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 21 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.

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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyktbMZAWcw

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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzzKgVOifDc

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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV61WZ2OKmY

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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?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOoeoiO-3C0

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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!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78AVc2jV4Sg

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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6txdzsefEHU

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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…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgZsfm_9KHk

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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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8niggURImqw

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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…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ROK1-VvOQ0

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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq25ZJwZJzU

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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”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwT0MI_tlMY

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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF7pMqCZWio

Woulda/Shoulda/Coulda…1972

I do it often.
I hear somebody say “I wouldn’t have changed anything…” and I think:
What? The. Fuck!!
Really??

I do like to play Woulda/Shoulda/Coulda.
I have no idea how my life would’ve turned out of I had taken different forks in the road.
I am quite happy in 2019. I like the path that I’m on.
But that doesn’t keep me from having reminiscent fantasies.

Shelly gets subjected to me playing W/S/C sometimes, especially when I talk about “what I shoulda done in 2000.” (That is a story for another day…)
Her reply to “w/s/c scenario 2000”: “But we never woulda met.”
Most likely we wouldn’t have.
And it’s all just guess work as to whether or not an executed “coulda or shoulda” woulda been a better choice.
-=-=-=-
So here’s where I was in March, 1972, i.e. at the forks in the road:
Just out of the Army.
Biggest wad of cash I’d ever had in my life from separation pay.
Best physical shape of my life. The four months of basketball had me in shape.
That spring and summer I thought about what to do next. (Mostly I just got high…)
Four of five months later I was in college at southeast mo st in cape girardeau.

If I time travel back to 3/20/72, here’s my W/S/C:
I woulda found a job as a roadie for a band.
At 23 I coulda done some lifting and hauling and traveling.
When I’m dreaming big, I imagine that I am packing it up and tearing it down in 1972 on Jackson Browne’s first national tour.
I never did sleep all that much, and in my 20’s I’d have considered anything over 150 hours of shut-eye a month excessive. I woulda loved being the first to come and the last to leave.
Just think—if I woulda landed on his road crew in 1972 I coulda been rolling cases and lifting amps and one of the guys he was singing about 5 years later when he released “Load out.”

There is a site that features “song meanings provided by the songwriters themselves.”
They attribute this to Jackson Browne: “”The Load-Out” is a love song to the audience and the crew. I was always tight with certain members of the crew – my manager used to be my crew chief; he used to tune guitars. They always took care of you. Then this one turns into “Stay” – on that, we’re actually asking the audience to stay, because we don’t want to stop playing.”

Just think—it coulda been awesome—or a disaster.
Most likely I woulda been dead before “Running on Empty” was released.
Discipline has never been my strong suit and I do have a tendency toward excess.
I mighta tried to keep up with Warren Zevon slamming back booze.
I coulda been sharing downers with Phyllis Major and ODed too.
Or I coulda been hit by a bus.
-=-=-=
A few Realities:
1. The reality is that I woulda done lots of things differently in Cape Girardeau, but I have absolutely no regrets about that choice. I had good times at SEMO. I have great memories from those days. I have friendships from those days that I cherish.
2. The odds of some guy like me getting a job as a roadie for anybody woulda been slim. The odds of it being for J.B? Not a chance. It’s a nice little fantasy tho.
3. And I’ll always be baffled by people who “wouldn’t have changed anything.” Really??

Sing it: we are all Somebody!

The precise order of events:
1. I saw a five word reply to a FB post : “Somebody needs to do something!”
2. A few minutes later, on a different thread in a different group, I saw almost the exact same words.
3. At that very same moment the song that was playing: “Somebody to love” by Queen
4. I do a search on my hard-drive for song titles that include the word “somebody”

Do NOT ask me why I did that search. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
I learned that I have 28 songs on my laptop with the word “somebody” in the title.
Here are my “Favorite Somebody Seven” in the order they were released, with a few favorite lyrics.

1. “Somebody to Love” was written by Darby Slick, Grace’s brother-in-law. Jefferson Airplane covered it on their second album, and their first with Grace. “Surrealistic pillow” was released in early 1967.
“Tears are running down and down and down your breast
And your friends, baby they treat you like a guest
Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love…”

2. “Somebody to Love” was released by Queen in 1976 on their “Day at the races” album.
“I get down on my knees and I start to pray
‘Til the tears run down from my eyes
Lord, somebody (somebody), ooh somebody
(Please) can anybody find me somebody to love?”

