Wednesday, May 31, 2017

My Most Successful Romance

When I was nine years old Brigitte Bardot took her clothes off onscreen. For me! That's my story and I'm sticking to it. What a fine love story it has been. One for the ages. I was probably twelve by the time that the hormones kicked in and I knew it was the real thing.

Now, after years of abject failure, I am back to my winning ways. Now, in my Walter Mitty ways, I lay my cape over every puddle for her. I stand between her and the evils of the world. Once, after too many fancy, hipster beers, I mumbled something to her about cutting off an ear and sending it to her. I could see from her expression that she had no interest in one-eared men.

Here, friends, my story takes a turn. Unlike BB, who has never acknowledged that relationship at all, at least not publicly, this object of my undying love and lust has sweetly informed me that she has no interest in me whatsoever. Well, I knew that. I may be socially awkward but I'm alert.

Maybe I should do the ear thing.

Don't consider this a whining, self-pitying account. In fact I bristle at my own hubris. This is probably my most successful romance. I've never been happier.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When Kindness Was Fashionable

Driven? Not so much. You point out my shortcomings and I'll give you my excuses. Now I find a planet with a love deficit and, wouldn't you know it, I've got love to spare. I know there's a law of physics at work here but I'm something of an anarchist. A love anarchist.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Save It

Folk music. Remember when that crap almost caught on?

Always my favorite Martin Mull quote. You don't hear much from ol' Martin these days but, to me, he's right up there with Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, Bennett Cerf and Benjamin Franklin for wise guy wisdom.

In this particular quip he was surely preaching to me. Anything presented by the pop press as the next threat to rock'n'roll was the evil subject of my personal jihad. We had already beaten back calypso. Harry Belafonte never touched a hair on the King's head. Now these white guys with weejuns, flattops and banjos, were bellowing about some lion sleeping. And socks! I mean no socks. These idiots with weejuns and flattops and banjos weren't wearing socks. Worse, sometimes they were wearing white socks.

Prejudice dies slowly. Who knew.

By 1967, '68 my ambition was to save the world. Still is, I suppose. Chuck Berry and Elvis had led to the Beatles. They wanted to hold your hand till Bob Dylan and marijuana made growing up an option. Now America's poet had found Woody Guthrie after following Little Richard.

Folk music had an opening. Rock'n'roll didn't.

When I got an e-mail inquiring about my availability to play the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival years ago, I figured there was some kind of mistake. Now, let's be honest. I don't get many invitations. I mean I'm going to a family reunion next month but I'll bet they get together secretly to decide whether or not to invite me. I was available for Woodyfest.

Turns out I'm a folksinger. Woody was a rock'n'roller, too. If he had been able to keep a band together, I suspect he might have duckwalked all over this land.

Over the years, finding myself shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Pete Seeger and Steve Earle and Jimmy LaFave singing about this land being our land and looking out into the faces of folks singing it back to us, I am humbled. 

That's how prejudice dies. You learn something. You love. Folk music's just rock'n'roll doing something. The heavy lifting.

You don't need to tell me that the world's not saved. Yet. I'll be going back to Oklahoma in July.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

When Hearts Take Over

No expectations, that's the ticket. We're not getting out alive so enjoy the company. Make someone happy. Funny thing is you can do it with a smile. A hug. Three chords.

They shoulda' called me Lucky. I got a lightning rod for a spine and they mixed up brain parts. I've got a heart that won't go slow and my blood is too red. I'm a slow learner, a good eater and I've got the best intentions you ever saw.

Enough about me; what do you do. Oh, I'm kidding. Your essence is obvious.

My only advice- don't ever sit at the grown-up table.

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


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Newer Planets and Old Friends

Well, did you feel it? The planet has begun to move back on its axis. My mental state has never been better. Oh, it's not good but it's never been better. 

Nose to the grindstone, I'm back to the rock'n'roll. 

It's always good to get home.

Friday, May 26, 2017

You'll Get There

Rock'n'roll wasn't designed for stadiums. Ferrari's weren't built for the drive-in. I wasn't made for these times. Or any other, nearly as I can tell.

If not for the songs even I wouldn't have any idea about who I am. I seem to be missing parts and I can't find the instructions. They're not taking me back. Not after all this time.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

If Only

The closest my grandmother, Lottie, would come to cussing was to pronounce that "if a bullfrog had wings he wouldn't bump his butt so much." I don't think that she would have stooped so low except that she always knew it would get a laugh.

That wisdom seems to have provided me with pretty much all of my character.

