A baker’s dozen from The Boss on his birthday

I got started early on 9/23/19 and picked up speed later in the day. I posted comments on and links on Facebook to 14 songs by Bruce Springsteen on his 70th birthday.
They were done in chronological order based on release date, except for the last one. From 13 of his 19 studio albums.

#1 FB at 8:24
Bruce Springsteen is 70 today. Happy Birthday to The Boss.
His audition tape is pretty sweet.
“when they said ‘Sit down’ I stood up…”

#2 FB at 9:00
I’ve been cranking this one UP for 46 years. That ain’t gonna stop anytime soon.
He said: “I wrote ‘Rosalita’ as a kiss-off to everybody who counted you out, put you down or decided you weren’t good enough.”
My favorite line:
“Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny…”
Crank. It. UP!!

#3 FB at 11:22
I was a fan in my 20’s…back in the 1970’s.
I’ll be a fan in my 70’s in the 2020’s.
“So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night…”
Crank. This. UP!!

#4 FB at 1:14
The record company and lawyers mucked everything up for awhile.
It was almost three years before The Boss released his fourth album. This song is the first cut on the long-awaited “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”

“You spend your life waiting
For a moment that just don’t come
Well don’t waste your time waiting…”
And this: “it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive…”

#5 FB at 2:08
“The River” was his 5th album, his only double album and the first of the 80’s. This was his first album to go #1 on the Billboard 200. (He’s never had a #1 single…)
It was never my favorite album, but I’m a sucker for a rocker.
The link has the lyrics…but all you really need to know is this: “I’m a rocker, baby, I’m a rocker, every day…”

#6 FB at 2:44
This is the second cut of Springsteen’s sixth album, released 37 years ago on 9/30/82.
This song is NOT about Philip Testa. But Philly’s “chicken man” did get blown up in early ‘81 by a nail bomb as he was entering his south philly home. It started a gang war, with a couple of dozen made guys getting killed over the next few years.

Nebraska is a great album,,,but damned is it bleak or what?
Everybody knows this song. Damned near everybody covers it.
Nobody does it any better than my friend David and The Nace Brothers. Seriously.
I’ve always loved this line: “Everything dies baby that’s a fact, But maybe everything that dies someday comes back…”
But I love it even more now that i’m looking forward to being reincarnated and in 40 years or so reading about “the times in which we live.” (Dad uses that one often. 😉 )

#7 FB at 3:22
“Born in the U.S.A.”
Released 6/4/84.
Seven top 10 singles.
The Boss & the E Street Band achieve commercial success.
My favorite lyrics from any of the 12 songs aren’t from one of those seven songs.
“Well, we busted out of class
Had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three-minute record, baby
Than we ever learned in school…”
(BTW…I loved school…most of the time…
I’ve learned a thing or two from 3 minute songs too.)
And: “We made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender…”
And have fun like these folks.

#8 FB at 4:24
“Tunnel of Love” is the 8th studio album. Springsteen married Julianne Philips in Lake Oswego, Orygun on May 13, 1985 in Lake Oswego. A bad relationship spawned a pretty decent album.
I lived in Portland at the time. There was a rare sighting of The Boss in the PDX area. None by me.
At the time, I had made several more trips around the sun than I deserved based on a bit of risky behavior. And I was still making some bad choices, especially for my liver.
But my perspective on life had changed a bit.
“Now some may wanna die young man
Young and gloriously
Get it straight now mister
Hey buddy that ain’t me
‘Cause I got something on my mind
That sets me straight and walkin’ proud
And I want all the time
All that heaven will allow”
The Mavericks often have this one on their setlist. 🙂

#9 FB at: 5:08
I don’t own the next 3 albums.
On 9/11 I posted links to a couple of songs from his twelfth: “The Rising.” This was his first album with The E Street Band in almost 20 years.
Fifteen tracks. Damned near perfect.
For a 70th birthday party…or a wake, this one is also perfect.
“Seven days, seven candles
In my window lighting your way
Your favorite record’s on the turntable
I drop the needle and pray (turn it up)
Band’s countin’ out midnight (turn it up)
Floor’s rumblin’ loud (turn it up)…”
Turn. It. UP!

#10 FB at 5:58
The E Street Band was back for album #15. “Magic.” 9/25/2007.
Rolling Stone put it at #2 for the year.
Once again, the first track is my favorite…at least for today. 🙂
“This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there…”
“I want a thousand guitars
I want pounding drums
I want a million different voices speaking in tongues…”
“I just want to hear some rhythm,
I just want to hear some rhythm…”

#11 FB at 6:56
Springsteen’s seventeenth album was released on March 6, 2012.
I’d been back in Missouri for 9 months. I was living alone. There was lots of music in A-306 at The Abbey.
“Wrecking Ball” was in rotation for awhile.
He wrote “Easy Money” right after the 2008 financial fiasco and said this about Wall Street walking away unscathed: “That hustle has been legitimized over the past four years, when you have the level of risk and greed at the top of the financial industry, and people basically walking away, relatively scot-free, completely unaccountable.” [Do NOT get me started!]

“There’s nothing to it mister, you won’t hear a sound
When your whole world comes tumbling down
And all them fat cats they just think it’s funny
I’m going on the town now looking for easy money…”

#12 FB at 8:24
Jan 14, 2014. “High Hopes” is released.
I like the album. It’s different. Covers. Outtakes that didn’t make earlier albums. Songs that had been on live albums or promo CDs.
There is good stuff here.
But picking just one cut is too easy.
It’s a song that was written in 2000 re Amadou Diallo. He started singing it again in 2012 after Trayvon Martin was gunned down.
This is an Important Song.
So is “What it Means” by Drive-by Truckers.
Black Lives Matter.

“Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain’t no secret
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots…”

#13 FB at 9:16
This makes it a Baker’s Dozen on The Boss’ birthday.
Just over 3 months ago, on June 14, 2019, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen released his nineteenth studio album.
“Western Stars” is a solo studio album….and it is a dandy. I heard something about a documentary.
I loved this song at the first note…at the first sound of his voice…and the first time I heard this:
“Some find peace here on the sweet streets
The sweet streets of home…”

And this:
“When everyone’s asleep and the midnight bells sound
My wheels are hissin’ up the highway
Spinning ’round and ’round…”

#14 FB at 10:18
Why stop at thirteen? This wraps up Birthday songs for The Boss on his 70th, 9/23/19.
I have cranked this song up more than any other by Springsteen. It has rattled walls and made cars shake.
It was released Aug 25, 1975.
We were living in Cape Girardeau and had gotten married 237 days earlier on 12/31/74.
We wanted the hell out of Missouri. (I never expected to move back. Thirty-five years later I did…)
Not much more than a year after I first heard this song, our 2 VW bug caravan arrived in Corvallis.
No doubt this song gave us a push…not that we needed one.

“I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul
Oh, someday, girl, I don’t know when
We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go and we’ll walk in the sun
But ’til then, tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run…”

Happy Birthday Bruce. And many more.
Be. Just Be.

