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Sunday June 18, 2006

 

 

Happy Father's Day!

Obviously, this day used to be a lot different to me. I'd spend all day trying to catch my Dad. I'd usually find him just before bedtime. He'd be on the leaving side of a ball field. I miss him so much that I can't put it into words. Since "the long night", I've met so many others who have gone through it. It's like a club that you never knew existed that so many people that you know are already a member of. It's strange. I try not to think much about what Father's Day means anymore. For the month leading up to it, all those commercials about "the perfect gift for Dad" cause a bit of a twinge. It hurts. I guess it always will. My Grandmother told me this morning that she still feels it at Father's Day too. Her Dad (my Great-Grandfather) died in 1975. But at least he was old. He lived. My Dad only made it to 55. That just ain't right and nothing can make it so. You can claim God's will all day and it won't make it right. My Dad should be at a soft ball field or on a golf course today. I can only hope and convince myself that somehow he is.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

I guess it's inevitable that I would post these lyrics on the site. Now that it's "three years on", I guess it's the time. This is a Rick Springfield song from 1985. This song played on a loop through my head for the better part of the fall of '03 (along with "Running On Empty", "Still The Same" and a bunch of my Dad's favorites).

"My Father's Chair"

My Father's chair is still standing there
All alone since the long night
Now it's three years on and I still feel
He'll come home, we'll be alright

So where's this healing time brings?
I was told the pain would ease
But it still hurts like the first night

That night my brother, my mother and I
Were looking up at a distant star
And wishing we could reach that far

And back in the house
And alone for the first time
We told each other we cared
We avoided my Father's chair

I watch my family, we hold on
We are strong and we'll be alright
The clock continues counting down all the while
And every child will share the long night

But do the spirits meet again?
Why am I still so filled with doubt?
Is my soul everlasting?

And the far distant future
When I knew you'd be gone
Came too fast and stays too long
Why do they leave the weak of spirit
And take the strong?

When the world turns sour
And I get sick from the smell
And I can't find no comfort there
I climb into My Father's Chair

So there's a little more cheer for ya on a Sunday afternoon.

As for me, I spent my day splintered.

The band got back together for rehearsal in the afternoon. Due to Mike's schedule, we could only do 2 hours so we didn't get to work on any of the newer material (except for the ones that have already made it into the set). We played mostly fine (we oughtta - we've been playing 9/10 of these forever) but what the heck was up with "Taking Its Toll"? Ack! We did get some rust off. Next weekend, we need to restore the shine 'cause that GATH show on the 30th needs to be a good 'un.

Afterwards, Frank came over and tried to sketch out a couple of ideas for new songs. They were still too sketchy, though. He also left a lyric sheet. He has a great lyrical concept called "Just Like A Friend" and I'm going to try and tweak and turn it into one of our songs. It'll be his first lyric contribution (except for the title to "Wide Bicycle"). You'll hear it if it's worth hearing when we get it done. Of course, the lyrics are based around his current troubles. Without getting into specifics and details, let's just say that Frank's a free man.

To leave on a more silly note, I had a bunch 'o' ideas for the KISS Coffehouse grand opening contest. Even though I'm already 'sposed to be there to cover it for Retna, they're having a challenge to name a flavor of coffee. The winners get to have "Coffee With KISS" and their flavor added to the restaraunt menu. The whole concept is just so ridiculous that I couldn't resist coming up with several of my own ideas. The deadline for the contest is today. I've been trying to send in my offerings for days but they always bounce back with a "delivery failed" notification. My guess is that they got enough entries and just don't want to bother with any more. I say that if they say the deadline's Sunday, it should run 'til Sunday.

I never could get my ideas into the contest but you can read 'em here.

How 'bout these for KISS Coffee flavors?

