Monday, December 31, 2018

Maybe I've Had A Few

Very few of my heroes were aware that they were heroes while I was in their presence. A good thing, I suppose. The burden of worship is a tough one. That's my best guess.

Oh, I've crossed paths with a few arrogant souls who knew way too much about their gifts. Remind me and I'll put them all in a list for you one day.

The good ones all changed my life. I guess maybe the jerks did, too.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Suffer The Little Children

So, we have lost two Guatemalan children in the last few weeks over this border posturing and our righteous indignation is palpable. Meanwhile, our best guess is that 85,000 children have starved in Yemen since Saudi Arabia launched their war of ego, with the assistance of the United States, in 2015. That is, children under the age of five. That number does not include the ones killed by bombs, gas and bullets.

Where is the voice for the children? Who speaks for the poor and the disabled and the disenfranchised?

This is a holiday season. I want to sing and dance and celebrate. I want to get up in the morning and write about peace and love and rock'n'roll. I long for the day when no person will take orders from anyone to harm a living being.

Hope begins with love.


Friday, December 28, 2018

Justification and Multiplication

They're not the boss of you. How many of your friends like their job? If your mom and dad taught you to keep your nose to the grindstone, and if your mom and dad didn't like their jobs, what the heck are you doing?

You do understand that the forbidden fruit is the fruit of knowledge, right? You know- good and evil. While it is most certainly not my job to teach you right from wrong, I will point out that you are a son of God. Hey, I am, too. Now don't do like I do. Don't go telling everybody. They'll lock you up. If you're lucky! 

Here's what Kurt Vonnegut wrote:

"If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."

Okay, kid, I wouldn't take advice from the likes of me. Mr. Vonnegut's quote is a little out of fashion now and more than a little politically incorrect. Still fine advice, though, nearly as I can tell.

Only the saints rely on the stars to show them the way. We are the saints, buddy. We are the saints.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

What Wiggles

Are there more homeless folks on the street during the holidays or do we just notice them more? I've never been hip, never will be. I hope that I've been kind. Never made any big splash on the music scene. I hope I've made someone smile. Dance.

My ambition runs to peace of mind these days. I have everything I've ever wanted. Two or three of most things. Somehow I manage to find ways to break my own heart. It's a lucky man who has to conjure up his own sorrow.

Don't take anything too seriously. Joy is the natural state.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Headed Home

Most of my effort as an adult has gone towards getting home. Of course, I don't quite know what that means. I'll know it when I see it.

Seems like my soundtrack should be rock'n'roll, doesn't it? Turns out to be a Sunday school piano, not quite in tune, and a muted trumpet.

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

Monday, December 24, 2018

Whistle While You Rest

Why shouldn't the revolution be fun? We're armed to the teeth with truth and love, compassion and resistance. What I didn't learn from the women in my life, I learned from the dogs and the cats. 

We'll launch the first big offensive right here at the holidays. First we dazzle them with kindness. Then, while they're reeling, we begin to spread cheer. It's hard to hate while you're laughing. Let the wetting of pants become the new holiday tradition. Blame me!

Forward, march!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Tucked In, Tuckered Out

Here I sit. Middle of the night and I'm wide awake with nothing to worry about. For the first time it occurs to me just how superficial my heroes were. Two criteria for hero in my book are world changing and humility. The dilemma, of course, is the incompatibility.

Elvis and Einstein and John Lennon were well aware of their impact. What do you suppose led to the "more popular than Jesus Christ" comments? Once a hero realizes that he's a hero, I suspect it's hard to give up the role. 

How long did Leonard Cohen stay in the monastery? How many times did Sinatra retire? Is it not obvious that the Beatles were responsible for Elvis' '68 "comeback?"

Now most of my heroes are gone. Takes care of the incompatibility, I suppose. I'll watch for Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez to remain deferential.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Who Really Cares?

It's the ghosts, by cracky. It's the ghosts. They've sung to me for most of my life. They sing to me today.

Now I hear them all. When I read back over the years, I realize that I spent a good deal of time in the weeds. People who were never major players in my life moved in to keep me going and, for that, I will be forever grateful.

Rock break scissors. Paper covers rock. Joy trumps depression.


Thursday, December 20, 2018

What's Good For The Soul

Here's my confession- for the past six or seven years, I've claimed to write a blog for you. I don't even know what a blog is, to tell you the truth. I almost started up a podcast a year or two ago and I know even less about that.

Turns out that I've been doing this for me all along. All of my working life, and I use the term lightly, has been about my search for whatever's out there.

Don't jump to any conclusion that I would be so smug as to claim that I have figured anything out. It's just that I don't ask many questions anymore.

For more than fifty years I've been making records. I suppose I've been making them for me, too. I just didn't know it.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe I've used up all my fun. I'm holding on to hope that it's like love. You know- endless supply. The more you use, the more you got.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Barn Burners and Rum

Don't ever take any of the magic for granted. Don't let your love expire. In our experience, time only moves in one direction- towards an end. Meantime, it's a party. A carnival. The beauty is everywhere.

Peace of mind is elusive. It doesn't come standard with the new Land Rover.

The only folks who are impressed with your possessions are the other ones who haven't figured it out. If I were you, I would love like there's no tomorrow. One day there won't be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Me And The Lowly Peanut

This season brings memories of legless, homeless men on the sidewalks outside the theaters in downtown Birmingham. They propelled themselves on little scooters, similar to the devices that mechanics use to work under cars, with a half brick in each hand. Often, they sold pencils. Every now and then there would be a blind man with a metal cup and a shiny steel-bodied guitar.

I remember the exotic aroma of hot tamales sold from little bicycle carts. 

