Well, I think I'm gonna move. I've been here for twenty years. Never lived in one place for so long. I've told you that I live in a jungle on an island. It's been pretty much a dream for me. Not only that but Jamaica has never lived anywhere else. I'm hoping that she'll be happy wherever we land.
Lots of stuff accumulates over twenty years. I'm thinking I might have to leave some memories behind. Oh, I'm gonna take all the good ones and there are plenty.
Well, as you know, the joy is out there. It's up to you to find it. I think Christians hide easter eggs for the same reason that the marines have young recruits climb ropes. It's all about learning to look for it without having your spirit broken.
If Adam and Eve had just given in to innocence instead of thinking too much, we could all be hanging around naked today. Listening to rock'n'roll. Sounds like heaven, huh? Or Woodstock.
Use the sorrow and the loss. The good stuff is right here. It's all on the love frequency. Turn up the radio and take off your pants.
What if we've finally used up all the rock'n'roll? I mean we ran out of swing, didn't we? All this slick americana stuff seems to be where the "smart money" goes today. Who cares? What a great run. Me, I'm just waiting for the kids to bring us something. We'll know it when we hear it, huh?
It's all just scared little kids out there, running around, making war, leading industry. The loudest, brashest ones are the ones most scared. What if they're discovered.
There's not a problem out there that couldn't be solved with love. We've got plenty of food to feed the hungry. Every American city has enough foreclosed property to put a roof over the homeless. Our infrastructure has crumbled to the point where we need every able-bodied, unemployed worker out on the job. Today.
Work has become our means of defining who we are. If they saunter up to me at a cocktail party and ask, "What do you do?" I'll tell 'em that I'm a lover. Makes me sound more interesting than I am.
Therapists like me. I'll tell anybody anything. That's not necessarily a virtue. Writing songs has been the only thing that has kept me out on the track at times. When I boast that rock'n'roll has saved my life, I mean it in lots of ways. Literally.
The hippies had love on their side. The rest of the world scoffed but it almost worked. The love's still out there in the ether. It's free, too.
It's all in the water, isn't it? There are far more good folks out there than bad ones. Somehow, though, we seem to let the bad ones make the rules and run the game. Those creeps who butted in line and took your lunch money while you were in Phys Ed took over the governments. The churches, too! They control our airwaves and they've wrangled the worldwide web from us. I'm not proud to tell you that they have controlled the music industry since money was first made from music. All the arts, in fact. By that I mean the art business. In my eyes, it's either art or it's business. Nobody asks me.
Keep all your cash in love. That's my advice to you. To quote ol' Jett Rink, "I'm a rich 'un."
Must have been around 1970-'71 I wrote my first ten commandments. I lose them for a decade or two at a time and then they just seem to show up. There were no burning bushes, no voices or nothing that approached the supernatural. I've written several others since. Really, you can just get what you need from the bumper stickers. Be nice. End war. Love.
It's rained all day and now I guess it's gonna rain all night. Okay by me. Jamaica doesn't much care for it, though. The rain seems to make her nervous.
I read an article that informs me that new scientific studies seem to indicate that dogs don't really care whether or not you talk to them. Yeah, I know- how can they tell any such thing, right? Well, I don't know. I didn't read the piece all that carefully. I guess they measure brain waves while talking to them or something.
They like to be pet and they like to go for walks and rides. They don't care whether or not you talk to them.
Now this means that I do all this babbling either for nothing or for my own entertainment. So what? In the big scheme of things most of what I do is pretty inconsequential. I do most of it for my own entertainment.
Oh, I'm important. Everybody's important. I'm special, too. Everyone is. I'm star stuff held together by love. I was made for love. You were, too. I love you. Now I'm gonna read this to my dog.
Ah, the glory days. Just kidding. I don't miss a thing. Well, that's not altogether true. I miss all the loved ones who have gone and I miss all the sweet pets who gave me so much. I don't miss any things, though. I don't look back and wish I had kept this guitar or that car. I don't pine for the good old days when music was good and the air was clear and the pants were pulled up. This life is so special and so precious and I'm just trying to pay attention here. Love; that's the deal.
