Sunday, April 26, 2015


I was thinking today about some of the albums that have influenced me. Growing up as the youngest part of the baby boomers (which still puts us in the mid to late fifties age range) We grew up on music that would become classic. But, before talking about albums I have some confessions to make.

First, I have never gotten into Bruce Springsteen! To use a phrase of a younger generation "I know, Right?" :-) Everybody loves Springsteen. I just never have. I always found him to be depressing. I always just started searching the dial back in the day when his stuff would come on Q104 in Gadsden, Alabama or WGAD! Even if I was tuning in late night to WLS in Chicago. Yeah, we had super stations back in the day. I also never liked the Grateful Dead much. I just don't think Jerry Garcia owned a song the way Janis Joplin. Listen to "Jim Dandy Mangrum" and the fun Black Oak Arkansas had with "Jim Dandy." Still, it's a matter of taste so there isn't really a right or wrong way to be a musician.

Another little admission before I get started on my album list. I love Patsy Cline. I think lyric wise Hank Williams Sr. is tremendous. "

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill,
He sounds too blue to fly.
The midnight train is whining low,
I'm so lonesome I could cry.
I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by.
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry.

If  you are from or have ever been in the rural south on a summer night then you know what I mean. That paints a picture. 

But, the music of my youth tends more toward Foghat and Eagles and a little Poco and later Heart. Linda Rondstadt is my muse. I loved and still enjoy the crossover sound made famous by Eagles. but pioneered by others such as The Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco and touched on at times by the Stones and so on. 

Final admission before I start my list. I don't like to constantly listen to music. I remember an interview with Tina Turner where someone said to her. " I bet you have a sound system at home with music constantly playing. "No, I don't constantly play music." I like to think and get quiet at times. I played it and I love it but I don't want it constantly drowning out my thoughts. (This is my paraphrase from memory, so it's not a word by word account.)

Now, I am no Tina Turner. :-) Or even  Bruce Springsteen for that matter. I do like to get quiet at times and I find my own company (see introvert) is quite enough for long stretches of  time. I also play music and I had rather listen for a minute and then try to plunk it out on a piano or find the chord pattern on my guitar than passively listen. No, I'm not a great musician but I can manage to entertain myself for a little while. :-) I chord along with a chart when I'm at the piano. I'm not able to read much music or simply do a concert. :-)

With all that said I do like to think of some of my favorite songs. I enjoy hearing people talk about pop culture. I hate that right now as much as I love sports, the only thing on Tuscaloosa radio right now during drive time is either sports talk about blah,blah,blah or far right wing good ole boys blathering about how Obama is the Anti Christ and the Muslims are coming. I also don't care for the far left so don't get mad. I'm just sayin. :-)

Anyway, first songs and then albums. I know there is no reason anybody should care about what I like. It's just that I started this blog as much as a place for me to vent and unwind as anything else. If you are doing me the honor of reading it then I truly thank you. If not then that's OK too. I'll talk to myself. I have always been good at that. :-) These are not the only songs I like or even always my absolute favorites. But, they have stayed with me over the years. They made an impression either by the artist performance or the lyrics.

1. Midnight Train to Georgia: Gladys Knight and the Pips. Original version. I love this song. She is so into the song. She is owning it and the vocals and harmony of The Pips is awesome. I can just see her face and that Gladys Knight expression while they move perfectly to the beat. I've always said the I would like this played at my funeral. Seriously. I'll be on that train and heading home. :-)

2. Desperado: Linda Ronstadt version. There is a certain video from the seventies. Hard to find the exact one but I think it's from Don Kirchners Rock Concert of one of the other late night rock shows of the era. Linda absolutely nails it. Then at the very end the camera comes up on those big brown eyes and she hits that last note and I'm in love. 

3. Good Day in Hell: Eagles from On the Border: Not my favorite Eagles song. But, it did have an impression on me as a teen. I was going  through some junk both real and imagined and this song summed up my feelings at that time.

