A Bit Reckless About Kelly

Reckless Kelly: from left, David Abeyta, Cody Braun, Jay Nazz, Willy Braun, Joe Miller. (Monte Dutton photos)
Reckless Kelly: from left, David Abeyta, Cody Braun, Jay Nazz, Willy Braun, Joe Miller. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, October 23, 2016, 10:33 a.m.

Inexplicably, the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants are playing football in London. Not Ontario. Not Kentucky. England. It happens from time to time. Thanks to the miracle of television, I can have breakfast in London. This is usually the time for Formula One from Bahrain or somewhere. This afternoon F1 is racing in Austin. Football is this week’s Sunday-morning sport.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

This has little to do with the ostensible purpose of this blog, which is an explanation of why Reckless Kelly is my favorite band and has been for more than a decade. The Austin band, probably not because the Grand Prix of the United States invaded and snarled their home base but it sure came in handy, played in Shelby, North Carolina, last night, and I made a day – and a night – of it.

After four hours’ sleep – writing about high school football on deadline always leaves me sleepless, and so I watched a PAC-12 game until 2 a.m. – I stopped at the nearby Pilot for a mug of coffee that was about the size of a 7-Eleven Big Gulp but too hot to do so – and drove to Boiling Springs – not above Spartanburg in South Carolina but above Gaffney across the line in North Carolina – to write about a game between the homestanding Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb and the Owls of Kennesaw State.

The Owls won, 47-39, but, after trailing, 40-21, at halftime, Gardner-Webb ran out of downs twice in the fourth quarter needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion they never got. My story ran this morning in the Marietta (Georgia) Daily Journal.

Lou Lauer helped me repair my website. He could help you, too.
Lou Lauer helped me repair my website. He could help you, too.

The last time I sat in a Gardner-Webb press box, it was on the other side of Spangler Stadium, which would be difficult to identify now if one was going by a photograph of its earlier incarnation.

There. I’ve frittered away most of five paragraphs without getting back to why Reckless Kelly is so great.

Well, to begin, see for yourself. Watch this YouTube video.

I would be hard-pressed to identify my favorite singer, even if I disqualified the 80 percent or so who are now dead. Most of the singers still singing have bands.

Cody and Willy Brown. The silhouette is Jay Nazz.
Cody and Willy Brown. The silhouette is Jay Nazz.

A small part of my nearly 10-year-old music book, True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, concerned Reckless Kelly, but it didn’t become my favorite band when I wrote the book. I wrote about Reckless Kelly because it was already my favorite band.

And you say you’ve never heard of this wild, western, windblown band? Reason number one is you, like I, don’t live in Texas. The Lone Star State has its own, lone, brand of music and an accompanying culture. Here’s a Dire Straits cover.

I did a modest favor for the band not too long ago, and the drummer, Jay Nazz, invited me to the Don Gibson Theater to watch and mingle. I mingled quite a while, and I’m acclimated to going to bed at 2 a.m. now.

Everything worked rather perfectly. I had covered the Kennesaw State-Furman game for the Daily Journal about a month ago. On Tuesday, the sports editor wrote me, noted that the Owls were playing at Gardner-Webb and asked if I was available to cover it. I looked at the schedule. Noon start. Perfect. Plenty of time to write. I picked up a gig, man.

According to my trusty phone, it is 9.5 miles from Spangler Stadium in Boiling Springs to Don Gibson Theater in Shelby.

Here’s a video of Reckless Kelly’s marvelous version of Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.”

I did have time to kill when I got to Shelby. I parked across the street from the theater for a while, listening to Alabama decimate Texas A&M. Fatigue started to set in, and I suppose I could have found a place to sell me another tub of coffee, but, strictly by random, I discovered that a place called Newgrass Brewing Company was located conveniently nearby. A visit there perked me right up and undoubtedly enhanced my enjoyment of the rest of the evening.

Kids, let the record note that I drank no more beer. By the time midnight closed in and I was ready for the trek home, I could have been no more sober had I been to the Newgrass Milkshake Company, and milk would have made me sleepier.

I saw friends there, some I expected and some I didn’t. Two great friends joined me, but they had to leave when the concert ended. I talked a long time with Cody Braun, and it’s still a mystery why I can’t remember the details of the time I spent with him and his brother, Willy, during the time leading up to the publication of True to the Roots. Incredibly, I was able to find a copy of my own book, on the shelf that hides the painting I did when I was 13 years old, on the edge of the living room. The book only has part of a chapter on Reckless Kelly. I quoted Cody and remember the conversation, but I can’t remember where it was that I interviewed them. It’s not in the book, either. It could have been Texas. It could have been Charlotte. I’m guessing that I didn’t get it worked out until the book was almost completed, and that’s why there isn’t a whole chapter on the band. It seems like yesterday and a long time ago at the same time.

What makes Reckless Kelly my favorite band is that everything – everything – resonates. I dig the songs. In some ways, the Braun brothers’ background – traveling around as kids, playing with their cowboy singer father, Muzzie – reminds me of my own boyhood sojourns with my dad, who was an auctioneer. Another reason is that their covers are invariably songs that I really like, too. They seem like songs I would sit down and try to learn how to play.

Willy Braun (center) joins brothers Micky and Gary and the other Motorcars.
Willy Braun (center) joins brothers Micky and Gary and the other Motorcars.

The older Braun brothers, along with Nazz, lead guitarist David Abeyta and bassist Joe Miller, make up Reckless Kelly. The evening began with the younger brothers, Micky and Gary, whose band is called Micky and the Motorcars.

I’m trying to think of a family I might find more entertaining. The Kennedys? The Barrymores? The Carradines? The Brontes? The Louvins? The Everlys? The Avetts? The Boones of baseball? The Mannings of football?

I can’t think of one. I’m not objective. It’s my favorite band, man.

They gave me the brand-new CD, Sunset Motel. I gave them a copy of one of my books. I’ve been listening to it while writing this. It sure beats the Rams and the Giants in London. Sunset Motel got me home last night, barreling through the night in my trusty pickup truck.

 

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

A Master of the Rough and Ready Life

Just a sketch for a characters in one of my short stories. I wish I had time to do Guy Clark justice. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Just a sketch for a characters in one of my short stories. I wish I had time to do Guy Clark justice. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 12:15 p.m.