A baker’s dozen from Clyde

I have a ticket for “An evening with Jackson Browne” tonight at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, OR. But on August 7, 2019 I’m gonna be 1984 miles away in Springtown, Misery.

On most days of our summer roadtrip I posted thirteen pictures on Facebook. This time I’m stealing lyrics from a baker’s dozen from the singer-songwriter who has been my favorite the longest.

If I was making up the setlist for “An evening with Jackson Browne” this 8/7/19 I’d have trouble limiting it to his standard setlist for 2019 of 22 songs. And I’d walk away from the show wanting more.

Picking only 13 is not gonna be easy. The first twelve are listed in the order released, and then my number one.

Some editorial comments; perhaps some background; and always the lyrics. Other than #12, these have been the songs of my life for the last 40-plus years.


1. Jackson Browne’s first album was released in January, 1972. I was a short-timer at Ft. Bragg. I wanted out of the army. They wanted me gone. This is one of the albums that pulled me thru the last few months of my 1 year, 6 months and 6 days in uniform. Angst running rampant. Hoping not to be court-martialed out.

“It’s a hotel at best, you’re here as a guest

You oughta make yourself at home…”

I’ve been lucky enough to bounce from room to room, and from pillar to post, for longer than anyone who knew me back then expected. I was a loose cannon. “Wanta do it? Wanta do it now.”

Last summer I drove by the four places I lived in Corvallis between 76&82.

Played this song more than a few times that day.



2. From that same, self-titled album a song that seems like it should be played at the baptizing hole…or on a water bed perhaps. I read once that he said the song came from the desire for love and peace and release and reconciliation with the spiritual.

I can support those four.

BTW, the album is NOT titled “Saturate before using.” Just sayin’.

“Your walls are burning and your towers are turning

I’m going to leave you here and try to get down to the sea somehow…

…When my life is over, I’m going to stand before the Father

But the sisters of the sun are going to rock me on the water now”

This song meant more to me after we moved to Oregon and we could be at the beach in under an hour. Someday I hope to be closer to the Pacific again.



3. “For Everyman” was released in October of 73. I was getting ready to start my second year at SEMO. I was the sports editor for the Capaha Arrow, worked football and basketball games and did some tasks for the Sports Information department, and picked up a few bucks as a stringer for a couple of city papers and the AP.

I had been subjected to living for one term with my authoritarian asshole of a brother as a roommate. I spent a lot of time in the library and in my own head. I cannot hear this lyric without thinking of he who shall remain nameless.

“Don’t confront me with my failures

I had not forgotten them”

More people should cover this one.



4. We talked about leaving.

We talked about going somewhere.

We left.

We went places.

We were everyman.

We are Everyman.

“Everybody I talk to is ready to leave

With the light of the morning…

…Seems like I’ve always been

Looking for some other place to get it together”

I’m still looking.

I don’t expect to die while living in MO. But I’m not going anywhere that will keep me more than a few hours from Dad. And even though at 93 he talks about going somewhere, I’m expecting to be spending several days/weeks at some point wrapping things up at the house he had built a little over 30 years ago.

After his place in Doe Run is gone, who knows?  Stay in Springfield?  Orygun?  Colorado? Virginia?  Belize?



5. The album “Late for the sky” was released on my birthday in 1974. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get my copy on 9/13, but I’m sure the first vinyl had been played a hundred times before xmas of 74.

When I met Shelly she wasn’t all that familiar with Jackson Browne, so I bought her 2 CDs: a greatest hits….and this one.

Stick me on a desert island and tell me only one Jackson Browne album, “Late for the sky” is it.

Come to one of the ash scatterings that I wrote about, and this one will be playing. My sister says she wants this one played at her funeral too. When I heard this, I asked what she thought our fundamentalist, biblical inerrancy father and brother would think of the lyric, she said it is open to interpretation. Malarkey. Typical baptist bullshit.

As an evangelical agnostic, I love it:

“I don’t know what happens when people die

Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try…”

And others too:

“Keep a fire for the human race

And let your prayers go drifting into space

You never know will be coming down”

“Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around

Go on and make a joyful sound”

I saw Warren Zevon open for J.B. a couple of times.

Make a joyful noise….and enjoy every sandwich!



6. I’m thinking that this pick is gonna surprise the folks who’ve known me the longest: “walking slow.”

“I got a thing or two to say

Before I walk on by

I’m feeling good today

But if I die a little farther along

I’m trusting everyone to carry on…”

No “If” about it. Even my true believing father doesn’t expect to be sucked up in the rapture anymore.  We’re all gonna die.

This song never gets played in concert anymore: only a few times in years beginning with a 2.

But it made my baker’s dozen because: (1) it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it; and (2) this lyric:

“I’m puttin’ down my left foot

I’m puttin’ down my right foot…”

Keep on keeping on…and picking ‘em up and putting ‘em down.



7. Paula Rudloff and I moved everything we owned in a 2 car VW bug caravan from Washington, MO to Corvallis, OR at the end of August of 1976. The road trip was interesting. Saw POTUS in Russell, KS. Got yelled at for pumping my own gas in Ontario, OR.

“The Pretender” was released in November ’76. We were impoverished…with priorities. I scrounged up a few bucks for an album that stayed on the turntable for a long time.

This is another one that he seldom plays, but it has always been one of my favorites.

“Forget what life used to be, you are what you choose to be,

It’s whatever it is you see that life will become.

Whatever it is you might think you have you have nothing to lose,

Through every dead and living thing time runs like a fuse.

And the fuse is burning…”



8. Now for a deep-cut that he must really hate!! Setlist.fm says he has only played it 16 times….and only once since 3/24/77.

I have posted links to this song on my Facebook timeline several times.

There is so much that I love about this song.

“Among the thoughts that crowd your mind there won’t be many that ever really matter,

But take good care of your mother

And remember to be kind”

And this:

“And when you’ve found another soul

Who sees into your own

Take good care of each other”

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” Henry James



9. It was several years between the time I first heard the title track of “The Pretender” in 76 and when I started at AA&Co. in late May of 82. During those 6 years, I was a substitute teacher for a few and then at OSU on the GI Bill. There were also more than a few prolonged periods of stoned stupors and homemade blackberry wine benders.

At Andersen these lyrics applied. I worked my ass off there. There was tad bit of quality to go along with the quantity:

“I’m going to pack my lunch in the morning

And go to work each day

And when the evening rolls around

I’ll go on home and lay my body down…”

I became a full-fledged Pretender in 2011. I got lucky too….I found her!!

“I’m going to find myself a girl

Who can show me what laughter means

And we’ll fill in the missing colors

In each other’s paint-by-number dreams…”



10. “Running on Empty” hit the streets 12/6/77.

We house sat for her brother in Vancouver, BC for the summer. In the fall we moved into grad assistant housing. Made 4 batches of blackberry wine…20 gallons. Had grow lights in the extra closet.