4. Day After Day: BadFinger: General Forrest Jr. High. I am still in the gym looking across at a girl I grew up with in Walnut Park. We were really good friends (no, not that kind) Actual friends. :-)

5. Dizzy: Tommy Roe: Walnut Park Elementary and the first pop song that I really wanted to remember all the lyrics and it brings up my childhood.

6. Ahab the Arab: Ray Stevens: Summer in Altoona, Alabama and a certain long ago unrequited love. :-)

7. Slow Ride: Foghat: See number 6. :-)

8. Sweet Home Alabama: Lynyrd Skynyrd: God, I'm tired of this song. :-) But, it was something back in the day. (funny story about Skynyrd and my youth.) A cute girl is talking to me "gasp." She asks me if I have heard the newest Lynyrd Skynyrd song and if I like Skynyrd. I said yeah "he's" good. Later, I discovered the group. Explains her funny look. "Red Face" once I figured it out. :-) Ahhh, youth and high school.

9. Hang on Sloopy: the McCoys: Really, really young. But, I remember yelling out the lyrics with my childhood friends. Also, a nod to 1910 Fruitgum Company. One of the best names ever for a rock group from my childhood.

10: Hotel California: Eagles: Anthem of my generation. Although, it's becoming a little like "Sweet Home Alabama" to me. I've heard it a lot over the years. :-)

Now, for the albums. Anybody remember the old Birmingham, Alabama station that played the complete albums every night? Wow, talk about the good old days. Nothing like that now. Anyways, albums were an important part of my youth. Here are some of my favorites.

1. One of These Nights: Eagles: My favorite and the last original Eagles release. Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner are on the way out to be replaced by Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. I remained and remain a fan. But, this is the turning point and the apex in my opinion of the band. I played this to death on the old eight track. I wish you Peace. :-)

2. Rumors: Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks coming out party as a star. Greatest hits of the popular band know as Fleetwood Mac? Pick up this album. "I keep my visions to myself" Stevie Nicks. 

3. News of the World: Queen. Freddie Mercury in full throat  vocal glory: Another party's over. And I'm left cold sober. 

4. The Grand Illusion: Styx: So if you think your life is complete confusion
Because your neighbor's got it made
Just remember that it's a grand illusion
And deep inside we're all the same. 
   "Almost reminds me of facebook and social media that was to come." :-)

5. Kiss: Destroyer: Listened to this as an adult and found it lacking in musicianship. :-) But, it was something to me back in the day.
You've got something about you
You've got something I need
Daughter of Aphrodite
Hear my words and take heed.

Anyway, that's just a fun little run on a Sunday Morning as I think back over the years. 


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rambling along.

I was just thinking about how fast life goes by. I remember being in a classroom at General Forrest Junior High in Gadsden, Alabama. Don't know why I remember that particular day. It was raining so hard outside that I could hear it. Maybe the windows were open. Forrest was the same building as the first Emma Sansom High so it had the big early 20th century look of an "institution." so hearing the rain the way I remember it was more than likely not the case. I was hearing it from an open window in a classroom. But, in my mind it seems like I hear it from the front door of the school. Funny how that works.

Looking out of my lonely room, day after day
Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you...BadFinger.

That song is playing as I look across the "new gym" at Forrest in the 70's. I remember because my sisters best friend is on the other side and I was thinking how cute she looked. We were pals in the old neighborhood of Walnut Park but right then she looked a little different to me than just being my sisters friend.

Now you're messing with .... a son of a bitch......Nazareth.

So, there I am in Altoona, Alabama after my mother's divorce and this isn't the big city of Gadsden anymore. :-) But, I'm with a friend and he's got some pot and he's pretty sure if I try it I will put the beer I'm drinking down and chill out. Just one toke...I wait to see if God is going to strike me blind or dead. Neither, wow. Anyway, it will take several years before I really start to wake up from this part of the journey.

