Thursday, August 31, 2017

Six Degrees of Trump, Sir Doug, Sheriff Joe and Me

Give me enough time and I'm reasonably sure that I can produce evidence that Kevin Bacon is involved in here somewhere. In another time, another decade- heck, another century- the fledgling calling itself The Americana Music Association held its first "conference" in Lake Tahoe.

Finally a place for me! No longer an outcast, alone in the evil music industry...

Oh, wait...

Those folks never quite took me to heart either. For awhile my releases went to the Top 10 on their charts. First thing you know I've managed to alienate myself from this bunch, too.

I'm getting ahead of myself. I do that.

My roommate for the conference was Doug Sahm. You know, Sir Doug. One of the biggest thrills of my life, I gotta tell you. I had worked with him at a Star Spectacular in Clearwater in 1966 and I had been dragged to the Florida State Fair to see the Texas Tornados but we had never really known each other.

Well, sir, Doug was a talker. World class. I couldn't begin to catalog our conversations from that weekend. Some of the things that do come to mind:

Amos'n'Andy, Minor league baseball, Huey Meaux, Sienfeld, coffee, wrestling, Hank Penny...

I had to tell him about No Depression and the whole new alt country thing, which wasn't yet alt country. This king had a new throne and nobody had bothered to tell him.

One day at a picnic table he launched into his sad tale of leaving Texas. He had been set up by a crooked cop for a marijuana bust in Corpus Christi. Eventually, to avoid jail time he left for California with his family, his band and his record producer in the rearview mirror.

While he was spinning the yarn an aging hippie strolled up and Doug introduced me to the guy who had put him up and taken him in when he got there. I don't remember his name but he was a nice guy and a genuine character. We had these coincidences all weekend. I'll string them together for another day. This story, though, the Texas drug bust, turned around a notorious scoundrel that Doug kept referring to as "Sheriff Joe."

Joe Arpaio has been ruining lives going back to the mid-sixties. Maybe further back. 

Did I tell you that I once worked for the Russian mafia? Joe Ely told me about ten years ago. Long, long time ago. I never knew.

I've lived an exciting life. I just didn't know it at the time.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Faith Restored

Let me dry my eyes after bawling through the NBC Nightly News. The disaster in Texas brings together the best parts of humanity. Cajuns from Louisiana coming in with their monster trucks to rescue Texans, human and otherwise. First responders, including the National Guard, police, firemen and rescue workers of every stripe. Mexico offering all manner of love, hope and financial assistance. The Salvation Army, the Red Cross and high school football players. Nobody asking about the ethnicity or faith of any of the victims.

There's no way to find joy in the suffering but there's no way to miss the hope.

Fight with love.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Money and Soda

Nobody's passion lasts forever. Maybe broken hearts do. We're all Texans for the time being and Mother Nature knows all about unrequited love.

While hate is fashionable, show the world some love. Help make it so common that it's not fodder for local TV news. You know the stories-

Baby With No Credit Gets Medical Attention!

Stranger Holds Door Open For Old Lady!

Let the Nazis fight the Klan. Let's dance, let's love.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Don't Know Much Economy

Now, I spend my time, i.e. waste my time, preaching about radio, hot rods, rock'n'roll and broken hearts- usually mine. Why on earth would I put forth a rant about economics?

"What," you may ask, " does that down-and-outter know about finance, economics?"

Well, what do I know about anything? Has it stopped me from writing plays? Newspaper columns? Hillbilly songs? I would tinker with brain surgery if not for those pesky license requirements.

My credentials as a financial scribe are based on "The Emperor's New Clothes." In other words I'm not employed by Goldman Sachs... or the Trump administration.

Let's all agree right here that those nutty tax resisters have some things right. The fact that most of them eventually go mad in their mom's extra bedroom will keep us from putting any of them on the witness stand here. They do know this:

Power in this culture is based entirely on the control of green paper by the very ones who print the green paper.

No wonder that the government fears nuts like me who notice the absurdity of any such phenomena and have the audacity to write it here for my millions of readers! 

Oh, wait.

Long ago the haves figured out that the minions would have to be controlled, Voila! Religion. Patriotism. Overtime pay. Sports. War. Politics.