Oh, I've cussed. You may have heard me cussing. I wish I hadn't. Does that count for anything? I'll probably be up for hours worrying about my intentions. Mostly they're pretty good. Mostly.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

House Broken, Heart Broken

Me? I have no patience for the impatient. I'm not crazy about hypocrites, either. I don't mean to sound judgmental but I know what you're thinking. Drop dead.

This old heart came with deed restrictions. No antennae was allowed so I put up a lightning rod. Even the chit chat, the small talk comes from my soul. I never went to kindergarten. I'll bet that's the problem.

I'm not a bad guy, I'm just a bad bet.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Brake Dust and Stardust

One side has airplanes and ships longer than football fields. Drones that wipe out families celebrating weddings. Exploding cigars! They call the other guys "terrorists." When I was a kid they wore sandals made of tire treads. These days they trick young folks into strapping on bombs to go to concerts.

None of the hotshot "leaders" pick up a weapon. They rely on young men whose hormones develop faster than their brains.

It's always been this way. Maybe it always will.

You can pick up a gun and start your own "revolution." First thing you know, you're right in the middle of it.

Guess what- hormones are good for more than violence. Those young men can be wooed with peace and love. In fact it's an easier sell. In these days of perpetual war it doesn't take an accountant to see that our "defense" budget could feed the poor, provide universal health care and clean up the environment. We'd have enough left over for ice cream for everybody, too.

Oh, I'm not running for anything. I'm just whispering in your ear to drown out those bellowing idiots. When I think of the dreams and the songs of all those who came before me, I have no choice but to speak up.

Naive? I've been called worse. 

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dry Eyes and Wet Powder

You just have to want something, don't you? Life's not life, really, if all your dreams come true. Without a carrot on a stick the mule of life won't budge.

You give yourself purpose or you're merely using up oxygen on the planet.

I've spent the better part of life so far pondering my purpose and all clues lead me to love. I will admit to a lack of effort in sport, business, art, and self-promotion. I have loved the best I could.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Crosswords and Hot Rods

Five hundred bucks was a lot of money in those days. Still is if you happen to write songs that don't rhyme.

My mom won the crossword contest sponsored by the Tampa Times. Let's put this in some perspective. She was a single mother raising a teenage boy on an information operator's salary. Now the question, of course, was how to use this windfall that probably exceeded her monthly paycheck.

Well, of course, she bought me a car. Did I mention that I was fourteen, not old enough to drive legally? Oh, I should probably tell you that it was not my first car. In fact my second car was still in the driveway.

The story is already too unbelievable to bother to add that it was a '32 Ford three window with a Corvette engine. Yeah, a little deuce coupe. Not being able to drive the thing, we had to recruit someone to come with us to drive it home. Sam Durrance was eager to help. He's an astronaut now but that's a different story.

Fortunately, I have no mechanical aptitude. For the next two years the coupe only ran about half the time. No, less. Much less. Probably kept me from killing myself. It was fast when it did run. It was really fast.

Of course I don't recommend spoiling your kid. Let me qualify that. My mom gave me unconditional love and spoiled me with unfettered approval for any endeavor. By the time I was sixteen years old I was in the rock'n'roll business. Still am.

Oh, I've strayed. I've run real estate companies and I've scooped mud from the hull of barges. I've attempted to save the world working as an environmentalist and I've put hot sauce in bottles. I've started a mortgage company and I've written automotive columns for the paper.

Maybe some folks were fooled. Probably the ties. I know I was.

I'm pretty sure my mom never was. She always made me proud of what I do.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Joy, Bliss and the Grindstone

Learning to dream in 3-D is a challenge. There are times when I seem to be able to have some degree of control over my dreams. Oh, I'm aware that it's an illusion. On most days I have little control over my day to day life.

If we're gonna save the world maybe we'd better get busy. This is the most fractured culture that I've ever seen. Don't forget that the Donald Trump phenomena occurred because of us.

As usual its love vs. hate. Yeah, I know- I love our team, too. Let's show that other side what we're made of.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Playing With Guns

Kids play with guns. I played with guns. Toy guns. Uncles took me hunting. I never killed anything. I remember so well the sense of relief that I would feel as we would leave the deer stand or the dove field. It far outweighed any sense of shame or embarrassment that accompanied my failure as a hunter.

Now, of course, if I hear an unsettling noise outside I go to my bedside cabinet for my blank gun. One day I'm gonna end up face to face with a thug with a bigger blank gun. I got mine when I was six years old in a souvenir shop in Gatlinburg. I'm still on my original tin of blanks. Not many unsettling noises around here and I'm a good sleeper.

