Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cheap Advice

Okay, okay. I know. Who's gonna take advice from the likes of me? Well, you can take this to the bank, I promise.

Don't grow up. Simple as that. Just don't. In general, kids are better than adults. For that matter, puppies are better than dogs, kittens top cats, ad nauseam. 

It occurs to me that if you're reading this dribble you've probably already put some effort into the whole growing up thing. Well, undo the dumb parts and upon careful consideration that would be lots of them. 

War? Let's start there. There has never been a good one. Never will. Mean old men lie to all of us about that. Imagine trying to make sense of the concept of war as a four year old. I don't really care what your concept of god may be, he or she is definitely not on anybody's side in any war.

Now, let's share what we have and take care of the ones who can't take care of themselves. You can call me whatever you want but Jesus seemed to think it was a pretty good idea.

Now look around. Look at all those creatures who need love. Yeah. That would be all of us. You've got plenty and the more you give away the better the deal's gonna get. 

While we're rolling here, who on earth decided that socks are supposed to match? Each other, I mean. Put on some feathers, some beads. Purple's good. 

Jamaica's nine years old now but she's pretty much a puppy full time. I'm about to turn sixty eight and I've got some undoing to do. In the meantime- I love you.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Why You...

We were touring the Netherlands and the one phone that we were sharing began ringing in the coffee house. It was a friend in London calling to ask if I had seen the new issue of Mojo. With nothing but a cryptic suggestion that I should get myself a copy, I rushed out to find a newsstand. There was one just across the street.

There, in the letters section, was the heading, "Da Don't Ron Ron." It came from the hotshot music writer, Colin Escott. I don't know Colin Escott.

In an earlier issue I had mentioned a misadventure that we had with the producer, Bob Ezrin. Things had begun to go wrong when a session that he had scheduled for us in Nashville had been cancelled when the studio owner, Owen Bradley, discovered that Ezrin was Jewish. That was Bob Ezrin's story. I do know Bob Ezrin and he doesn't seem like a liar.

Without going on for too long here, let me tell you that Mr. Escott's letter boldly accused me of lying about the incident to enhance my career as losers are prone to do. Owen Bradley couldn't have been anti- semitic, he pointed out, because he once had a Jewish secretary or something like that. He went on to admit that he had, in fact, never met Owen Bradley but that my story could not possibly be true. Owen Bradley was a hero.

Well, now, I don't care if Colin Escott implies that Bob Ezrin lies. That would be between the two of them. I struggle to be a better person. I can't sing on key, can't seem to get that guitar in tune and have been accused of snoring. I've had trouble over the years, though, of getting over that accusation. I don't lie. I don't much like Colin Escott.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

One At A Time

My mom would always make sure that I had a seat where I could watch the bass player. I never wanted to be that guy up front. Probably had more to do with general insecurity than any noble standard of humility. 

Finally at some point I realized that I had to move up to the mic and push myself onto the public. Grownups can't have bands. They argue and fight. They go crazy, get married, move out of the country, get divorced and find the Lord.

My plan was still to save the world. I was just gonna have to do it as Ronny Elliott. Well, sir, to say that I have failed is to state the obvious. I'm here to tell you, though, that it ain't over 'til the old guy sings.

After two centuries, five decades, fifty years, however you measure it, I'm doing what I can to spread a little joy and a lot of love. My pal, Jack, has always been there to remind me that I was gonna have to do it one at a time. I'm not a patient man. It's a good thing that I never paid attention to him.

Another one of my cd's has just gone out of print. Just when cd's have become obsolete! At this rate in another fifty years you might catch me on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Now That I'm Old

Maybe it started when I did "Born In 1947." Not much of a song, really. Just an excuse to sing my own name. I was always fascinated as a kid when Bo Diddley would shout out of my radio, "Hey, Bo Diddley."

Then I used the word, "panties," in "I Watched Her Tango." I had never been able to make myself utter such a thing. Funny thing is that I have found that to be one of my most requested songs. I've never played it live. I think the only time it was ever performed was when we recorded it in the studio. Is it because of the word? Beats me.

Now I find myself referring to women in my life as "Sweetie" or "Darling." Oh, I don't mean to be disrespectful in any way. I truly worship the folks in my life. Lots of my pals have become "Pal" or "Buddy" in my conversations. Some are even "Brother" on certain occasions. Terry Ware is always "Brother" but, then again, he's Terry Ware.

