Tag Archives: rebellion

My Country Gold

Thirty years ago, back when I composed my first tune,
country music wasn’t all that cool;
anyone who said so, was a fool,
and better off in engineering school.

The only exceptions: Waylon, Willie, John and June;
everybody else seemed pretty old;
and despite the records that they sold,
they seemed to leave me pretty cold.

It seems since Hank the Senior died,
you want to know the truth,
that country music lost its sense of innocence and youth;
and split itself from rock and roll
to give the city folks
something they could ridicule with cleverness and jokes.
So despite I what I knew inside,
I left that music be;
pretending that it wasn’t part of me.

Thirty years ago, when I first figured how to play
most country singers came to stardom late;
hell, Merle Haggard sung his first at 28;
mixing youth and country? Don’t hallucinate.

Who’d a thought that things would change to how they are today?
Past thirty, and you haven’t too much chance;
You’re judged by how you fill out some tight pants;
And history? Forget it. Learn to dance.

It seems to me, since Elvis died,
you want to know the truth,
that country music figured it had best reclaim the youth;
and joined itself to rock and roll
to convince city folks
they could wear cowboy boots and not
be thought of as a joke.
So despite I what I knew inside,
I left that music be;
pretending that it wasn’t part of me.

Thirty years gone by, and only me that’s still the same;
listening to ol’ Merle and Bill Monroe;
measuring the hours as they go;
too old for stardom out on Music Row.

No regrets, and country music surely’s not to blame;
I’ve no consistent action to defend;
no single kind of music as my friend;
just wonderings and lots of might have beens.

It seems to me since Johnny died,
you want to know the truth,
that country music’s cut old age and now clings to the youth;
who start from rock and and roll
and write to give the city folks
a way to reconnect with life between this great land’s coasts.
Because it’s what I know inside,
though now I’m far too old;
I still pan for that solid country gold.

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What’s the Point?

What’s the point? I want to ask
the Mormons on their bikes,
who leave their own nice neighborhoods
to share the view they like
that they are sure contains the answers
to what’s wrong with us,
and don’t mind spending hours
on the front porch. We discuss
the book they’re peddling, free of charge,
the origins of man,
how God moves in an unseen way,
while we do what we can.

Their exposition on their faith
leaves me, at length, unmoved;
while my opinion on the universe
remains unproved,
at least, to them, because my book
has either not been writ,
or none have yet to take a look,
or maybe, it’s bullshit.

My entire life has been like that:
I understand their plight;
despite my great attempts to speak out
where I think I’m right,
the bottom line is no one listens;
no one gives a damn;
the world wants nothing of the truth,
and who I think I am
to people out there, on the streets,
is of no great concern.
They’d neither light a fire to warm me,
nor piss so I’ll not burn.

So in the end, who gives a f**k
about some grand design,
about nirvana or great bliss,
my neighborhood’s, or mine?
F**k new ideas, f**k advance,
f**k thinking for yourself;
f**k listening to the cosmic dance,
f**k those books on your shelves.
F**k gurus, mantra, holy books,
f**k pilgrimmage and prayer,
f**k hours of meditation,
f**k all gods who aren’t there.

F**k cities, f**k the small towns, too;
f**k hypocrites and saints;
f**k those who swear there’s something else,
f**k those who say there ain’t.

F**k friends who never call,
and those who won’t leave you alone;
f**k every last iconoclast,
f**k every single clone,
f**k me, and then go f**k yourself
and when you’re finished there
f**k those too f**ked to give a damn
and f**k those left who care.

‘Cause what’s the point? You live,
you die — that’s it this time around?
A sack of meat that keeps a pulse?
That doesn’t seem profound
enough to build religions on,
or claim some higher cause;
why bother with psychiatry
to correct minor flaws
when the whole purpose seems to be
just feed and breed and die,
and in between kill off those
who don’t like your reason why.