Print your own green paper. See what happens.

Now the financial pundits conclude that housing prices going up faster than worker pay is good for the economy. Really? Has anybody told the worker? The one who doesn't own a house?

They also know that nothing stops a roaring market like the threat of full employment. You don't say! Has anybody shared this information with the unemployed?

Am I a socialist?

Pretty sure that I'm just an old, white male who went to school with those vultures who play that game and always noticed that the emperor is naked. Look at that tiny little talleywhacker, will ya'!


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Nose To The Grindstone

So here I sit. White. Male. American. Healthy. I was born in a post-war culture in a country where the tide was lifting most boats. A country that had just given the world jazz and rock'n'roll. A democracy that was promising a better day to the oppressed. A forty hour work week

I had no need for bootstraps.

Things change.

Rear view mirrors never meant much to me. Do I wish for a sweeter, gentler world? You bet. My ambition is to be. I do what I can with cowboy chords and love. Take what you need. Plenty more where that came from.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Fragrance and Arrogance

Being right always seemed so important. Not so much these days. I've lost more friends and heroes in the last year or two than I have in all my life before.

Oh, I'm not complaining. That wouldn't be fair.

The sweetest folks in the world have graced my life. Nobody ever wanted to believe in heaven more than I do. Some of my friends are my heroes and some of my heroes are my friends. It's always been that way. 

The concept of "rich" is alien to me. I've always had more than I needed and there were times when I had nothing. "Famous" is even more foreign as a notion. When writers describe me as a cult artist, I know what that means. To tell you the truth I'm just always happy that they don't use "failure." Probably more accurate but it doesn't flow as well.

Pretty sure that I'm supposed to be full of regrets at this stage. I just can't work it out. Oh, I should have been kinder and I surely could have been more generous.

Did I mention that I wish I believed in reincarnation? 

I probably wouldn't do much differently. I'd just like another couple of laps.

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


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Three Queens And A Joker

If I knew now what I thought I knew then I'd still be in trouble. The world was black and white. Girls were sugar and spice and everything nice. Boys were snaps and snails and puppy dog tails. Then, Elvis.

I've struggled with all of it ever since.

A friend reminded me recently that I've always wanted to give away all that I own. Seems crazy. I'm not trying to buy love. I don't think I am. It wouldn't buy much.

The price of seeing the world through the poet's eyes is steep. I see way too much and I know far too little. I cry about things that I saw years ago. I can't list all that I've lost. It hurts too much.

The other side of the coin, of course, is the joy. Only local ordinances keep my pants on and that doesn't always work. If you're tired of me telling you that I love you, get in line.

Monday, August 21, 2017

You Don't Have To Cook

The full truth just is. You don't need me to preach peace and love to know what to do. Life's easy if you don't get in the way. All the odds will be played and everything will happen. 

Every thing.

Sometimes I can't tell the hillbilly music from the soul music. I suppose I can always tell the good from the bad.

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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fashion and Me

Several folks just stood around me and made fun of my haircut. It began with, "Oh, you got your hair cut," and quickly moved to, "Oh, wait. You did that. You cut your hair!"

The happy ending is that one of the bunch finally said, "You sure take it well." 

Honestly, the bad part, the worst part is the back. Well, there you go. I can't see the back. That's why it's so bad. 

Women in my life have done what they could with me. 

It's not that I don't care...

Yeah, I suppose it is. No wonder I take it well.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Do You Know Who I Am?

So I just read that happiness is the new rich. I guess I'm about the richest. Inner peace is the new success. Cheers! Health is the new wealth. Just put it on my tab. Kindness is the new cool. I'm trying. I'm trying. I was never good at cool but I've always tried to be kind.

There's peace and joy on the horizon and it's coming regardless of our patience.

Love hard. Harder,


Friday, August 18, 2017

I Don't Care About Forever Anymore

You don't love for them. You love for you. I know it sounds selfish but it's the opposite. Once my biggest worry was how to make the love stay. Looking back, my concern was assurance that I would never be abandoned.

Of course I always admired shiny paint, young women, fresh flowers.

At some point the regal beauty of rust and wrinkles became obvious. Records sound better to me now with the scratches where I remember them. Old dogs have the purest love in the world in those cloudy, tired eyes.