As soon as the needle drops, the math works:

“In sixty five I was seventeen and running up 101

I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on…”

“In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own

I don’t know when that road turned, into the road I’m on”

I dropped out of college at the end of 68. It’s a miracle I made it thru 69. Landed a union job at PPG Industries in Crystal City . Shift work. Carpooled…sometimes with a couple of wild guys from Bonne Terre. Booze was a big problem. Blackouts. Stories for another day…

No doubt about it.  I had no idea what I was looking for in 1969. I was indeed running on empty.



11. Every time this song played after our marriage ended in 2011, this one hit me with the 3 Jimmy Valvano emotions: I thought; I laughed; I cried.

I had been in love before. Only once.

And for a long time.

Would it happen again?

[And then there is this from Jason Isbell: “If there’s two things that I hate, It’s having to cook and trying to date…”]

“Love won’t come near me, she don’t even hear me

She walks past my vacancy sign…”

“…Where’s the heart that’s been looking for mine?

I hope it finds me in time

Love needs a heart and I need to find

If love needs a heart like mine”

I got lucky. I found someone who loves me in spite of all my quirks.

I am a lucky old coot.


12. We saw him sing a couple of new songs before the 10/7/14 release of “Standing in the Breach.”

This was one of them. It’s a cover. If I made up setlists, every one for everybody would include at least one cover.

It’s pretty simple.

“Ever since the world’s existed

There’s one thing that is certain

There are those who build walls

And those who open doors…”

This: “There can be freedom only when nobody owns it”



13.  After Shelly had listened to the album “Late for the sky” several times, including a few when I caterwauled along, I asked her for her favorite.

I don’t think I guessed right.

I Know that she didn’t guess mine.

So I played my favorite from the album and told her why.

The album had always been my favorite album. This start of “The late show” took on more meaning during the 14 years at Arthur Andersen. The politics there were cut throat at times. On the flip side, many of the friendships are irreplaceable.

These six lines start it off:

“Everyone I’ve ever known has wished me well

Anyway that’s how it seems, it’s hard to tell

Maybe people only ask you how you’re doing

‘Cause that’s easier than letting on how little they could care

But when you know that you’ve got a real friend somewhere

Suddenly all the others are so much easier to bear”

The other lyrics that we talked about that day were these:

“And now I’m sitting here wondering what to say,

Afraid that all these words might scare you away…”

I don’t 100% buy into the first half of “say it, forget it; write it, regret it.”

I told Shelly that I have mellowed, but my mouth has gotten me into, and out of, lots of trouble.  I am a wise ass.

Sometimes I’m a dumbass.

Or an asshole.

I’m a work in progress.


You are what you listen to, but I am NOT OCD….

…I am however a HUGE fan of the RPT button.

A quick scan of my 2017 journal found over 30 instances of a entry like this: “what it means was on repeat”
Or this one: “that earworm will not go away….and I’m liking it.”
More than 30 songs “on repeat” in 2017. Several of them probably had Shelly cringing.

I like to see bands live multiple times too. There are several that I’d see back-to-back-to-back if the opportunity should present itself. Some of them are on the list of 6 bands that 1 saw multiple times in 2017.

I’m a lyrics guy. At least 2 songs from each of the 6 made the 2017 RPT list. Bands listed alphabtically.  Line or two of lyric from the song that was On Repeat.

“Quit taking the jobs that rob you of your powers so you can buy more shit you don’t have time to use…” from Quitter.
“Things happen, that’s all they ever do…” from “Things happen.”

Drive by Truckers
“But don’t look to me for answers, Cause I don’t know what it means…” from “What it means.
“When he reached the gates of heaven he didn’t understand…” from “Two daughters and a beautiful wife.
The true story behind this song is so very, very sad.

Jason Isbell
“It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever, Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone…” from “If we were vampires.” (This is one sad love song.)
“If there’s two things that I hate, It’s having to cook and trying to date….” from “Codeine.”

“If Heaven is guilt, no sex and no show, then I’m not sure if I really want to go…” from “Wages of sin.”
“Older than I used to be, younger than I’m gonna be…” from “Long gone long.”

Ryan Adams
“Come pick me up, Take me out, Fuck me up, Steal my records…” from “Come pick me up.”
“The lines on my face are like a map of my sins…” from “Trouble.

Tedeschi Trucks
“I was running from the past, My heart was bleeding and it hurt my bones to laugh…” from “Midnight in Harlem.”
“You gotta feel the pain, you got to see the suffering, gotta hear the cause…” from “It’s so heavy.”
That’s just over a third of the songs that I had On Repeat this year.
4 other RPTs stand out for me.

Band of Horses is still on one of my bucket lists. That particular list is “bands to see with Shelly.”
Lyric: “But no one is ever gonna love you more than I do...”
Father John Misty writes some of the strangest lyrics. This under 3 minute song has a great title and some doozies.
Title: Chateau Lobby #4 (In C for Two Virgins)
Lyric 1: “I wanna take you in the kitchen, Lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in…”
Lyric 2: “You left a note in your perfect script, Stay as long as you want, I haven’t left your bed since…”
He also wrote one of my all time favorite songs: “When you’re smiling and astride me.
And then is this one from a guy that I’ve wanted to see for over 40 years.
“…All that we have is each other and that’s all that I’ll ever need…” from “Family” by Joe Walsh. He was the opening act for Tom Petty in Little Rock back in March.

I had several Petty songs on repeat in 2017. And lots of others on RPT since picking up his first album in 1976.
We had only been in Corvallis for a few months. Money was tight. There are LOTS of stories from that Bi-centennial year…another time.
That first album had a couple of RPT tunes…not just for me…for millions of people: “Breakdown” and “American Girl.”

The Petty tune that I listened to the most in 2017 is one that he only played live a few times. He wrote it soon after his Mom died.
“What about the broken ones?
What about the lonely ones?
Oh honey I’m having trouble letting you go…”

Yes indeed.
Tom Petty died almost 3 months ago, and it’s still troubling me.  I am having trouble letting him go.  Glad I was able to see him 5 times.  I was hoping for half a dozen.

Let there be music.
Let some of it be on Repeat.
Be. Just Be.

Jason Isbell…lyrics on repeat

Back in late March I spewed some silly rules for developing a DIDL (desert island disk list) for every show that I see. Most of my DIDLs don’t see the light of day…except in my journal, and I haven’t been paying all that close attention to “the rules.” Heck, I have never been all that good with rules even if they were of my own devising…

I have tried to stick with the 8 song maximum per the “rules.” I’m making an exception for one of my favorite singer-songwriters. This DIDL will include 7 songs that Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit played in Tulsa at Cain’s Ballroom on 8/22/17 and 3 that weren’t on the evening’s playlist.
No commentary on most of the songs…the lyrics speak for themselves.