He built his own guitars but wrote about building a boat. He was a carpenter, a man fond of using his hands but never for typing. He wrote lyrics on graph paper.

Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)
Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

It could be that a man must be skilled in such arts in order to be truly creative. It might be it is a prerequisite of great writing. If so, I sigh, but many fields of expertise must be brought to bear. In my low moments, I worry that I do not have enough of them, but more to life cannot be made from more than one has lived.

Guy Clark died at 74. I’ll feel fortunate if I make it that far.

He was a craftsman in whatever he did, be it functional or dys. Dis or dat. His songs touched the soul. When I heard he died, nothing could I do except pick up my guitar, strum it slowly and with feeling, and play what I could remember of “L.A. Freeway,” “Homegrown Tomatoes,” “Pancho and Lefty,” and “Baton Rouge.”

I think I got all of “L.A. Freeway” right. I hadn’t played it in a while, but it was one of the first songs I learned how to play, back when I had to squint at chords above the words and didn’t think I’d ever learn to figure them out by ear.

Pack up all your dishes / Make note of all good wishes / Say goodbye to the landlord for me / Sons of bitches always bore me …

I think they did him. In person, he was independent. He played what he wanted to play and, if you’d let him be, he’d charm your soul and probably get around to what you wanted to hear. Don’t push him, though. He’d growl a little. I wouldn’t have wanted to cross him. Fortunately, we never spoke. Communication was one way. His way.

I don’t mourn when an old man dies. He’s mainly run his course. What I feel is the loss of knowing no more of those songs are coming.

TrespassesCoverMy new novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is a story of politics, corruption, drugs, mistakes of young and old and crime.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that began in songs I wrote.

Crazy of Natural Causes is set in the hills of Kentucky. Chance Benford is a football coach who has to reinvent himself in the aftermath of disaster. It’s a fable of coping with the absurdity of life.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

The Intangibles is a story of the South, high school football, civil rights and desegregation, set mostly in the late 1960s.

The Audacity of Dope is the story of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking singer-songwriter who accidentally becomes a national hero and is thus forced to act like one.

 

 

I Love This Week

Classic Recall (Monte Dutton photo)
Classic Recall (Monte Dutton photo)

Gainesville, Texas, Saturday, April 16, 2016, 9:20 a.m.

I don’t have too much to say this cloudy Texas morning. Everything went fine on Friday. Classic Recall, a local band of musicians who play rock and roll from the 1960s and early ’70s, got a good reception, most obviously from three tiny kids who danced nonstop during the two-hour set.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Today’s music begins at 5 p.m. This guy came all the way from South Carolina to be the emcee, and he’s opening the indoor acoustic show at the State Theatre with a mix of old country tunes and a few he wrote himself.

So as to stop referring to myself in the third person in a blog, I’m really looking forward to it.

Of all places for an emcee from out of state! Texas, where there’s a little bit of everything, and everything stretches for miles and miles.

Literally, a guitar shelf.
Literally, a guitar shelf.

One of the reasons I’m here is that Vince Pawless, maker of splendid handmade guitars, and I are friends, dating back to the music book, True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, which was published in 2007. While I was roaming around Texas, interviewing singer-songwriters, Vince, with whom I’d grown acquainted via our joint participation in an email exchange of Jerry Jeff Walker fans, offered to put me up for a night at his shop. We stayed up half that night talking music and guitars, and I wound up writing a chapter in the book about him.

NASCAR stuff.
NASCAR stuff.

That book, in turn, led me to teach myself how to play a little guitar, and learning how to play by ear led to the notion that I might be able to write songs myself. True to the Roots was also my last non-fiction book and the only one that wasn’t about sports.

People frequently tell me they like my songs. What I’ve been awaiting is for someone to say, “Hey, I’d like to record that song.” Lots of songs are out there, though. Most of those who like mine write their own.

More NASCAR stuff.
More NASCAR stuff.

Another reason I’m here is that, before this event is held each year, I write NASCAR contacts to ask them to donate items for use in the silent auction. It’s fun to look at all the other items up for charity sale. Two airline seats. An “Ornate Cross,” which I speculated onstage was a relic of the ancient Ornations. Paintings. Hand-painted chairs and benches. A year’s worth of farm-fresh eggs. Every item has its own story to tell.

Friday was the prelim, I suppose.

My job is to get the meter running, a little with my music but mostly with announcements and spontaneously witty remarks, the kind that may or may not actually be witty, such as my creation of the Ornations, who, in my imagination, lived in Asia Minor from the seventh through fifth centuries B.C. It was much easier than writing a novel about them.

Mexican food from the Shorty’s truck, parked out front of the theater, helped get me off my diet. Shorty’s is back tonight, so I expect I’ll stay off it until I begin the lonely trek home on Sunday. I doubt I’ll take my time. Traditionally, by the time this shindig is over, I’ve got a hankering for home. I may stop for yet another minor league baseball game. I doubt it, though. My definite intention is to be home in time to cover the Union County at Clinton baseball game on Tuesday night.

The faces are familiar. I’ve been coming to Gainesville a long time. My fifth novel, which is close to completion of its first draft, is a modern western set in a town a lot like this one. The Janus, Texas, of my story is the way I imagine this one at the end of World War II.

More Classic Recall.
More Classic Recall.

Following me onstage today is David Byboth, sound man and songwriter extraordinaire. Then Tom McElvain, who has historically made the biggest impression year after year, through Pawlessfest, the original name, Concert for VISTO at the indoor rodeo arena and now in the VISTO Days festival’s uptown locale, is sharing the State Theatre stage with Shayne Wimmer.

After I draw some pieces of paper out of hats, the concert moves outdoors, around the corner and down the street, for Bonedoggie and the Hickory Street Hellraisers, a group that is really original and uses instruments, such as the bazookie and the trombone, that are seldom seen in such affairs. Then it’s the rock virtuosity of the Oliver White Group. Oliver, by the way, is a fantastic performer and a great guy. I look forward to seeing him.

As a general rule, everybody gets along out here.

Several years ago, I wrote a song about Vince Pawless and his guitars: It’ll ring like a bell / Sing like a bird / Put in your hands / Be Merle Haggard …

Merle’s gone. Be whoever you want to be. Somebody’s got to take the reins.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

It’s out. $3.49. You can’t afford not to!