Every now and then I run across one of those articles that "reveal" the regrets of people on their deathbeds. I guess there are folks out there looking for quotes from final gasps. I always read them. They always make me feel good. I suppose that's the point.

1. They always wish they had lived a life more true to themselves.
Hey- I carry a pink, paper wallet!

2. They shouldn't have worked so hard.
I've played rock'n'roll for over half a century.

3. They regret not having expressed their feelings.
Now I have made folks feel uncomfortable expressing my feelings but I won't leave the planet with any big secrets. Here I am before the sun is up spilling my heart out to you. I told her that I love her.

4. They should have stayed in touch with friends. 
I play in a band with guys that I've worked with for fifty years. My pals from elementary school that I don't hang around with are dead.

5. They always seem to wish that they had allowed themselves to be happier.
Well, sir, I try to look at life like one of those old Disney cartoons where every character is some variation of Goofy and the soundtrack is from one of those laughing records from Mad Magazine. I do what I can.

I do love her.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I Test Well

All my life I seem to have done well on standardized tests. All those things at the end of high school- I got scores that were close to perfect. Don't let me fool you into thinking that I'm smart. I did well on the subjects that I don't know anything about. Trigonometry. Calculus. 

I finish before pretty much everyone else, too. I'm pretty sure that's because I can't bear sitting there taking a test.

Somehow it all failed me in growing up. Oh, I've always been good at balancing a checkbook and my table manners are alright.

The important stuff, though, it's all been slow. I just don't take much seriously. You can dress me up but I'll soon be a mess. I want everything I see and then when I get it, I don't want it. I'll show off for attention and sometimes I cry when I'm left alone.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

True To Myself

So long adolescence. I never settled in very well. Current events demand my participation and the world seems to be on fire. While we teeter on the brink of nuclear war, that event has been pushed off of the front page by nazis and klansmen marching in Virginia.

Me? I remember when there were stars in the sky; when radio programmers played stuff they liked. Of course cocaine and whores and fifty dollar bills helped 'em like some of it. Can we just call them disc jockeys again?

Read the best book you can find. Not the old one. Not the new one. Read the best book you can find.

If some guy named Bob tells you what music is good and you have to pay Bob money, I'm not interested in anything you've got for me, thanks.

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Source

Queasy. It doesn't really take much. On the other hand, if real disaster hits I'm your guy. I'm fine until the last tourniquet is applied. Then I faint.

When culture curdles I seem to find a measure of hope. As disturbing as I find these times, I sense peace and love on the horizon. Oh, I fret that times may get worse before they get better. Hate has some real momentum out there and ignorance isn't going out of fashion without a tussle.

I don't have time for hate. You don't either.

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

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Red Blood, Pink Diamonds, Blue Dreams

Maybe love's a mirror. Just a mirror. You can't really love completely until you can really love yourself.

I'm a slow learner. S-L-O-W. 

My mom told me that I was the smartest one in class. Pretty sure I wasn't. She told me that I was more handsome than Clark Gable. Rock Hudson. I needed glasses from the third grade but I'm not blind.

Here's what I know now. All I want is to be loved. You'd think I might work harder at being more lovable. As I look around at Donald J. Trump, Katy Tur, Lionel Richie, O.J. Simpson, the Dalai Lama, I realize that that's all any of us want.

Now I lay down my armor. I love all of us. We're pretty good, aren't we?


Friday, August 11, 2017

Let Me 'splain

There have been times I tried to fit in. I've shopped for clothes, applied for jobs, had my hair cut, attended church, married the girl, covered songs and voted the party line. I don't regret any of it. Well, maybe a marriage or two.

My producer, Phil Gernhard, always told us, "Pay attention. The fun is all about getting there. There's nothing special about a wall of gold records. It's all about watching that first one go up the charts. Hearing it on the radio for the first time."

Well, Phil blew his brains out a decade ago. He had several walls of gold records and marriages that he regretted. He was rich. Really rich.

Me? I never "got there." Not by any standards.

There was a time when my new records would go to the top ten on the Americana charts and I would hear them on the radio. They were never hits, though; never made any money.