My point here is, I think, I'm old. Oh, sure I care what some of you think about me. Not much I can do about it, though. At this point in life I say what I want to say. When I want to say it. I love you. I say that often and I plan to say it more.

I love you.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gold and Clear

Don't suppose anybody sells encyclopedias or vacuum cleaners door to door anymore. Me? I peddle love. I do it where and when I can. My schtick is so corny, so very hokey, that I set myself up for ridicule. That's okay.

Nobody's ever gonna accuse me of doing it for the money. Ego? I don't tell jokes because I can't remember them. I can't sing on key and I play guitar like I did in the sixth grade. I play piano and mandolin worse.

Today I'm preaching on the radio. Wednesday, on stage somewhere.

Sometimes I play dark songs. Sad ones. It's hard to stop me from complaining about love gone wrong, too. My message, though, and I do have one, is this:

Nothing matters but love. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Down In Mexico

"Hey. Who's the old gringo in the silver spurs and the buttless chaps?"

The lovely seƱorita, Shishi, and I are headed for some karaoke at the Mexican dive down the street this weekend.

You know Roy Orbison and Linda Ronstadt listened to Mexican radio as kids. Me? I watched the Cisco Kid. Always gave me a headache but I always watched.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beat The Clock

Okay. So the ones who have loved you truly are perfect. Yeah, love's like that. I am convinced that the act of love will transform the one loving as well as the one loved.

If you want to wage war on terrorism or drugs or poverty, there's only one weapon available. President Eisenhower didn't have to warn us about it. Jesus and Buddha and Mohammed wouldn't shut up about it.

Children know.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Last Last Call

Well, I suppose that I've told you all about my cosmic connection with the "Delicate Genius," Steve Connelly. Yeah, he thinks that we were divinely destined to work together. He's right, of course. 

Not only is Steve the most profoundly talented artist that I've ever met, and I've met a few, he's one of my favorite human beings that I have had the pleasure of knowing. I've known a few.

Now he needs a little help. He was diagnosed with hepatitis c and told that he had been with it for a long time. Lots of damage done. While struggling with the bills and the shock, the ceiling in his beloved Zen Recording Studio caved in, leaving him with no real means of conducting his business.

Angels never let you down. You know that. Lori Karpay and Natty Moss- Bond have begun to put together a drive to raise a few bucks to help get the situation a little more manageable. We'll be doing a Benefit Show at Skipper's Smokehouse on Saturday, June 27th. Hopefully we'll get another lined up for St. Pete.

Meantime, check this link and see if you might find some spare cash tucked away for a rainy day. This is a rainy day.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What Threat?

Remember the threat of rock'n'roll? Well, no, you probably don't. Not unless you're old. In 1956 we were all in danger of going to hell because of Elvis' hips and Little Richard's hairdo. Girls admitted to lust.

Of course the Beatles scared parents all around the world until the Rolling Stones out- naughtied them. In 1965 Bill Wyman's hair was as long as my Aunt Marion's. We were definitely going to hell now.

Turns out that lots of our morals and ethics lessons came through our music. All You Need Is Love alright. The best of our rock'n'roll heroes were our Sunday school teachers, too. Who knew?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Go On Without Me

Two steps forward, one step back. I'll take it. Walking meditation is easy if you've got a hole in your pocket. Maybe we all like to watch, who knows. Wham, man!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tune Up

The letter was heart-wrenching. Of course I had never known him. She had been gone for less than a year. Cancer. The yellowing, crumbling, crude plea was a desperate attempt to deliver one final message of undying love. The love that overshadows everything else in a life. Apparently a fight or a series of fights ended the romance and the two had been separated by geography and circumstances. She had raised a child, a daughter, not his. He had served in the air force. I guess she had that- the knowledge that someone had loved her truly. Completely. The letter implied that he might not have been good at it. It appeared that he never knew that she had gotten the message. Maybe it never mattered.

Well, I have loved truly. Completely. I've never claimed to be good at it. It isn't important for me to know that my message is received. It could be a good source of derision, a joke shared with new lovers, friends. I suppose I would be lying if I said that I don't care. I can say, though, that it doesn't matter.

You do your best. Sometimes it's not good enough. Life happens. You have memories. You have love.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Real Question

Where did the rock'n'roll come from? Be suspicious of anyone who offers up an answer. Oh, I do all the time. I'm just kidding, though. 

Who made "God?"

There are honest folks out there preaching their version of the truth. If any of them answers all the questions, run. The beauty's in the mystery.