Forgive Us Our Trespasses fell eight months and eight days after the release of Crazy of Natural Causes. Eight is my lucky number, and this is pure luck. Apparently, my speed is about eight months. It’s a good pace I’m setting. You can order Trespasses here.

Longer_Songs_Cover_for_KindleI have a new volume of short stories, Longer Songs, which you may examine and preferably purchase here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes has been out since late July of 2015. It’s about colorful coach who loses everything and reinvents himself. Take a look.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

The Intangibles (2013) is based on boyhood memories and is set in a small Southern town amid the tumult of the 1960s. Sample it. The Audacity of Dope (2011) is a freewheeling yarn about a pot-smoking songwriter who somehow becomes a national hero, and that comes with complications. It’s a trip.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

Crazy and Trespasses are my third and fourth novels. I’m working on a fifth, Cowboys Come Home. Most of my books can be examined and purchased here.

My short fiction, reviews and essays can be found here.

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing) and @wastedpilgrim (more humor and opinion). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50.

 

 

Hooks, and Rhymes, and Reasons

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, April 11, 2016, 8:43 a.m.

I’ve had a few days to digest it. It’s time for me to pay homage to the great Merle Haggard, who died on his 79th birthday, and it didn’t make me that sad. It gave me hope that if Merle Haggard can live that long, maybe I’ve got an outside shot.

Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)
Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

All kidding aside, I don’t believe one should be unduly sorrowful at the loss of a man who lived a long, productive life. I think one should be grateful for his (or her) time on this earth. People always talk about “a celebration of life” at the time of demise, but, mostly, it’s just lip service. It’s just political correctness. It’s just tact.

It should be genuine and real. He played music right to the end. What more can one ask?

The great tragedy in death lies with the young who go before they can leave a legacy. Those who die senselessly are the ones who bring tears to my eyes. When I think of the Hag, it warms my soul because he left so much behind for me to savor.

Haggard wrote so many great songs that it’s impossible to recall them all, but what I think set him apart was his ability to unify the principles of songwriting. He wrote great hooks. He turned great phrases. His songs also meant something when judged as a whole.

Most songs I hear today, particularly on mainstream radio, have a hook and little else. I’m sure there are good songs there, but I’ve gotten to where I don’t give anything much of a chance because there is such a high percentage that whatever I hear stinks.

I’m going to leave out some great lines, but, this morning, I’m going to warm up for a busy day by noting some that come to mind.

The only thing I can count on is my fingers / I was a fool / Believing in you / And now you are gone.

I raised a lot of Cain back in my younger days / While Mama used to pray my crops would fail.

He could be the richest man in seven counties / And not be good enough to take her hand / But he says he really loves the farmer’s daughter / And I know the farmer’s daughter loves the man.

Ain’t never been nobody’s idol / But at least I got a title / And I take a lot of pride in what I am.

Cowboys and outlaws / Right guys and southpaws / Good dogs and all kinds of cats / Dirt roads and white lines / And all kinds of stop signs / But I stand right here where I’m at / ‘Cause I wear my own kind of hat.

Reasons to quit / The low is always lower than the high / Reasons for quittin’ / Don’t outnumber all the reasons why.

Turn me loose, set me free / Somewhere in the middle of Montana / Give me all I got coming to me / And keep your retirement and your so-called social security / Big city, turn me loose and set me free.

Tom T. Hall wrote, “It could be that the Good Lord likes a little pickin,’ too.”

I’m satisfied he does.

This doesn’t do him justice, but it’s the best I could do.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

It’s out. $3.49. You can’t afford not to!

Forgive Us Our Trespasses fell eight months and eight days after the release of Crazy of Natural Causes. Eight is my lucky number, and this is pure luck. Apparently, my speed is about eight months. It’s a good pace I’m setting. You can order Trespasses here.

Longer_Songs_Cover_for_KindleA collection of short stories, Longer Songs, consists of stories derived from songs I’ve written. Take a look at it here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes has been out since late July of 2015. In the interest of peace, love, and understanding, I’d love for you to give one or two or four of them a read. If you’ve never watched an R-rated film, then I wouldn’t recommend my novels. If you have, I expect you’ll love them. Soon a print version of Crazy will be released for those of you who eschew the Kindle, and a Trespasses edition is on the way soon, too.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

The Intangibles (2013) is based on boyhood memories and is set in a small Southern town amid the tumult of the 1960s. The Audacity of Dope (2011) is a freewheeling yarn about a pot-smoking songwriter who somehow becomes a national hero, and that comes with complications.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

Crazy and Trespasses are my third and fourth novels. I’m working on a fifth, Cowboys Come Home. Most of my books can be examined and purchased here:

My short fiction, reviews and essays can be found here.

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing) and @wastedpilgrim (more humor and opinion). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50.

 

Trying to Get Reacquainted with the Old Microphone

Rhythms on Trade, Greer, South Carolina (Monte Dutton photos)
Rhythms on Trade, Greer, South Carolina (Monte Dutton photos)
Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)
Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, March 10, 2016, 11:11 a.m.

The highlight of many recent years has taken place in Texas, hard against the Red River and the Oklahoma border, in a small city known as Gainesville, where my friend Vince Pawless builds his remarkable handmade guitars and raises money for a Cooke County charitable organization called VISTO.

Next month, when, by rule, my income taxes must be completed, I will likely make my lonely way across the South, gearing the route either south through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, or drifting north through North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas.

Or some combination of the two. It may depend on which minor league baseball teams are playing at home. I’ve already uncovered possibilities in Birmingham, Alabama, and Jackson, Tennessee. Two years ago, I watched the Mississippi Braves play near the other Jackson and the Frisco Roughriders north of Dallas, Texas, last year. Three or four years back, I saw the Montgomery Biscuits get figuratively slathered in molasses.

Gainesville, Texas
Gainesville, Texas

I will serve as the master of ceremonies for something known as VISTO Days 2016. I’m opening a concert on Saturday night in the State Theater.