None of us like to think that we're slow, dumb, below average. In fact, I listened to a good friend pontificate the other day on the theory that all of us have a need to feel superior, in one way or another, to the folks around us.
When it comes to technology, though, you can put me in the remedial group. Oh, I have nothing against it. It's really just that I so love the mystery.
The needle wiggles in the groove in the plastic and Elvis sings. No wonder Nipper sits there with his head cocked at the RCA speaker- Elvis is dead! Left the building.
Splitting the atom? Fission? String theory, time travel, relativity? Don't bother me. I glory at the mystery of the thermos, the pencil- hey, I'm amazed at fire.
For me, the beauty of the universe is all tied up in the mystery. I don't care what causes my heart to jump when Fats Domino sings or my pulse to race when a pretty girl comes into the room. Yeah, you can call it biology or technology to begin shutting me up but it will always be magic to me. I see it all in concentric circles with love at the center. Thanks for the psilocybin, Peggy. It's been a long time.
Looks like it's gonna rain all day. I wouldn't care except that Jamaica is nervous about it. She won't leave my side. I suppose it's nice to be needed.
There are so many folks out there who need you. Don't get caught up in chasing the dollar and forget to love. Maybe regret comes when we look in the rear view mirror and see that we could have done it right.
It's always a bit monotonous to be around folks who came up with different music than you. Sometimes I think nobody came up with the music that I did but then I remember just how the Beatles knocked me for that loop that changed it all for me.
Punk always falls into one of those decades that I pretty much missed all the way around. Now, I have to say, some of these folks really get tedious. Let's face it, by the time Malcolm McLaren managed to get the Sex Pistols signed to Warner Brothers in the middle seventies, there was no such thing as punk. I mean, designer safety pins! Give me a break.
Nobody's ever more for returning to the music than I am. When rock'n'roll puts on a few pounds I say we fire the orchestra. Put the drum sticks back in the hands of the kids.
You want a punk? How about a skinny, hillbilly truck driver from Memphis wearing pink pants and a black lace shirt, sneering from the stage at your girlfriend while he shouts country versions of old blues tunes and warbles bluesy renditions of bluegrass standards.
Maybe four irreverent greasers from Liverpool in tight Levis and leather jackets onstage in Hamburg, eating sandwiches and guzzling booze between covers of the Coasters and Gene Vincent.
Speaking of Gene Vincent, ever take a good look at any of those publicity shots of the Blue Caps. There were some serious punks, boys.
Yeah, nobody loves the punks more than I do. That manufactured attitude that Warner Brothers tried to sell me never quite got there, though. Hank Williams whacked out on pills with the wrong boot on the wrong foot- that's my idea of a punk.
When I think about Maxine Brown's "All In My Mind" I'm reminded that it may be the only rock'n'roll hit to feature a trombone. I can't think of a single big rocker in 3/4 time that hit the Top 10 before the Moody Blues covered Bessie Banks' wonderful "Go Now." Surely we would never have gotten past the three minute radio hit if Bob hadn't stepped in.
Well sir, I have tried my hardest since I was a kid to go my own way. I don't have to look long or hard, though, to recognize that I've just disassembled and redone the more basic elements of my heroes' music.
I read an interview with Chuck Berry when I was a kid where he mentioned that he had never done anything original, much less invent rock'n'roll. He said that he had only really written three or four songs. I took that as a sign that he was being humble.
As I've mentioned here before, he's not humble. He is honest, though, and he's surely still my hero. The professor may well have written only three or four songs over the years but he had managed to turn them into dozens of anthems. It was years before I figured out that I've only written two or three songs, myself. Nobody's ever gonna accuse me of inventing anything.
I stand on the shoulders of Hank Williams, Louis Jordan, Elvis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, the Beatles and, of course, Chuck Berry.
You think you have time. Well, you do... until you don't. I listened to friends last night grieve and bemoan the fact that they hadn't spent nearly enough time recently with the one they had just lost. Work? Fine. Overrated. Chores? Most of them can wait. Live your life like you did as a kid. Stay outside til it's dark. Play one more game. Love like it matters. It does.
