The Trumps rocking the oldies

Do you know the latest about the continuing Russia-U.S. Election saga?

Well, if you do know you are ahead of me.

Jim Morrison in a 1969 promo picture for a Doors appearance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer.  — Whoa. I’m channeling my inner Jim Morrison. All the cable news people were talking all this stuff about the Donald’s boys — Kushner and all the rest. but of all the Putin’s man boys Donald Jr. was the best … Donnie the helpless president’s offspring… Also a bit of Warren Zevon channeling as well.

Send lawyers guns and money, the shit has hit the fan. I guess I shouldn’t  quote Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” while quoting from his “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.” Wikipedia Creative Commons.

All that I know is that some evidence turned up about the Trump boys meeting with the Ruskies then Don Jr. released some e-mails in an attempt to “get ahead of the story.”

Perhaps Trump Jr. got way too ahead of the story. It seems like Jr. is a deep dung daddy.  It  likewise appears that Trump Jr. has that Trump trait of his father, that being a lying, arrogant, narcissist.

Now like father, like son, perhaps should– just in case — find an outside con who may know guys inside who the father and son might hire to pick up their soap on the prison floor.

Or, perhaps, maybe not. Better to be safe than, well, you probably know what I’m talking about.

Boy howdy, Gee Dubya, you don’t know how much we miss you these days. President George W. Bush comforts a Hurricane Katrina refugee in Louisiana in 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper.

“You say it’s your birthday … ” Well I suppose it is, Sir Paul.

Paul McCartney, or “Sir Paul” as he is known across the pond, was born 74 years ago today. McCartney, with his left-handed bass, his wide-ranging voice and his writing prowess, will forever be linked with the Beatles. It was a group that changed the world in some ways.

Birthday Boy: Sir Paul McCartney. Creative Commons photo
Birthday Boy: Sir Paul McCartney. Creative Commons photo

But McCartney since splitting with the Beatles in 1970 has done quite well for himself, introducing succeeding generations with the “Liverpool sound.”

McCartney wrote or co-wrote, and sung too many songs that I am at a loss to pick any number of favorites. That’s a task made even more difficult when surveying the Beatles body of work because, even though Paul may have been the primary vocalist, I always saw the band as a true group.

Wings was likewise a true group, although there was no discounting the star that rose on those stages they played was McCartney. Still, Wings also turned out many albums and songs I liked.

Both Wings LPs’ “Band On The Run” and “Venus and Mars” were fabulous. But those albums were from the 1970s, and by 1978 there was a “Wings Greatest.” That was even though, a previous work, the triple-set, “Wings Over America,” carried versions of past songs including a few from the Beatles.
There is not much else for me to say, other asking anyone reading to put on a favorite song performed by Sir Paul, either with the Beatles, Wings, or with whomever else. Oh, and here’s to having many more birthdays, old chap!

A couple of my favorites:

“Hey Jude”

“We Can Work It Out”

“Mrs. Vanderbilt”

“Venus and Mars Rock Show”

“Maybe I’m Amazed”

What’s the fuss over Prince’s death? Life.

Some are probably wondering out there why such a “fuss” is in progress over the death of Prince. The musician, singer, songwriter, all-around celebrity died Thursday at his Minnesota home at age 57.

I wasn’t a great Prince fan. I heard many of his songs on the radio during the mid-1980s. The song of his I like the most was “Kiss.”  The tune incorporates R & B, soul and rock and roll. Even if you didn’t like his songs but really appreciate music as I do, you have to admit he had way out-sized talent in his small 5-feet 2-inch body. The guy was a genius in more ways of one.

The whole thing about Prince changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, then being known as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, was mainly disdain for his recording label. The change was something he was ridiculed over. His description of events were that Warner Brothers had taken his name and trademarked it, something he reacted to by painting “SLAVE” on his face. When he signed a new deal, he became Prince again.

As goofy as it all sounds, mystique was one of the reasons he was so endeared to his fans. I can dig that. In one way or the other I have re-invented myself a time or two.