I’ve been taking part in this hootenanny for enough years to have forgotten exactly how many. It started out in the country as Pawlessfest. For a year it was at an indoor arena at the fairgrounds. Now it’s part of a general festival that raises money to help kids in Cooke County. Playing songs for a half hour or so will be a minor part of the job. More important will be hyping the various activities, drawing tickets out of a box, or a hat, or something, introducing bands, and snapping the occasional photo or video from the wings.

My experience is that being an emcee requires a knack for keeping things on schedule while being as little of a jerk as possible. Last year wasn’t one of my better performances, but there wasn’t really enough for me to do. I was planning on passing it up this year, but Vince wrote me an email before I wrote him one, and realized I needed more to do, and promised me I would have it.

In other words, I’ve gotten what I wished for, also known as, possibly, enough rope to hang. Fortunately, I’ve been to rodeos before. It would be great if this was one.

Click right up. Read all about it: http://www.vistoevents.com/#!2016-concert-for-visto/c1fx5

DSCF2128Now that I don’t hop, skip and jump around the country regularly, I also don’t play as much music onstage. Back in the NASCAR days, I regularly played at little joints — barbecue, seafood, sports bar, combination of the three — near tracks, and a few people would stop because they’d heard of me or because they were fellow gypsies on the world’s fastest carnival circuit. Sometimes they’d even drink enough to think I was good.

It’s still over a month away, but, man, I’ve been planning. I’ve been taking breaks from writing things like books to play my guitar and practice songs and what I’m going to say while wandering among them. I felt like I needed to play music in front of people, so last night I drove up to Greer and played a couple tunes at Singer/Songwriter Night at a wonderful music venue known as Rhythms on Trade. The last time I was there, it was Rhythm & Brews. Undoubtedly, the new name has something to do with it being located on Trade Street, but a lot of people were there trading rhythms.

It was a talented 15-year-old, Zelena Hull, who I had met last fall there, who sent a social-media message out noting that she and her mother, Valerie, were going to participate. That was Monday or Tuesday. On Tuesday, I started thinking about it, and, on Wednesday, I decided to go, and I became sure of it when I got about 10 miles up Interstate 26 and had no defensible reason to turn back.

So, I had chicken wings and two Michelob Ultras, the latter being because I’m dieting and hadn’t had a beer at all in … months. The wings may have made me bolder, and the beer may have relaxed me, but I wasn’t aware of it. It wasn’t until I got through playing that I realized it may have been the first time ever that I played music in front of a crowd without being nervous. I was so relaxed, I didn’t notice it.

DSCF2130It was a nice crowd. Zelena has the youthful urgency of a kid who desperately wants to show the world how good she is. There was a rocker from Ohio, and several who’ve spent their entire lives in Greer or nearby, and a veteran musician who beat a drug addiction and decided, what the hell, sober I might be able to write some good songs because, hey, I got some real good material.

They were all right, which led me to say, several times, “All right!”

DSCF2133The other time I was there was last fall, and I didn’t remember what songs I played, but Zelena and her mother both remembered “Scuppernongs and Muscadines,” and though that memory proved that they liked it, I didn’t want anybody to say that I did all right but played the same two songs every time. I’ve got at least two dozen I could just play right off, and probably that many more that require a few run-throughs because I’ve damn near forgotten I wrote them.

I went with old standbys, though. I performed an inspirational song, “Your Independence Day,” and then hyped my novels, so that the patrons could understand I have more to fall back on than my idiosyncratic fingers bumping a row of strings. Valerie was kind enough to video my “set,” and I returned the favor by shooting Zelena’s. I got home and spent half the night editing the video on YouTube. Here’s “Your Independence Day”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooXMMkLcxr4

DSCF2135I finished with one of the first songs I wrote after I achieved the necessary goal of being able to play a guitar roughly halfway. The first verse of “There You Are” is made up of observations of people I used to encounter in NASCAR media centers. Then it moves on to various and sundry other foolishness.

Here’s “There You Are”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTRglclX0Xg

I’m quite pleased, which is unusual, because, ever since I wrote a book about musicians and songwriters, I’ve been painfully aware of how bad I am.

I was relaxed, though, not just acting like it. I’m good at acting like it. The sudden profusion of sweat keeps me from fooling myself. Last night, I was goose-like loose. Wait. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I wasn’t that kind of loose. I was relaxed, and, as a result, bold with my voice, and playing it, as an instrument, much better than the one hanging from my neck.

I might just go somewhere and play music tonight.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

As you may have noticed, I use these blogs as a promotional tool for my novels. One, Crazy of Natural Causes, has been out since late July of 2015. In the interest of peace, love, and understanding, I’d love for you to give one or two or (soon) four of them a read.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Another, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will be out soon. It’s a crime novel about corruption and patronage in a small town. The tale unfolds across two generations at the same time. It’s got sex, drugs, corruption, murder, and frank language. Very little, if any, rock and roll, though.

The Intangibles (2013) is based on boyhood memories and is set in a small Southern town amid the tumult of the 1960s. The Audacity of Dope (2011) is a freewheeling yarn about a pot-smoking songwriter who somehow becomes a national hero, and that comes with complications.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

Crazy and Trespasses are my third and fourth novels. I’m working on a fifth, Cowboys Come Home. Most of my books can be examined and purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

My short fiction, reviews and essays can be found here: https://wellpilgrim.wordpress.com/

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing) and @wastedpilgrim (more humor and opinion). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Look for me by name at Google+. Whew. It’s too much.

Songs To End Another Year By

Occasionally, I just want to scream. (John Clark photo)
Occasionally, I just want to scream. (John Clark photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, December 24, 2015, 12:44 p.m.

This year my Holiday Lyrics do not include any of my own. It hasn’t been a big songwriting year for me. I’ve written a handful, but I’ve spent most of my time on prose: fiction, short fiction, sports stories, blogs, columns, tweets, posts, spanning the globe of required skills.

No, it was not I. I've never even driven a Lexus.
Monte Dutton (John Clark photo).

They’re not Christmas lyrics. Or uplifting lyrics. They’re just lyrics that rose in my mind as I compiled this collection.

During 2015, I worked on three different novels. At the beginning of the year, I was editing and revising Crazy of Natural Causes, which wound up being published in late July. Then I completed the basic story and went into edits and revisions of Forgive Us Our Trespasses, which will be out sometime soon; and, finally, I resumed Cowboys Come Home, which is now about two thirds of the way to a first draft.