Sometimes when I consider the energy that goes into the drama I'm amazed that there's anything left for the music. Change is easy, I suppose, if you pay attention. If 50% of "happiness" falls within the range of my control, I'm wearing a party hat and no pants from here on out.
Greif is always with us but joy is always lurking. Sprinkle your love wherever you go. That way you'll be able to find your way back.
As one who obsesses over every turn taken, I often wonder what might have become of me if I hadn't gone into the rock'n'roll racket. Oh, I can do nine to five. I have. And romance. What if I could have done better as a husband, a partner, boyfriend, lover?
Well, it's a round world and I've always been a square peg. Here I am.
So that self- important blowhard, Gene Simmons, has declared rock'n'roll dead, huh? Who am I to disagree? I have to say though: it was arrogant, money grabbing', small- dicked jerks like him that drove the final nail in the coffin.
It's a global scene now. There ain't gonna be any more Little Richards, Fats Dominos, Elvis Presleys or Chuck Berrys. Oh, me! I'm a lucky man. I shared a sandwich with Bo Diddley. I partied with the Coasters after they thought the parties were over. I'm a nothing, a nobody. I'm the luckiest man alive.
I read that happiness is 50% genetic. Well, a bop bob a luba a bop bam boom! Love, love, love. We won't call it rock'n'roll but we'll wink and we'll know. I love you.
So I sat with an old pal yesterday and listened while he told me just how miserable I had been for an extended period and how much he had worried about me. It sounded familiar. Now I'm no poster boy for mental health on a good day, if there are any good days, but this was stuff that I could barely listen to.
None of us break hearts on purpose. Sometimes, though, the utter loneliness that comes with unrequited love turns off that light in the heart and leaves such wreck and despair that nothing out there flickers.
Once you've been there you'll never forget it. After awhile it all becomes rejection. Nothing matters but the hurt. I'm a lucky one. I had friends coming from all over the country to sit with me in person to measure the situation for themselves.
Just like there's enough food to feed the world if we do it right, there's enough love to get us through the night, too. Enough of this war crap. Who cares about that stupid Apple watch. I have no interest in your new Volvo. Love isn't cheap, it's free. Get busy. I say that with all the love in my heart.
Everybody's job is important. I guess the secret to happiness, if there is a secret, is to do what a kid would do. Didn't you love to dream and play the role of a hero? Remember running and pushing in line? I just loved to sing and show off and dress up in ridiculous outfits. That's what I do. Oh, it doesn't pay much. I made more doing this when I was seventeen years old than I do today. Of course it was more fashionable then. I'm not complaining.
It made me nervous for years. I remember reading an interview with John Lennon, in Playboy I think, where he said that he threw up before he went onstage every night. That made me feel better. Made me think that it was an important part of my occupation, proof that I was working hard.
Once, on tour in Europe, Germany I think, it all went away. It dawned on me that I'm just Ronny Elliott. That's my job. It's hard to get it wrong. I can get as nervous as I want but it's just not gonna get any better. Or worse.
Oh, every now and then I'll get a little anxious waiting to go on but that's really just pent up energy. I get to sing my heart out and give my love to anybody who'll take it. I write songs as gifts for folks. I suppose the fact that they don't make me any money shows what they're worth in dollars and cents. That's okay. It's all I've got. I get to share it all with you. I guess I'm about the luckiest guy there is. There are folks all around who need your love and your help. Do yourself a favor. Give it to them.
Look at all this, will you? There's perfection everywhere. Use up all your love. We're only here for a little while. Don't waste a minute fighting or worrying. Everything's in tune. You just have to know what you're listening for.
Why am I always the one with the memories? Long road behind me, long road as far as I can see. I spend far too much time talking to the dog and the cat. They think so, too.
Regrets would drive me under if I had any notion that I might have done anything better. I've squeezed out everything that I've had. I was tuned to some weird frequency in the design process and I've marched out of step every step of the way.
I have loved as hard as I could go and I've not done it well. I have sung off key but I have sung with all my heart. I'm pretty sure that I would do it this way again. Keep an eye on me. I'll take all the love you've got.
It doesn't seem right to me, somehow, that I can name players from baseball teams in the 1950's and I'm unable to tell you my garbage man's name. I'm ashamed that I even refer to him as "my garbage man." I know who played fiddle in Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys but I can't put a proper name on any of the hospice workers that I've ever met.
