Monday, August 31, 2015

Wake Up, Mama

Who knows where the spirit comes from? Who cares? Colors are brighter, music is sweeter, everybody seems holy somehow. Everybody sails alone. Everybody.

You don't have to look closer, harder; you just have to make sure your eyes are open. You don't have to take music appreciation classes or follow the museum guide. Just listen to those old Coasters records again. Go stare at anything Dali painted. Give the umbrella away like Gene Kelly did.

Your dog knows everything there is to know about love. Pay attention.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cheap Date

You've never heard many "second takes" from me. My first record producer, Phil Gernhard, was a tyrant in the studio, a cheapskate. If you played a clam you were going to be berated in front of everyone.

The payoff for me is that all of my work habits from those days shaped my recording habits that are still in play. My therapist might add that my limited attention span is in the mix as well.

I'm not looking for perfection in making records. It's a good thing, huh? I want to make you laugh so hard that milk runs out your nose or cry your eyes out. My pal, Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, has an uncanny ability to manage both. In a single song sometimes.

If I'm gonna break your heart I'm gonna do it with my broken heart. It would be real nice to make pretty music. It's pretty nice to make real music. Let's don't do this twice.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Flags and Jugs

Seems I remember where the joy hides. If I could only keep it in mind. Other folks forget where they left the car keys. Maybe I need to get out to rock'n'roll a little more frequently.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hillbilly Death Match

Tomorrow night's the big event. The Rev. Billy C. Wirtz and I are performing together at the Palladium in St. Pete in what we have declared a Hillbilly Death Match, Loser Leaves Town. There are several problems that we seem to have made for ourselves. First, I'm starting to worry that folks are coming thinking that we're really going to fight.

He's younger. Bigger. I don't fight.

It all seemed like a fun idea to start. You know- I play, he plays, we play together. Then I start to detect a twinkle in the eye of people asking me about where I might move.

In a panicky attempt to defuse this thing I have pointed out that we're both losers. Neither of us live in St. Pete to begin with. Of course we're leaving town.

Now this is the country where Donald Trump seems presidential to a good number of people out there. When he tweets about that woman at Fox at 2:00 in the morning it's headline news. Roger Ailes has actually shifted his role to the good guy just like in real rasslin'. We're the nation of sheep who pay big bucks for cheap seats at Daytona hoping for somebody to turn right like Dale did!

Maybe I will give him a thump.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

For The Ride

Again I find myself torn between a desire to communicate and an overwhelming feeling that I'm talking too loud, showing off. This thing is here just because a screen came up as I was reading some blog asking if I wanted one, too.


Then I had to fill in the blanks and it needed a name. Well, it's my blog, I reasoned. Now, I see "Ronny Elliott's Blog" and I think to myself, " That's just dumb. You should be embarrassed."

I am.

The whole showbiz career thing trips me up in the same way. Oh, I love to sing. I love to play music. Always have.

Of course I always loved playing cowboys, too. If I put on a pair of chaps and gallop on a stick pony down the street, they're gonna lock me up. Unless I'm Ramblin' Jack, that is.

My point, if I have a point, is that I have nothing to say. It's just too hard to walk up to everyone on the street and tell them that I love them. If I could get up the nerve to do that most of them would run off or have me arrested before I could remind them to do the same. Once the rambling and ranting about war and peace started even the patient ones would be gone.

At least this allows me to simply leave my message on the front seat of an unlocked car on the boulevard. If someone looks in, fine. 

This is not my century. Neither was the last.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cornbread Beach

Sell 'em broken 7 Up bottles. Tell them that they're the rarest emeralds from the last region of the Amazon basin where cannibals are still the party in power. Make them think that they need 96" televisions to watch NFL games on Sunday after church. Then pull the rug out and convince them that they must have flat screen TV's. Hanging on the wall. Next year we'll get them to brag that they can watch men the size of Hummers crash into each other on tiny little "personal devices."