3. My favorite singer-songwriter wrote the highest charting single of his career for the movie “Fast times at ridgemont high” in 1982. The first time “Somebody’s baby” was released on an album was 15 years later when “The next voice you hear” hit the streets.
My daughter was only when that CD was released. I doubt she remembers, but whenever that song played I would sing along and tell her that the song was written for her….
“I try to shut my eyes, but I can’t get her outta my sight….
…Yeah, she’s gonna be somebody’s only light”
4. This song always gave me dancing feet, ever since I first saw this video in the fairly early days of MTV, back when they played music. It got mixed reviews when it was released in 1987…and won a Grammy. Go figure.
“Oh, I wanna dance with somebody
I wanna feel the heat with somebody
Yeah, I wanna dance with somebody
With somebody who loves me…”

5. I’ve written about this song before. It is one of my “First Time Tunes.” It’s the fourth track on “Only by the Night.” Released in December, 2008 by some of my favorite preacher’s kids. This is one of my absolute favorite songs.
“You know that I could use somebody
Someone like you, and all you know, and how you speak…”

6. This song was released by Gotye after my marriage was over. I had been back in MO for several months when it came out in late 2011. “Somebody that I used to know” resonated.
“Now and then I think of when we were together…
…Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”

7. Jack Antonoff wrote this one about the loss of his sister when he was only 18. Bleachers released the album “Gone now” in 2017. I’ve listened to this album a lot. It includes a song that is on my “play it at my wake” list.
This is not that song, and “Everybody lost somebody” is not my favorite song on the album.
But everybody has lost somebody. And that is gonna keep happening….
“I know that I’m lost
Lost in a world without you
And there’s a reason I wake up alone in strange places…
…Knowing everybody lost somebody”

Bucket List Update

Man-oh-man do I need to get busy or what??
I have been a total sluggard since I posted my bucket list just a bit short of two years ago, mid-march of ’17. Yet somehow I was diagnosed with fatigue on my birthday last September and advised to slow down…
And I had TOTALLY forgotten about the “My ultimate bucket list” book that I had snatched from the bargain bin…which has been ignored.

The first 8 items on my bucket list from 12/3/12 are still there. Untouched. Many not even thought about. Maybe I need to do something about that, at least for a few of them.
I also need to add one:
“Go up in a single engine plane with Dad and Wayne.” (Short version: I won a 2 hour flight at a silent auction fundraiser. That was back in late 2017. We haven’t been able to make Dad and Wayne’s schedules mesh.
I have never seen Wayne. We have exchanged several texts. We’ve chatted on the phone some. Wayne has offered to fly to Farmington where we’d pick up/drop off Tissell*. That would depend on whether Dad was coming over to stay with my sister, or if he was heading home to Doe Run. Dad would love flying across the state.
We’d take the longer, scenic, southern route with Dad in the plane. That trip would take a lot more than 2 hours. Wayne didn’t have to offer this.
I had heard that he was a fine guy the night that I stole the flight, valued at $800, for only $180 bucks. Without even laying eyes on Wayne I’m positive that he is a helluva guy. I expect Tissell* to feel the same way. Now I just need to get Wayne, me and the 92+ year old up in the air!!)

Back to my B.L.
I did get to the Rock-n-Roll HOF in 2013. But we were only there for a few hours. Not nearly long enough. I need to get back there. 2019 seems like it would be a good year to visit Cleveland….and Wooster.
This time I need to plan my trip so that I can knock off the next item on the list. And the one before too. I’m thinking I will be able to experience weightlessness on some of the 17 roller coasters at Cedar Point…tied for second most in the world.