Why I quit golf. (Vince Pawless photo)
Why I quit golf. (Vince Pawless photo)

I still try to sit around and play my guitar at least a little every day. Here are a lot of my old standby lyrics, words that linger in my mind.

She was just fourteen / She grew up wild and free / And all the time she’s been waiting on him / She’s been waiting on you and me. — “Ravishing Ruby,” Tom T. Hall.

He looked to me to be the eyes of age / And he spoke right out. — “Mr. Bojangles,” Jerry Jeff Walker.

I raised a lot of Cain back in my younger days / While Mama used to pray my crops would fail. — “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” Merle Haggard.

If I’d had more education / I’d have made a better life for me and you / But just simple manual labor is the only kind of work I can do. — “Able Bodied Man,” Jerry Foster & Bill Rice.

Fortunately, I'm outside the bars.
Fortunately, I’m outside the bars.

I’d rather drink muddy water / And sleep in a hollow log / Than live here in Atlanta / And be treated like a dirty dog. — “Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas),” Jimmie Rodgers.

I told you baby from time to time / But you just wouldn’t listen or pay me no mind / So I’m moving on.” — “I’m Moving On,” Hank Snow.

Picked last night in Tucson / Sang ’em a country song / Missed my plane this morning, Lord / ‘Cause I partied all night long / Here I stand using my thumb / Trying to make it to El Paso / Tonight I play at the Cabaret / They done told it on the radio. — “I Ain’t All Bad,” Johnny Duncan.

Are you there? / Say a prayer / For the pretender / He started out so young and strong / Only to surrender. — “The Pretender,” Jackson Browne.

Different gig. Same jersey.
Different gig. Same jersey.

Well, I was born a coal miner’s daughter / I remember well the well where I drew water. — “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn.

Ain’t it strange / How people change / And almost overnight? / Who once was a country girl / Is now a socialite. — “The Old Side of Town,” Tom T. Hall.

I don’t love you anymore / Not the way I did before / Trouble is / I don’t love you / Any less. — “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” Bill Anderson.

Sometimes I get unwound / When fancy cars drive past / Money don’t get me down / But I can’t make it last / I bite my nails / And if that fails / I go get myself stoned / But when I do / I think of you / And head myself back home. – “Blue Eyes,” Gram Parsons.

This ol’ mental fat I’m chewin’ / Didn’t take a lot of doin’ / But I take a lot of pride in what I am – “I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am,” Merle Haggard.

Northern California.
Northern California.

It’s my belief pride / Is the chief cause in the decline / In the number / Of husbands and wives — “Husbands and Wives,” Roger Miller.

I couldn’t stay here if I wanted / I couldn’t stay here if I tried / You were always so disappointed in me / Guess I could never do nothing right – “Couldn’t Do Nothing Right,” Gary P. Nunn & Karen Brooks

She never said a word to him / But said a prayer for me / I told her in a way / That I’d been prayin’ for her too — “The Little Lady Preacher,”Tom T. Hall.

I'm liable to play a few songs just about anywhere.
I’m liable to play a few songs just about anywhere.

There’s only two things that money can’t buy / And that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes – “Homegrown Tomatoes,” Guy Clark.

Pick up all your dishes / Make note of all good wishes / Say goodbye to the landlord for me / Sons of bitches always bore me — “L.A. Freeway,” Guy Clark.

Almost busted in Laredo / But for reasons that I’d rather not disclose / But if you’re staying in a motel there and leave / Don’t leave nothin’ in your clothes – “Me and Paul,” Willie Nelson.

I look right pleased with myself, don't I? (John Clark photo)
I look right pleased with myself, don’t I? (John Clark photo)

If I could live my life all over / It wouldn’t matter anyway / ‘Cause I never could stay sober / On the Corpus Christi Bay – “Corpus Christi Bay,” Robert Earl Keen Jr.

There’s a road in Oklahoma / Straighter than a preacher / Longer than a memory / And it goes, forever onward / But it’s been a good teacher / For a lot of country boys like me — “Nowhere Road,” Steve Earle.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk / I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned / ‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday / That makes a body feel alone — “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Kris Kristofferson.

Spent the groceries and half the rent / I lack 14 dollars havin’ 27 cents – “Dang Me,” Roger Miller.

Go Big Red. (Monte Dutton photo)
Go Big Red. (Monte Dutton photo)

I’m comin’ home / Made up my mind that’s what I’m gonna do / Can’t love nobody on the telephone / I’m comin’ home to you – “I’m Coming Home,” Robert Earl Keen Jr.

They have changed your attitude / Made you haughty and so rude / Your new friends can take the blame / Underneath you’re still the same / When you see these things are true / I’ll be waiting here for you / Where you tossed me on the ground / Pick me up on your way down – “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down,” Harlan Howard

You can see me tonight / With an illegal smile / It don’t cost very much / But it lasts a long while / Won’t you please tell the man / I didn’t kill anyone / I’m just trying to have me some fun – “Illegal Smile,” John Prine.

The first time I played music in front of a crowd was at a place in Clinton called The Study Club, which is now Tony's Pizza. That was in 2009.
The first time I played music in front of a crowd was at a place in Clinton called The Study Club, which is now Tony’s Pizza. That was in 2009.

Inside the walls of a prison / My body may be / But my Lord / Has set my soul free — “Greystone Chapel,” Glenn Shirley.

Never hit 17 / When you play against the dealer / You know that the odds / Won’t ride with you / Never leave your woman alone / With your friends around to steal here / They’ll be gambled and gone / Like summer wages — “Summer Wages,” Ian Tyson.

Past some hound dogs and some dominecker chickens / Temporary looking houses with their lean and bashful kids / Every mile or so a sign proclaimed that Christ was coming soon / And I thought, well, man, He’d sure be disappointed if He did — “Trip to Hyden,” Tom T. Hall.

Better job and higher wages / Expenses paid and a car / But I’m on TV here locally / I can’t quit / I’m a star — “Kansas City Star,” Roger Miller.

I've been know to play a few songs at book signings.
I’ve been know to play a few songs at book signings.

From now on / All my friends / Are gonna be strangers / I’m all through ever trusting anyone / The only thing I can count on is my fingers / I was a fool / Believing in you / And now you are gone – “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers,” Liz Anderson.