Black Almond
"A naturally sweet oriental almond taste with a light, delicate, pleasing aroma"

All American Blend
"A rich, full brew made from the finest Latin American beans"

Charismacino
"A distinct cappucino"

Exciter
"If you need a jolt try this double caffeine espresso"

Heaven's On Fire-Roasted Blend
"Wood-fire roasted espresso"

And we can't forget:

Calling Dr. Nut
"This coffee, which is rich and full of flavor, not only provides a pleasant aroma but a great-tasting experience"

For the ones who'd like a little more flavor:

Do You Love Mint?
"Creamy Swiss chocolate with a sweet peppermint top note"

Dynasty Double Vanilla
"Just what it sounds like, baby!"

Stilletto Amaretto
"A rich, unmistakably Italian blend with dark, robust body deepened by golden roasted almonds and accented by a hint of orange with the distinct flavor of Amaretto"

To come down at the end of a long night, try:

Aftershow Decaf

And for the sweet tooth, why not try these Unholy desserts? You wanted the best? Well, Any Way You Slice It, our cakes and pies are the best.

Living In Sinammon Rolls (Amanda's idea)

Not For The Innocent Brownies

Gimme More ‘Smores

She's So European German Chocolate Cake

I thought some of 'em were pretty good. I fought hard not to work the KISS song "Spit" into a coffee flavor.


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Saturday June 17, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I spent another chunk of today trying to get things caught up. And I'm getting there a little bit at a time. At least I can see it moving even if it is like watching the hands on a clock!

I had a phone meeting with Jerry from Side B again. It really feels like we're getting close to a deal of some sort. I've been close before but the belief factor is much higher this time around. If we do it, we won't be doing it as a "record company / artist deal". We'll be doing it more as a partnership. If they can do what they plan to do then it will be extremely beneficial to both sides. What more can you ask for?

In the late afternoon, I met with the drummer that I mentioned yesterday. I'm not gonna divulge details on it until I see if it's really feasible but it's interesting anyway. If we were to work with him, it would definitely put a spin on the band. Again I probably spent more time speaking to his Mom and Dad but I liked what he had to say as well. They all seemed excited by the music when they heard it.

Amanda and I loosened our belts enough for a $10 (for both us) gorge at CiCi's. It ain't the best but when you're on a budget as tight as ours has become, it'll do.


 

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Friday June 16, 2006
 

 

 

Well, it looks like we did indeed get that airplay in Oregon last night. You can click here to see the full playlist from that show. We appeared in the second segment.

I finally managed to talk to my Mom today. It's been a while and I've been missing her a lot lately. I wish we could spend more time together but she's on the road even more than I am these days. We kept getting disconnected last night because she was travelling. We finally got caught up this afternoon. She made me feel a lot better about everything and even helped me put things regarding my Grandmother and the state of everything into perspective.

Maybe there's a chance...

I also got into contact with another potential drummer. His name's Michael, too. He's a really (REALLY) young drummer. How young? Well, let's just say that I spoke to his mom Elizabeth as much or more than to him. I'm not sure how to approach it yet - especially since our current Michael is playing like a monster during the rare times we get together.

Let's just say I'm leaving all options on the table right now.

I listened to the new Cheap Trick CD, Rockford, today. I don't know that it's everything people are saying ("the best album since Dream Police") but it's certainly another great one to add to the catalog. It's a lot more pop than the last two. So maybe they're just moving back from power-pop to pop-power. I dunno. I like it.

I also listened to most of the Willie Nelson box set. Whew! I always forget just how incredible he is until I'm immersed in the songs.

In the evening, I watched a couple of concerts. I started off with Electric Light Orchestra at the New Victoria Theatre in England circa 1976. It was before they had a lot of hits and it was also at the tail-end of their early sound. Great stuff. It's so clear how influential they were on so many bands, not the least of which was Cheap Trick. Just listen to ELO's "10538 Overture" and CT's "Downed" back to back. And just what did you think "ELO Kiddies" was talking about? Did you think it was just another way to say "Hello"?

Amanda then joined me to watch Roger Waters first set from the Rock In Rio festival from June 2 of this year (a couple of weeks ago). Sometimes the only thing better than being able to see a band in their long-past prime is to see what they're up to NOW! Only the first set was broadcast and while his vocals were clearly aided by tapes, it was still killer to hear one of my personal favorites ("The Gunner's Dream") performed in its entirety. He's apparently cut it out of the subsequent shows. There was also a smoking version of "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" and a set ending "Sheep" that would be cool to hear live. So far, he's avoiding any Atlanta dates (just as Gilmour did earlier in the year).