Hope the High Road
“I’ve heard enough of the white man’s blues
I’ve sang enough about myself
So if you’re looking for some bad news
You can find it somewhere else…
…I hope the high road leads you home again
To a world you want to live in”

24 Frames
“You thought God was an architect, now you know
He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow
And everything you built that’s all for show goes up in flames”

White Man’s World
“I’m a white man living in a white man’s nation
I think the man upstairs musta took a vacation
I still have faith, but I don’t know why”

“I broke a promise to myself
Ride the Throttle ’til wheels came off
Burn out like a Molotov
In the night sky
I broke a promise to myself
Made a couple to a brown eyed girl
Who rode with me through the mean ol’ world
Never say die”

Cover Me Up. (This one got the most audience participation at Cain’s. Watching Jason and Amanda Shires singing it together and to each other would melt the hardest heart…)
“But I made it through, ’cause somebody knew
I was meant for someone
So girl, leave your boots by the bed
We ain’t leaving this room
Till someone needs medical help
Or the magnolias bloom”

Codeine (Shelly is pretty tired of being subjected to my caterwauling on this one….)
“If there’s two things that I hate
It’s having to cook and trying to date.
Busting ass all day to play ‘hurry up and wait.
That’s a few things that I hate”

If We Were Vampires (Sad love song…especially for an old man like me…40 more years ain’t happening…)
“It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone
Maybe we’ll get forty years together
But one day I’ll be gone or one day you’ll be gone
If we were vampires and death was a joke
We’d go out on the sidewalk and smoke
And laugh at all the lovers and their plans
I wouldn’t feel the need to hold your hand”


How To Forget   (Some of the stories from my younger days are doozies….)
“She won’t stop telling stories, and most of them are true
She knew me back before I fell for you
I was strained, I was sad, didn’t realize what I had
It was years ago
I was sick, I was scared, I was socially impaired
It was years ago”

Different Days
“Jesus loves a sinner but the highway loves a sin
My daddy told me I believe he told me true
That the right thing’s always the hardest thing to do”

Tupelo (Sometimes the “small stuff” ain’t so small…just sayin’)
“She said there’s nothing left to talk about
At my age I should’ve figured out
Which drawer to put the good knives in”

No music, no life. Know music, know life.
Be. Just Be.

Indonesia….when will I be free?

I have this thing about song lyrics. That is not new news.

Sometimes I love a song when it’s lyrics could’ve been mine, especially if I had any writing talent. Sometimes I love the lyrics of a song when the lyrics are 180 degrees away from where I am, or where I’ve ever been.

And then there are songs like “Indonesia” by Amos Lee. It’s a little of both.

Continue reading

You are what you listen too….Part 2

I’ve written about my “addiction” to music before.

I am prone to have a song, or an artist, “on repeat.” Looking back at my Facebook posts during 2016, I shared links to youtubes of 19 songs that I had listened to over-and-over-and-over-again during the year.

Some of them were by artists that I was going to see soon, or who I had seen recently. Some were songs that I have been listening to for years. Some were from my “desert island” artists: Jackson Browne, Dylan, The Boss, Neil Young, The Rainmakers. There was quite a bit of variety, but it always came back to lyrics.
In addition to being compulsive about listening to music, I read a lot. Not books so much anymore. I subscribe to lots of magazines and probably spend too much time online reading a variety of things.

One of the best things I read during 2016 was a piece called “My life in six songs.

Well, I’m not gonna even try that exercise….but if I could audit Natalie’s MTHP 200 Psychology of Music course I think it would be a blast!!

What I am gonna do is pick the six songs from my 2016 Facebook “on repeat” posts whose lyrics have been played the most in the apartment, in the car and in my head.

It’s easy to pick the first of the six. Here’s what I wrote on July 18, a couple of weeks after I saw them at the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland on July 1: “I didn’t run to the city in 2011, but the first few lines describe how I was feeling back then: ‘…I was running from the past, My heart was bleeding, And it hurt my bones to laugh…’ ”

I continue to be mesmerized by the tune, whether I’m watching a video of Derek Trucks making the slide guitar sing and cry or listening to Susan Tedeschi belt it out.

We will be seeing them at The Ryman on March 2. It will be awesome….

The second song has got to be this one by the Bottle Rockets. We saw them twice in 2016; the first time at a house concert on August 26.

I detest the stars&bars; I LOVE this song. “Heritage” my ass…..the word has four letters and it does start with an H….

“That good ol’ boy’s waving
The stars & bars
It’s a red, white & blue flag
But it ain’t ours

Wave that flag hoss, wave it high
Do you know what it means?
Do you know why?
Maybe being a Rebel ain’t no big deal
But if somebody owned your ass
How would you feel?”

The halfway point of my half dozen songs from 2016 is one whose lyrics baffle me a bit, but it’s a song that I can’t shake.

Here’s what I wrote at 10:31 pm the night of my birthday:
“What’s on your mind?”
I got two things on my mind right now:

1. Why can’t I get this song outta my head?
2. WTF did he find in the drawer??

If I was in Dr. Wlodarczyk’s class, there is no doubt that one of my six songs would be by Jackson Browne. Hell….they might all be by him.

The one that I’m gonna pick for 2016 wasn’t even written by him…but this one has some lyrics that hit home during 2016…and in 2017 too!

“Ever since the world’s existed
There’s one thing that is certain
There are those who build walls
And those who open doors…”

And then there is this line: “There can be freedom only when nobody owns it…”

Enough said about politics in these United (?) States….


My last two songs of 2016 are by a fellow who I hadn’t listened to much until a couple of months ago. Man-o-man have I been missing out. You have been too if you have never listened to Amos Lee.

I’m picking two songs of his with very, very different sentiments. This first one has one of the best break-up lines I’ve ever heard.

“If you feel a chill in the air
It’s my spirit hanging somewhere
and if you ever get scared
Look on the bright side
You got a new life…”


I heard this last song for the first time 6 or 7 weeks ago. I’m sure that I have heard it 100 times since then. And I’m probably just getting started. The song starts like this:

“My heart is a flower
That blooms every hour
I believe in the power
Of love…”

I do believe in the power of love. And I love this line from “Flower”:
“Tomorrow’s coming and yesterday’s gone…”


This “pick only six songs” is a tough assignment. I could easily have picked several other songs:

“Stay ahead of the Wolves” by Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter. On 10/28 my FB status: “I needed to hear something like this 5 years ago….there were wolves everywhere I looked back then. Five years on, this is one of their many songs that play in my head often.”
Bob & Jeff played it the next night to a packed house at The Rock House. I tear up everytime I think of it…

On Valentine’s Day I posted a link to “Late to the party” by Kacey Musgraves. “…who needs a crowd when you’re happy at a party for two?”

The Strumbella’s released a catchy tune titled “Spirits” with this line: “I just want to be alive while I’m here…”

Nothing makes me feel more alive than music.

Be. Just BE.

Instant Karma

Thirty-six years ago today I didn’t hear the news. It wasn’t until a little after 10 the next morning. I can take you to within 10 feet of where I was when I heard…heading to the Student Union via the bookstore entrance in Corvallis, Orygun.