I know a guy / He’s got a lot to do / He’s a little hardheaded / Kinda confused / He’s got muscles in his head / Ain’t never been used / Thinks he owns half this town / Starts drinking heavy / Gets a big red nose / Beats his old lady with a / Rubber hose / Then he takes her out to dinner / Buys her new clothes / That’s the way that the world goes ‘round – “That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round,” John Prine.

In a town this size / There’s no place to hide / Anywhere you go / You meet someone you know / You can’t steal a kiss / In a place like this / Oh the rumors do fly / In a town this size – “In a Town This Size,” Kieran Kane.

The King. Not Richard Petty, though. Different monarchy. (Monte Dutton sketch)
The King. Not Richard Petty, though. Different monarchy. (Monte Dutton sketch)

I guess that I’ve fought tougher men / But I really can’t remember when / He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile — “Boy Named Sue,” Shel Silverstein.

Now boys don’t start to ramblin’ ‘round / On this road of sin are you sorrow bound? / Take my advice or you’ll curse the day / You started rollin’ down that lost highway – “Lost Highway,” Leon Payne.

He could be the richest man in seven counties / And not be good enough to take her hand / But he says he really loves the farmer’s daughter / And I know the farmer’s daughter loves this man – “The Farmer’s Daughter,” Merle Haggard.

I tried to bring her back / To what she used to be / But I soon learned she love those bright lights / More than she loved me — “Streets of Baltimore,” Tompall Glaser and Harlan Howard.

Gotta have some "merch" on the table. (Monte Dutton photo)
Gotta have some “merch” on the table. (Monte Dutton photo)

Oh, but I remember something you once told me / And I’ll be damned if it did not come true / Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down / And they all led me straight back home to you — “Return of the Grievous Angel,” Gram Parsons.

See him wasted on the sidewalk / In his jackets and his jeans / Wearing yesterday’s misfortune like a smile / Once he had a future full of money, love and dreams / Which he spent like they was going out of style / But he keeps right on a-changing / For the better or the worse / And all he ever gets is older and around / Never knowing if believing is a blessing or a curse / Or if the going up was worth the coming down — “The Pilgrim: Chapter 33, Hang On Hopper,” Kris Kristofferson.

I know there’s a lot of big preachers / Who know a lot more than I do / But it could be that the good Lord / Likes a little pickin’ too — “The Year Clayton Delaney Died,” Tom T. Hall.

Season’s greetings to your mama ‘n’ ‘em. Tell ‘em I said hey.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)

Tell ‘em I write books, too, and they can download an app and read them right where they stand, or sit, and when they ain’t got nuttin’ to do. Here’s my tale of a disgraced football coach who has to start all over. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I got two other novels – The Audacity of Dope, about the adventures of a pot-smoking songwriter trying to avoid being a national hero; and The Intangibles, about small-town troubles during the turbulent 1960s – and another, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, that will be out soon. Most of my books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

If you’ve read my books, and you haven’t left customer reviews at Amazon and/or Goodreads, I would still appreciate it. Just write what you think. It doesn’t have to be much.

Read my short fiction, plus book reviews and occasional blogs about writing, at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

How to Kill a Day or Two

This would have made a great Couch by Couchwest video site, what with the rainbow, but this was back a decade or so, before I traded this guitar for some speakers.
This would have made a great Couch by Couchwest video site, what with the rainbow, but this was back a decade or so, before I traded this guitar for some speakers.

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 10:16 a.m.

The grass needs cutting. I spent a good bit of Tuesday afternoon taping a music video and a good bit of Tuesday night trying to find a program that will allow me to do what I want to do with the video. In the past year, I’ve replaced my laptop, and the old program isn’t available for the latest version of Windows. In fact, I don’t think it’s available any more for anything.

Guitars don't kill audiences. Guitarists kill audiences. This might have been my very first sketch.
Guitars don’t kill audiences. Guitarists kill audiences. This might have been my very first sketch.

So, I’m going back to that attempt shortly, and then, perhaps, with the video of songs I’ve written safely tucked away on YouTube, life can return to normal. A placid life of long periods on hold listening to soft music, of staring at that stack of mail and wondering which ones I need to deal with today, and subscribing to a television service that provides hundreds and hundreds of channels, but not the one that is providing what one wants to see.

What? Great American Country isn’t a part of my package? And the NASA Channel is? And something called EVINE Live is?

When I was fifteen, I worried about whether or not the rains were going to flood the pastures we were renting on the opposite side of town and worked out a relief plan for … cattle.

Gotta have some "merch" on the table. (Monte Dutton)
Gotta have some “merch” on the table. (Monte Dutton)

Now I wonder what ION East HD is. With the cattle, I knew when the rain had stopped and the waters had crested. Now I know that “HD” stands for High Definition and the apparent new third baseman of the Sioux Junction Log Rollers is @hotcornerdude27.

5:31 p.m.

Most of the time since I wrote the above has been spent editing a video for Couch by Couchwest, an online music festival that runs every year at the same time as South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

http://couchbycouchwest.com/

Not only do I write songs. I invent songwriters for my short stories ... and draw what I think they look like. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Not only do I write songs. I invent songwriters for my short stories … and draw what I think they look like. (Monte Dutton sketch)

You owe it to yourself to check it out. Follow on Twitter, and song after song will both enrich your day and impede your work.

I’m not sure when my entry will be posted. I’ll let you know via social media when it’s up, but, it’s already up on YouTube, so, if you’d like to watch my entry, and I’d appreciate it if you would, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMQZfFzhdtU&list=UUyi8WtOwXdOnitREqPEeVcA

This sketch was for a character in my short story "Facebook Friends."
This sketch was for a character in my short story “Facebook Friends.”

I wrote a brand-new song, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” just for Couch by Couchwest, and another song I’ve written in the past year called “Scuppernongs and Muscadines.” Since I just wrote the former, I shot the video in my living room because I needed my laptop for reference on the lyrics. Then I went out on the form to shoot each of the verses of “Scuppernongs and Muscadines” in a different location.

Videos of many of my songs are available on the “Monte Dutton” YouTube channel. Occasionally there are lyrics in the short stories posted at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com.

