Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, July 4, 2016, 10:15 a.m.
When the sun comes up on that bright morn / In the quiet that follows every storm / When the demons have all died away / We’ll celebrate your Independence Day.
The song wasn’t written for our Independence Day. It’s a message of hope to a troubled acquaintance. It is, however, Independence Day, so here’s a video of me singing it.
The Fourth of July finds me melancholy about the world, the country, and myself.
Roger Miller didn’t just write happy songs. He wrote several of the sadder ones I know. One equated freedom with death, or, perhaps, suicide:
Well, I think I finally found me a sure-fire way to forget / It’s so simple, I’m surprised I hadn’t done thought of it before yet / It’s foolproof, well, it’s foolhardy, maybe, but who knows? / Anyway, here I am, walkin’ down where the cold, dark water flows.
Miller died too young, but it was from throat cancer.
Lots of days, I think about how things aren’t so bad. I remember JFK, RFK, Dr. King, Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate … right on up through 9/11 … and that’s been almost 15 years now … and to the present.
I’ve seen good times, too. I was on a state championship team in high school. Hell, the Red Sox have won three world championships. Furman beat South Carolina in football and North Carolina in basketball, the latter twice. John Prine sat down next to me on a short plane flight. On the night Henry Aaron hit his 715th home run, it was my 16th birthday and I was at the game.
Freedom is an aggravating concept. It gives a man enough rope to hang himself. I could’ve gone to law school. I could’ve had the money to go to all those ball games and car races I got paid a pittance to describe. I could’ve collected first editions instead of writing books that bounce around in the air and alight on small devices.
But I’m free to sit here for at least half of most days, typing for some of them and writing on the good ones.
Free! Cry out from the mountaintops!
All I know how to do is write. I am free to do it. Everyone has some complaint about the freedom he or she has lost.
Why not rejoice at the freedom we’ve got?
Crazy of Natural Causes is a fable of lifes absurdity.
My new novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is a crime thriller.
Set in the hills of Kentucky, Crazy of Natural Causes is a fable of life’s absurdity, seen through the unique perspective of ruined coach Chance Benford.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories, all of which are derived from songs I wrote.
All three of these books, already autographed, are available at L&L Office Supply, 114 N. Main St., Clinton. Buy one of the novels, and you’ll get the short stories absolutely free.
Most of my books are also available here.