Every generation has a figure, a rock star or band, which might define those times. For the older generation it was Sinatra. In more recent times, say for the last 50 years, it was Elvis or the Beatles. I am reading a book now about someone who really identified with Nirvana in the 90s. I never really got what they were saying. I like some of the songs, “Smells Like Team Spirit, which is a great rock song. I can see where the younger or young at heart might consider this biggest Nirvana hit an anthem for the times.

This has been a particularly bad year for renown musicians, having lost David Bowie, the Eagles’ Glen Frey, Merle Haggard and now Prince. The first three were all of a certain age, all of whom spent many years in music and their original fan base were roughly the age of the musicians or perhaps younger. Yeah, a lot more where they came from, a cynic might say. Prince was only 57. “Only” 57. I am 60 and people say 60 is the new 50. Whatever.

Long ago, it seemed you would hear someone with a hit record. They might have another or even more. Then you might never hear of them. These days with multi-media forms and the internet, practically no musicians never go away. Even after they die. That is good, well, as long as the music is good. People need to hear the music they want to hear. They need to sing in the shower or rock out on the commute home.

While we mourn the past, it seems as if celebrating today — as in the moment — is a logical segue. Whistle while you work, or sing along as you play.

“Sing Me Back Home,” even if you can’t sing

Perhaps I would be a bit remiss by not mentioning the passing of a great American songster: Merle Haggard.

The country music legend died April 6, 2016, his birthday, at his home in the San Joaquin Valley of California. His wife, Theresa, said on the singer’s official website that Haggard had long suffered various health problems.

Growing up where I did, in the East Texas Pineywoods — just across the Sabine River from Louisiana, it was pretty hard to avoid country music. That and Swamp Pop, a combination of Cajun music, and rhythm and blues. The older I got the more I enjoyed rock and roll, in a progressive fashion. First, it was the Monkees, later came more substantial rock and soon I was listening to Black Sabbath, the former thanks to my departed buddy, Waldo. My musical tastes ran wild and still continue to do so. I like many of the older rockers like Chuck Berry, as well as the blues as performed like the masters, ranging from Bobby “Blue” Bland to B.B. King.  But I never really got away from “both  kinds of music — country AND western,” as the bar owner told Jake and Elwood in “The Blues Brothers.”

Some periods of country music were worst than most. Some of the Nashville music big shots wanted to take the country and western out of the country and western. But there were some noble souls who wouldn’t ride that train, the so-called “outlaws” like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, Billy Joe Shaver, and Kris Kristofferson. Many of this bunch decided Austin would be a much more compatible location for the type of music they wanted to do.

But through it all, Merle Haggard traveled onward dodging most of the bastardized C & W hits, through the last of the century and on into the new one. In later years he seemed to be as mellow an outlaw as his compatriots such as Willie did. Although, Haggard remained true to his music and what he felt about life, love, heartbreak, hard time as well as hard times.

Merle Haggard performing in Tennessee in 2009. Photo: Creative Commons
Merle Haggard performing in Tennessee in 2009. Photo: Creative Commons

It would be hard to rate my favorite songs by The Hag. That would be like asking who is my favorite family member? I love his prisons songs: “Sing Me Back Home,” “Branded Man” as well as his tributes that proceeded to Jimmie Rodgers and later, Bob Wills. A couple of my favorite were “Rainbow Stew” and “Big City.”

I suppose an example of my love of The Hag’s music is back in high school when I was a just a long-haired kid . My late brother John asked me if I would go with him to the nursing home and play for the patients. I must have been smoking something or other because I hadn’t sung in front of people since grammar school and I don’t think I have sung solo, in public, since.

John was a pretty good piano player who performed with some local boys in high school. This was probably when I was maybe six or seven years old. He continued to play, though not so much for the public. His first wife Wendy, a great gal I would have done anything for, was the recreation director for the home. I can’t remember if he and Wendy were divorced or separated by then, it doesn’t really matter. The home needed some entertainment so it looked like John at the piano, this young black gospel guitarist and myself, vocalist, were it.