I hope you don't read anything into that. I'm not whining. Maybe I'm boasting. It never quit being fun for me. Turns out I can't be managed. Produced. Guided.

Socially awkward? Yeah, those women hurt my feelings. I don't think they meant to. I'm pretty sure that they just assumed that I knew. Seems obvious now. Really obvious.

Well, now I've tried the patience of my friends. I'm good at that. I guess it seems that I'm begging for praise with my pitiful self deprecation, fishing for compliments.

Honestly, that's like looking for Trump's cunning political strategy when he gets out his phone.

Listen to me here- I'm alright with me. Oh, sure, I have impure thoughts from time to time. Okay. I frequently have impure thoughts. Alright, alright, I'm obsessed with smut. Nevertheless, I think I'm an okay guy. To me, everyone is special. Unique. Holy.

If I thought something was wrong, I'd cut my hair. I'd vote the party line.

I'm probably at my most socially awkward when I ramble in Sunday school talk.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

You can't make a silk purse.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Where The Rhyme Takes Me

Automatic pilot suits me just fine. I'm programmed for 4/4 time but I'll move to waltz time to keep myself awake. I don't pay much attention to key. I usually find an octave that seems to suit me but I'm likely to change that in the middle of a song.

Now, Picasso painted realism before he went boldly into representationalism. He knew perfectly well that there was one eye on each side of the nose. Charlie Parker knew all his scales. Boy, did he know all his scales! He heard the melody and he played it when he wanted to play it. Mostly he plucked genius out of the ether.

Somehow I've bumbled through without really learning how to do much of anything. In order to defend myself, to keep from admitting to the sin of sloth, I have used any excuse that I could come up with. I've probably stolen some of them.

This is no apology. I betcha' I would do it all like this again. In fact, I recommend it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Soul Fires

There's a fire in my mind and I really can't be confined here. Evolution doesn't allow for satisfaction. I'm satisfied.

The peaceful tribes disappeared. They were finally pushed to Patagonia and other real estate that nobody wanted. I'm over here across the street from the river.

If you don't believe in karma, you must not be watching cable news. My good luck, I still remember everything about duck and cover. This time next year either we will have a good laugh about "fire and fury" or the cockroaches will dance in the daylight.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Everything New Is Old Again

If our only purpose here is to perpetuate the species, then I've served no purpose at all. As an unelected representative of the biologically superfluous, welcome to my world.

In the end, the drama you live is equal to the drama you make.

If it weren't for the afternoon thunderstorms, Jamaica and I wouldn't have much drama at all. Oh, we have memories. Lots of memories.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Something Burning

In my mind I play something of a Mitchum role. I don't fall for much, having been 'round the block this many times. That one dame, though...

You know the script.

Turns out the reality has been one of those Don Knotts' pictures that run late at night or early on a weekend morning on TCM. Or maybe a Mr. Bean epic.

Let's face it, that one dame, in real life, is no Rita Hayworth and she's ready for a walk.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

See Those Stars?

Suddenly I'm almost overcome with joy. Everything ahead of me is bright, perfect. This happens to me from time to time. Nothing changes. I just get a better view. Maybe it came, this time, from reading some of Marilyn Monroe's poetry. Arthur Miller said she had the instinct and reflexes of a poet but that she lacked the control. 

Fuck control. She was Marilyn Monroe.

Most folks don't know what the bottom looks like. Never will.

Me? Imperfect pitch and a lousy disposition. I don't have the instinct, the reflexes or the control. You can quote me. Try to make it rhyme.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Holy Smokes and Smaller Fires

You believe in the magic or you don't. If you're lucky the ghosts come around. Me? I guess I'm about the luckiest. Not much of convention has stood between me the real adventures of life. I've never bungee jumped, climbed a mountain or been to an orgy. There are taller roller coasters than the ones I've ridden.

Heck, I've only ridden a motorcycle once in my life. My cousin, George, had two dirt bikes. We took them out in the woods and rode all day. He knew what he was doing. I didn't. I rode as fast as he did. Went over the same hills and through the same mud. He probably fell fifteen or twenty times during the day. I never fell. Not once. I willed myself not to. The very idea terrified me. Still does.

Sometimes I worry that I've lived my life the same way. Oh, I've fallen. Further than most. More often than most.