I'm so dizzy my head is spinning / Like a whirlpool, it never ends / And it's you, girl, making it spin....Tommy Roe

1969 give or take. I'm in the lunchroom at Walnut Park Elementary. All the kids seem to be singing "Dizzy." WGAD is playing it everytime I turn on the radio. But, the big thing is I'm sitting here and "she' is actually talking to me. ....Ever hear Charlie Brown talk about the little red head girl on Peanuts? Well, this was the little blonde haired girl and she was awesome to this little brown haired boy. This was not going to happen again in this lifetime. But, I didn't know it  then so that was okay. :-)

So, why the trip down memory lane? I think it's just how people are when they think about how fast life goes by. Much has happened in my life. From jobs to watching my wife to be come down the aisle to the awesome, scary moment I hold my newborn son. Life has been a journey. It's gone fast. 

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? ...G-d

Lessons learned:

What have I learned in my over half a century journey on the earth? Well, I've learned that you can lie to people and people can lie to you. But, somewhere in my core at the center of my being there is no way or reason to lie. Maybe, that's the main thing. That God is honest and that before pure being I am honestly myself. 

I've also realized that life isn't a movie and other people are not just bit players in my movie. That I really do believe in treating people the way I would like to be treated. Of course most of the time I just treat em the way they treat me. Which isn't the same thing. :-)

 Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?...Don Mclean

I realize as I look back how much my generation depended on music as a way of expressing ourselves. Even those of us with:

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say, "come dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen...Janis Ian

Still, remember haunting the Record Bar in the Gadsden Mall for the latest 8 track.

One of these nights
One of these crazy old nights
We're gonna find out
Pretty mama
What turns on your lights
The full moon is calling
The fever is high
And the wicked wind whispers
And moans

You got your demons
You got desires
Well, I got a few of my own....Eagles

I played that one night all night long after buying it at the Record Bar. Some long forgotten teen angst had me driving around. But, I never forgot that album.

Still like that old time rock 'n' roll
That kind of music just soothes the soul ooh
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time rock 'n' roll
Won't go to hear them play a tango
I'd rather hear some blues or funky old soul
There's only one sure way to get me to go
Start playing old time rock 'n' roll....Bob Seger

Maybe that was it. We bought my son a used piano to see if he will continue to play and enjoy it. I was plunking around "chording a little of the above song" when my wife walked in this evening. The fact that at least she could tell I was actually playing a song in the midst of my banging on the keyboard gave me a little encouragement. She couldn't  tell which song but at least she knew it was a song. :-)

Last thing I remember I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
"Relax," said the night man, "We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like but you can never leave".....Eagles
Maybe life is a little like the "Hotel California" I really don't know. :-)
I was raised on country music. Give me a guitar and name a song by George or Conway or Merle and more than likely I can at least strum the tune and know most of the lyrics. But, country (except for Willie and Waylon and the boys) was my mothers music. I was a captive audience as a child. But, rock was mine. 
I wish you peace when times are hard
A light to guide you through the dark
And when storms are high and your, you dreams are low
I wish you the strength to let let grown on
I wish you the strength to let love flow on
I wish you the strength to let love glow on
I wish you the strength to let love go....Eagles


Saturday, April 4, 2015


John 11:39
Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh:

King James Version. No, I don't think it's the best or the most holy. But, sometimes it gets to the root of it. "He Stinketh." Whew, that's rough. I can remember as a younger person getting tickled at that one. Sorry, but it's true. At a certain age everything seems funny. Then you get really serious and everything is urgent. Then one day you notice the lines on your hands and the gray in your hair, little crows feet at the corner of the eyes and all of a sudden you start to laugh at life again. Why so serious? It Stinketh at times. :-) But, ya gotta laugh and then you gotta cry so you might as well laugh more and cry less while you can.

 One toke over the line sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sittin' downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line...Brewer and Shipley

Now, I've done some things that I wouldn't do again. Some, I'd do again but in moderation. :-) I'm not one to sugar coat it at this late date. My mother had a lot of sayings. One went something like this: "God knows everything about me so why should I care what you think?"

 Me and Jesus we got our own things going
Me and Jesus, we got it all worked out
Me and Jesus, we got our own things going
We don't need anybody to tell us what it's all about....Tom T. Hall

I have a life long relationship with the source of my being. I don't feel the need to be in the club these days. I struggle with dogma and I don't look for a guru to tell me how to live or what to think or who to love or how to be kind.

