Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Day 3: Rural Upbringing, Music as medicine, and Dogs

I died last night, it was hard & heavy
when I got to heaven the first faces I see were my dearest old friends
2 good hounds that I had called mine when I walked the mortal world
they had voices now like I'd always wished they had
and it took some time to say our hellos
all those things to tell me that I had always wanted to know.
After hours of walk and hours of talk
as I lay near slumber I ask them one simple question -
why me?
Why was I so loved by you and protected, and comforted
you were always noble-hearted and unendingly loyal, and I am a simple inconspicuous man of little consequence.
Their chocolate eyes and warm countenance layed across me like the warmest blanket on earth

“God sent us - He always knew
He knows you love - and he loves you too
You loved us more than you love you
Funny -That’s how God does it too

Now.. you got any more o’ those treats? :-) 

"I will rumble and roar through the adversity of my existence till I rumble no more"

"my virtues are dogged persistence and inability to comprehend verbal warnings"

good Morning one and all:-)

Fear Not- no one has expired at this address. It's a poem I wrote some time ago whilst eating Pop-Tarts at 3 a.m. and watching my dogs sleep.

It occurred to me yesterday that this blog can be pretty much anything I want it to be as long as it's mildly entertaining. My mind (the vehicle you'll be riding in for the duration of your stay here) is a vast expanse of mostly unused territory with widely scattered outcropping of worthwhile, and occasionally beautiful, thought. (Proof of Life). My aim is to take you all 4-wheelin' through the back-country in said "large empty expanse" just like a safari tour through the Serengeti.

Well...Strap up and wipe off. Load your Nerf-pistols and grab the Grey Poupon - we're goin' after Lions in tuxedos and rapper kangaroos in the jungles of Sorta-Rico.

I told you yesterday that we'd get into how music changed me from a 98 lb weakling getting sand kicked in my face on the muscle beaches of Logan County Colorado, to the hulking specimen of vigor and strength and international repute that you see before you today. I wasn't Lyin' here we go.

Firstly; I love playing music for my livelihood. Aside from my children, It's the greatest priveledge I hae ever been given. I don't know what you do for a living but I feel sorry for anybody that isn't me most of the time.

I'll proceed by saying, for the court if need be, that today is Dec 31, 2014. New Years Eve. I'm going to do what so many professional musicians are doing on this day nationwide. First I'll bathe, borrow $20 bucks from a girlfriend, call the ex and tell her alimony is gonna be late again, and then I will get in my car and drive , with sphincter puckered tight, over 300 miles of snowy roads, over icy mountain passes at 3 below zero to Greeley Colorado, to go play and sing the old year away while happy patrons drink bubbly cocktails and kiss each others cheeks with bright red lips.

Actually they'll be slammin beers& shots, Dancing in dangerous wide arcs of swinging innebriated inertia, and at some point in the night - Drunk Grandma will do the sexy dance. (it's the worst part for me. Why is she looking at me?) We've all seen it.

Once, in a bar in Telluride, some sweet poor old thing was liquored up and not getting nearly the attention of her younger (and to be fair tighter) sisters in the room. She just popped her shirt off and let her freak flags fly. (It was sort of that way - long drape-ish affairs).Nobody said a word and the bartender just served her like she was fully clothed. After about 30 minutes she packed the girls up (It was a bit brisk) and everyone had a nice chuckle together over apertifs .

And to be fair, it was apparent, that the lady was indeed a lady in spite of her indiscretions. She blew a big kiss to the whole room when her obviously disgruntled spouse, a very prominent local minister and Republican play-maker, escorted her to the waiting squad-car that would subsequently haul her to a 90-day lockup treatment facility in New Hampshire.

Word to the wise: keep an eye on Grandma this evening.

"I sing to the paint , I sing to the dishes 
In crowded bars, where nobody listens" 

56 years I've been making New Years Resolutions, and I can't recall a single one of them right now. In the coming year I think I would like to just get better - at everything. Cook better, eat better, play better, sing better, love better, do that some more, repeat, etc....:-))

Right around 1972 I was 14 yrs old and had no idea in the world what anything in the world was about. Pretty smart kid but not anywhere near pretty. I was good in band and bad at everything else.