Until her last days, my mom fretted over my query, "Mommy, are those burr heads?" wondering about the young African American family on the bus bench next to us, late at night, on our way home from the picture show.

Birmingham, black and white. Worlds away.

Intolerance doesn't compute with a child. Hate has no reference point. Love is everything.

Go ahead, grow up. I'm happy right here.

Friday, December 14, 2018

What Now?

Who decides who's important? What is the criteria? Does it matter? I've always had more questions than answers and, to tell you the truth, I'm a little suspicious of the ones who have more answers. You know, the ones who never change their minds.

Here I sit at midnight, Paul Ryan is on my mind. If I had any self control, politics would never cross my mind. I don't. It does. Seems to me that maybe we owe young Paul a tip of the hat. He and his pals seem to have hastened the diminution of men in government. Orrin Hatch may be the final nail in the coffin, pun intended.

Count me as one of those who holds Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to a different standard. She's better. Smarter. She doesn't pretend to have all the answers. She seems to have a lot of them, though, and they seem to be good ones. I feel really lucky to have lived to see this.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Somewhere Between Flat Broke and Broken

If I were you, I wouldn't sit there waiting for a wise man to explain the mystery. Since their stories don't match, it would seem that all of them, except one, have it wrong. Dang! Bad odds.

You can't really categorize me as a heathen. An agnostic. Certainly not an atheist. I believe it all. All of the beautiful stories show up in all of the major religions, in some form. Now, I don't buy it all in literal terms. If you do, fine. We're all looking for the same truth.

Embrace the beautiful stories of this season and share your stories and your love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Loaded Cigarettes

Well, sir, I sing but I'm not a singer and I write but I'm no writer. This could go on for paragraphs, nay pages. Truth is, sometimes I feel inadequate. I've had lots of jobs over the years. Some of them I think I've done reasonably well.

Seems to me we're all worth about the same thing.

Around this time of year I tend to worry about the dogs and cats in shelters. The folks in nursing homes, too. Don't get me started on the children in orphanages. Use your love to make it a holiday.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Dastardly Deeds Under The Influence

Oh, my. Everything that I have to say has been said. I know too much to have an original thought and I don't know much. As usual, none of this is likely to slow me down.

On some days I worry that technology is the only remaining frontier. Once we went to the moon. Chrysler offered a push button automatic transmission. Some genius invented the thermos and a hero wiped out polio. Almost wiped out polio.

The problem, as I see it, is that technology is under control of the moneychangers. Those folks haven't been able to keep IPhones out of the hands of anyone. They have managed to keep insulin out of the hands of poor diabetics. They have managed to profit obscenely from the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. 

Feel free to call me a socialist. I call me a moralist.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Somewhere Between Luck and Science

Sometimes the beauty and the joy and the magic just overwhelm me. For some reason this holiday season really seems to have its hooks in me. The music sounds sweeter. The lights are way brighter than I remember and every TV ad brings tears. I haven't even seen the first Publix commercial yet.

We're talking the "good tears" here. Oh, I lost my Jamaica this year and the news came right before the holidays that she was sick. My grieving, though, has been mixed with beautiful memories and they have outlasted my broken heart. Sort of.

My temptation is to grab strangers on the street and tell them how much I love them. That hasn't worked all that well for me in the past.

I'm dying to play Christmas songs for you, on the radio and onstage. I know how many folks claim to hate that stuff. I don't suppose I've ever given it much thought. For this year, though, I love it all. My only dilemma is "Blue Christmas." Elvis or Porky?


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Broad Shoulders and Cold Weather

Always heard it's lonely at the top. Well, sir, I wouldn't know. I can tell you, though, that it's no picnic  here on the bottom. Unlike Groucho, I would love to be a part of any organization. I wish I lived in a commune. Played in a band. Always wanted brothers and sisters. 

When push comes to shove, however, you'll find me at the counter to avoid the sad table for one. I'll frequently plow through a book that struggles to hold my attention in order to avoid lines at the theater or crowds at the bar. MSNBC can generally count on my company after dark. Before sunup, too, now that I think about it. 

It's not so much that I'm bad company. It's just that I've had enough of it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

It Comes In Threes

You would guess to look at me that I don't have a clue. Maybe I don't. I'm pretty sure, though, that I have a fair idea of what they want. I've just never been able to make myself give it to them.

Maybe it's my attraction to the underdog.

If I had it all to do over, I would.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Wabi Sabi

Broken things. What's life without imperfection? Use your love to level what tilts and that which is shattered. Practice on your own heart.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Waitin' For Me

Look, I know that there's nobody waiting for me on the other side of anything. That doesn't stop me from tearing up when faced with the beautiful stories of heaven and paradise, nirvana and rainbow bridges.

My angels come to me in dreams. Oh, they don't bring me important messages. Their fine, gossamer presence merely reminds me that love is eternal. 

Someday I'll be the visitor. Remember that I love you.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Stories I Could Tell

The stories are all so very beautiful and I believe them all. Of course I'm a grown man and I believe in Santa Claus, too. Some of them I believe in literally. What difference does it really make when it comes right down to it?

Once again I come to the point of making a decision about going on with this thing.

Take care of your friends and take care of the ones who need friends.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Island Breeze

Let's imagine a beautiful tropical island with all of the necessities to support life- abundant, clean water; healthy fruit trees and plenty of natural shelter. Now we'll populate the eastern end with women and, on the other side of the mountain, we'll settle men.

If we check back after six or eight months, I imagine we'll find the women have started a book club and figured out a way to make wine. My guess is that on the other end most of the fruit trees will be gone, making up big, manly bows and streamlined, masculine arrows.

Bonobos rule!