In case of a fire, I suppose that I would try to just gather up all my memories. My favorite stuff, I've given away. Oh, I've got more stuff. Lots more. Memories, though, I've got a whole bunch of them. I try to share them, but at a certain point in life, you're just one more old guy talking about the past.
Just when I start to worry that maybe I've written all of my stories down, new ones come flooding in. Maybe I should worry more about making new ones.
If you tell a story that doesn't end in loss, you haven't finished the story, pal.
It's never about geography. Like Sam Cooke, I don't know much biology. I do, however have a degree in geography. It's not about work, either. I've never amounted to much, but I have scooped mud from the bottom of barges and written automotive columns and picked watermelons and sung for drunks.
In matters of the heart, I'm a less reliable source. I do know this- it's never the one who got away. They all get away eventually. One way or another.
Life is sweet and sometimes the sweetest ones have the roughest time accepting that.
Unconditional love, and lots of it, is all that I have to offer. I understand the wariness. I have consulted the Magic 8 Ball regarding your big decisions:
Is she doing the right thing?
It is certain.
Will it all work out right?
Without a doubt.
Is this all crazy? Impulsive? Will I regret it all?
My sources say no.
I wish for you all of the happiness and success and love in the world. I seem to always get all that I wish for.
When those well-meaning fellows were writing the Bible, we didn't yet have t-shirts. At least not for the old testament. Now, I'm thinking that most of those guys had in mind providing some common sense for their fellow man. Oh, sure, some of them were probably out to make a buck, too, just like with t-shirts. Let's not leave out bumperstickers. Pop music, too, now that I think about it.
Now, if, you're like me, you take the advice that you need from wherever you find it. I tend to take what I need and ignore what doesn't fit. I don't kill and I don't steal. I don't covet my neighbor's house and I don't believe he has a male servant. I don't remember what the blurb says about his wife's ass, but I would be lying if I said that it didn't catch my eye from time to time.
I try not to lie and the great majority of my sinning, these days, takes place in my mind.
My first 10 commandments were written about fifty years ago. I finished off my second 10 a few years later. Pardon my hubris and take anything you need.
Let me explain my politics. I know you're not interested and, honestly, I don't like to discuss it. Somehow, I feel compelled to get into it now.
Let me begin by saying that neither of these two parties in our little system represent me in any fashion. I throw in with the people who were here when Columbus landed. I would be labeled an anarchist if not for my knowledge of what the powerful are willing to do to the oppressed.
Since the game is rigged, I seem to have two choices- I can stay out of it altogether and have no voice whatsoever, or I can go with the lesser of two evils. Over and over. Don't start on the, "Well, if you don't like it, change it" malarkey. Money makes the monkey dance and if, for some reason, you haven't figured that out, I don't have the patience to explain it to you. Let me just say this: If I ran against Putin in Russia, they would jail me. Maybe kill me. If I choose to run against Trump in the US they can just ignore me. Unless, of course, you have an extra billion or two that you might invest in my campaign.
Don't go mailing me money. It's not a job I want. Not to mention that it's easy to find naked photos of me all over the internet.
No, I'll go with empathy, compassion, fairness, peace, love and kindness. I suppose, by now, you're scratching your noggin and wondering just what secret candidates I know about. Sadly, I don't know any more about it than you. I do see hope in some of our newly elected representatives.
Will they be ground down to the level of the pond scum that we have suffered for years?
How do I know?
My hope, in the meantime, is with them. I'm glad to have hope.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
Now, if you come around here for your financial advice, money may not be your highest priority. I like you. Any time that I begin to spout off about wealth and poverty, I sound downright biblical. Oh, I sound like a lunatic, but there's some kinda' divine tone to all of it, too.
We've got between seven and eight billion folks roaming the planet today. In 1950 there were about two and a half billion. Now, clearly, there's more wealth. There would have to be.Otherwise, none of us would have enough pocket change for the new iPhone.
Do you suppose that we have mined enough extra gold and silver to justify all the extra money. Maybe we're just so much more productive that we've gotten richer. Nah.
The economy is as real as the emperor's clothes. The powerful make up systems that divide "money" amongst us. Now, if the powerful keep it all, the rest of us won't have any means of buying what they have to sell. They can't support all of us in some feudal system so they need to dole out a portion of it in order to sell us their oil. Their coal. Their water.
Meantime, the powerful manufacture goods to sell us to take what's left after the rest of us buy food and pay rent. Did I mention that we're the ones actually doing the manufacturing and raising the crops for food? They pay for the process, of course, with the money that they print, backed by nothing but their imagination and good will.
Revolutions occur when the masses figure this out. They spring up here and there. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't. The powerful have militaries financed by the money they print. Occasionally the common people come up with a gimmick. Cryptocurrencies saw the unwashed making up their own "money." Information became a commodity that was difficult for the old money to hoard. Marshall McLuhan and Stewart Brand and Bucky Fuller predicted it.