I don’t remember the guy’s name who came up to me and asked “what do you think?” I had no idea WTF he was asking me about?!? We’d had a group project together once, but never hung out. He knew how much music I listened to and was surprised that I didn’t know that John Lennon was dead.

I assume I heard the name Mark David Chapman later that day. I don’t remember the first time I heard it. I wish I never had.
I can only Imagine how NYC would be different in 2016, if some nutjob hadn’t had a gun.

This is NOT about the 2nd amendment. That’s for another day. (BTW…“well regulated” are the 2nd and 3rd words.)

This is about what might have been. There is this: Double Fantasy was released less than a month before John was gunned down. Maybe he woulda never written another dozen great songs, or even one more great song. Maybe he woulda lived 30 more years and Double Fantasy would be the last album he would ever release. He coulda holed up forever in The Dakota and dried up musically. I’m doubting it.

We’ll never know….but I’m betting that millions of us would be singing along to great songs he woulda written after 12/8/80.

But instead of killing himself, a religious fanatic with a Charter Arms .38-caliber pistol killed a Beatle…the first person on a lengthy hit list. Reportedly he also wanted to kill David Bowie, Johnny Carson, Jackie O, Walter Cronkite and Liz Taylor….and others.

Chapman was one angry Presbyterian!!!
John Lennon is still shining on….like the moon, and the stars and the sun.

Surely someone will play this song 44 hours from now at Springfield, MO’s 31st Imagine Concert. It’ll be my first time at the traditional event…really. My first-ever Imagine Concert…12/10/16. It’s gonna be killer.

“Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do…”

I’ve never liked the sound of “instant Karma” more in my life.

You are what you listen to…

I have an addictive personality. I’ve known it for a long time. One of my grandfather’s died from alcohol poison before my parents had their first date. I’ve put lots of liquor into my body over the years. When I’m in a bar, which isn’t often, I still like a “George Thorogood trio” on occasion. The person behind the bar never knows what I’m talking about until I say “do you know the song ‘one bourbon, one scotch and one beer’?” They always do…or at least they say they do. My reply, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, is “line ’em up.”

But this isn’t about that type of addiction. I’m not gonna go on about marijuana not being a gateway drug, or how insane our drug laws are either. That is for another day. (But it would be nice if those people who want to be inaugurated on 1/20/17 would have a clue about the failed “war on drugs.”)

This isn’t about alcohol or drug addiction. This is about an addiction that I am proud to have.

I am addicted to music. I can’t play an instrument. I can’t sing. I can’t dance. But I can listen. And I can feel.

You are what you listen to meme

I’ve seen a meme or two online that say “you are the music you listen to…” Most of my Facebook status posts, unless I’m chronicling a trip and/or posting photos, have typically been composed of three components: (1) an “editorial comment”; (2) a copy&paste of some lyrics; and (3) a link to a youtube video of the subject song. Oftentimes I will also write that the song is “on repeat.”

Sometimes I’ll listen to the same song over-and-over-and-over-again. I’ll do the same thing with some albums. I’m not just addicted to music. I get addicted to certain songs. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember, but my addiction does seem to have gotten better since I moved back to Missouri in 2011.

Note: I did NOT say about my addiction “it does seem to have gotten worse.” I’m thinking that this addiction to music in general, and to having songs “on repeat” in particular, has been a very good thing…for me anyway. Maybe not so-much-so for Shelly, or for the people in the apartments surrounding ours. To the latter I say “sorry…not sorry.”

The majority of the songs that I put “on repeat” are ones that have lyrics that say something to me….but not always. Some of the repeated songs are “personal”….i.e. the lyrics really hit home; some are political…some are not even remotely political; some lyrics are “deep”…some are a bit sappy; some are NOT in the least bit personal…i.e., the lyrics have no relationship to my past or present.

If the “you are what you listen to” meme has more than a grain of truth, then my repeat tunes must really say something about who I am. Or maybe not? You tell me.
I listen to lots of music that has been ripped to my laptop, listening on a little set of Logitech speakers. I have a saved setlist called “2015 repeats.” These 25 songs were released in 2015 and are ones that I have had “on repeat.”

In the spirit of “Desert Island Discs” I have picked only 10 of those 25 repeat tunes, and include the name of the tune, the artist, the album, select lyrics, and {comments} which will be set off in those squiggly brackets. At the end of this document, there is a link to each a version of each of these 10 on youtube.
“Things happen” by Dawes; from “All your favorite bands”

“I could go on talking
Or I could stop
Wring out each memory til I get every drop
Sift through the details…

…Let’s make a list of all the things the world has put you through
Let’s raise a glass to all the people you’re not speaking to
I don’t know what else you wanted me to say to you
Things happen
That’s all they ever do..”

{The title of this song is the title of my blog. If this song was NOT one of my repeats, that wouldn’t make much sense, eh? Things happen, but that is song not being here would be ridiculous…}
“I can’t think about it now” by Dawes; from “All your favorite bands”

“All these backward glances putting me in danger
Of forgetting how to turn myself around
It’s just that time just keeps on slipping through my fingers
But I can’t think about it now…”

{That’s the tagline of my blog. Why is this song on my repeat list? I can’t think about that now…duh.}
“Take a picture of this” by Don Henley; from “Cass County”

“The years went rushing by, in the twinkling of an eye, we rolled with the changes.
Our life we knew was gone…
…Yeah that’s a suitcase; yeah that’s a ticket for a plane
There’s no one here to talk to, no reason to remain…
…Take a picture of this, this is me leaving
Take a picture of this, this is me walking away…”

{2011 didn’t play out eactly that way, but other years did…I’ve got the pictures to prove it.}
“Praying for rain” by Don Henley; from “Cass County”

“Some people pray for victory
Some people pray for peace
Some people pray for extra time
Some pray for sweet release
Some pray for health and happiness
For riches and renown
But none of this will matter much
If the waters don’t come down
I’m prayin’ for rain…”

{I’ve had several chances to see The Eagles. I always passed. I’ve never had a chance to see Don Henley solo. I’d never pass on that…}
“When you’re smiling and astride me” by Father John Misty; from “I love you, Honeybear”

“I’ll never try to change you
As if I could, and if I were to, what’s the part that I’d miss most?
When you’re smiling and astride me
I can hardly believe I’ve found you and I’m terrified by that…”

{Shelly and I have shared a smile while this song was playing; and repeating. Sometimes while vertical; sometimes while horizontal.}
“I’m not gonna miss you” by Glenn Campbell; from “I’ll be me”

“You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you…”

{One evening, after visiting my Aunt Billie earlier that day, I saw “I’ll be me” for the first time. It’s a great movie about a great guitar player…and more. I miss my Aunt Billie. I miss being able to laugh with her.}
“Nobody really cares if you go to the party” by Courtney Barnett; from “Sometimes I sit and think, and
sometimes I just sit”

“…I wanna go out but I wanna stay home…”

{Succinct. And this sentiment falls under “things happen.”}
“Late to the party” by Kacey Musgraves; from “Pageant material”

“And who needs a crowd when you’re happy at a party for two?
The world can wait
Cause I’m never late to the party if I’m late to the party with you”

{Nobody really cares if you go to the party. Especially if you have your own. 😉 }
“Biscuits” by Kacey Musgraves; from “Pageant material”

“Mend your own fences and own your own crazy
Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy”

{I developed a taste for biscuits and gravy after leaving Floriduh in 2011, when the only crazy I had to own was just my own. Go figure….}
“Die fun” by Kacey Musgraves; from “Pageant material”

“We can’t do it over
They say it’s now or never and all we’re ever gettin’ is older
Before we get to heaven, baby let’s give ’em hell
We might as well
Cause we don’t know when it’s done
So let’s love hard,
Let’s stay young
Let’s love hard, live fast, die fun..”