Wait- the same ones we sold the 96 inchers to? Yeah! They're gonna need curved screens if they're to buy anything else to hang on the wall.

Speaking of Hummers, after we market gigantic, fuel-guzzling, butt-ugly, military vehicles to these fine folks, let's sell them all a Prius. Uh oh. They seem to last forever and they don't go out of style. They don't use nearly enough gas, either. Well, that's alright. Gas will be under two bucks a gallon by the end of summer. What did we do with all those Hummers?

How about that stock market? Is it just me or is it weird that every major correction surprises everybody? Including that obnoxious bald guy who yells on the news broadcasts as an expert. Hey! Isn't he the same shameless jerk who told us to buy this crap?

While we're on the subject of the market, what about the Koch brothers and those other crooks? Do you mean to tell me that we're going to turn over the entire government to those evil, self-centered villains just because they have amassed a lot of green paper? No, that's ridiculous. They also have stock certificates. Real stuff!

Wait! What about the correction?

Oh, the job creators will use the opportunity to trade some of their surplus green paper to pick up more stock certificates at bargain rates. When their lackeys manipulate the market to their liking they will purchase some more government. Well, if they don't own it all by then.

Where's Woody? Will Rogers, Johnny Cash, George Carlin? What have they done with John Lennon? Don't quit now, Jon. We need you.

There aren't many things that money can't buy, it seems. We always thought that water was on that short list. Now those same low down scoundrels who managed to have governments fight wars for "their" oil are investing in water.

You still can't buy love. There's an endless source, too. You can't buy authenticity, either, but it seems to be in short supply.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Let's Get To The Animals

My reverence for life goes well beyond those with two legs. We're all a little bit disappointed when our culture reminds us that so many forms of hate and bigotry are still with us. The political season brings a reminder that ignorance runs rampant.

The day will come when we all look back with heartbreak and remorse at the treatment of our friends with no voice of their own. It's obvious to me now that I won't live to see that day. I still celebrate the inevitability. 

To be naive is to live with hope. War will end, love will flourish. It's two steps forward and one and 3/16ths  back. All the hidden clues are in the Fats Domino records. Love just as hard as you can. Everything.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How Many More?

Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. The only ones left, aren't they? It always seemed to me that swing music ended when those guys were gone- Glenn Miller, Cab Calloway, Chick Webb, Benny Goodman. Oh, folks still possess the charts. They play the music. It will never swing again, though, will it? You can put those old guys on PBS forever to raise funds. Still ain't gonna swing.

Really, I don't care what you do with any hall of fame, any revival show. The rockin's about done.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mad, Mad World

So, it's not just me, right? The world is becoming warmer, weirder and smaller. This Trump thing- I'm not dreaming this, am I? Women want to pose topless with me in Times Square for a five dollar tip. Really?

The show has never been this good. It's as though Chuck Barris' ghost has wrangled the reins and we've gone over the cliff.

This is the stuff that once kept me awake at night. What a party!

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Voices

Oh, I suppose that I learned more from my heroes than I did from my teachers. I'm not bragging. On the other hand, when you grow up with role models like Elvis and Big Daddy and Grandma, there's pressure to perform. Two of them changed the world. All three of them changed my world.

All of the energy is love. If I had known just how simple physics is, I would have been a scientist.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gurus Giggle

When I think back to transcendental meditation with my own secret mantra my thoughts always go quickly to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's infectious laugh. Well, his silly little giggle, actually. If there's one thing that I learned it's all tied up in "don't worry, be happy." I guess I could have saved a few bucks and stuck with Alfred E. Neuman and "what, me worry?"

Now, I'm not gonna live long enough to ever be called wise. I do know this: the more I know, the happier I am. My significance in the big picture becomes clearer. Once I thought of myself as a grain of sand on the beach. Now, of course, I realize what an overblown concept that was.