How do you make the love stay?

Why war?

Well, let me tell you, I just watched couples in love at the diner. I didn't have to snoop. They were proud to be seen in their joy. It's more powerful than any hurricane and it's more beautiful than any sunset.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wasting Time

Sometimes I waste time worrying about wasting time. Some of my biggest regrets revolve around the time that I've already wasted. From here on out I'm just gonna consider that I'm meditating on love.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Trinkets and Tears

Could there be anything worse than letting someone down? We have, I suppose, a remarkable capacity for excuses for our own behavior. It's always the other guy's fault. Right?

Yeah, I wish I believed in reincarnation. I'd be good next time around.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

We Didn't Save The World

We were determined to get it right this time. Our band, the Outsiders, was destined for fame and fortune. Our young hearts and minds were ready for our day in the sun. Then, out of the blue, the Outsiders from Cleveland released "Time Won't Let Me."

Couldn't we sue them? Get some kind of restraining order to prevent them from using our name?

Our label, Laurie, told us not to worry. The record sucks they assured us. It's not going anywhere. Two weeks later it was number two in Cash Box and Billboard.

We took too long to come up with a worthy name so the lawyers in New York hired a big advertising firm. Think Mad Men here. Suddenly we were the Soul Trippers and we were mortified. The last thing that we recorded for the label was a version of Slim Harpo's King Bee which came out on their r&b subsidiary, Providence. 

It was selling records and on its way. We needed one more major r&b station and we found out that WLAC in Nashville was going on the record. Sure fire hit now. John R, the program director, discovered that we were white and pulled the record. I only realized a few years back that John R was white, too.

When the label pulled us from a scheduled European tour with Gary "US" Bonds, the Chiffons and the Barbarians due to our draft status we were done. 

Well, Buddy Richardson and I worked day and night for about a year putting together our next project. We wrote and we planned and we dreamed. We finally had enough material and the image that we were sure would set the world on its ear. In the process we were planning to save that world, too. We dragged a fifteen year old drummer named Bobby Caldwell from Orlando and called an old pal, Bill Mann. Noah's Ark was surely gonna save the world. I told ya.

The psychedelic movement was right in front of us. Talk about the right place at the right time. Buddy and I finished up a silly hillbilly number called I Get All The Luck just before our first studio session. It clocked in under two minutes even with Dick Holler's piano solo.

"So," you're probably asking yourself, "just exactly why did you decide to put out a stupid country ditty as your opening shot with this wild, loud rock'n'roll outfit?"

Hey- I've made a career out of that kind of decision. Let me tell you about my personal life one day.

We didn't save the world, either.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Can't Lose Nothing That You Never Had

Sometimes I get to thinking that if I could just calm down and roll with the flow that everything would be just fine. Well, of course it would.

Nothing much depends on me. The dog and the cat getting fed. That's about it. On the other hand, every action of mine affects the entire universe. Oh, not much. I know that.

Bo Diddley changed my life and for the better. I hope to have just some little impact in a positive way on someone, somewhere while I'm here. There was only one Bo Diddley.

I've got songs for you and I've got love for you.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

He Was Mean To Me

My take on this "life" stuff is that it's all easy once you figure out your role. Or maybe some of us slow learners just get given the easy jobs. Either way, it has taken me decades to come up with a clue as to why I'm here. 

How many times have I bored you with the idea that my mission in life is rock'n'roll. Well, that's not entirely untrue. Maybe I should say that rock'n'roll is my go-to tool. My simple task is to open my heart. Completely. Love is the key and rock'n'roll has been my method. If I have a mantra, I suppose that it might be, "A wop bop a loo bop!"

My clumsy personal life has often clouded my vision and stood in my way. My romances crumble, my bands dissolve, my records stiff and my pets die. I gotta be honest with you; I don't need any more character.

Looking back, I've been hurt because of other folks' hurt, fear and disappointment. Nobody has ever been mean to me. Ever. I suppose it will sound like I'm bragging if I claim to see through people's facades. Reminds me of claims of clairvoyance or aura reading.

Sometimes my relationships are forged with a spirit that has protective layers, disguising the real human being. Oh, I've been mean. Let me down, hurt my feelings or question my motives and I've lashed out. I've done damage. When I've been hurt, boy, I've done some hurting.