When it turned out that the elite couldn't figure out MySpace, they decided to control information through distribution. They sold the rights to the worldwide web. You want information? Pay us.
The good old boys are still worrying about cryptocurrencies but it appears that wild greed among the new rich might do it in as a concept before it threatens legitimate money.
Oh, they have tools. Religion. Patriotism. Misogyny. Fear. They use their power to withhold healthcare. Security.
All those stories about peace and truth and love; all those parables about camels and eyes of needles- turns out there's something to it all.
There are days, lots of days, in fact, when my existence seems small. Almost insignificant. Oh, I think I'm fine. I'm not much impressed with the president of the United States, either. The pope? Nice guy with a good job and a ridiculous wardrobe.
This is a day when I'm having trouble accepting NFL quarterback salaries. Well, not accepting those salaries. You know very well what I mean.
When they explained that I'm socially awkward, I thought it had something to do with my manners. My dance skills. My small talk.
Turns out I just don't have much of anything to say. To anyone. I write this dribble to keep from annoying folks on the bus bench. Really. Now, I know what you're thinking- "Doesn't he know about bars?" Honestly, I never developed decent drinking habits.
When I run old blogs here, it's because I just can't make myself do this.
Okay, if I start a cult, who's in? Don't worry, I'm not up to anything. Once we get it off the ground, I don't want to run the thing. I don't need any reminding here that Fidel said the same thing! If, in fact, cults revolve around religions, I think I have finally settled on one that satisfies my needs.
I don't have a name for it. Doesn't seem to me that it needs one. Our creed- kindness. That's it. No translations, no branches, no rules.
Seems to me, this one's too easy not to catch on. Like the twist. Pet rocks. Streaking.
If this seems premature and arrogant, forgive me, but I see an end to war, greed, political parties and lots of our legal systems.
Even though there are elements of our new system in all of the major belief systems out there, we won't be smiting anybody or taking any eyeballs for revenge.
Seems to me we've been overthinking this for way too long.
It has taken me this long to figure out that I have always feared being alone. Solitude had to be forced on me. If you're alone, you know what I mean.
Art is the loneliest path. The true artist works as though he is creating something. In fact, the artist is the creation. Oscar Wilde might have been the quintessential artist. He was painfully aware that he was, in fact, his art.
Sometimes success robs the artist. Me? Why I've been blessed with failure, thank you very much. Oh, I'm not complaining. Well, I may be whining a bit, but I'm not complaining.
Over the years I've told every secret and I've revealed nothing.
In the annals of rock'n'roll history, I suppose we all have our high points. Me, I have plenty. I had already been curious about what an Elvis Presley was and then my mom brought me home an EEP of his first album. You know, the tonsil shot. The mystique was solidified. It would be years before I learned that the photo was taken in Tampa.
Over the next six or seven years I learned to play guitar, a disputable claim.
I remember my first guitar but not my first slow dance. Both changed everything forever. My mother took me to see shows with Big Joe Turner. Bill Haley & The Comets. The Teen Queens. The Platters. Clyde McPhatter. LaVern Baker. Bo Diddley. The Drifters. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Sam Cooke. Little Willie John. Brenda Lee. Duane Eddy. Marv Johnson. Hank Ballard & the Midnighters.
Oh, I know I'm leaving out plenty of my heroes but I've filled in too many of the wrinkles with trivia.
If Elvis was the first chapter for me, then the Beatles make up the second.
Maybe I'm still on that one. I'll never forget my first band. My first show. My first record. My first radio airplay. My first autograph. My first trip overseas.
I wouldn't trade my memories for anything. I surely wish I remembered more about that slow dance.
With a headful and a heartful of the most beautiful memories, I stroll on, pretty much without a plan. I've got a few new songs to finish up and some tales that I can't remember if I've told you or not. Don't stop me if you've heard them before.
Would I have traded my soul at the crossroads to play guitar like a god?
I'm not really sure, but I'd give plenty for one that stays in tune. Of course I would have to get it in tune first.
Would I have traded Manhattan Island for some colorful beads?
Getting used to life without drama can be a challenge. Oh, I haven't forgotten Syria or Robert Mueller or climate change. I'm talking real life, cry in your beer, soap opera melodrama. You know- flirt, kiss romance, conflict, breakup.
Now, it's highly unlikely that I would have ever given up on that stuff. I am, after all, a hapless romantic. Let me say, right here, that I approve of every element of affairs of the heart.
Folks give up football when their knees give out; tennis when they ruin their elbow. With some assistance, I wore out my heart a long time ago.
Don't run out of dreams before you run out of breath. Now, I've advised you not to take advice from the likes of me and I'll stand by that.
Honestly, I've never known whose voices I tune in. Angels? Ghosts? Aliens?
Is it just me or do most folks seem to need more? More money. More time. More love. More respect. Seems to me that all the necessities replenish themselves. The mysteries are my treasures and I'm rich.
Looking back, I should have written more often in waltz time. Kindness seems more important in life's rearview mirror. I wish I had walked away from bad situations sooner.