We're here for loving and laughing and crying. What a ride!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

History and Heroes

It was supposed to be so easy. Another Bush, another Clinton. 

U.S.A! U.S.A! We're Number One!

Global warming, climate change? Not for my generation. 

History disregards the rules, the obvious, the safe bets. If you live long enough stuff happens right in front of your eyes. History doesn't care what Clive Davis thinks. Joe Scarborough, either.

Donald Trump is a clown, alright, but he's their clown. Nobody saw Hitler coming, either, or Chubby Checker or Bernie Madoff.

You can feel it in the air. You can smell it. If you've been outdoors in the eye of a hurricane you remember the atmosphere. If you were around after they killed the Kennedys and Dr. King it's a little familiar.

Buckle up, kids. I'm pretty sure that it's gonna be a fine show. The only safe currency? Love. Always the case.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Living And Stuff

You're not really a human being until you become aware of your insignificance and you're wasting your time here on earth until you really begin to use your power to make everything better for all the other insignificant beings.

That reads as a circular, contradictory statement, doesn't it? It is. Hey, it's a round world, this one, spinning in one direction while orbiting a ball of fire.

When I was a kid, Audie Murphy was one of my big heroes. You remember Audie. I saw the movie version of his autobiography, To Hell And Back, seven times. He was America's most decorated war hero through World War II. From a dirt poor, sharecropping family in Texas he managed to get into the army with a forged birth certificate at the age of fourteen.

He came home a genuine hero and quickly became a movie star. Of course he suffered with PTSD before we called it that. He died in a private plane crash. Broke and broken.

There are those who believe that what we need today is more fourteen year olds without education who want to be heroes. Bless the soldiers. Damn the ones who make war.

There are no good wars. Pray for peace.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sad Clowns

It feels sad to me, this idea that we are identified by "what we do." Maybe if I "did" something I would feel differently about it.

Here's my career advice to kids everywhere: Do what brings you joy. Spend your time with the ones you love, including animals. Here's the kicker- love everyone. You will when you begin to understand everyone.

Exercise your heart. Oh, it will break every now and then. It's not fine china.

You belong to the universe and it belongs to you. Everything you need to know is on a bumpersticker somewhere. Make sure you pay attention to the right ones. Pretty music plays on the radio. Tune in the good stuff. Everybody needs your love. Your love.

Next time you're stuck at one of those social events where some guy asks, "What do you do?," kiss him on the mouth and tell him that you love everybody. Mean it.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Best Song In The World

Who decides? How are tabs kept? Does some Japanese collector decide that Picasso's work is worth tens of millions of dollars because he can afford it? Hey! He's put both eyes on the same side of the nose. 

Aren't you the folks who pay so much for all the real Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee that none of the rest of us get any? Aren't you guys the ones who pay thousands of yen to tee off on some tiny Scottish golf course?

That academy- who decided that those bozos know which movies are best? 

Don't get me started on the Grammys, Miss America or the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame.

In this case, I decide. Here's the best song in the world. I don't care if you disagree. Start your own blog.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

These Are The Good Old Days

The music on the radio is as good as anything I've ever heard. Ever. Courtney Barnett. Dawes. Nathaniel Rateliff And The Night Sweats. Heck, I don't even know who most of them are. I'm that old guy making a fool of himself singing along at the red light, right? I don't even know the words. Who cares? Leave me alone!

We've got good guys and bad guys lighting up the TV screen. In this corner, all in black, with orange hair and ten billion dollars- Donald Trump! 


And in this corner, in white, rolled up long sleeves- Bernie Sanders!


The socialist Jew from Vermont provides the greatest hope that has been waved in front of us since we gave up on the skinny black kid from Hawaii. Oh, we all know that the good ol' boys aren't about to let him have the nomination, but nevertheless, he's gone to blistering the paint before huge crowds all across the country.