Okay, so where does that all leave me? They gave Einstein and Beethoven and Mother Teresa big jobs that they knew they could handle. I've been given this small task. I'm not playing it down. It's vital. I love you.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Attention Sp

Playing the music that I love on the radio for folks that I love is a profound experience for me. It has also served to remind me that most of my favorites are less than two and a half minutes long. Oh, there are some exceptions. Usually the weepers.

At this stage in life I am changing more dramatically and quickly than I can remember ever changing before. I have nowhere to go and I'm trying my best to pay attention to just where I am. Thank goodness for love. Pay attention. That's all there is.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Don't Know Much Biology

Yeah, sometimes I try to see the world through the biology lens. It all makes perfect sense. Oh, and physics- well there lies the truth, huh? Everything can be explained there.

Here's a scoop for you. I don't know much geography. Sad because I have a degree in the stuff. There are globes and maps and atlases all over the house. Maybe if they would quit moving borders and changing the names of countries I might run out of excuses for my ignorance.

In my quest for mindfulness it's the human heart that puzzles me. It all gets right back to the love, doesn't it? Whatever the subject, boys, that's what I'm talking about. As long as you've got the rock'n'roll, you've got a mantra.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Gifts And The Birds

Jackie Wilson sang because he had a gift. In fact, in Jackie's case, he had plenty of 'em. He had been a Golden Gloves champ and was probably the finest dancer in rock'n'roll history. Nice guy, too.

Cult artist. That's one way that I've been described. I think I like that. I sing for the same reason that the birds outside my window sing. I just can't help it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?

Ruby's birthday is Thursday. I think she'll be four. Ruby is my neighbor across the street. She may be the sweetest person I ever met. I'm reminded of love and perfection every time Ruby comes outside.

Don't hoard love. There's plenty where that came from. There are lots of folks out there who need it, too. I don't mean to tell you what to do. I love you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Read The Aura

Remember when you were in fourth or fifth grade and they told you about phrenology? You know, the pseudoscience of studying the physical condition of the head to determine human characteristics. Lumps on the noggin might predispose a propensity for homosexuality. A wide forehead would surely indicate some form of genius.

Later you heard the more mystical of your friends speak of "reading auras." It didn't take long for me to realize that every color was an indicator of something positive. Warmth, intelligence, trustworthiness. What the heck about the scoundrels, the lowlifes? 

Now, at this stage of life, I have to tell you that I see a lot in the eyes of people around me. Hurt, heartache and despair burn brightly in the sad gaze of damaged folks that I have encountered so far on my path. Do we avoid these individuals? Of course not. No more than we should leave abandoned puppies and kittens to fend for themselves.

You do what you can do and you do it with love and with respect. There's a payoff. You're a better person for it.

What about those of us who make up the damaged, the hurt? Well, that's all of us at some point now, isn't it?

Love with all you've got. That's all you've got.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Here Come The Songs

Where do they come from? Where do they go? Who knows? Who cares? I suppose the usual suspects are generally lurking. Heartbreak, loneliness and a change in the weather.

They wake me up in the middle of the night and they keep me away from little chores. Some of them are like pals and some of them make me too sad to spend much time with them. I'll get 'em to you pretty soon here. Believe me, I don't need any reminder that the world doesn't really need any more Ronny Elliott records.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sugar and Spice

Kids are all pretty much perfect. Then, of course, we change them. We help them "grow up." Now I don't want to leave hormones and chemicals out of this  but it's the cultural changes that I'm interested in here. Seems to me that women in general stay closer to the kid ideal.

Let me just come right out and say it: 

Women are better than men.

Every day should be International Women's Day. Women should run the governments. I certainly don't want to get in on any bashing of Ms. Clinton, but why must it be the few who act the most like men who come out on top in this game? Helen Caldicott is smart and tough. You don't see her adjusting her crotch and spitting from the podium, though.

My first choice in these matters is to ignore the silly games entirely. Maybe that's because I was raised by women and that's what women tend to do. If they do decide to take over I honestly believe that it's all over for the boring men in Washington, Moscow and Beijing.

Here's to the women who have made my life what it is. Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

However You Get There

Sometimes I do then again I think I don't. Beautiful folks always seem to find their way into my life. You've probably noticed that I'm not keen on slang. I don't disapprove, I've just never been any good at it. You've never seen anything about some upcoming "gig" of mine or had me describe some event as "cool."

Oh, I am playing a show tonight. I'm playing at the Hideaway Cafe in St. Pete, opening for Eli and Bill Perras. They're really good. Nice, too. The Hideaway? It's great. I get to play rock'n'roll for folks and tell stories that would cause anybody on the bus bench to get up and leave. Nobody needs to remind me of how lucky I am.