There's times when I trembled
When my mind remembered
The days that just crumbled away
With nothing to show
But these lines that I know
Are beginning to show in my face

Oh Lord if you hear me
Touch me and hold me
And keep me from blowing away ....Linda Ronstadt

Lots of days gone by. I thought the road would seem longer by the time I reached this age. Instead it seems like yesterday and I wonder who that little old man is when I look in the mirror. Still, I think it's an eternal journey so I expect my spirit is still intact somehow in all these journeys and travels.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars....William Butler Yeats.

Still, I think love is eternal. We are all "Pilgrim Souls." But, I think we are going at our own rate of speed and discovery. 

“God says, "Sure, take away the safety net. And when that's gone, take away the tight rope too.” ...Stephen King "Desperation"

Feels like it's a free fall at times. I think about how it must have been for Jesus. 
First the Sunday School version: Get thee behind me Satan for My father owns all of this. 
Pow, Biff, Pop. Holy Messiah Batman, that's telling him.

However, it could have been closer to this...
I'm going to make it through and keep my hope. 
"What?" " are you crazy?" :"What hope?" 

Now that's a strange thought. What hope. Why the hope that God will provide.."Really?" "Kind of like he provided for John?" "I hear a certain king had his head on a platter." "Anyway, what if there is no god?" "You can't be sure ya know." "You might be crazy." "Wouldn't be the first poor deluded idiot to die and go out into oblivion with the name of god on their lips now would you?"

Life, even for those with hope and faith is rarely the clean sanitized Sunday school version. Still, he did keep going, kept hoping and looked the fear of oblivion in the eye and walked straight ahead. 

Name it Claim it...God wants me to have riches and you too. A jet and a mansion? Well, that's because I'm faithful....T.V. Evangelist (many of them.)

"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered...Matthew 20:22

Just be careful. I don't think the cup he's offering is quite the same cup the evangelist is talking about.
 My son is approaching 12 years old. I had him late in life and now I am 58 years old. I plan on writing a letter to him to be opened after I shuffle off this mortal coil. I think about what to put in the letter. I think the one thing I'd like to tell him is "It all counts." Everyday and everybody. Life isn't your own private movie and the people around you are not actors and stunt people or characters in a video game. So, treat people the way you would like to be treated. We are all manifestations of "I Am." I don't do religious dogma these days. I don't think God is so casual with the human soul as to "save" someone who happened to say the sinners prayer but to burn someone else for eternity for simply being a human. Trust. In the end that's all that you have. Trust that the love you feel and the love you have known isn't a myth. The universe isn't insane and at the center of your being you know this. 

 “Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out,
swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing...
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes.
And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still
red, his eyes not yet extinguished.

Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
"For God's sake, where is God?"
And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
"Where He is? This is where--hanging here from this gallows..."

That night, the soup tasted of corpses.”
Elie Wiesel, Night
Here he is. Not way up in the sky being so pissy that he can't bear to look at you. No, that's the thing. He hangs on a cross. He suffers in the hold of a slave ship. She feels the sting of abuse and hopelessness. 
My grandparents on my mothers side were a product in many ways of the Great Depression. My grandmother would put water in a ketchup bottle and shake it before she would throw it away as empty. She was Southern of (as she told me once) Shanty Irish. My granddaddy was Dutch and Cherokee. She was religious and he was a hard drinking coal miner in the Etowah, Blount County area of North Alabama. They had a tough life in many ways. But, here's the thing:
I went to the graveyard in Altoona, Alabama some years ago. I stood there looking at the graves. As I stood there a single wonderful sentence came through my mind. "Happy Easter!" 
It didn't end at the grave yard or at cancers door. It didn't lead to oblivion. It led to Easter. It led to life.
 "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."...The Beatles

“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.”...Saint Teresa of Avila

I get more holistic the older I get. I find more connections and less separation of people and creatures and nature. I think in many ways I am a little less afraid than I used to be. Not to say I'm fearless. But, I am headed for Easter Morning when this part of the journey is complete.