Me? I'm an old white guy. I'm not bragging. I'm part English and part Scottish with a pretty good splash of Creek on my mother's side. No idea on the other. I was raised in the methodist church and I've always been a registered Democrat. I have a degree in geography. I'm no geographer. I'm right handed.
All my life I've sought truth. I've read the bible and "Autobiography Of A Yogi." I paid money for my mantra from TM ® and I've tried my best to play my Beatles records backwards. I've gone to church and I've stayed home and I've prayed all over the place. I've thrown the I Ching and had my cards read as well as my palm.
All I believe in is love. I shouldn't say all. I believe in love.
As much as the words of all of the great teachers are twisted, one message seems to remain constant and common. Love.
Nobody bombs anybody else with love in their heart. Nobody leaves children hungry and animals on the street with love in mind. Nobody builds a military for parades and intimidation based on love. Oh, I could go on. You get my point.
I'll never serve as much of an example but I will love the best I can.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
Peace of mind seems to be setting in. I'm suspicious. Otis Redding and Hank Williams broke my heart but Little Richard brought me joy.
Now, I don't want to oversimplify this. Otis hollered "Shout Bamalama" and thrilled us all. Ol' Hank sang "Jambalaya" and hillbillies filled the sawdust dance floors.
For the most part, though, when Hank Williams or Otis Redding's names are mentioned, I think of "Pain In My Heart" or "Men With Broken Hearts."
Little Richard? That's a different story. Even when he sang the sad ones it was joyous. "Boo Hoo Hoo Hoo." "I'm Just A Lonesome Guy." When he went for jubilation, however, the heavens opened. Show someone a photo of Little Richard and watch them smile.
I've spent far too much time in an Otis Redding world lately. Luke The Drifter plays in my psyche. Now it's a Little Richard world. Mr. Penniman is eighty five and doesn't sing these day. Not in public. He'll sing in my heart and my memory for as long as I live and he'll sing at any funeral service that you'll throw me.
This old world is sweet but hard. Nearly as I can tell, there is no poetry without heartbreak. I overheard a young person praising the upside of sadness the other day. I don't know- maybe it depends on your baseline. I want to frolic with friends and listen to babies laugh. I want to pet dogs and drink green Kool-Aid. I want to listen to the Beatles.
If the purpose of misery is merely to recognize the joy, I don't need it.
It's easy to be good when temptation fades. I'm dealing in extreme relative terms here of course. Most of my shenanigans have taken place in my head for the most part. I've never been arrested. I haven't had a traffic ticket since I was eighteen years old.
Oh, I'm not bragging here. It's a little embarrassing.
Maybe I should make up a more checkered past. What do you think? I've got friends that I could borrow some tales from.
You didn't ask for my advice. I know that. If there's anything good about unsolicited advice, it is that that it's easy to ignore, just like all the other.
You didn't choose rock'n'roll, either. It found you. That's the only way that counts. Once it found me, with the help of a devoted, single mom, I had my lodestar. You probably know what I mean. Over a lifetime, she would occasionally feign her intolerance for my obsessive self indulgence. I always knew that she ached every time that I turned my back on rock'n'roll. Oh, she could smile and hug me and tell me how proud she was when I cut my hair and put on a suit. She didn't have to fake it when I would get back to where I belonged.
It's not about the money. Hey, if they sign you to a major for millions, let's celebrate! On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that all of those "this close" stories build character. (Stop me if this becomes too hokey).
Here's the best part. You believe in magic or you wouldn't have been chosen. Heartache and heartbreak come with the package. They come with that other life, too. They may not call this stuff rock'n'roll for much longer. That's alright. It was kinda' a dumb term to begin with. You're already on your way to the most joyous adventure that there is.
Here's the advice part:
You're one of the ones who burn, burn, burn. Always keep in mind that the burning is in your mind. Chuck Berry burned and Bruce Springsteen burns. Stephen Hawking did, too.
You're good. Really good. Folks tell you and they will keep telling you. Elvis was good, too. Elvis was always nice.
Scales can be taught and scales can be learned but no matter how many pictures of Otis Redding that you pull up online or how much time you spend in front of a mirror, you'll have to learn about soul from having your heart broken. I can't say that it's a good deal but, hey, that's the price.
Use all of your gifts to help change the world. If you get rich, use your money, too.
It's all about the love so you're off to a fine start. Practicing those scales didn't hurt. Make it rhyme when you can and pay attention. Don't take a minute of it for granted. I promise you all of the joy that you can handle.
Special disclosure, I've seen things. Dignity? I can take it or leave it. Life is broken up into three parts. That's what I read. I suppose you spend that last third regretting those others. Fact is, this last third is mostly in the rearview.
Happiness creeps into view when I least expect it. Here it comes now.
Life sure is sweet. Maybe it wouldn't be if it just went on forever, huh? You know- like movies that are too long or one of those records where the bridge plays again.
Heaven is just a loop that runs in my heart. It's all just one big family reunion. Everybody, by the way, is in my family. The dogs and the cats play and all those parakeets cuddle and coo and get to know each other. In my heaven, Lottie is the star. Oh, Elvis is there but even he has a supporting role.
Trying to figure it all out, I would have been a poet if I could rhyme, I suppose, and I would have been a soul singer if I had ever suffered.
Well, that's not exactly right. I fall in love with all of them. Some of the crazy ones have loved me back for awhile. If I'm gonna give it an honest assessment, it's a miracle that I've had that in my life.
Three things have gotten me through. The music and the dogs and the cats.
You get through every loss, I suppose, but not in one piece.