Everybody's a hero. I know that. The beauty and the dignity of everyone that you meet is right there if you can slow down to enjoy it.
Animals? Don't get me started.
Listen to the music. I mean really listen. Smell the air. It's September. Remember what it felt like when school had just started and you could feel the air changing?
It's all energy and it's all love. There really isn't anything else. Use your love. Waste it. Wake up.
My storybook life has been almost everything I've ever dreamed. Yeah, almost. I suppose I've learned the lessons as I've gone. Most of them. Well, some of them. I play rock'n'roll. I live in a jungle on an island. I've met my heroes, worked with most of them.
That loss stuff, though, that's rough. I struggle to avoid attachment. I fail. Love with all your heart and love without condition. We're only here for a little while.
"Here, you need to talk to Ronny Elliott," my pal, Terry Ware, was telling the British kids that he was dragging up to introduce me to. They had come to Okemah for the Woody Guthrie Festival, working on a documentary about Oklahoma music.
When they finished up with me I found Terry and asked why he had thought to have them talk to me. After all, the place was crawling with musicians from Oklahoma.
"Well, I guess you're about the biggest fan of Oklahoma music that I know," Buffalo drawled.
I was a little bit taken aback. I had never even thought about Oklahoma music. I mean I was in Oklahoma and I was there to play music. Of course the festival takes place in Okemah because that's where Woody was born. That was as much as I had ever thought about Oklahoma and music in the same cartoon bubble over my head.
Terry reminded me that we first met when I approached him coming off the stage and smiled and said, "Jesse Edwin Davis."
He had looked a touch befuddled as he replied, "Yeah, what about him?'
"Well, you're clearly a Jesse Edwin Davis fan," I said.
Jesse Ed was a native American guitarist from Norman, Oklahoma. I should probably mention right here that he is probably my favorite guitarist of all time. Turns out he's one of Buffalo's favorites, too. Terry lives in Norman.
Over the next few years as Terry Ware became like a brother to me we talked music all the time. Turns out we had met years before when he played with Jimmy LaFave and we shared a bill in St. Pete. We never mentioned geography much. We just talked about the rock'n'roll that we loved. Yeah, that meant we had plenty to talk about.
J.J. Cale, Roger Tillison, Moon Martin, Dwight Twilley, Leon Russell, Steve Ripley, Samantha Crain. Of course it wasn't always the rock'n'roll. We both idolized Gene Autry, Roger Miller, Byron Berline, Mae Axton, Roy Clark, Jimmy Liggins. The list never ends; singers, writers, blues guys, hillbillies. Then there were the guys that Buffalo worked with: Don Morris, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Dan Duggin, Jimmy Karstein, Tz Wright, Ray VanHoozer, Susan Herndon, the Red Dirt Rangers.
So, it didn't all begin and end with Woody. Who knew. Turns out I'm the world's biggest Oklahoma music fan and I hadn't even known that there was Oklahoma music.
Jesse Ed Davis left us in 1988. John Fullbright was born in 1988. In Oklahoma. Stars that shine as bright as John Fullbright don't come along often. Do yourself a favor. Go listen to his music right now. He's a rock'n'roll star. It's from Oklahoma.
The first time I was ever in New Orleans I went straight to my hotel room and found the phone book. Of course the first name I looked up was Antoine Domino. There he was. Then I flipped to Leonard Lee. Yep. I scrolled through Battiste, Toussaint, Kenner and Kador, Byrd. There were lots of Nevilles. I didn't have the nerve to call any of them. What would I say? I love you? I always have?
Now lots of those heroes are gone. Heck, lots of New Orleans is gone. The damned phone book is nearly gone and so am I. I still love those heroes. Always have. I love you.
Well, I'm a sight, huh? You do hear all the beautiful music, right? The melodies are all right there. The art is there for the taking. Selling it? Well, now that's a different business. I'm not much interested in that one.
Maybe we're all designed to share all the beauty with someone else. I don't know. The writer's path is a lonely one. The pay's not great, either, now that I think about it. I have to keep reminding myself that it's all about the love.