{I now have another mantra. I’ve tried to live Alfred E. Neuman’s “what, me worry?” since I was a kid. I’ve been trying to enjoy every bite of every sandwich since I saw Warren Zevon’s last appearance on Letterman on October 30, 2002. Then of course there has always been “Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.” Now I’ll add “love hard, live fast, die fun..”}
That’s the 10 songs released in 2015 that I have listened to the most. If “you are what you listen to,” what does it say about me? (Maybe it says that living in the midwest again has turned me into a bit of country music fan, or at least a Kacey Musgraves fan, and an even bigger Don Henley fan…)

Other artists with 2015 releases that didn’t make the cut of my Top 10, but who were (and still are) on repeat:
Florence and the Machine
Leon Bridges
Mark Knofler (an oldie with a new release)
Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats
Van Morrison (ok…so that’s another oldie….but “The Essential Van Morrison” was released in 2015. And there is LOTS of essential music on that double album!!)











More music memories….

First-time-tunes…continued. I left off in 1976. It looks like there were 25 years when I don’t seem to have experienced any “first time tunes.” Really??

I certainly never stopped listening to music, but I did mostly stay in my musical comfort zone and listened mostly to “old favorites” during those years. Those were “work hard, play hard” years, coupled with lots of “family issues.” Most of those 25 years are a bit of a blur….maybe that’s why I don’t have any distinctive memories of hearing a song for the first time?
When my marriage finally imploded in early 2011, I packed up a few possessions and shipped them to my sister’s place on Table Rock Lake. I stayed with her and her husband for just over 3 months, and then it was time to move on.

But I did hear a song during my time at their place that was perfect for where I was at the time. I’ve never been a country music fan, although I have always liked some artists with a touch of country, e.g. Poco, John Hiatt, John Fogerty, Wet Willie. I never liked twangy, and I don’t like “crying in my beer” songs.

I was down on the dock with my brother-in-law and another fellow who has a slip on the same 6-slip boat dock. The radio reception isn’t all that great, so we took what we could get on the hot day in mid-July. It was a toasty day, and we were a bit toasted. I had heard the name of this guy who was singing, but I’ve never listened to anything of his other than this song, and I probably never will. In addition to not liking twangy, I’m also not a fan of people who wear cowboy hats. (This probably has something to do with the narcissist who controlled the franchised business that I invested in….and the reason I always will spell the 28th state as “Texass.”)

Nobody had done me wrong. But as I approached my 63rd birthday, there was no doubt that it was time to leave nothing behind. To take to heart what Warren Zevon said about enjoying every sandwich. To be thankful and to make the best of every new day. To sing along with George Strait’s “Here for a good time.”
Sometimes I love the lyrics of a song, even though they bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to what has happened, or is happening, to me.

My marriage was over. My ex and I weren’t talking. It wasn’t ugly…it was just over. There were no angry words exchanged. No animosity. Nothing mean. What was said was short and sweet: “I’m not happy. You’re not happy. It’s over. Time to move on.”

So this next FTT, another country song that I first heard while down on the boat dock with Don and Randy, was not a reflection of my current or past reality. But I’ll always remember the first time I heard Taylor Swift belting out “Mean,” while those two sat and drank a cold adult beverage and I paced the dock. “…someday I’ll be living in a big old city, and all you’re ever gonna be is mean…why you gotta be so mean?”
In late 2012 I had heard of Kings of Leon. I had read about them in Rolling Stone. I knew they grew up in Oklahoma. I knew that they, like me, grew up as poor preacher’s kids. My dad’s beliefs were in many ways very different than those of their father, but both were preachers. If I had ever heard a song of theirs, I wasn’t aware of it.

The radio wasn’t the only option on that day in early December, but for some reason that’s what I was listening to in my apartment. The radio stations are pretty lame in Springfield, MO; I was listening to 106.7 “The River.” When this song started playing I stopped whatever it was I was doing on my laptop and cranked up the volume. It was a deja vu experience. I felt like I already knew this song, but I’m not sure how? It had been released almost 5 years earlier, but I hadn’t listened to much radio in years (other than when I was hanging out on the boat dock with Don and/or Randy).

When I listened to the radio during the 2000’s it had usually been with my kids or my ex. Before I left Tampa, Kings of Leon most likely wouldn’t have played much on the stations they liked: hip-hop for Caroline, gangsta rap for Joseph, and sports talk for the ex. (Their radio preferences are listed in rank order for me….i’d listen to almost anything before sports talk.)

It was probably a combination of the beat and the lead singer’s voice that caught my attention that December day. But it was also the lyrics.

For me, it’s almost always the lyrics. There are some songs that I like a lot and I don’t have a clue as to the lyrics, or I might not care that the lyrics make no sense or have no meaning for me…I still like the song for whatever reason. But on that day, the lyrics that caught my attention were “…I could use somebody.…someone like you, and all you know, and how you speak….I hope it’s gonna make you notice…someone like me…”

Maybe it’s because I had met someone. I was smitten. I also knew that I could use somebody…somebody to be my playmate.

After the song finished on the radio I found a clip of it on YouTube and listened to it a few times. I listened to more K.O.L. songs that day. I bought some of their CDs. I went to 2 of their concerts over the next 16 months. Or should I say “we went…” My playmate and me, that is.
About a month earlier Shelly had posted a video clip of her and her oldest grandchild on Facebook. It was a brief snippet of them singing a song I’d never heard before. It was a catchy tune, but I never thought much of it until a bit later when we were at her son’s place and this song came on…and 6-year-old Casedy started singing it again. So did Casedy’s dad.

This time I got it…this wasn’t just a kid’s tune. It was a song for all of us.

Almost a year and a half later in Columbia, MO we saw Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros singing that song: “Home.” Lots of things had changed in that time…for the band and for me and Shelly. The female singer, who played a key role in “Home” and several of their other tunes had left the band. Shelly and I had been living together for awhile…there are a number of songs that have a “Shelly meaning” for me. K.O.L.’s “Use somebody”; Jackson Browne’s “Stunning mystery companion”; and “Home” are just three of them. “Holy moley, me oh my, You’re the apple of my eye…Home is wherever I’m with you…Home is when I’m alone with you…”
Back in late 2011 I discovered house concerts…what a great concept. So far, the only house concerts I’ve ever attended are at The Rock House in Reeds Spring…it’s a great venue, produced by 2 great people: Jeanette and Bruce. I’ve heard lots of songs for the first time at The Rock House, but one of them certainly belongs on my “first-time-tunes” list.