The item “Take a road trip thru the lower 48” lacks precision. I think it would be very cool to take one roadtrip that did get you into all 48, but I’m not sure that is what I had in mind. I have taken a road trip or 3 since 12/3/12, and will be taking more. As for now, I’d like to cross off the remaining 18 that I haven’t been in since then. Visiting 30 so far is not all that shabby…

Of the last 12 B.L. items, I .can only cross off two of them, both music related: we’ve seen 3 shows at Red Rocks; and Jackson Browne 4 times.
-=-=-=
My 12/3/12 Bucket List has 24 items.
I have been able to cross off only 4. (and that includes a favorable interpretation of the roadtrip item…)
That is pretty pathetic.
And unless I win lotto, unexpectedly inherit a huge chunck of change or become friends with someone like Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie) I most likely won’t cross off many of the other items on the list, although they aren’t really all that spendy.
That’s OK, because if I wrote the list today a bunch of earlier items wouldn’t make the list. They’d be replaced with things like this:
Take a road trip that includes: seeing old friends; visiting new venues; eating something delicious with old friends; making plans to see each other again.

Venues would have a separate list:
9:30 Club in D.C.
The Tower Theatre in Upper Darby
Stubbs in Austin
…just to name a few

So would artists:
Adele
War on Drugs
Don Henley
…and more. LOTS more.

Someday soon I need to finally take that spin thru the bargain bin b.l. book. I’ll leave it here beside my laptop for awhile and see what happens….

NOTE:
*Tissell is my dad’s abbreviated nickname.
Melvin’s full moniker: Melviney You-Tissell You-Bertel You-Tom-Tom Bud Fartner
There is story there.
That’s for another time.
Be.

Prelude to a 5 Year Meet-aversary

On October 8, 2012 I laid eyes on Shelly Drymon for the first time. Yesterday was our Five Year Meet-aversary. Life is Good.

It was not love at first sight 1,827 days ago. Maybe there is such a thing, but I have never experienced it. [I have however experienced “lust at first sight”….and I still do. Shelly is OK with that. Me too. 🙂 ]

It didn’t take me long to become smitten with Shelly. I’m pretty sure that it took her longer to fall for me.
She was exactly what I was looking for:
1. A Playmate. Someone to do things with.
2. What Jackson Browne sang about in “The Pretender”:
“…I’m gonna 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
And then we’ll put our dark glasses on
And we’ll make love until our strength is gone…”

Shelly and I met at a site called OkCupid. I have archived the profiles that we had there 5 years ago. (I might even share mine here someday. Maybe not.)
She says she can’t remember what she wrote, but that she has changed a lot. Shelly’s right; she has. In reading my profile again from five years ago, I don’t think I have changed all that much. But I’m probably the wrong person to judge that.
-=-=-=
Our personal situations were quite a bit different then than now.

Shelly had just returned from a sabbatical in Colorado, learning a lot about herself and appreciating herself and her independence. There was the fellow down the street who had been her lover before she headed to Golden. She didn’t have plans to jettison him or have him or anyone else as a one-and-only.
Shelly had a job, but she wasn’t sure what would be paying the rent and buying the coffee in the future.

I had been seeing a lot of a woman who lived 40 miles away. She had been a good listener and had given me some good advice since the time we met a year earlier. When T. and I met there was lots of drama in my life. She helped me deal with that. T. & I had a lot of fun together…especially when we were naked. But she wanted a commitment, and not only wasn’t I looking for one, there were just too many differences in our interests.
-=-=-=
I had gone on the “playmate” quest again, without telling T. When I came out of the MudLounge that night 5 years ago I had a couple of texts and a voicemail from her. I lied to her about what I had been doing. I didn’t like doing that. But I knew that I needed to move on with someone new…and so did she. (T. was married a few months later…)

I am 14 years older than Shelly. I hadn’t yet filed for divorce from my wife of 38 years when we met. When Shelly & I met, I hadn’t spoken with my ex since two days before I drove away from Tampa 16 months earlier. We still haven’t spoken. (It’s complicated.)
My age and my marital situation were problems for some of the people I “met” online. Fortunately Shelly gave me a chance. I’m lucky.

I’m pretty much an open book, and my OkCupid profile described my perspective on life and living, although it did not mention my continual quest for revelry and the high life. My profile did include my favorite line from my favorite movie (“get busy living, or get busy dying” from Shawshank Redemption) and my favorite line from a genius who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (“enjoy every sandwich”…the wisdom of Warren Zevon).

-=-=-
I’ve got lots of “favorite Shelly stories.” I’ll share two of them.