Seems to me that romance has two purposes in the big picture: procreation and broken hearts. The first time my heart was broken I didn't go to the doctor and it never healed properly. I don't guess I've ever been right since then.
Bored? I thought I was just lonely. It's a 4/4 world and I've always lived in waltz time. I carry a pink paper wallet and I cut my own hair. I'm not good at it but I'm quick. If the world and I last much longer, I'll be considered an intellectual, a sophisticate. Every morning I pull back the covers and step into a scene that mixes a Mad Max set and a Three Stooges scene. Somehow I always assumed that devolution would be a much slower process.
On a human scale, I can barely relate. I'm proud to be made up of the same stardust as Andre the Giant and Cleopatra. On the other hand, I'm ashamed of any connection to Michael Cohen.
This is not my century, boys, and neither was the last. So long to Oklahoma. Here's to a life without training wheels.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
You live till you die so you might as well sing. Somehow we became convinced that somewhere up that mountain lay the fireworks confiscated by Birmingham's finest, not so fine at the time, I should say.
We climbed that mountain but we never found any fireworks.
Maybe that lesson was the whole thing. All I ever needed to know.
The movies and the music have always been the distraction for me. I wasn't wired to accept the suffering around me. My head likes to think it's in charge but my heart runs the show. Always has. I wouldn't have it any other way.
My religion is my religion. If I could explain it, I would. In these times I'm more suspicious than ever of anyone who claims to have all the answers.
Tell you what- if you understand yours better than I do mine, explain the concept of suffering to me. While you're at it can you get it fixed?
If you're gonna convert me, you're gonna have to bring me a faith that concentrates on love and outlaws war. There are no good wars. There never will be.
Maybe I should worry that I've not made much of an adult. Thing is, I wasn't all that much of a kid, either. I think I'm ready for that one now. The wonder of the universe and the idea that we all come from the same stardust humbles me and comforts me.
Here it is National Siblings' Day, or so I read, and I'm alone, as usual. Oh, I'd settle for a blood brother/sister but I'm squeamish about the "blood" part. It's uncomfortable bringing it up to grownups and I think asking a kid would be a good way to get arrested. Or worse.
You may notice that I've got excuses for being alone. I've got excuses for my excuses.
Nobody wants to be preached to. I'm here to preach to you. Beware of anybody who claims to know more than you do. While you're at it, be very suspicious of anyone who wants power. Trying hard not to judge, I can't help noticing that empathy divides us. Some have it. Some don't.
Occasionally an empathetic figure shows up on the political landscape. We usually manage to kill them. Same with religion. In most cases the job description has blurry lines. Think Jesus, Dr. King, John Lennon.
The idea that fashion repeats itself is obvious to folks of a certain age. Lapel width, skirt length, radio and sideburns. Oh, yeah- chemical warfare. I missed the last go-round for fascism and it never occurred to me to consider it "fashion." Well, it's back.
As usual, the U.S. leads the way. The fashion didn't start here. We will take it to the limit, though. We always do. Bigger afros, shorter skirts, bigger amps. We're # 1! Yesterday's New York Times was chock full of articles about fascists rising to power all over the world. Oh, how I wish it were fake news.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
Never tore up a hotel room. Not on purpose. Oh, I've taken the little shampoo and the sewing kit but I've never thrown the TV out the window. In fact, I straighten the bed a little before I check out, knowing good and well that somebody's gonna remove those covers as soon as I'm gone.
I've never had the luxury of taking for granted a sold-out show. I'm grateful for anybody who shows up and, to be honest, I can name half the folks in my audience no matter where I am. Oh, I've played for crowds of tens of thousands but most of those people came to hear someone else.
When I host a radio show I get chills playing music that I love for other people. When someone calls in or e-mails, it's all I can do not to express my undying love in response. Of course there is always the risk that someone will call in to complain. Breaks my heart and ruins my day!
I guess I've had about the most successful career ever in showbiz. Funny thing is- this is about the best I can do.
When I casually mentioned to a friend that odors now linger in my head, sometimes for days, I couldn't miss a look of alarm. She suggested, no, she insisted that I go to a doctor. The same expression showed up on my primary care physician's face and he tried to be casual telling me that it could indicate a brain tumor.
Here I was happy after every trip to a bakery!
Once the specialist messed with my nose and sent me off with good news, I started over. My pal, Ed Brown, always said that youth has no sense of mortality. Old guys don't think about much else. Life was easier when I doodled hot rods and drooled over Annette.
There's not my truth and your truth. It only takes one asteroid, pal. One asteroid. The music keeps getting prettier and the music business keeps getting uglier and my luck never seems to run out. The trouble with telling all your secrets is that you're left with no mystique.
Spring is here and I'm preparing for sunny day blues. There's a weird comfort in knowing that I don't suffer alone. If I could clear my head and patch up my heart at the same time, I believe I could make it to summer.
If our lifespan was eight or ten years, maybe I would have a higher opinion of man. I spend my time searching for truth and it looks a lot like wasting time. Sometimes I waste other folks' time. I don't feel guilty. What else were they gonna do with it?
Remember the princess and the pea? I had no idea when that fairytale was read to me that it was meant as a personal lesson. I've always had everything. Always. Everything.
Now I read about this 1% and the other 99% and I wring my hands. I anguish over the plight of the needy. The sick and the homeless. I hurt for the orphans, human and otherwise. I cry in front of the TV screen when I see victims of violence and natural disaster.
It's too late to be any kind of hero, I suppose. I'm grateful that I've known about love.