Guns, I have to say, is a subject that I try to avoid, aware that I will never change anyone's mind, much less anyone's life. I'll say it here, though- I don't like them. Toys, automatics, handguns, rifles, shotguns, squirt guns, machine guns, zip guns.

None of the excuses move me. Not a little. War is outdated. Insecure males can now do battle with computers. Hunting? I don't consider anything a sport where one team hasn't been informed of the game. Got that, Junior? Capiche, Eric?

Can I tell you how proud I was when I noticed that NRA hacks began following my Twitter account when I thanked my "president" and my lucky stars when he issued his executive order allowing lead back in ammunition.

Remember- when guns are outlawed, only aging hippies will have blank guns.

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Slapstick Horror

Knowing that all things go exactly as they're supposed to go gives me some comfort as the world seems to crumble around me. Now I find that wisdom is merely an awareness that I don't know much. Why didn't someone just tell me that on my sixteenth birthday?

I know better than to judge. I judge.

Socially awkward, I'm unable to say most of what I have to say to most of the people around me. I make up for it by telling the dog how much I love her all day. Sometimes I have to wake her up to tell her. I don't think she minds.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

You Do It For The Money (Or You Don't)

They say that if you stand on a corner in India and pronounce yourself a son of God that folks passing by will celebrate with you. In the USA they will have you locked up. I've never been to India. I'm a son of God.

Sometimes I wonder if I've always been aware of my nature, embarrassed to stand on that corner, or if it has taken me this long to figure it out. I've certainly always known that something was up.

Sometimes I sing for money. Mostly I sing for love.

If you're swooning at my arrogance I should tell you that you're a son of God, too. Pardon my pronoun indifference. I hope my ranting helps lead to the same conclusion.

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cosmic Bets

Some bulbs are slow to light up. Falling in love expecting something in return is a fool's game. It's pulling the wings off angels for fun.

Love for the sake of love.

Don't act good, be good.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cornbread and Buttermilk

Sitting out in the rain, pondering the futility of war, I'm reminded of the glisten of green glass shards from 7 Up bottles in the puddles when I was a kid. Funny, my first "record" was I've Been Working On The Railroad and Hey Good Lookin'. We went out and left the thing in the Red Goose shoe store where I recorded it on a promotional record lathe that was set up in the hopes of drawing in mothers with their future singing stars. This way I get to remember that it was good. I was four or five.

Yeah, yeah, I know- I've told you this story before. It wasn't all that fascinating the first time around, was it? The breaking news here is that I have new information after all this time.

All my life I've wondered who Dinah was. You know, "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah." Dinah, as it turns out, was a generic name for enslaved African women. Birmingham. 1951, '52. I was raised in a world of separate water fountains. A stripe painted on the floor of the bus indicating the boundary of the "colored" section. The whine and roar of roller skates on the pavement in poor, black neighborhoods on Christmas morning while all of the new Schwinns and Roadmasters were on prominent display in the white sections of town.

Why did my mom teach me the joy of rhythm and blues from the time that I could tell one song from another? Oh, she brought me Hank Williams records, too. For one thing, it was Alabama fercrissakes. Let me say right here that Hank Williams was one of the most magnificent blues singers who ever drew a breath, black or white. Thanks to her, I learned that it didn't matter.

As usual, I've wandered off my message.

I'm here to celebrate Mother's Day. My mom taught me about the dignity of all people and the joy of sharing music. She showed me how to balance a checkbook and she taught me about love. I'm in the business of sharing music now and, somehow, my checkbook balances.

Love? It's all about love. It's all about love.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hide The Wisdom

Who would have ever thought that dignity would be on my agenda? The armor is forged in the fire of hurt. I'm unable to remain quiet, keep a secret. I can manage, however, to avoid spilling everything as a matter of respect. Even now I find myself editing my own rambling. Discretion comes to me no more naturally than dignity.

So the dream fades in with me about to start my own open heart surgery. Handicapped with no medical training I'm more judicious than usual- if you can consider a guy performing his own open heart surgery judicious at all.

As I poke around the squishy, bright red valentine card organ, there doesn't seem to be much that I didn't expect to find. The whole dang thing is riddled with rock'n'roll and I don't want to dislodge any of that if I can avoid it. It's beating in 4/4 time and if it's affected by age you can't tell. Not really.

The love, though, has spread and it's in every nook and cranny. There's nothing I can do. I close 'er all up and pray for the best.

So much for dignity and discretion.