F**k war. F**k peace.
F**k those who think
that either one can fix
a world where children are shot down
by raving lunatics.
F**k newscasts, f**k those on-the-scene
reports that never say
each one of us played some small part
in how we got this way.
F**k schools, if all they try to teach
is how to get along,
the best fraternity to join,
or how to load a bong.
F**k infancy, f**k youth,
and you can f**k the middle aged,
who somehow act as if they’ve turned
to some important page
of life, and yet prize youth and beauty;
as if they’re still there,
despite the fat around their waists
and gray now in their hair.
F**k getting old and being old,
used up and of no use
except to buy up scooter chairs
and suck down carrot juice.

F**k Democrats, Republicans
and anyone who spouts
it’s not their fault the world is f**ked
or they’ve got a way out.

‘Cause what’s the point, I ask
because I’d really like to know;
I’d like to teach the world to sing
and tell it what I know
Not because “it’s my duty,
for the Bible tells me so,”
but because it seems so pointless
to just live, and go,
without affecting anyone,
or causing them to think
about the reasons that we’re here,
and why in this small blink
that is human existence,
why we bother to believe,
and when no one will listen
why the thinking man must grieve.

08 OCT 2006

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Foolish Notions

for Bob Dylan

Youth’s rebellions dissipate;
brave destiny succumbs to fate.
One morning you find it’s too late
to join the revolution.

One’s high ideals sink in the mud;
mountain retreats recede in flood.
The fire that once burned in your blood
Is ash and tar solution.

The words you chanted echo back
with missing verbs, with added tact,
contaminated by the fact
they’re now just noise pollution.

What was the problem has become
the status quo, opposing thumbs;
and the low beating of the drums
is just sheep in wolves’ clothing.

Those questions you posed to the air
have lost their sense of savoir faire.
Youth listens, but it doesn’t care;
they have their own self-loathing.

The answers aren’t there to find
out in the world, inside your mind,
to questions, now, of any kind.
Your gurus were all posing.

And yet the world is still the same:
victors dividing up the blame,
while tired and poor and sick and lame
sit waiting for a saviour.

While those with strength enough to fight
pretend their side is mostly right,
with pills to help them sleep at night
not doing them a favor.

Pretending at community,
while slicing up eternity;
the dish is done, it seems to me
the salt has lost its flavor.

I could, but now it’s far too late;
while we sit back and hesitate
the tabla rasa changes state
and crumbles in the ocean.

And each of us that could have been
if only we’d decided when
is left with words and bitter pens
robbed of our forward motion.

To sit and kvetch about the news
our backsides warm in worn-down pews,
forced now to listen as our views
are shown as foolish notions.

01 AUG 2006

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Wide Open Road

For some reason, I’m in a shit-kicking mood today. All my ducks are in a row, and I’m feeling my oats. Could be because it’s a beautiful warm spring day with a slight breeze and plenty of sunshine. Could be because it’s Friday. Could be just because.

Anyway, here’s a song I wrote about being your own man, finding your own road, and not listening to any crap along the way. What’s that Jeff Bates says? If you don’t feel like turning it up, it’s not a real country song.

WIDE OPEN ROAD any direction I choose
Shakin’ off this town like an old pair of shoes
Like my old man told me, you’ve got to use it or lose
And if the man don’t call you brother,
don’t give him your membership dues

WIDE OPEN ROAD and no kind of a plan
Shakin’ off these blues like I don’t give a damn
Just like my wife done told me, you’ve got to get it in gear
And if you’ve got no direction,
better bring it on back here

Two lanes is all I need, the right to cruise or to pass
Don’t need no big city news, don’t bother shakin’ your ass
You can tell my friends I’m trying to lighten my load
They can find me out there somewhere on the WIDE OPEN ROAD.

WIDE OPEN ROAD with nothing blocking my sight
Shakin’ out of my skin, just like I told you I might
Just like some folks try to tell you, they say you’ve got to keep your place
Well, if you feel like you’re under the wheel,
there ain’t no smile on your face

WIDE OPEN ROAD and nothing out there for miles
Shakin’ off my past like I was shredding my file
Just like the old man told me, sometimes you’ve got to move on
And you can give better answers
if they show up and you’re long gone.

Two lanes is all I need, the right to stop if I choose
Don’t try to slow me down with your big city news
You can tell my friends I’m trying to lighten my load
They can find me out there somewhere on the WIDE OPEN ROAD.