What about health care, income inequality, infant mortality, climate change, racial injustice and prison reform? What about the glaciers, the elephants, the rainforests, the polar bears and the Palestinians?

It won't ever be me telling you that everything's alright. Ever. 

It is me writing fan mail to the pope, though. 

Einstein famously said, "I know not what weapons World War III will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

I'm no Einstein but you can quote me:

"If we fight now with love, we won't have to fight again."

Looks to me like Jimmy Carter may go down in history as one of the greatest heroes of all time. Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Don't Know Much Trignometry

Geography? Yeah, got that. I have a university degree in that stuff. Makes me a good dinner companion at a cocktail party. As a practical matter you're probably wondering how it has facilitated my career as whatever it is that I am.

Well, sir, I'll tell you this. New York won't make you hip and L.A. can't make you cool. Texas never made an outlaw out of anybody and London never caused anyone to swing as far as I know.

Lately I've been thinking about doing a pilot for a television series that I will call "Fuck Nashville!" This isn't personal. It's true that Music City never wanted much to do with me but neither did any of those other places.

Earlier this week we lost Audrey Auld, maybe the best hillbilly singer who ever lived. She came from Tasmania to the U.S. to walk in the bootsteps of her heroes, Patsy, Hank, Woody and Jimmie. She left California to make it in Nashville. I still remember her telling the story on the radio about submitting her song to a panel of industry insiders for a critique and advice. They told her that "I'd Leave Me Too" was heavy handed and trite, that it seemed like a blatant reach for a hit. She moved with her husband, Mez, and the two dogs back to California.

Fuck Nashville.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Willie The Shake and Luke The Drifter

They say that your favorite music will almost always be the music of your youth. Honestly, I'm not big on nostalgia. Leaving sentimentality out of the equation, however, I can't get past the genius of Hank Williams, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley or the Beatles.

Of course I could quickly add a thousand names to that list. How do you write about genius and not mention Ray Charles?

Intellectuals don't go on about Beethoven or Jimmie Rodgers or Toscanini because they played the junior prom. Sometimes the music just overshadows the music business. Some of us are lucky.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Live! Now!

As Lester Holt closed out the NBC Evening News an hour ago there were tears in his eyes. Thank goodness for high definition TV. I told you I'm not a total Luddite.

He spoke of rescue animals and unconditional love. My cynicism melted away. There are good folks everywhere you look. Love is in the air. Love is always in the air. I can't rattle off all of my 10 commandments from the top of my head. Let's be honest, I've had two beers. One of them is definitely "Pay Attention." Well, if not, it should be.

All you need is love. Really.

Ready For My Closeup

One of those days, I suppose. I'm pretty sure that I've told you every story I have. Twice. Of course as they were being transformed into memories I had no idea that there was anything special happening.

Oh, there were a few, I guess. When Big Daddy called and asked me to go to lunch I almost died on the spot and I was well aware when Elvis was offering to teach me karate that it was not "everyday." Even half asleep, I knew that it was history when my mom woke me up to tell me that we had lost Buddy and Ritchie and the Big Bopper.

Most of the big events slid right past me, though. It didn't occur to me that Jimi or Janis might die soon. Duane, either. That changed those stories. Quickly.

Oh, sure, memories are being made. Folks are still dying, too. That never seems to go out of style. I'm not ever going to shake Roy's hand again, though. I hope there's a heaven, too, and I hope to see Mr. Tim there, like he said.

Memories and loss make for bittersweet dreams and sad tales. Love hard. Really hard.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Nothing To Fear

Losing friends should be getting easier at this point. It's not of course. My pal, John Lomax, first turned me on to Audrey Auld. By the time that we met in Oklahoma a few years later I was her biggest fan. If she wasn't the best hillbilly singer who ever lived, she was in the top five. You can't find anybody who will argue with me about that. Not anybody who ever heard her. She wrote songs that should cause all those folks in Nashville to take their day jobs more seriously.

She hit me and made fun of me. She laughed when my life went wrong. She poured wine all over me and once tried to convince me to try some of the "candy" that she was carrying in a little brown bag. The fact that she was out walking the dogs around caused my suspicion. Thank goodness.

Mez always insisted that it was because she loved me. Well, I don't know about that, but I surely did love her. I always will.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Flannel In Florida

Real heroes stand a test of time, don't they? Mine certainly have. The kids in my neighborhood played cowboys and indians like kids in all the other neighborhoods. I usually played an indian. I'm proud of the little bit of Creek blood in me. Grandma was proud of  it, too. She was a hero.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Purple And Green

The rain just keeps coming. I always thought that I was one of those folks who could live in a rainy climate. Guess not. The sad thoughts just line up like the planes on the tarmac at O'Hare.

If I had a sunlamp I'd turn it on and put on a party hat. Do they still sell sunlamps?

Friday, August 7, 2015

No Glory

My friend, Sylvie, reminded me yesterday that no one had ever heard of me. She needn't have. She's the same dear friend who has suggested death as a real career move. More than once.

Of course I continue to insist that I'm happy right where I am. Nowhere. I have nothing to live up to, nowhere to fall. I've never had a hit to follow up, no glory days to re-live.

Do you suppose that it's all sour grapes, just refusing to admit defeat, failure? Well, sir, it may be. It seems to feel good, though. Who cares?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What Yogi Said

Last time around I had to alter my routine. The bigots at the Y caused me to worry that I might possibly drown one in the pool. This time, so far, I find preachers posting on Facebook their praises of that fine Christian, that's right, Donald Trump. In response to my post quoting a celebrity about hungry children in the USA I find folks pointing out that they have personally witnessed "fat asses" panhandling. Clearly the hunger problem in the good ol' could be solved by abolishing the child labor laws.

Now I want to be a good person. I want to rise above this. All of this. I don't want to judge. Let me tell you, I'm failing.

For me there's an answer. My energy will go into the love to fix things. Nothing was ever won with hate.

Pray for peace. Search for truth. Settle for love.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Grown Up Table

Sit at the kids' table for as long as you can. Laugh as hard and as often as you're able. Play music, the music that you like. Sing along with it. Dance, too. Cry when you need to cry. We all miss someone.

Be sweet, be kind. There are people out there who need your love and your attention. Watch the dogs and the cats, especially the puppies and the kittens. They'll show you where the joy hides. Give the old ones extra love, too. They will lead you towards wisdom if you pay attention.

Don't let politics or religion make you mean or cynical. Patriotism, either.

Your innocence is intact. It just has some stuff piled on it. Love. Hard. Often. Forgive. That's all I've got.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Board Up The Windows

Rain. Twenty days of rain. Twenty days of lots of rain. Doing nothing with nothing to feel guilty about is quite the luxury. I suppose that I could write a song or do some laundry. Heck, I've got songs.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

First Joke

Sometimes I fret that my "career" suffers from a lack of jokes in my set onstage. Fact is I don't know any jokes. I've never been able to remember them. Oh, I could probably come up with a Little Moron tale or two if push came to shove. (Is it politically correct to mention morons these days)?

Knock knock jokes were never funny and I suspect that there is no nostalgia for the genre.

The one that I could get about two thirds through without collapsing in a heap at twelve or thirteen is probably not a smart choice. You remember, the one that ends with, "It spit in my eye and I broke its neck."

I probably have as many songs as I do in order to avoid memorizing other folks' material. Now I'm considering my own brand of comedy to liven things up. Here's what I've got. So far.

Pythagoras and Copernicus walked into a lesbian, biker bar. Pythagoras was older, much older, and heads turned. Really turned. Over the murmurs you could hear Copie pleading with Pythy not to touch him. Not there.

With tears streaming down his boney cheeks Pythagoras climbed to the top of the bar and called out, "I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no raincoat."

Well, it's a start.