1. I think it was the third time that we saw each other. We were going on a picnic at Fellows Lake. I wasn’t half a mile from the apartment, headed to pick her up, and a text from Shelly came in. The text was NOT meant for me.
“I’m going on a picnic at Fellows lk with this Steve fellow. I hope he doesn’t turn out to be a jerk!”
I was only a few blocks farther on when the “Ooops…LOL” text hit my inbox.
I laughed as I drove north on Fremont. We laughed when I got to her place. We laughed about it again yesterday, 5 years on.

2. Yesterday she gave me this card. I melted. I laughed. We hugged. It pretty much sums up where we’ve been and where we are.

I am one lucky guy. I’ve partnered up with someone who loves me in spite of all my quirks, someone who will let me be me, and someone who knows that when I sing along with Band of Horses on “No ones gonna love you” that I mean it….and vice verse.

I’m a very simple guy.
Sometimes things are pretty simple:
Tell the ones you love how you feel.
Don’t be stingy with your hugs.
Henry James said it best: “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.”

Be. Just Be.

The Pretender

Birthday week of 2017 was a doozy. Music. Sunshine. Friends. Food. Family. Frolicking. Revelry. Reminiscing. More music…and a tad bit of introspection.

We had been in Orygun less than 3 months when Jackson Browne released “The Pretender.” If I had a “ben franklin” for every time I have played the album since I bought the first vinyl copy in 1976, it woulda paid for my new Prius.
The Pretender is still on my 5-CD changer after keeping me company all week….and providing lots of fodder for both reminiscing and introspection.

Lyrics, links and a {comment} or two follow… No singer-songwriter has written more songs that make me reflect on my way of life, my directions and where I am, where I’ve been, and what I’ve done than Jackson Browne.
-=-=-=-=

The Fuse
“….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…”
{Does a short fuse burn faster? It sure seems like it…}

Your Bright Baby Blues
“…Everybody’s going somewhere
Riding just as fast as they can ride
I guess they’ve got a lot to do
Before they can rest assured
Their lives are justified…”

The Only Child
“… take good care of your mother
And remember to be kind…
…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}

Daddy’s Tune
“…Living your life day after day
Soon all your plans and changes
Either fail or fade away…”
{Never been much of “a planner.” Probably moreso now than ever. My plans: live life day after day; be kind; enjoy every sandwich; listen to lots of music; give lots of hugs; repeat.}

Sleeps Dark and Silent Gate
“…Sometimes I lie awake at night and wonder
Where the years have gone
They have all passed under
Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate…”
{Lots of years have passed since I first had this album on repeat. I haven’t laid awake at night very often. But there has been lots of wondering…lots and lots of wondering.}

The Pretender
“…I’m gonna find myself a girl
Who can show me what laughter means
And we’ll fill in the missing colors
In each others paint by number dreams…”

{In the fall of 1976 I had absolutely no intentions of ever struggling for the legal tender. 6 years later I was starting a 14 year career with the largest accounting firm in the world…wearing wing tips, wool, silk and cotton….and “keeping score” by looking at the last line of page 1 of my Form 1040.
Several years ago my late friend and mentor John Crudele asked me if I had “taken a vow of poverty.” I told him that I was going to live rich and die poor….and that for the second time in my life I had found the girl that Jackson Browne had sung about. I have never been richer than I am in 2017.
I am a lucky guy. What more can anyone want? Friends, music, and someone to love….who loves you.
Don’t be stingy with your hugs.
Be.
Just Be.}

Deviled eggs

I just spent several minutes searching for an entry in my first journal. Well not actually my “first” journal, but the first one that has continued for any length of time. Sixteen hundred seventy seven days. Whodda thought I’d ever develop such discipline?

The search was a washout. A dud.

But, more accurately, the journal entry from that day is lame. That’s the only way to describe it. An event that has become a story that I’ve told repeatedly, a story that makes me laugh each and every time I tell it, did not make the journal. No mention.

Not even a hint of it in my 11/28/12 journal entry. WTF?!?
How could I have not written at least two words: “Deviled eggs?!?!?”
-=-=-=
There are entries on 11/28/12 and 12/1….but the twenty-ninth and thirtieth are two days with no journal entries.

We had Sunday dinner at Shelly’s good friends on the 28th. I was still auditioning for friend approval. I guess all of us were. The last line of the journal entry for that date says: “Time to get ready to go meet patty and robert….game on.”