A smartass with an I.Q. was trouble where I came from. The principal and most of the teachers came to regard my posterior (literally the fleshy part of my skinny butt) as batting practice. That's how discipline was dealt out in those days and I needed a lot of it apparently. I Had the most impossible time keeping my mouth shut tightly enough that nothing smart-assed would leak out. I couldn't help my self and was therefore "Butt #1) in my school. Ground zero for ass whuppin. Didn't really hurt me though (except once when they caught a little testicle) . My ass was nearly as hard as my head. I was a tough little booger:-)

The band teacher at the time was a lacy little fella with a fragile constitution and these farm kids, myself included, acted up so badly for the first 9 weeks of school, that we pushed the poor mans sensibilities past the breaking point.He resigned and left town one cold night in the middle of a band concert. (After being super-glued to a chair in his office for 20 minutes).

The replacement was a young fireplug of a man. 5'4 and reminded us all of a young Winston Churchill. He was recently out of the Navy and didn't give a rat's ass how cool these kids thought they were, he was cooler. He had our number. He'd throw erasers and batons and anything handy, right at your head, if you made noise or spoke out of turn in class. (and they guy had apparently played some ball somewhere, if ya know what I mean) He'd smack your knuckles with a ruler and smack your ass with a 4-foot long paddle just like it was fun. He'd push your chair over if you fell asleep. He'd pour water on your head if you weren't playing the right part or were talking to your neighbor. The worst part is he enjoyed all of it and he was good at dishing right back whatever was tossed his way . He took no shit from anyone. He also played a Les Paul Guitar and he could play the fire out of it.. Played in cowboy bands on the weekends He became my mentor and to this day I love him like my Daddy.

I wanted guitar lessons. I had an old $30 guitar from the Western Auto that I had painted black and red stripes on to make it cool. I didn't have any money and my folks sure didn't. I asked him if I could do some chores or somehow buy some of his time to teach me how to sling that thing like Elvis:-) His deal was this" As long as I showed up on time , practiced hard, and tried a little harder to shut up and quit foolin around in class; then he would teach me. And he did. I just about lived in the bandroom for the next two years.

I learned about theory, how to transpose, what a groove was, and how to listen. Never learned to shut up or quit foolin' around though:-) He challenged me to write songs. More than anything else he taught me who I was. Music was always my destination and he could see it when I couldn't. That's what an excellent teacher does.

Another huge event for me, right about this same time, all started inconspicuously enough. We’d seen news on TV about the hippies in the cities, and the peace movement, and smokin grass, Black power, Flower Power, etc , but none of those things had any relevance whatsoever in our little town.

 Until one day around 1971, a yellow schoolbus with flowers painted on the side and red curtain swinging in the open windows lumbered across the tracks coming to a stop right in front of the water fountain in our little town park . A dozen alien critters with long hair and beards and women with long bright dresses and no bras began clambering off the bus and playing in the water like children. They might as well have been wearing space suits.

A couple of them actually waved and said hello. My buddy Donny and I stood on the sidewalk across the street at a dead halt in sheer amazement. We were more than a little suspicious and somewhat afraid but I wasn’t gonna let these strange intruders see an ounce of fear outta me. *I said hello right back and then we ran like hell.

The bus packed up and headed east down the back road out of town and within minutes the whole damn town was buzzin' with the news. Where were they from, What are they doing here, Will they try to sleep with our women, can we sleep with theirs, etc - typical small town stuff:-)

Turns out they were friends of a family that lived a few miles out of town who were known in our community for being just plain nuts and pretty strange. Their son was one of my two best friends and still is today. His Mom and Dad didn’t even bother with formalities , they just treated me like I was one of theirs and not that many folks were happy about letting me indoors at that time:-)

Turns out the school bus full of hippies was actually a very successful and well known rock band from Boulder, Navarro, who also happened to be Carole King’s backup band. When my friend told me who these people were at his house I about had a coronary at 14. I grabbed my striped guitar and peddled my stingray bicyle like I was runnin' from the law , down 6 miles of country road to go make my introductions, and see if perhaps these good folks might take me to Los Angeles or maybe Nashville to be a big star too.:-). I was sure I was that good...... I was wrong:-),

They were playing music like I had never heard in my life, in a little farmhouse out on the prairie in the middle of nowhere. Michael Wooten -Drums pounding insane beautiful rhythms that exploded in my little head, guitars and Richard Hardys brilliant saxophone crying and howling like I imagined heaven must sound like. Songs with lyrics so deep and personal I thought I was gonna drown. I was blown out of my socks into another dimension and my world was never the same after that. The bass is what took me under for keeps.