I've never given anything "my all." I don't even know what that is. I've not fought for "my share." I've always had more than I needed. Yeah, I know all about love. I learned it at the Palma Ceia Theater and not in the back row.

Finally I am a finished piece. Critics frequently referred to me as a cult artist. That's kind. Polite. At least they usually liked it. My cult dissipated. Cults do that.

I'm pretty sure that all I've ever wanted was to love in a way that left only ashes. I'm afraid that only happened on that tiny little screen in that little bitty theater.

My life and my art are  one and the same. That's another way of describing myself as lazy. At least I never had to practice scales or stretch canvases. Goodness knows I never suffered for anything.

Don't take any of it seriously, whatever "it" is. Wasn't it Mose Allison who sang, "I don't worry about a thing 'cause nothing's gonna be alright?"

Mortality. Now there was a bad idea.

It's Over

Maybe I was twenty years old. I was in a car just blocks from the home I had grown up in. To really make matters worse I was with my girlfriend. Suddenly I was sobbing uncontrollably. I had to pull the car over.

The memory is as clear as if it had all happened yesterday.

Now I've bragged here before that I'll tell anybody anything. I would tell you what I was crying about if I knew. I've got theories of course.

Childhood was over. Well, it should have been. There are women out there who will argue that that wasn't it.

Therapists that I have shared time and money with over the years will tell you that I've never come to terms with the absence of a father in my life. I thought I did okay with Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett and Leave It To Beaver.

At this point in my life I had only been a vegetarian for a couple of years. I can tell you with a straight face that I've never gotten over a single stray dog or cat that I've passed on the road. Sinclair Lewis' The Jungle rattled me to my core. I've always known in my heart that I'm responsible for the well being of all creatures. All of them. Me.

Oh, I could rattle on. I suppose my point, if, again, I have a point, is that I'm not a particularly well adjusted adult. That's alright. I will always believe that we have a lot to learn from the children.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

It's Not There Anymore

"The Rose Tattoo." I probably sat through it seven or eight times. I had no idea what was going on. It's still over my head. The Palma Ceia Theater was a block away, though, and I was captivated by anything up on that screen. It's not there anymore.

The Cuban Club in Ybor City was a social hub in Tampa. On Friday nights The Rockers would play for white teenagers. On Saturday night, though- Great Googly Moogly- The Skyliners would play for an older crowd. I would have my mom drop me off. I was always the youngest one there. Usually the only white face in the crowd. When those guys spun their magic all of my dreams were on that little bandshell in the open air. It's not there anymore.

The only day I ever skipped school was to see President Kennedy. He gave a speech at Al Lopez Field in Tampa four days before his assassination. It's not there anymore.

When I turned seventeen I found a hope and a joy in my soul that I had been searching for all of my life.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Spend It All On You

My money and I are soon parted. That's okay. I have very few memories of anything that I've ever bought that had any real value. Oh, along the way I've successfully invested several times in schemes that made me more money. 

Let's see here- I risked some green paper in hopes of getting even more green paper? If you're thinking that I've wasted my time, you'll get no defense from me.

On the other hand I have no regrets about love. Oh, there are memories of street people that I walked right by and strays that I should have picked up. Maybe I should have loved harder, freer, with less reserve. Sometimes I have felt as though there was a governor limiting my love.

Everything positive in my life has come from love. Giving and receiving. When I play music for an audience it is the ultimate holy experience for me. What would my life have been without the rock'n'roll? I'll never know.

Did my mom push me there or did she just let it happen? She surely did love. She surely did.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Slightly Hip

The Ten Qualities That Make People Dislike You.

I just read the article. Ran across the link on Facebook. Nailed 'em all. My inclination was to go point by point and explain myself. How it's different with me. I'm reasonably sure this would be number eleven if the article had been longer.

So if I have annoyed you recently, and you certainly know who you are, I apologize again.

Whatever happened to "two sides to every story?" Turns out there are apparently two side to most stories. 

To tell you the truth, my friend, Rebekah, has tried to help. She has explained that there are things that you just don't say to other folks. Not at first, anyway.

Fortunately or unfortunately I don't have lackeys and sycophants rushing to my defense insisting that we just "let Elliott be Elliott."