I must say, though, that the parts of the concert that got to me most were of his most recent material. "Perfect Sense" makes even more sense in the current world than it did in '92 and '04's "Leaving Beirut" was especially pointed. The music to it is positively lame but the lyrics are as intense and necessary to hear as anything he's ever done.

What do you think?

Excerpts from Roger Waters' "Leaving Beirut"

"Is this our pleasure, punishment or crime?
Is this a mountain that we really want to climb?

Oh George! Oh George!
That Texas education must have fucked you up when you were very small...

When I was 17
My mother, bless her heart,
Fulfilled my summer dream
She handed me the keys to the car
We motored down to Paris, fuelled with Dexedrine and booze
Got busted in Antibes by the cops
And fleeced in Naples by the wops
But everyone was kind to us, we were the English dudes

Our dads had helped them win the war
When we all knew what we were fighting for
But now an Englishman abroad is just a US stooge
The bulldog is a poodle snapping round the scoundrel's last refuge

Is gentleness too much for us?
Should gentleness be filed along with empathy
We feel for someone else's child?

Every time a smart bomb does its sums and gets it wrong Someone else's child dies and equities in defence rise

America, America, please hear us when we call
You got hip-hop, be-bop, hustle and bustle
You got Atticus Finch
You got Jane Russell
You got freedom of speech
You got great beaches, wildernesses and malls

Don't let the might, the Christian right, fuck it all up
For you and the rest of the world.

Not in my name, Tony, you great war leader you
Terror is still terror, whosoever gets to frame the rules
History's not written by the vanquished or the damned
Now we are Genghis Khan, Lucretia Borghia, Son of Sam...


How does the story end?

 


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Thursday June 15, 2006

 

 

 

 


I tried to work today, really I did. I just couldn't stay on it. I'm just too distracted. I'm glad I was so relaxed from the vacation or I would be really out of it.

Amanda and I are having to tighten our financial belts. I'm owed quite a few checks from photography that my agencies (and UGA) haven't gotten to me yet. It's really affecting us. And that's not helping my mood.

I spoke to my Mom this evening. It's been a while. We kept getting disconnected and tonight, that only felt symbolic.

I took some comfort in the 3-CD Willie Nelson box set reissue of Shotgun Willie, Phases & Stages and Live At The Texas Opry House that I received today. I'm going to try and review it by next week. Rhino has really done an amazing job of putting this package together. The outtakes are often as good as the released stuff...

On the positive side, I had a decent phone meeting with the other partner in Side B Music about us signing on with them in some form. I believe we made some progress. Now it's back to Jerry for the next step.

Also - a DJ in Eugene, Oregon discovered us on MySpace. He requested a disc and downloaded "Towel Cape Song" to play on his specialty power-pop show called Snap, Crackle, Pop. So that's cool. Now we're being played coast to coast (now all's we got to worry about is EVERYTHING in between).

 


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Wednesday June 14, 2006

 

 


Today was rough on me. I went by the cemetary before leaving town. Then we swung by my Grandmother's after lunch with Amanda's Mom (guess where we went!).

At my Grandmother's, more problems raised their heads. I think we're at an end. There's no reason in going into details but it's going to take a miracle to save the only home I've ever had (sometimes I call it "Wayside"). We went through some bills and looked at some mountains that we can't figure how to climb. It's looking like we're going to lose it all. I've personally dropped around $30K into it (that I don't have). I don't have anymore to give. There's no more to be found. And it would be so easy to save this place if certain people stepped up...

Passages...