It was at the 3rd house concert I ever attended. November 12, 2011. A couple of guys who are in a band called The Rainmakers were the evening’s artists. Bob and Jeff had released a CD a couple of years earlier. The full band had released a reunion album called “25 years on” earlier in 2011. The band had been popular in the early 80’s. Newsday had called them “America’s Next Great Band”. There had been articles about them in Newsweek, Rolling Stone, USA Today and others.

I had never heard of them…at least consciously. Subsequently I realized that I had seen some of their videos in the early days of MTV…which I watched a lot in the early 80s, back when MTV aired nothing but videos. (What do they broadcast now?? I honestly don’t have a clue….mostly reality silliness, isn’t it?)

It was a packed house that November night. Jam packed. And deservedly so. How did the world miss out on this band? These guys are the real deal. Smart lyrics. Very smart lyrics. Maybe sometimes too smart, at least for some people. Their career was sidetracked when this KC-based band had the audacity in 1986 to release a song titled “Rockin’ at the T-Dance” which referred to the disaster when a skywalk collapsed at the Hyatt.

When they play near me, whether it be the front man solo, Bob and Jeff at The Rock House, or the 4-piece band, I will be there….for sure. I’ll want to hear this first-time-tune “Like Dogs” every time I see them, but if I don’t hear it I know it will still be a great experience. Have I told you that this band is the real deal?

Back in November of 2011 I was dating a woman who loved her dog more than she did most people, other than her daughters….well, at least 2 of her 3 girls anyway. I’m not much of a pet person. I’m OK with dogs and cats, but I never have had a pet, and I don’t see that changing. I am simply too irresponsible and too impetuous; that’s a story for another day. But because of my time with this woman and her daughter who lived nearby, and their dogs, I had developed a deeper appreciation for canines.

And even if I hadn’t, the first verse of this song hit me right between the eyes because of how directly it spoke about someone I’ve known for a long, long, very long time. “You’re the kind of man who seems to leave a trail behind him of friends who used to be so close, but then in some concocted scene they done you wrong, and so you write them off and bye-bye they are gone….”

The person who immediately sprang to my mind has never heard “Like Dogs”, and if he had he is such a narcissist that he wouldn’t really hear it. Oh well…

People that I know, or have known, spring to mind for each of that song’s other 3 verses. I’m not alone. Before I heard this song for the first time the singer-songwriter (Bob Walkenhorst….btw, he’s the real deal!) told the story about how this song came to be. He also relayed the fact that after it was released he received a few calls from people asking him if the song was about them.
There are some first-time-tunes that I haven’t listed.

I expect to have more FTTs in my future, in addition to the ones I’ve written about here. I could even include a couple of more songs from that night in mid-November, 2011: “the wages of sin” and “government cheese” have lines that are stuck in my head.

When music and lyrics and people and places come together it’s a very good thing. First-time-tunes are a very special thing.

“Here for a good time” by George Strait

“Mean” by Taylor Swift

“Use somebody” by Kings of Leon

“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

“Like Dogs” by The Rainmakershttps:

“The wages of sin” by The Rainmakers

“Government cheese” by The Rainmakers


The magic of music…and memories

I’ve loved listening to music as long as I can remember, but growing up in a conservative baptist home I had to sneak around to listen to my music of choice: rock and roll. Surprisingly I don’t remember any “first time tunes” from the late 50’s when I was clandestinely listening to Top 40 countdowns on St. Louis’ KXOK.

During my lifetime I have listened to thousands and thousands of songs, and I did hear each and every one of them a first time. Some of these songs would make my “desert island list.” Most of them wouldn’t. But the memory of the first time I heard some of them is list-worthy. And it’s more than just the song. It’s the experience associated with hearing my “First Time Tunes.” FTTs.

Perhaps it’s because my “first time tunes” are a combination of the music and the place, and often the FTT also involves the person I was with at the time. There is always a lyric component too.

The most distant first-time-tune memory is from a Sunday night in late November, 1964. I was with my high school friend Robert Rice, heading south on Springfield, MO’s Boonville Avenue. We were heading for the city’s square with the radio playing one Beatles tune after another. But the cabin of his Dad’s Oldsmobile was soon taken over by Petula Clark’s “Downtown.” That’s exactly where we were headed…to the downtown square. We drove around a couple of more hours that evening hoping they’d play the tune again. They did. We loved it. It probably happened a few more times during the next several months, “Downtown” on the car’s radio while Robert and I were cruising toward the square…or wherever, but I’ll always remember that first time. “…forget all your troubles, forget all your cares…go downtown, where all the lights are bright…”

There isn’t another first-time-tunes memory until the spring of 1966. There were 4 of us in the car. We turned left and headed up the little hill into the Monett, MO city park. 2 guys and 2 girls. Not a double date. Just four friends cruising town on a Saturday night. A very middle class seating arrangement: guys in front, gals in back. I don’t remember much else from that night. I know who was driving us around in his dad’s car, and I can only remember who one of the 2 girls was. I did have a crush on her. But there was not a “Groovy kind of love” with her that night, or any future night. The Mindbenders were singing the song by that title that night, after Wayne Fontana had left the band. I don’t know when I heard the song the last time, and I never listened to the Phil Collins cover. That spring night in western Missouri, the first time I heard that song it had me shivering and quivering.

The August before I left home for college, several of us were hanging out in the parking lot of the Dairy Queen at the corner of Central and Cleveland in Monett. A song that summed up the weather we’d been having, but not the place where we were, caught my attention. Monett was, and is, small town mid-America, but “Summer in the City” was perfect for that place and time. It was a hot time that night, in lots of ways. Don’t you know it’s a pity that I can’t remember more of that night…at least nothing that I want to share….

Nine or ten months earlier a song by the same band, The Lovin’ Spoonful, grabbed me, and it hasn’t let go till this day. It was a Sunday night. It was in an Oldsmobile. But it wasn’t Robert Rices’s dad’s, and it wasn’t in Springfield. It was Buz Tennison’s dad’s car, sitting in the parking lot of the Temple Baptist Church. My dad was the pastor; Buz’s dad “Doc” was the song leader. The song was “Do you believe in magic?”

That evening I did. Today, I still do: believe in magic…believe music can free your soul…believe that there is magic in music.

I was living at my grandma’s, attending junior college, when I heard “For what it’s worth” by Buffalo Springfield for the first time. Actually I saw it for the first time. The tv show was called “Where the action is.” Paul Revere and the Raiders were on the show often….I don’t have a first time memory of any of their songs, but I always liked to hear “Kicks.” I only remember seeing the Springfield that one time on “Action.” I’ll never forget that show, that day. I’ll always remember Neil Young’s jacket. Later I got one like it myself with the fringe. Something was happening…here, there and everywhere. It wasn’t clear to me then, and it isn’t now. But it doesn’t matter. I’ll always love everything about that song.