About the only songs I knew I could sing with anything near accuracy was Merle Haggard songs. I will say this, John did a heck of a job playing even when he wasn’t particularly familiar with the song. And the young guitarist followed along on every song that, with his gospel background, gave our odd group a bluesy sound,

The old folks loved it. Of course, if I had been in their shoes I’d have probably liked anything. At least no one told me to quit my day job — which was high school.

Lots of memories have flooded over during these last two days while thinking about Merle’s songs. I never saw him play, but as a master musician, he was the genuine article. And, he left us with a long, rich legacy to enjoy.

Trump, doofi everywhere, but Bob Seger is still there, like a rock

The only thing I’ve heard that I agree with today awash in the Trump story du jour — his boycott of tomorrow’s Fox debate — is his tweet:

 “The statement put out yesterday by @FoxNews was a disgrace to good broadcasting and journalism. Who would ever say something so nasty & dumb.” — Donald J. Trump.

I think Fox News is pretty much always a disgrace to journalism and broadcasting. But then again, at least in this hissy-fit saga, The Donald can be blamed for some of those failures.

The chaos in this weird chapter in U.S. politics was enjoined with the missive purportedly sent out by Fox News el jefe Roger Ailes:

 “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

Jeez, what a carnival side show. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to demean carnival side shows.

Unless you were hiking in the Himalayans during the past 24 hours, this very bad political theater is supposedly over Donald Trump pulling out of Thursday night’s Republican debate on Fox News Channel. Trump wants Fox’s debate moderator Megyn Kelly off the panel which will query the Republican presidential candidates. Kelly tossed Trump a hard ball question during an earlier debate. Since then Trump has had a running feud with Kelly in which the feuding has been mostly Trump’s than that from the blonde newscaster.

This is the kind of crap on which the media is falling all over. It’s all simple why. It is because Trump has made himself uber-available to the media, especially the cable and broadcast media. He seemingly calls Wolf Blitzer on CNN at least once a day and, of course, The Wolf takes The Donald’s calls.

Of course there is always the probability Trump will show up on the debate stage. I wouldn’t be surprised if he walked on unannounced. Oh my.

I really say to all this: Stop. We need issues, not showmanship. I guess a lot of people liked Trump from his TV show “The Apprentice,” where his catch phrase was “You’re Fired.”

Donald, and I speak for who knows how many, we’ve had enough: You’re fired.


I hope there isn’t some kind of bloodbath — or more bloodshed — at the Oregon standoff with the militia doofi.  CBS News reported this evening that standoff leader Ammon Bundy, who was arrested in the incident in which his group’s spokesman was shot and killed by police, spoke through his attorney that those remaining at the wildlife refuge headquarters should leave peaceably.

 “To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here,” Bundy wrote. “Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.”

There is some sound advice.


I wondered when, or if, this day would come. Driving back from downtown Beaumont this afternoon I caught on the radio what was most of the entire exquisite ballad, “Like A Rock,” by long-time rocker Bob Seger.

It’s a beautiful, pensive song of looking up all of a sudden and realizing how quickly time passes in one’s life. Seger told The New York Times that he wrote the song after having ended an 11-year relationship.

 “You wonder where all that time went. But beyond that, it expresses my feeling that the best years of your life are in your late teens when you have no special commitments and no career. It’s your last blast of fun before heading into the cruel world, Seger said.”

I wouldn’t particularly pick my teens as the best part of my life. They weren’t the worst. I remember when that song was released. I had a short relationship at the time, but man, was it passionate! Oh, I  was 30, and she was 31. But advertising execs eventually hijacked the song and made it an anthem for Chevy Trucks. The campaign lasted from 1991-2004, one of the longest such runs. I remember just trying to tune the song out during those Chevy commercial years. I got sick of it. And I wondered if someday I would ever hear and love he song again.

Well, today was the day. Oh, and I am 60.

 “My hands were steady/My eyes were clear and bright
  My walk had purpose/My steps were quick and light
  And I held firmly/To what I felt was right
  Like a rock … “