This is one that hurts unbelievably. When I came home from the hospital after being born, this is the place. This is the place that my Father and his Father spent their last nights. This is the place that my maternal Grandmother checked out of, too. It was also my sanctuary, my haven, my safe-place - the only thing secure in a crazy, crazy life. It was the place that my Grandmother and Dad showed me how to play guitar. The place I sang with my family. The place I spent my last night in South Carolina before moving away and the place I spent my last night before Amanda and I made it official. This is the yard in which Stormy and I played under the pecan tree. It's where my Dad and I played catch. It's the yard that my Mom's voice would roll across when calling me to dinner. It's where we all went for Christmas and Thanksgiving. This is the place where I wrote a lot of songs and the place that inspired many more. Everything good and bad that's ever happened in my life is centered around that house and virtually every important person in my life has passed through it. It really is home.

It's not lost yet but it might as well be. I just don't know what else we can do. I'm working on it until there's nothing left to work on even if it's a losing battle.

Here are the lyrics to another unreleased song from years ago. It's funny how I wrote these so many years before experiencing what's in them. My Father had a cassette of my original demo of this song in the glove compartment of his truck the last time he drove it. A CD of the upgraded demo was laying next to his CD player when I first went in the room "afterwards". I took that disc from the room. It's still with him and that's still with me.

Click the blue lyrics to hear my home demo of this one. I play everything on these. This is the kind of home recording that I present to the band for 'em to work up their parts. This one's never been presented that way. You'll be able to tell why this one doesn't fit in with the stuff that we're doing but one day I hope to find a home for it.

"Wayside"
(music and lyrics by lil' ol' moi)

Time stood still beneath the Southern sky
The moon was chasing us home – my Mom & Dad & I
I wondered how it knew.
What made me so unique?

And as I closed my eyes and thought
I left this world for sleep

When I awoke my Dad was carrying me inside
My memories aren't too clear but I slept well that night
Everything I loved was home.
I needed nothing I didn't have.

Every day was getting better, a new adventure to be had.

The years flew swiftly then
I can't count the seconds.
And changes filled my world

Where did it all go so wrong?
When did I fall so far?
What does it matter now?
Who really cares anyhow?

How did I get where I am?
Can I keep pushing ahead?
Why do I not know the way?
I've just gotta remember what my Grandmother said…

“When you wake up tomorrow, it'll all be fine.”

Time moved fast, I sped through teenage years
I spent some time with my Mom
But lived between the tears of a broken home.

There was just one place for sure.
There was just one place for certain.
There was just one place secure.

The years flew swiftly then.
I watched it build up.
I watched it fall apart.

Where did it all go so wrong?
When did I fall so far?
What does it matter now?
Who really cares anyhow?

How did I get where I am?
Can I keep pushing ahead?
Why do I not know the way?
I've just gotta remember what my Grandmother said…

“When you wake up tomorrow, it'll all be fine.”

Now, here I am, I don't know how or why.
I hardly ever get to see that long, lost Southern sky
But I'll be heading back soon.
The moon will chase me back home.

And when I wake up in the morning…
When I wake up in the morning…
When I wake up by the wayside…

I pray it's not gone...

Cheery, innit?

Seriously, the songs ARE psychic.

We got back to Athens later than usual. When I got there my repaired Nikon was on the steps. It could've been there for days for all I know. I'm glad we're in a relatively safe neighborhood. I also had the new Cheap Trick CD waiting in the mailbox. I'll need it to help cheer me up and get me motivated again.

 


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Tuesday June 13, 2006

 

 

 

 

 


We were supposed to spend tonight at the beach also. We decided to come on home and save the money since Alberto was due to dump all over the area all day. Besides, one more day wouldn't add anything to an already special trip.

We got home in the late afternoon and watched a couple of episodes of South Park with Amanda's Dad. Then we headed to my Grandmother's. Since Grandma didn't feel up to going out, I picked her up some dinner and stayed with her while she had it (I hate eating alone so I don't want her to have to when I'm around). Then Amanda and I went over to Western Sizzlin' (Ah, the splendors of Lugoff, SC!). I gorged as is to be expected and then we swung by to see Lori & Shawn. They've decided to separate. I feel bad about it but I know in my heart that it's the right decision for them. They've done everything they can to make it work and it just isn't. Sometimes it happens. At least we had one last night all together as Lori and the kids were still there 'til she finds a place. It's nice that they can be that amicable. The strangest part to me was that it didn't seem any different. My stomach hurt from laughter just as much as it usually does when I'm with them and I'll miss it. (Thanks, Engrish!)

