered microscope. Stumble once and maybe it's bad luck. Fall again and you have to question yourself. Bumble wildly through the course of a lifetime and there's only one suspect to haul in for questioning.

Now, I can't help but notice that when people shed me it usually comes with a flare. No, an inferno. I'm not talking wild-eyed fights. Once when I mentioned that I had thought that she was in love with me because she had told me she was, I was hit with, "Yeah, I can't believe you were that stupid for that long," in a very calm, matter of fact tone.

One long time friend called once to tell me what a bad person I was and kept me on the phone for what seemed like hours. It was probably minutes. I said pretty much nothing. I couldn't get a word in and really didn't know how to defend any idea of decency that I had ever attributed to myself. That one ended with, "Have a nice life!" and the slamming of the phone. I didn't hear from him for years. We had never had a fight. Not that I was aware of.

Rock'n'roll is where I spill my beans. Oh, I write about hurt and I write about disappointment and some of my subjects are on the dark side. The joy of the music, though, gets me through. It doesn't just get me through. It reminds me of all of the love and all of the joy and all of the light. There is no net for my kind of show and there are no masks.

Tonight at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa I'm celebrating fifty years of this stuff. You would think that a grown man would have better sense. You might guess that fellow would push that old heart a little further up his sleeve. Sometimes I think that I break my own heart to have something to write about.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Breakdown Avenue

Went to Wikipedia for "unrequited love" and found my picture. This Rodney Dangerfield material is a drag. I should be out writing my true love's name with sparklers on a beach.

The photographic image of Y.A. Tittle on his knees with the helmet in his hands and blood running down his face breaks my heart. It always did.

Only the strong survive. I just heard an old interview with Pete Seeger on the radio where he explained the concept in biblical and biological terms. We're all the product of the "good killers," Pete claimed. Of course we are. Those are the genes that get passed along.

Somehow I seem to have self- destructed in a most predictable pattern on a regular basis in order to stay out of the "good killer" club. I know that it looks like self- righteous posturing from outside my head and my heart. We all muddle through.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Never Worked A Day

Okay, so maybe the Rubik's Cube wasn't made for me. I never received an invitation to Mensa Society in the mail. If I sit at the table long enough at Cracker Barrel I might qualify as something close to human with the little golf tee toy. So what?

It finally occurs to me that all of the lessons are there, right before our eyes, all of the time. You see them when you're ready for them.

Luckily, I learned a few of the important ones early on. This has left me out of step but I'm not complaining. There are no good wars. Grandma taught me that. Love is more important than anything else. She showed me that, too. All of the magic and all of the secrets are in the rock'n'roll. Mom showed me that one. It has kept me from ever working a day in my life.

Oh, I've toted some melons and I've scooped some mud. I've mopped some floors and bagged some groceries, too. I've sold some stuff, not much but some, and I've bossed a few folks around. Looking back, those were just exercises so that I would have something to write about.

Now I finally understand something about love. Romance, I mean. All of my failures have had something to do with the reciprocal end of it. Through the fog I finally see that that end has nothing to do with me. My role is to love. If someone loves me back, well, fine. Now I know what you're thinking- he hasn't learned a thing!

I have, too. As I look around at the relationships in front of me, I don't want any of that. I'm afraid that I see lots of folks hanging around with people that they don't want to be around because they are afraid to change anything. Sad.

From here on out I just love.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

No Agenda

Now I worry that I've done things to get what I wanted, what I thought I needed. Maybe I've learned a lesson. I won't love to be loved. I won't be polite to be asked back.

Don't worry. I'm not planning to rob banks or kick children. I just want to be conscious of every endeavor and I want to act from the heart.

Pretty sure that I've never really played my music to get rich. Oh, I need to make a living but every note will be consciously played for the joy of it in the future. I suppose that makes me rich in the big picture.

I loved the nineteen year old Brigitte Bardot. She never loved me back. It never made me angry or hurt my feelings. There was a lesson put right before me. I never saw it.

I'm gonna play the prettiest music that I can squeeze out of the ether and my friends and I'm gonna love so hard that the earth moves and I'm doing all of this because I can.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Same Thing All Over Again

If I only had the patience. I make mistakes. It sometimes takes time to realize that I've screwed up. Waiting for the dust to settle presents a perspective that is realistic. 

My pal, Buddy Pendergrass, once explained to me that when you play a bad note onstage, you wait to notice that no one stops dancing. Everything's okay then. Oh, I've played lots of bad notes since then. Lots. Really bad.

Well, my batting average in life suffers sometimes, too. Nobody has stopped dancing. I just need to keep loving.