Sometimes I think that maybe I should have worried less about the future. After all, here it is, and it is what it is. I suppose that I would have just wasted more time worrying about the past. These days I have a whole lot more past than future and I don't worry much about either one.
The winners, they write the history. Einstein reportedly wrote, "Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing that it is stupid." The quote has never been verified, by the way.
My grandmother often quipped, "If a bullfrog had wings he wouldn't bump his butt so much." I can personally vouch for that one. I probably put her on an intellectual level with him. Einstein, that is, not the bullfrog.
In his great conceit, man has put himself at the top of some arbitrary pyramid of the higher animals. Now the first cut-off separates the vertebrates from fish and invertebrates. Then the bickering really starts to roll until we all agree on the tippy top.
We're Number One! We're Number One!
Dogs sniff butts. Humans check social status and bank accounts.
I'm not advocating butt sniffing, here, although it seems that it might just be as valid as the other. When it comes right down to it, it's all about love and fear. Put me down for love and, if you can't seat me at the dog table, let me sit at the kids' table.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war. Grandma said that, too.
There really is nothing much to be taken seriously when you get right down to it. I've always managed to worry about loss in the future and then, whatta' ya know, loss. I never enjoyed a carnival properly. I spent my time worrying about the end. I usually ended up with tickets left over due to judicious planning. I have t shirts and Levis that are from another century. Never wore my favorites often so that I wouldn't wear them out. Now gravity and age and beer have colluded to see that I'll never wear them out.
Maybe I've hoarded too much of my love, worrying that romance would end, that someone would leave. I don't have to write this next line for you, do I?
Now? Now I just love. At least I try. I hope that someone loves me but I don't count on it. I will say that I am thrilled to death when anyone tells me that they love me. I don't analyze it. It's not likely that somebody else's idea and definition of love will match mine. I'll take all that I can get.
Once there were lightning bugs, fireflies. I remember coquinas by the millions and stars that lit a purple-black sky. Now, when I hear a mockingbird's song, I'm reminded that I don't hear them very much these days.
Terrorist. I remember when I first encountered the term. My friend, Larry Rardon, came home from a European vacation and excitedly told me that he actually saw the man whose face he had seen on a wanted poster in Germany. A terrorist. Today I assume that terrorists live in my town. Yours, too.
Cell phones? Yeah, we all remember those gigantic, walkie-talkie things that realtors and jackasses in suspenders showed off at happy hour. Now every sixteen year old behind the wheel of the BMW coming at you in your lane is swiping and texting and posting.
There is probably no need for me to go on with my grumbling. You get my point. Is Andrew Hardin right? Am I a curmudgeon?
I don't long for what was. I grieve for what could have been.
My role, if, in fact, I have a role, is to help folks feel. Oh, believe me- I know how smug that reads. I'm an acquired taste. A cult artist. A journeyman musician. Even those job descriptions sound pretentious. Precious.
Somehow I was destined to be one of those country preachers who ends up called by the message, not the moolah. We're a rare breed these days. Interview friends and promise them confidentiality and the term "annoying" may come up.
My message, if, in fact, I have a message, is something vague about peace and love and rock'n'roll. I've been fashionable from time to time with my undertaking. Not so much for the most part. I'm never sure, but I think I may be happier when I'm not. I can't be certain that it's not just rationalization. I would rather think of it in terms of my support for the underdog.
"Are you a hippie?" I remember Mike Regar asking me in 1965.
I don't remember how I answered but I think I was. I think I am.
Man, oh man- it just all goes by so quickly, doesn't it? Something has recently opened the floodgates of my memory and the old stories are lined up like jets on the tarmac at Hartsfield- Jackson. Good ones and bad ones. Maybe it's just a byproduct of New Year.
As a kid, I had no idea that the same bunch of geniuses were playing on all of my favorite records. I mean they were on different labels- Specialty, Aladdin, Imperial, Atco, Chess, Argo. I had never heard the term, studio musician. I'm not really sure that the term had been coined.
Over a couple of decades I began to recognize something about drum fills. That just had to be the same guy on the Little Richard record who was playing on Fats' new hit. Don't try to tell me that the guy playing tenor on that Clarence "Frogman" Henry side isn't the same one on the Lloyd Price song!
In 1977 I arrived in New Orleans for the first time. I was there to see the King Tut exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
While the bellboy was waiting with his hand out, I was flipping through the phone book from the bedside cabinet. With no order in mind, I flipped through the pages.
Right there in the goldarned phonebook- gods! All the gods. Of course I didn't call any of them. What would I say?
Funny thing is that the first one who gave me the clue, Earl Palmer, wasn't in there. He had packed his drums and his bags and headed for Los Angeles in 1957. He had continued to play on my favorite records. Sam Cooke. Eddie Cochran. Larry Williams. Ritchie Valens. Bobby Day. The Beach Boys. The Righteous Brothers.
I've never been to LA. I'll betcha' ol' Earl was never in the phone book.