Passages keep passing...but I guess that's what they do. Those of us who are lucky enough to keep passing through to the next one should be thankful. I am. Still it's hard to let go even if it is the right (re: ONLY) thing to do.


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Monday June 12, 2006

 

 


Happy Anniversary, Amanda!

I have no idea how we've been able to put up with each other for so long. We were 15 and 16 when the story began and it's still going strong (ahem) several years later. It's occasionally been tragic but always interesting. And the good times simply outweigh the bad. Even when things were at their bleakest, I could always hang on to what we'd accomplished together and what we still will. It's been a good ride. Let's keep it rolling as long as possible. Here's to many more years of tolerating each other...anything more is icing.

Finally, I got some sleep last night. I was feeling stronger and ready to go. Alas, Amanda didn't sleep last night. It's the ying and yang, innit? We went for a big lunch at IHOP before hitting the streets again. Now I know that Myrtle Beach has always been the "redneck Riviera" but it seemed so much more rednecky than I ever remembered it. I thought it was particularly so when I saw several young reds driving a pickup emblazoned with Confederate flags. The punchline? They had hip-hop blaring from their testosteronized sound system. I chose to look at it as progress rather than dramatic irony.

It didn't take long before Amanda felt the water calling. I tried but I'm a 90 degree man. If it's not at least that hot, I ain't a-going in. I made the effort and said "nope, too cold for me". I then crashed on the towel and watched Amanda body board. I noticed that the waves were particularly potent and thinking just how fun it would be to catch some if it were only a little warmer. Amanda was in for about 30 minutes when the signs went up saying "No swimming". I heard someone mention a rip current and that there had been two rescues in the last few minutes. The guards wisely shut it down. Amanda didn't seem too upset as she said it was hard to even stand up.

The storm was definitely coming. Alberto was on his way.

We got on our way to dinner. On the way out of the parking deck, my brain decided to go on vacation too. When I was focused on missing cars behind me, I plowed into the concrete beside me by cutting too hard. I'm a very safe driver. I've never done anything like this but it was 100% my fault. I was relaxed and not thinking. That'll be at least $500 (our deductible amount) to fix. Somehow we managed not to let it get us down. It wouldn't do any good anyway. So despite the beach closing, the weather turning ugly and tearing a hole in the side of the car, we kept on with the "celebration" with the note to myself that maybe it's not that great to be totally relaxed.

We decided to take advantage of the raised surf anyway. I chose to eat at Pier 14 because it's lodged on a pier over the ocean. We had a meal that was about the same price as last night's chain restaraunt meal. But tonight we had crashing waves and surfers below us. There was occasional lightning to add to the drama. Inside there was candle light and someone serenading us. It took exactly one song before Jimmy Buffett's catalog came up. 3 guesses which song it was. Yep! And "Changes In Latitudes" was played too. There was also a bit 'o' James Taylor, "Under The Boardwalk" and "My Girl" so all the usual suspects were trotted out. It was totally hacky with the drum machine / sequencer backup under acoustic guitar and exactly what was needed.

Then it was time to hit the Pavilion.

The Pavilion was born the same year as my Dad. He and I went there together. I've spent time there at some point with nearly every person close to me. 2006 is the last time. They're ripping it all down when this September ends (Isn't there a song in there somewhere?).

We picked a great time to go pay our final respects (as it were) to the park. Amanda didn't even have to wait in line. Everyone was staying indoors because it looked like it was about to storm like crazy. There was lightning in the distance. It only made things more dramatic. I didn't feel like riding anything (yes, I'm a chicken with most of the rides - but even the ones I will get on weren't calling me tonight). I had fun just watching Amanda run to the front and jump right on. When she got on the giant swings, there was about a 10-second downpour. Then it was great again. She won a nice Jewish stuffed cat at a "Fool The Guesser" stand and I guarded it while she got on the Enterprise and Over The Rainbow repeated times. It felt so weird sitting there at Over The Rainbow. I looked around at The Attic (Magic to some) behind me. That ol' marquee and the comforting glow that shined over the boulevard and over to Peaches Corner was just as luminous as ever. I froze it in my memory banks one more time.