The next journal entry, posted on December first, comes in at just under two thousand words. That’s a lot for one of my journal entries.
We had spent a couple of nights in Branson, and had seen The Hillbenders at The Rock House. It was one of our first hotel stays. A good time was had by all. Enough said about that 12/1 journal entry…
-=-=-=
So here’s the story from November 28, 2012 that I have told numerous times.

Prior to that November night in two-thousand-twelve, Shelly and I had probably talked about eggs two dozen times during the 7 weeks we had known each other….almost always while having breakfast together.

I had heard numerous times that “I don’t eat eggs. I don’t like them.”
Not an omelet? Nope.
How about a souffle? Ugh.
You gotta like quiche though, don’t you? I hate quiche.
Cheesy scrambled? No way.
How about a fried egg on a burger with Canadian bacon? Yuck!!

Well, I don’t remember what else was sitting on Patty & Robert’s dining room table, on the first time I was ever in their house. But it do remember immediately noticing the large tray of deviled eggs, and hearing an excited Shelly: “Oh my favorite! I absolutely love deviled eggs!”

If there hadn’t have been a small child in the room I’m pretty certain that I woulda dropped a couple of F-bombs in one of my pet phrases, or at least an “are you shittin’ me?”

I was floored. How can you not eat eggs, yet love deviled eggs?
I don’t know.
It doesn’t matter.
But it does make for a good story…
-=-=-=-=
I love the story. But what I really love is reading through those times in my journal, back before we were exclusive.

We met via OkCupid. One of our profiles included this: “So, at this point in my life I cannot be your one and only… However, I am not opposed to falling madly in love.”
The others profile was looking for someone to have fun with…“a playmate.”

Reading through those early journal entries, I’m a little surprised that I didn’t include a tidbit about the deviled eggs revelation. But there was a lot going on at that time.

I was witnessing my Mom’s steady decline. My marriage had been over for awhile…but it wasn’t yet over from a legal viewpoint. I was listening to more new music and seeing more live music than I had in years.
And I was falling in love…something I never expected to happen.
-=-=-=
My journal mentions that I had three songs “on repeat” the week before that Sunday dinner.

George Strait singing “I ain’t here for a long time, I’m here for a good time…”

Brandi Carlile singing “The story.” I had never listened to her before Shelly sent me a link. Certain of the lyrics really hit home with me in 2012.
“…So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to…”

And of course there was a song by Jackson Browne.
“…Love won’t come near me, she don’t even hear me
She walks past my vacancy sign
Love needs a heart, trusting and blind
I wish that heart was mine…”
-=-=-=
Lately this song by Amos Lee has been on repeat.
“My heart is a flower
That blooms every hour
I believe in the power…”

I do believe in the power of love.
I do believe in having a good time….that “it’s half full, not a half empty glass, Every day I wake up knowing it could be my last…”
I do believe that stories are better when you’ve got someone to tell them to…
I do believe that “Love can change the world in a moment, But what do I know?”
I do believe in enjoying every bite of every sandwich.

Be. Just BE.

“We’re all gonna die….”

On Saturday, March 18, 2017 I spent a few hours at the viewing for my late Uncle Joe, dead too soon at only 77. He survived the “widow maker heart attack” (which has a 90% kill rate) for about 30 years. It took three decades for a complete closure of the left anterior descending coronary artery to kill him. Still not long enough…

To attend the viewing, I did an “over-and-back” to the county where my Mom’s family has lived almost their entire lives. If it wasn’t for the military in the case of her three brothers, she would’ve been the only member of her immediate family to ever receive mail someplace other than St. Francois county, MO.

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.

Let’s drop the big one….

I saw LOTS of live music in the 1980’s in Portland. I was living a work-hard, play-hard lifestyle. I didn’t get much sleep, and when I did it was fitful. I listened to lots of music, and much of that was on TV watching MTV and then either that pioneering station or VH1, but I never went more than a couple of weeks without seeing live music.

When we moved to Floriduh in 1989 I made a mix tape of single cuts from almost every band that we had seen during the 6+years in PDX, in as close to chronological order as I could remember enjoying each artist’s music. Probably 8 or 10 national acts that we saw did not make the tape.

It was a 120 minute cassette. It took awhile for me to map out the playlist. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wouldn’t be able to get a song from everyone we had seen during the Portland years on the tape, even if I only picked the shortest song by each and every artist no matter how I felt about the particular cut.