Please consider my books, most of which can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

 

You Like Lyrics? Who Doesn’t?

Me chasing my voice with my fingers. (Rhonda Beck photo)
Me chasing my voice with my fingers. (Rhonda Beck photo)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 12:47 p.m.

Many years ago, I started compiling song lyrics, sometimes all mine but, more often, those that occur to me during the holidays. I started out sending these as e-mails, and then I posted them on social media, and, I think it was last year, I started publishing them in the form of a blog.

Until, oh, a few minutes ago, I wasn’t sure I was going to do it this year. I concentrated on prose all year, writing the first draft of a crime novel, polishing up one I mostly wrote in 2013, and writing short stories. I only wrote two songs all year.

This year, I think, I’ll mix and match. My favorite Christmas song isn’t even considered a Christmas song by lots of people. To me, it’s perfect.

If we can make it through December / Everything’s gonna be all right, I know / It’s the coldest time of winter / And I shiver when I see the falling snow / If we can make it through December / Got plans to be in a warmer town come summertime / Maybe even California / If we make it through December, we’ll be fine. – Merle Haggard

Joe VanHoose helps me out.
Joe VanHoose helps me out.

While we try in vain to wind it down, our military forces continue to be active abroad. It seems to me that we pay mainly lip service to them and don’t really value their lives as much as we ought.

When I pulled out of Basra / They all wished me luck / Just like they always did before / With a bulletproof screen on the hood of my track / And a Bradley on my back door / Well, I wound her up / And shifted her down / And offered this prayer to my Lord / God, get me back home to Houston alive / And I won’t drive a truck anymore. – Steve Earle

We remain entangled in racial division. I get chills every time I hear this:

I was born by the river in a little tent / Oh, and just like the river, I’ve been running ever since / It’s been a long, long time coming / But I know a change gon’ come, yes, it will. – Sam Cooke

This leads me to the promise of America:

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower / We come on the ship that sailed the moon / We come in the age’s most uncertain hour / And sing an American tune / But it’s all right, it’s all right / You can’t be forever blessed / Still, tomorrow’s gonna be another working day / And I’m trying to get some rest / That’s all, I’m trying to get some rest. – Paul Simon

Okay, it’s time for one of mine:

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.

And, in a gospel turn:

I walked the streets / Of that big city / I saw folks wracked with pain / I saw folks in need of Jesus / They looked weary of raising Cain.

I'm a long way from there right now, and in more ways than one.
I’m a long way from there right now, and in more ways than one.

Gas prices are low. The stock market is up. Here in town, though, it still seems kind of bleak. I haven’t seen anything trickle down. The central mood in America right now is frustration. Everyone is dissatisfied. Everyone has something or someone to blame. People disagree with what’s wrong but agree that something is wrong. Too many people are just wandering around, pissed off.

Someday I’m gonna leave this dirty little town / Where the talk is cheap on the dirty little streets / And the trees are dying underneath a sky that’s purple and brown / You can’t drink the water, can’t breathe the air / If you go out at all, well, you better beware / People packin’ heat on the mean ol’ streets / Of this dirty little town. – Kieran Kane

And my “Furlough Blues”:

Rich folks are the ones who need a furlough / They’re the ones who ran this ship aground / Talking about the dangers of class warfare / While less and less money gets around.

Christmas looks like it’s going to be successful because I’m out of money, and regardless of how much I make, I think a fellow ought to be broke at Christmas. This year I only bought presents for kids, other than an adapter I bought for myself that will allow this laptop to do something it won’t and should. The commercial part of Christmas isn’t so bad if one limits it to kids, wide-eyed and joyous. There is a Santa Claus for them.

Now he’s all grown up with a floursack cape tied all around his dreams / And he’s full of piss and vinegar, and he’s bustin’ at the seams / So he licked his finger and checked the wind, it’s gonna be do or die / He wasn’t scared of nothin’, boys, he was pretty sure he could fly.

Well, he’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith / Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape. – Guy Clark

From my “The Paved Road”:

Life is hard / No matter where you go / It’s a tortured path / Tough row to hoe / When the wheels spin / Got a heavy load / Hoping I can get / To the paved road.

Fortunately, I'm outside the bars.
Fortunately, I’m outside the bars.

No collection of lyrics should be without this songwriter:

Sometimes old Luther showed up at the studio half tight / And smokin’ was a thing he liked to do / She never said a word to him but said a prayer for me / I told her, in a way, that I’d been praying for her, too. – Tom T. Hall.

And this one:

The silence of a falling star / Lights up a purple sky / And as I wonder where you are / I’m so lonesome I could cry. – Hank Williams

And this one:

Them that don’t know him won’t like him / And them that do sometimes won’t know how to take him / He ain’t wrong, he’s just different, and his pride won’t let him / Do things that make you think he’s right. – Willie Nelson

And this one:

Tell my baby I said so long / Tell my mother I did no wrong / Tell my brother to mind his own / Tell my friends to mourn me none. – Townes Van Zandt

And this one:

One dying and a burying / One dying and a burying / Some crying, six carrying me / I want to be free. – Roger Miller

And this one:

Sun full of yellow / Sky full of blue / Been on my vacation / ‘Bout a full year or two. – Jerry Jeff Walker

I'm liable to play a few songs just about anywhere.
I’m liable to play a few songs just about anywhere.

And, finally, this one:

The world is changing / Always rearranging / From birth till the end / With my Facebook friends.

Hahahahaha. The last was I.

Be thankful, friends, for the good as well as the bad. The good is fun. Winning is infectious. The bad, though, is what shapes character and what makes us the men and women we are. Adversity makes some and breaks others. When you maneuver your way through life’s minefield, don’t forget to learn how to be tough.

Happy Christmas. Merry holidays. Flippy-trippy Festivus. As an old friend used to say with nauseating regularity, whatever floats your boat …

Take a look at my short fiction from time to time at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. I’ve got books out there I’d love for you to read. You read right? You’re reading this. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

The Mention Was An Honorable One

Nowadays I mainly sing at book signings, but this photo was taken in Charlotte at Puckett's a few years ago. (John Clark photo)
Nowadays I mainly sing at book signings, but this photo was taken in Charlotte at Puckett’s a few years ago. (John Clark photo)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, S.C., Thursday, April 3, 2014, 9:11 a.m.