The first time I heard the Beatles “White Album” was just after Thanksgiving in 1968. It was during a weekend in Kansas City, where a friend of mine had recently moved to pursue his desire to become a pharmacist…which was just a stepping stone on his way to becoming a radiologist. I wasn’t sober for much (any?) of that weekend. Contributing to this was my friend’s offer to “try a few of these…” We listened to the White Album a lot that weekend. The one song that I remember the most, the one that played in my head when the turntable wasn’t spinning (but my head was): “Rocky Raccoon.” That album got mixed reviews at the time, but is now considered one of the greatest of all time. I doubt that “Rocky Raccoon” would be picked by any music critic soon after release, or now, as the best tune on the album. Not by me either. Today my favorite songs from the 30 on the album would be “While my guitar gently weeps” or “Happiness is a warm gun” or maybe a couple of others. But I don’t remember the first time I heard them. I do remember sitting on the floor, drinking an 8 ounce can of Schlitz Malt Liquor when the spoken word intro began. It hit me right between the eyes.

A lot of things happened in September of 1970.

George Harrison released “My sweet lord.” I don’t remember the first time I heard it.

I was drafted and sent to Ft Leonard Wood for basic training.

Jimi Hendrix died. I do remember the first time I heard him, but that didn’t have a lasting impact on me like the song I heard that day in late September standing in the evening mess hall line. It made an impression like almost no other FTT. As we stood in the line to eat after a long day of being physically challenged and mentally indoctrinated, the juke box at the PX was blaring. Many of us in line ended up in Vietnam, and some of us in body bags. Probably all of us expected to die for the ill-conceived war. I got lucky and never left the states.

It wasn’t the first song that I heard that day while standing in the mess hall line, but it’s the one I’ll always remember: “War” by Edwin Starr. It’s also the one that stuck in my head while, and after, we ate. I have no idea what we had to eat that September afternoon; I probably couldn’t have told you 24 hours later. And I don’t know when I learned who was singing this song. The person feeding the juke box played this song repeatedly. I heard it a couple of times that first day, and other times while in basic training.

What is the song “War” good for? Absolutely everything. Say it again.

It was after I had been discharged from the U.S. Army after my stint of 1 year, 6 months, and 6 days…thanks to the “Vietnamization” push for early outs in 1972. We were leaving Farmington, headed north. Not sure to where; me & Jennifer. (Wonder whatever happened to all the letters we wrote? I know what happened to us soon thereafter, and to her eventually, but not where she is buried.) The radio was on KSHE.

It was the first time I ever heard my favorite singer-songwriter. Jackson Browne was singing “Doctor my eyes” as we merged onto Highway 67. The lyrics of that song grabbed more than any of my other first time tunes. KSHE played a couple of other songs from his debut album that night too, and while I’ve listened to that album many, many times, I couldn’t tell you what the other songs from that night were. I hope to never awaken from that dream and never to lose that memory.

After the Army, I enrolled at Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau. I was living in a dorm-like apartment at the edge of campus. The apartment had 2 bedrooms, each with bunk beds, a tiny kitchen, and an even smaller bathroom. This tiny place was designed for 4 residents. I started the semester with a roommate, but fortunately he dropped out of school and I had the crackerbox apartment to myself.

I often spun vinyl while studying, but usually I had the radio on for background noise. When this next song came on, it snared me immediately. The voice…the lyrics….the beat. I knew the song wasn’t about anybody I knew, that it wasn’t about me, or anybody like me. It was almost 40 years until the speculation ended regarding the subject of the song. But that never really mattered to me. Not then, in late 1972. Not in all the years that followed. All I know is that I was out of my seat, cranking up the funky little receiver so that I could not only hear, but also feel that song: “You’re so vain.”

It was about a year later, in the fall of 1973. I was still in Cape Girardeau. My hair had gotten longer….lots longer. I had met several people who had me thinking more critically about lots of things. The country was a mess, thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon and his band of henchmen. My favorite authors were Hunter S. Thompson, Jean Paul Sartre and Kahlil Gibran. I was burning the candle at both ends.

I was thinking about leaving the USA, but I was dirt poor. My favorite singer was Jackson Browne; he still is. He had released a new album, and I had to have it. My live in girlfriend (later my wife) was at her waitress job when I listened to it the first time, sitting alone in our shabby little 2 room apartment, where we slept on a pull out couch. The first few lines of the title track, which was the last song of the album, said exactly where I was at the time: ready to leave with the light of the morning. “For Everyman” was sad and true, but hopeful.

This next song had been out awhile before I ever heard it, or at least before it registered with me. It was early in the BiCentennial year, of that I’m sure. It wasn’t on KSHE, and I’m sure of that too, but I don’t know what station it was. It was most likely KXOK, since I was in my 1972 VW bug, which only had an AM radio. We were on Hiway 47, somewhere just south of St. Clair, heading to the Lead Belt for a visit to each of our parents. I was working as a high school math teacher at Union, MO…a short lived career for me.

The title of the song wasn’t spelled the same as the name of cute student who I thought of when I first heard it, and who I can still see in my mind’s eye when I happen to hear this song on Pandora. I’ve never owned any music in any form by Pure Prarie League. But their song “Amie” made me smile that Friday afternoon in 1976, and still makes me smile whenever I hear it.

Same time frame….early 1976. Same scenario, i.e. I might have heard the song before but it hadn’t registered. Same highway, but this time on 47 between Washington and Union, MO. In a VW, but this time it was her’s and the FM radio was on KSHE, on the way to work Union (Mo) High School. The song took me to another place that morning. That was a very good thing, as that high school teaching thing and me weren’t a great fit. I would have welcomed being flown away to the bright side of the moon, or any place on the other side for that matter. The song? Gary Wright’s “Dream weaver.”

Lots of years passed between between that song and my next “first time tune.” I moved to Oregon later in 1976, to Florida in 1989, back to OR and then again to FL. I never stopped listening to music. I heard lots of songs for the first time. I attended LOTS of concerts over the years, especially when I was in my “work hard, play hard” period in Orygun before transferring to Sarasota. But I never had another musical experience that stuck with me as a FTT until 2011. I was living in Missouri again….something I never expected to happen.

I’ll write about those more recent FTTs, and my return to MO, another day. But right now, I’m gonna crank up the stereo and enjoy the day….and the magic of music.

“Downtown” by Petula Clark.


“Groovy kind of love” by The Mindbenders


“Summer in the city” by The Lovin’ Spoonful


“Do you believe in magic” by The Lovin’ Spoonful


“For what it’s worth” by Buffalo Springfield


“Rocky racoon” by The Beatles


“War” by Edwin Starr


“Doctor my eyes” by Jackson Browne


“You’re so vain” by Carly Simon


“For everyman” by Jackson Browne


“Amie” by Pure Prarie League


“Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright