Leon Russell: Rest in Peace

Last night at The Rock House, a friend greeted me with some kind words and that smile of hers. Then this special person, who didn’t know I had been been in the Army until she saw my Facebook status on Veteran’s Day, asked me this: “what did you do in the army?”

As I’m wont to do, I rambled. Some day I’ll write down some of what I said….but I didn’t say this:

I learned how to piss off “the man.” It is one of the things I became very good at while I was in the service….and a skill that I continue to enhance.

One way I made the lifers cranky was with the music I played, the books and magazines that I prominently displayed on my book shelf….and one album cover that they hated. I bought “Shelter People” at the PX as soon as it was released in May of ’71….and the album was on display on my book shelf often.

I’ll always remember one conversation I had with one particularly repulsive E-7. Summary: he interrupted my reading as I lay on my bunk to tell me that he hated “having to look at that hippy” and that he wanted me to get it off my book shelf.

He wasn’t happy when I just smiled and said “i’m a stranger in a strange land here sarge…and a hard rain is gonna fall” leaned over and cranked the volume of the music up a notch and went back to reading my copy of Rolling Stone.

The album stayed put. He walked away grumbling: “what the fuck? god damned draftees!”

I laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

R.I.P. Leon Russell. Thanks for helping make my life at Ft. Bragg tolerable. And thanks for making the planet a better place for millions and millions.

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