Last week I learned that my song, “The Paved Road,” won honorable mention in an American Songwriter lyric contest. I passed this information along, but I didn’t receive the actual results until Wednesday.

No, it was not I. I've never even driven a Lexus.
It’s about a quarter mile from my house to the paved road. (John Clark photo)

I was a little low-key about the “honor” – I think I tweeted that my song was better than all those dishonorably mentioned – because it was the first time I entered the contest, which is held several times during the year and I wasn’t sure how much of an honor “honorable mention” was. If there were 100 songs on the honorable mention list, or instance, it would have suggested that the judges said, “hey, it rhymes all right, add it to the honorable mention.”

Blair Bodine, a woman from Nashville, won for a song called “Lonely Pretty Things.” Nick Deutsch of New York City finished second for “Crazy Ride,” followed by Joe Farren of New Lenox, Fla., for “Away Forever” and Dan Divine of Moundville, Mo., for “Dirt.”

It amused me that a song named “Dirt” came from Moundville.

My song was one of 10 to be named honorable mention, which made me feel better because one of 14 “winners” – oh, no, honorable mention didn’t earn “valuable prizes” – out of hundreds of entries wasn’t half bad. It was good enough to allow me to rationalize “Who knows? If a judge had liked my kind of music a little more, maybe I would have won,” and for those of us who don’t win “valuable prizes,” being able to speculate is mildly gratifying.

Some of the honorable mentions bettered me in titles, though I think “The Paved Road,” as in “hoping I can get … to the paved road” was appropriate.

However, another of the honorable mentions, Mark Stepakoff of Wellesley, Mass., wrote “When Vernon Moved from Tupelo,” Mike Leech of Fairfax, Vermont, wrote “Pillbillies,” and best of all, Max Tell of White Rock, B.C. (that’s Canada, not a comic strip) wrote “The Sasquatch that Botched Hopscotch.”

It didn’t surprise me that a sasquatch botched hopscotch but rather that someone wrote about it. I’m guessing the song is humorous.

For your perusal, here are the words of “The Paved Road”:

First thing that I saw / When I wrote up this morning / Was bad news on the TV I left on the night before / It’s the same old sad story / Somebody shot somebody / Most of the time the victim is a junkie or a whore.

CHORUS: Life is hard / No matter where you go / It’s a tortured path / Tough row to hoe / When the wheels spin / Got a heavy load / Hoping I can get / To the paved road.

By the time I ate my breakfast / It was snowing in Milwaukee / And when I ate my lunch, shots rang out in Labrador / All that rang at my house / Was an offer of new credit / Which I deserved about as much as any drunken troubadour.

Well, the woman that I loved / Didn’t quite return the favor / And the woman that loved me left me tinged with regret / As I ruminate about the fate of my sad depression / My life seems to more worthy than an empty silhouette.

Like any man I yearn / For some measure of fulfillment / My ambition stretches far beyond just paying all the bills / As I wonder how the hell / I can make my fortune / My life’s nestled in a valley surrounded by hills.

Here’s an old video of me singing it shortly after it was written:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxD08yGV7Nc

[cb_profit_poster Guitar1]

Time Passages

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

When I started covering NASCAR, Bill Elliott was in is prime. (John Clark photo)
When I started covering NASCAR, Bill Elliott was in his prime. (John Clark photo)

Clinton, S.C., Thursday, February 20, 2014, 9:38 a.m.

Time is slow before it happens. Then it speeds up once it passes. That, of course, is one of man’s great misperceptions. Time is immutable and constant. Exists there a better demonstration that things are not as they seem? I think not.

A year ago, being here in Clinton during Speedweeks seemed weird. Now it’s old hat. I haven’t been to a race track since November 2012, and my next visit is probably going to be to one covered in dirt. Being home grows ever more familiar. Being away is now the shock to the system. Like a ball team, I’m comfortable in the friendly confines.

I imagine people thinking, hey, give it a rest. Enough of this “used to cover NASCAR” business. They’re right. This blog isn’t really anything other than what’s on my mind at the time. Sometimes I write stuff because I’ve obligated myself to do this and it’s all I can come up with.

It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

Speaking economically and capitalistically, this is exactly where I need to be: watching from afar. If there was still a reason for me to be there, I would be. If there was money for me to make, I’d make it. I hate to write something as redundant as “it is what it is,” but … it is.

Tonight there’ll be candlelight and roses …

Me? I'll play anywhere. I hope I have some help tonight. (John Clark photo)
Me? I’ll play anywhere. I hope I have some help tonight. (John Clark photo)

Actually, there’ll be beer and fajitas, but I’m thinking about singing the Merle Haggard song “The Farmer’s Daughter” tonight in the Live Music Showcase I’m hosting at El Jalisco Mexican Restaurant here in town. I don’t know how it will go. I’ve created a Facebook event and put a few circulars on windows around town. I’d like to encourage the local music scene because, (a.) I think it’s a righteous thing to do, and (b.) I’m part of it. I may do this every other week, and I may do it just this once.

I can feel the draft slipping away. (John Clark photo)
I can feel the draft slipping away. (John Clark photo)

What I won’t be doing tonight is watching the dual Duel in Daytona Beach. Originally, the open mic was scheduled for last Thursday, but it snowed, so I put it off a week and now I’ll miss the “twins” – I like that designation better – unless Fox Sports 1 is available on the muted TVs in the El Jalisco bar. If it is, I’ll just glance at the screen every now and then.

It’s obvious the races can be “covered” on Twitter. But can they be followed? Both are matters of degree.

Oh, goody, the Nationwide Series race is on Saturday afternoon. That way I won’t have to choose between it on ESPN and the final home game of a dreary Presbyterian College basketball season. If I did, I’m honestly not sure which way I’d go, but I don’t have to agonize. I can watch the race and attend the game. Occasionally in my life, things work.

It looks like I’m good to go for the rest of Speedweeks. I may miss the cool February breezes of Daytona Beach, Fla., more than anything else. My conditions are a little unique, but I don’t think I am alone.

I bide my time now writing fiction and hoping to make it big. I hope you’ll consider my two novels to date, The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles, neither of which is about racing but both of which are about life.

[cb_profit_poster Guitar2]