Friday, May 12, 2017

All The Karma In The World

What, you may ask, do I have to offer. If I'm not an honest man it's not because I'm not trying. I've told strangers more about my life than most folks have revealed to priests. Therapists. Probation officers.

Is it just me or are people too free with breaking hearts?

Romance hasn't failed me, I've failed romance.

The Dalai Lama recently posited that if the world is to be saved, Western woman will save it. Yep. Only the saints rely on the stars to show them the way.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Back To Birmingham

When I was sixteen I didn't want to play any slow songs, any sad ones. Somehow, over the years. they all got slow. They all got sad. Every song I've got reminds me of some loss. I've got lots and lots of songs.

Believe me when I tell you that I'm a glass-half-full kinda' guy. If they ask, tell them. Tell them that I have loved and I'm planning to love some more.

It was never the big, mean bully that you had to fear on the playground. It was always the scrawny little guy who swung wildly when he got fired up. I'm that way with love. I may never be any good at it but I'm the one you'd better watch. I'm always fired up.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Death and Russia

My mind is on the media tilt-a-whirl and my heart is with the ones leaving me here. Somehow peace fills my soul. Music soothes me at some subtle, cellular level and new songs are lining up like Delta jets on the tarmac at Hartsfield.

Usually I wait for a broken heart or a new record. Now I write for the moon and for the birds. My heart is sound. I should probably not be the one to comment on the condition of my mind.

Oh, if only Wille The Shake or Chuck Berry were here to make this stuff rhyme!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Now This Is Awkward

You hear the music or you don't. They can teach you to clap on 2 and 4 but they can't teach you to feel the beat. The ones that stick with you have more to do with your heart than your ears. Socially awkward?

Open heart.

Isn't life something? I just don't feel right trying hard to try hard. It's always on my sleeve and my coat's on the floor.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Well, I Never

From Pythagoras to Little Richard, it's a long, winding pathway. Those crooks killed the music business, they didn't kill music.

Some of my most precious memories come from a quarter mile asphalt track and the smell of methanol, brake dust, cigar smoke and roasted peanuts. Go to hell, NASCAR.

Don't get me started on the military industrial complex.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

New Shadows

Do you suppose that maybe all the good books have been written? All the great songs, too? I suppose that Chuck Berry and Dostoevsky left us in good shape so that maybe it doesn't even matter. Me? I replay memories of love and lust and watch marathons of Green Acres re-runs whenever they play.

You think you're special, don't you? Everybody does. Just one more way that we're all alike. It has always amused me that the term, common, is such an insult. It's all the same stardust and recirculated water. We're all common.

Except for Hannibal Lecter, Leona Helmsley, Charles Manson and Donald J. Trump.

The rest of us are common.

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

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Camels and Needle Eyes

Never mind Waldo, try to find an empathy gene in D.C. Now it looks like those white guys with the Bud Light in their hands may have finally crossed some line. Oh, we'll eat cake, alright boys. After we've come for your lunch.

Sometimes it takes an earthquake to awaken the village.

Aggression, unfortunately, is dominant like curly hair and brown eyes. Flat feet. Selfishness.

Golden eras of peace and creativity have frequently followed periods of prolonged war. Maybe he did have a good idea. Let's drain that swamp.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Real Men Write Poetry

Nazis and ghosts and ex-wives are showing up in my dreams. During daylight hours I seem to have hit a smooth patch. It's starting to seem that maybe I'll finish the race without much drama.

REM time? That's a different story. Night after night it has become quite the show around here. My rock'n'roll soundtrack is full of feedback. Where does this stuff come from? I don't have the imagination.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Finally Tuned In, Finely Tuned In

All my life I've wanted a sign that there is stuff out there. You know, things that can't be explained. Of course I've been exposed to experiences that I can't interpret with my own knowledge. We all have.

If you want it too badly, however, you'll trick yourself into seeing it everywhere. Lately situations have presented themselves and I can't explain them. None of it convinces me of anything, really. It does remind me of man's arrogance, though, and I appreciate that.

Oh, if kindness had the appeal of power!

Monday, May 1, 2017

What's Become Of The Tootsie Roll?

The more things change the more I remain the same. Who's gonna tune this thing when I''m gone? I was solar powered before it was fashionable except, of course, when I ran on alcohol.

Seems all of the rocks are little ones now, leaving me and the other inmates with nothing much to do. Oh, I remember what Ireland smells like and I've given thought to moving to a kinder climate.

These are days that remind me of everything that came before me. Today would have been my mother's ninety fourth birthday. Here's to Maxine and all of the soft hearts in the jungle. Here's to love. Here's to peace.