Spring 1998

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What Happens If

What happens if, as a martyr in training,
you learn self-abandonment, lose fear of death,
imagine your sacrifice each waking moment,
practice your from-the-flames speech in the mirror,
give not a thought to your present or future,
trust that your cause will provide and protect you,
turn away mere earthly love and companions,
scorn little day-to-day dreams as unworthy,
then find the required persecution won’t come?

What happens if, as a rebel in waiting,
you learn discipline, self-denial and hate,
imagine your enemies each waking moment,
practice your from-the-front-lines stance for hours,
give not a thought to your present or future,
trust that your cause will provide and protect you,
turn away mere earthly love and companions,
scorn little day-to-day dreams as unworthy,
then find your great revolution won’t come?

29 JUL 2005

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Cause Without a Rebel

I have no cause to champion
that’s worthy of a flag,
bedecked with symbols meant to stir
like-minded souls to arms;
no psycho-babbling sycophants
pore through my work to find
some mystic key that might unlock
their esoteric core.

if taken quickly, just skin deep,
there’s no euphoric high
to titillate the rebel throng
who seek a new messiah.
My generation does not struggle,
nor is it oppressed
by more than its own aspirations,
which don’t add to much.

We seek to decode messages,
enamored by their form
but not impressed by their content;
besides, who has the time
to contemplate some foolish scrawl?
Besides, as we all know,
all knowledge worth the knowing
was old news some years ago.

Our elders? They resent the way
we skulk around and wait
for them to die; we will inherit
naught but scornful pride.
The younger generation
we already do not like;
they simply fail to listen when
we outline our great plan.

In part, because there is no plan,
no underlying glyph
that seeks to make the parts a whole;
instead, we ask “What if
there is no point to anything,
no future, and no past;
therefore, there’s no good reason
to build anything that lasts.”

28 JUN 2005

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Independence Day

I heard the sounds last night of war
outside my window and front door,
wild shells and streaks of fire and light;
and I was troubled at the sight.

No thought of where the sparks might land
entered the minds that worked the hands
that with their matches struck these bombs;
a country of brave automatons.

The flash of light, the burst of sound
and emptied beer cans all around
while through the smoke which slowly cleared
the throng of wise non-voters cheered.

They cheered the colors and the show
and cursed the duds that would not blow
their senses wowed by shock and awe,
and the ends of their fingers raw.

The cost of fireworks? Twenty bucks,
from out the back of nameless trucks;
The cost of freedom? Tears and bone
worth more than any flag now flown.

For what good pomp and grand parades
to celebrate a poor charade?
It lessens knowledge of the cost
if lives in some great lie are lost.

This freedom that we celebrate,
is it a license by which hate
and fear become the only sense
by which we gain experience?

Our independence, so hard gained,
is its dirge to be our refrain?
I seek, although perhaps in vain,
to define freedom, once again:

Freedom from the right of kings,
in matters large, and petty things,
and from the presumed word of God
that with chains bids man’s feet be shod,

and from the whim of landed wealth
who seek first their own fare and health
and from the bane of presumed right
that sees darkness, save its own light

and from the harsh slavemaster’s whip,
and fear of persecution’s grip,
and from the unseen, hurtful ties
that persecute the meek and wise

and from the threat of hangman’s laws
that seek to punish without cause
and from the hand that seeks to still
the tongue, the mind, the heart and will

and from the bloodied, soulless crowd
that sees itself as just and proud
and from the ignorance that seeks
to serve itself, and harm the weak

and from the politician’s greed
that dines in pomp, while poor men bleed
and from the engines geared for war
that gnash their teeth, and cry for more

and from the state, that seeks to bind
the tongues of reason, and be blind
and from the cloaked and hidden cause
that bids us follow, just because

and from the forked and evil ways
that seek by bloodshed gold and praise
and from all those who would be kings
and paint themselves with angels’ wings

and from our baser natures, too
that seek reward where none is due
and from the impulse not to act
when those who guide us go off track

and from the right to hold one’s peace
when liberty and freedom cease
and lastly, freedom to believe
and when that freedom’s risked, to grieve.

06 JUL 2004

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