“Cut” was accurate. The only tunes that went on the tape were ones that I had on vinyl. That wasn’t restrictive, except in a very few cases.

For example, we saw Adam Ant at the Civic. It was a fun night, but I’ve never owned any of his music. The only song of his that I can name is “Goody Two Shoes.” It wouldn’t have made the 120-minute tape, even if I’d had the album, i.e. every act I saw was not worthy of my tape of concert memories.

Some people who I saw had already stopped releasing vinyl. Thinking about that, i.e. an attempt by the record companies to ditch vinyl, still makes me cranky. But I have to admit that most days I just load up my 5-cd changer and let it play. Firing up the turntable makes me have to flip the record over, or change the record, every 20 or so minutes. Sometimes I’m lazy. Fire me.

So if I didn’t have an artist on vinyl, often because they hadn’t released any, nothing they sang made my “PDX Concerts” mix tape. So there was no Robert Cray, who I saw at small clubs in Corvallis, Eugene and Portland. Sometimes he was with, and sometimes he was without, Curtis Salgado and vice verse. Fun times.

One restriction in pulling together the play list was song length, e.g. I had to struggle with what Dylan tune to include. My two favorites of his, the ones that i’ve had on repeat the most, are “Jokerman” and “It’s alright Ma (I’m only bleeding)” but both those songs are knocking on, or longer than, 7 minutes.

So I went with “Subterranean homesick blues,” a classic at two minutes and twenty-one seconds on vinyl. “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows…” Love the line, but gotta say that the way some of the winds are blowing in 2016 is pretty frightening…
-=-=-
I still have lots of cassettes, and occasionally I do fire up the deck when I want to hear the original version of a song that is playing in my head and it’s one that I only have on cassette. (Another confession: in this circumstance, what I usually do is just google the tune and check out renditions on youtube. The cassette deck gets less use than the turntable…i still love the sounds that vinyl makes.)

I no longer have the mixtape that I pulled together in 1989. Last time I remember seeing it was in early 2011. The last time I played it would have been the summer of 2010. It was one of several tapes that I played on a boom box in the garage when I had occasion to spend time washing and detailing one of our cars.

I left FL in mid-2011, when the long downward trend of our marriage imploded. When she and I moved to Orygun in 1976 everything we had went cross country in our two VW bug caravan. When I left Floriduh, I went minimalist. Everything I moved back to MO came in my Corolla or was mailed using the USPS….both of those moving experiences are stories for another day.

I didn’t ditch any vinyl or CDs when I packed up in Tampa, but lots of cassettes were jettisoned. Especially any that had a “memory” component, including this particular mix tape.
-=-=-=
I’m not sure how accurately I could recreate the playlist of my old 120-minute “PDX Concerts” tape. I’d blame any discrepancies in an attempt to pull together an accurate list on: (1) age; (2) having listened to too much music (i.e. a confusion factor…but can you really listen to too much music??), and; (3) diminished capacity. 😉

I do know that the first song in the tape was one by my favorite singer-songwriter and from the first concert I saw in Portland. At three minutes and seventeen seconds, I opened the mixtape with “Doctor my eyes,” one of his shortest songs. “..People go just where they will, I never noticed them until I got this feeling that it’s later than it seems….”

The last show we saw in Portland, after my transfer to Sarasota was approved but before we moved, was in a small club with a name that escapes me. The place held 800 or so. That night we saw Randy Newman with about a thousand other people. Everybody in the place was sweating. It was an awesome night.

I listened to him right after lunch today. I probably hadn’t played anything by him in 6 weeks. When I heard the song that made the cut, it literally had my head spinning. Thinking about that night in Portland, thinking about making that particular mixtape, thinking about things i’d read earlier today via my Facebook news feeds. Randy Newman also got my wheels turning….

I picked a song of his for the mixtape that had been one of my favorites since it was released, and it just happened to come in at two minutes on the nose when he recorded it on “Sail away,” so it fit the criteria for the tape perfectly.

I’m sure Randy Newman wouldn’t let any candidate use the song at a rally. Some of the folks running probably wouldn’t even realize that “Political Science” is satire. Sadly, many of the people voting for some of them this primary season not only wouldn’t realize the satire, they’d encourage a president to do what the song says.

The American Taliban is frightening.