I love you.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Spirit Of A Warrior, Heart Of A Poet

Happy birthday, Grandma. Lottie Adams would have turned 125 today. She lived all the cliches. Saw the first automobiles on the streets in Birmingham. Heard just a bit about the Wright brothers and watched on TV as a man walked on the moon.

She never cared much for Rudy Vallee. She loved Elvis and told him so. She made him a fresh coconut cake and he bragged to the movie magazines about how good it was. She had trouble choosing a favorite Beatle. She was wild about all of them.

Lottie Louise Sawyer was born in Warrior, Alabama on March 6, 1889. She was part Creek. Proud of it, too.

Grandma was the wisest, kindest person I ever met. She taught me everything important that I know today. I'll never be the man that she had in mind or the boy that she imagined I was. I will certainly be a much better person because of her. She had a PhD. in Love.

Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Gonna Blow For Ya

Back on the radio tomorrow and I have to tell you that I can't wait. Maybe it's the same thing that makes me so happy when I play onstage. I'm really not much when it comes to verbal communication. In a fumbled attempt to explain to the lovely proprietress of a neighborhood watering hole the other evening that I didn't talk to her much because I had a crush on her, she threw back her head, laughing.

"I thought you were just socially awkward," she exclaimed.

Well, they're not mutually exclusive.

Somehow I feel such an intimate sense of connection when I get to share music that I love. The very best for me is to play something for you that you've never heard and that makes the hair on your arms stand up.

Tomorrow I'm planning to share Lonzo and Oscar, Arthur Gunter, Li'l Millet and Jimmy Driftwood. Just like my "stage act" there's not much class. No finesse. I hope I'm not bragging when I tell you that nobody does it with more love and more respect than I do. Respect for these magnificent artists and for the folks tuned in on the radio.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Who Killed Rock'n'Roll?

Don't think I don't notice that I write and talk about rock'n'roll as though it had some true relevance in today's world. In my day I never trudged through snow to get to school. I never went to bed hungry so that my little brothers and sisters could beef up for the wrestling teams.

I did live to see a social phenomena change the world, mostly for the better. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that rock'n'roll helped usher in something of a spiritual revival where most of the world's population questioned old mores and morals. A whole generation questioned war, bigotry, misogyny and greed. Jesus and Buddha would probably have played strats.

The scale of the music business finally choked off the art. We could no more have a Little Richard today than we could allow a long haired hippie to turn over the tables in the temple. By the way, was that the beginning of the Occupy Movement?

I digress. Yeah, you bet I do.

Call me old fashioned. I believe in peace and love and rock'n'roll.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Demons

Addictive personality. Yeah, I referred to myself as an addictive personality for a long time. Oh yeah, I believed it. Turns out that, luckily, I'm the opposite sort. I'll do pretty much anything. I have. None of it interests me. 

Descriptions of other folks' demons have always fascinated me. Ray Charles and junk. Robin Williams and depression. Vivian Leigh and sex.

There came a time when a woman in my life dragged me to a therapist. Since that day I have become convinced that we could all use a little help, some of us more than others. Every female since has taken me down the same path.

Turns out that they like me. The therapists, that is. I'm pretty sure that it's mostly because I'll tell anyone anything. You've probably noticed. Nobody has to wind me up, break me down. Put a nickel in the slot and I talk. And talk.

To label me a romantic obsessive is to understate my condition. Oh, the misery that I have inflicted on the ones that I have tried to love. Of course I tend to write and sing and talk about my heartache, my blues, my misfortune. That's what I know about. That's what I have lived with.

The love? Yeah, I got that part. That's the easy bit. The romance? Yeah, I'm the worst. "I'm sorry," won't really do. I am sorry, though and I've never meant to hurt anyone.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Look, It's Me Up There

No more blues. I just won't allow it. I've been blessed with everything I've ever wanted. Everything will play out exactly as it should. 

Peace and love and rock'n'roll. No more war. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

They See Me Coming

Okay, a small body of work. That's what I'll leave. No financial value to speak of. Is this a measure of who I am, what I've done? Yeah, you know, it really is.

For me, of course, it's all about the heart. The memories and the love. I just moved and after twenty years and inventory of "stuff" is fairly obvious. Honestly, it's all junk without the stories.
The material goods that have come and gone? Fine. I still have the memories, the stories. The love? That's where the regrets live. I rush home to a phone that will never ring.