Now I’m 46

Another year has come and gone – this one seemed to go by very quickly for me. I had a lot going on, many changes began here and continued.

I left Alcoholics Anonymous

It was a while in the making. I finally saw the inner workings of the service side of AA, what I assumed would be the most spiritual was the most sick I guess. It seemed all anyone wanted was what they wanted, not what was best for AA as a whole. So to me I had lost a second part of the triangle, the one I believed in most – Service. Between that and the “fake it til you make it” dishonesty in an honesty program. I’m really an atheist and cannot swallow what others do in its entirety. Don’t miss it, gives me lots of free time and less to be resentful at. I did go to a meeting with Flo when I was in Albuquerque but that was for him, I was just along. No one from AA has really reached out to me asking me about it – some have said they want to leave too, so that’s interesting. Continue reading

Songs Tied to Memories

In the car today the song New York, New York came on. It’s on my iTunes account as part of a Frank Sinatra greatest hits album. I love Frank, he can really get me singing along with songs. New York, New York though brings up a childhood memory that I can’t let go of. So I hit skip.

I was relatively new to a school district, I think in Florida. I had garnered all the attention for a few days. It was pleasant to have the attention, fear and distrust of others focused on me. (I seek attention in all its forms) But just a few days into my new school another new kid came to the school. I don’t even remember his name. When the teacher introduced him to the class she made a big deal about him having been to Broadway and singing on stage. For me, all she did was say “this is James, he’s new here”. Continue reading

The Old Stuff, The Good Stuff and Friends in Low Places

I had a crush on a redhead girl back in 1991 and wanted to learn more about her – one time when we were talking she mentioned liking Garth Brooks. I had no idea who this guy was but I wanted to figure it out so I asked around.

“Country crap” is what they told me. Country wasn’t cool (no matter what Barbara Mandrell sang) and most of my friends didn’t want anything to do with an up and coming new artist if he wore a cowboy hat and boots. But I was hoping to impress this girl so I kept searching. I finally heard that song “Friends In Low Places” and I liked that quite a lot – many people at the bars would sing along with that one even if it was country. I was slowly introduced to a few others and I guess he wasn’t that bad. That red headed girl and I didn’t ever end up going out – she probably saw in me what I was afraid to look at myself. Continue reading

Singing with Star

Growing up I was always surrounded by music. At every family gathering there would be singing by the adults and the kids. My mother would often be asked to come up on stage and sing at bars or at the town festival beer tents. Us kids would often put on shows for our parents or uncles and aunts if they would let us. One of my aunts tried to get me interested in playing the piano and my grandmother often tried to teach me to play the guitar.

My grandmother, Star, would play guitar, sing and she wrote many songs about her life and the lives of those around her. One particular song “Sawmill Mans Wife” was a childhood favorite, I don’t recall the lyrics, but I do recall that the last time I heard her play it my aunt Ginger cried – so perhaps the lyrics weren’t happy memories. I hope someone managed to save her lyrics and music.

I was fortunate enough to live with my Grandmother for a few years when I was a teenager and I think she picked up her guitar almost every day, and if not the guitar then the dulcimer, the accordion or would just be humming away. Music seemed to be the center of every moment for her. If she was doing woodworking on her walking sticks, or on a new guitar she’s be whistling away or singing an old song that had special importance for her.

Songs that I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise I learned about from my grandmother, songs by Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and most importantly her songs.

We would accompany Grandmother to camp sites where they were protesting nuclear power or whatever and Grandma would get up on stage and sing protest songs, popular songs and sometimes some of us would get on stage and sing with her. My sister and I once got into an argument live on stage about the right way to sing Barbara Mandrell’s “Crackers” – I think I was doing most of the arguing – Dawn understood that the show must go on and kept singing, I understood that I was going to grow up and be a drama queen.

I can easily recall images of my grandmother strumming her guitar, singing at a campfire, or at home. Most of those are good memories that I can cherish for all time. Music has been one of those things that can make me feel better no matter what – thanks Grandma.