Mark Andes was about 6-4” , long blonde curly hair, a huge brilliant smile, looked like he’d been chiseled out of a rock. The handsomest person I had ever actually seen in person, and as it turned out, probably the sweetest cat on the planet as well.  He was a beast!!!! . World class player that drove a groove like I had never heard or experienced in my life. He made the instrument HUGE and powerful. He played with absolute authority and the notes were more than just the right notes, they were the center of everything.

I did a little mental check list almost immediately and decided right then and there , that that’s who I want to be. I want to play music that powerfully. Mark Andes, greatest bass player drawing breath in my world, must have seen something . I was too tongue-tied to speak but I had a $30 guitar in my hand and I must have looked like I was starving for it. He smiled and sat down with me, talked to me, showed me where to put my fingers, listened to my barely intelligible songs, and he encouraged me. Told me I was cool. Nobody ever said that before:-)

I never have stopped trying to follow the wonderful examples set for me by some very stellar people. Mark Andes is still to this day one of my dearest friends and mentors. He took the time with a kid that he didn’t have to , and shined a little bit of light in my darkest corner. He showed me where the door out was and where the lights were..

The band came back to our little town several more times and each time I soaked up every bit of music and energy and attitude I could. We were going to save the world and each other through the power of music. When I was old enough to make the trip west, The same people opened doors for me into the Boulder music scene and into what would become my life. To this day these people are my musical family and I love them one and all for showing a country kid with no direction a map to a life I couldn’t even dream of back then.

I digress; It took a few months of sore-fingers and I about burned a hole in my bedroom floor pacing back and forth practicing that old guitar. My folks would holler at me almost every night to knock it off and get to sleep. I got to where I could play a few songs and sing a little, and about this time I noticed that some of these girls who had previously looked at me like I was wallpaper, were hangin around gigglin and lookin at me like dessert. That got my attention. At 14 I was , like every other adolescent male, in a constant state of agitation over these damn girls. But all of a sudden things were lookin' real good. I was a man with a plan.

It was the 70's and girls back then, especially the more developed girls, were wearing bras that a fella couldn't get off with a crowbar and a hacksaw , but I found out that a simple little ole 6-string guitar, used sparingly, and a little ..OOh babay, baby in the key of G - and the proverbial 3-eye clasp fastened gates of heaven would miraculously pop open almost by themselves. It was a revelation of biblical proportion.

The local priest, in fact, got wind of my shenanigans and actually gave a very pointed sermon at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church one Sunday, asking our entire little community to pray for me. Pray that I woukd quit my sinful ways and.abandon the road to hell. As you can see- it didn't take:-)

When I turned 16 I bought a 1959 Ford Fairlane that barely ran, with money I made stackin bales of alfalfa. Itchy nasty shit. . It was my first car.

I started dating a slender beautiful young cheerleader from another town 30 miles down the road. I was driving over there every weekend and every weekend we'd get parked out in the country somewhere and my battery would die or alternator would quit, or some damn thing. We didn't care. Made good use of the time, and we did have a good excuse nearly every time. 
After a couple months of this her Dad (Big scary mean well-armed and highly irritated Dad ) Told me I could no longer see his daughter unless I got another car and cut my hair. I was heart-broken but looking back I thank God for that mans wisdom. I could have ended up related to him through marriage as a result of impending childbirth, and neither one of us wanted that.

"I’m living proof it don’t take 64 crayons to draw a picture" 

I wonder how my world might have changed if more fathers had chased me off their daughters :-) I sure wouldn’t have the stories I have now and I wouldn’t remember the honey-sweet electric taste of that young womens lips on mine. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in this world or the next :-)

..And off we go to Greeley, Colorado:-)

‘Baptized by Love, Bound by tears” 

We got a real bad recession, 
A crippling depression
Love sweet love is in short supply 
too much need and unnecessary greed 
tears in too many eyes 

Peace out y’all - Until manyana 

Elvis and June Carter say hey.

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