The passage of time is still passing.

And that's the theme of an anniversary isn't it? When we got back to the hotel, Amanda got out her diary from that summer. Even I didn't realize how different things were. So many friends have lost touch. Hearing about Tony Bess and Sean Bishop were hard enough. At least Tony's still roaming around somewhere. Sean only made it a few months out of high school before a car wreck claimed him. Of course, my Dad was featured prominently. He's gone. So's my step-Grandfather and Stepfather. My stepmother has disappeared off the face of the earth as far as I know. I've tried to find her to no avail. One of my best friends, Grady Higgs, I haven't seen for years. It's just so strange to have their ghosts right there on the pages in present tense.

Some are still there. Emily, Lori, Shawn, my Mom and Grandmother, Scott (although I haven't seen him for years, he painted the cover to C'mon, Accept Your Joy and we email), Missy and Benji, Alyssa and Amanda's parents. But we're all different now. Those people from back then are still in us but there are many, many layers over the top. It was good visiting them again. We listened to the first mix tape I made her while she read passages that underlined our passages. It was oddly comforting and disconcerting. The last song on the disc was "Love Reign O'er Me". Everything merged together as the sounds of the ocean and thunderstorm on the recording meshed with the sound of the ocean and the thunderstorm just off of our balcony. It was too perfect. It was strangely comforting and worrying. What will the next anniversary bring?

I sat on a balcony in this very hotel and watched Mars' close approach to Earth in 2003 and thought about my family and how much I wished they were there with me. 3 weeks and 1 day later, my Dad died. The ocean is a very emotional place for me. I guess that's why so many of my favorite songs of mine (mostly unreleased) take place there. One of Amanda's favorites of mine is "Green & Gold". I hope one day to do it justice in an official recording. I'll post the lyrics to it below as they seem apropos in regard to my use of the ocean as a healing place. But don't worry. I have a great time at the beach. Remembering the "other stuff" only helps me appreciate the time I have even more.

And while I can't say "I wouldn't change a thing" about my time with Amanda (there's plenty of things I'd like to undo or redo), I can say that there's no one who I would've rather spent that time with. I'm lucky. I say it a lot and I mean it every single time. I've got a lot of problems and challenges in my life but it's all worth the struggle as long as we're together. Beyond that, I know nothing.

If you want to hear my solo acoustic and vocal demo of this (recorded live with 2 mics in my living room), just click the blue.

"Green & Gold"
(music & lyrics by lil' ol' moi)

Shadows stretching as the daylight sky turns gold
I'm wading in the dusk, the ocean's green
Waves tug and push, I scan the sky
Thinking about the space that's in between

Can it ever be the same?
Memories lost at sea, they all wash ashore
Fragmented pieces lead me here
Holding on to the green and gold

I don't remember the turning point.
I only know that it wasn't marked by light.
All that and it's only brought me here
Punching at the breakers, trying to turn back the tide

Will it ever be the same?
Yesterday's adrift, still I need to know.
Tied to here by gravity
Holding on to the green and gold

Then the voice came loud and clear
One question left, I screamed it into the sky


“Will it ever be the same?”

“No, it won't,

But it can be better.”

I felt a peace start chipping at the loss
It isn't easy, just a little bit at a time.
I saw the first sign in a thousand years.
I felt God reverse the hands of time.

And it won't ever be the same.
With that realized, the bitterness breaks its hold
I see a reflection of the person I was
Letting go of the green and gold.

 

Thanks, Amanda.

Here's to tomorrow...as we head towards the gold.

 

Click here for last week with Nine Inch Nails, on the radio, Billy Preston and 666!


 

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