Let’s Go Crazy

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This post belongs to a blog hop of friends, go read theirs.

Smacksy

Good Day Regular People

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

The Mama Bird Diaries

Midlife Mixtape

When Did I Get Like This?

Arnebya

Up Popped A Fox

The Flying Chalupa

Suburban Scrawl

Elizabeth McGuire

Two Cannoli

Genie in a Blog

  I have some pretty “out there” music freak friends. We’ve all done things that normal people would consider to be certifiably insane, perhaps criminally so, to hear, see and experience great music. On March 12, 1993, I did something, a series of things, that no conventional thinking person would’ve done to see Prince in concert. His shocking death at the age of 57 not only has eliminated any regrets I had, but it made what seemed like a good idea at the time, become a terrible one and back into a good idea, all at once.

In March of ’93, I was wrapping 4 1/2 years as a student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with undergraduate degrees in communications and English. I had handed in my senior thesis papers and was essentially done as Crimson Tider. I was in a serious but failing relationship with an older woman, co-managing a friend’s alternative rock band, working for two different radio stations and trying to not freak out about my uncertain future.

My soon to be ex was a major Prince fan. I was knee deep in being a punk rock jerk and Nirvana fanboi and had decided anything ’80s was awful and should be shot like a lame horse. For some reason, I gave Prince a pass. And went to a concert without her.

After an epic fight with my girlfriend, I was hanging out in a bar in Birmingham, Alabama with my friends’ band, watching them drink their profits for playing earlier when the drummer’s wife said “hey, I can’t go to the Prince concert tomorrow night, who wants my ticket?”

The night was hazy and so was I, but somehow I accepted the ticket for whatever money I had in my pocket.

The show was in Atlanta, my hometown, thirty-five miles from where I grew up. I was without any money and a once in a generation ice storm had enveloped the southeast. Yet, there I was, in the back of 1970s four door something, I think it was an Oldsmobile, with a bad transmission.

We broke down a couple of miles from the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. An argument developed between the driver and one of my friends that led to fisticuffs. This was a winner of a night.

Finally, me and two friends who shall remain nameless but there are no innocents in this story, walked to the Fox and what happened next can only be described as Purple Pleasure.

For over two hours, Prince slayed a city. It was unbelievable. The capper was an almost 10 minute tour de force performance of Let’s Go Crazy. I could feel the flu growing inside of me after the long walk in the ice and rain but the Paisley Prince of rock and roll made me feel like I was perfectly fine.

Prince’s death is devastating. He was a musical genius who could do anything, artistically. I have more memories with his music than I realized. The news of his passing brought them all on. The fact that his last ever show was at the same Fox Theatre I saw him at in 1993 is both poetic and heartbreaking.

He will be missed.

After I left his amazing show, I had to call my soon to be ex-girlfriend to drive four plus hours to come pick me up. I was a terrible boyfriend, a stupid 22-year-old kid and very immature to even think about going to that concert. But that’s what Prince did, bring out the crazy in so many of us.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I regret nothing.

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life

Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world

A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby

‘Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You’re on your own

https://www.izlesene.com/video/prince-lets-go-crazy/5275039

Staying Alive

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I don’t give parenting advice because I’m nuts, but I’d like to offer a word of caution.

I have 3 daughters. They’re aged 11, 12, and 20.

If you’re like me, living with three girls and one is in college studying to be a lawyer, make a habit of reading every piece of paper they put in front of you.

Recently my youngest daughter asked, “can you sign my daily school agenda?”

I responded, “you always have an agenda,” then gave my signature.

Like a total gangster with no emotion or irony in her voice, she deadpanned, “and now I have power of attorney.”

****blogger’s note****

My dear friend, sometimes writing partner, and current operator of the 100 word challenge at her blog Thin Spiral Notebook http://thinspiralnotebook.com/2016/02/24/100-word-challenge-habit/ asked me to write a 100 word joke around the word habit.

Since, lately, I’ve only had time to write comedy, I took something that gets big laughs from my act. It’s actually about 190 words but I cut out 3 smaller jokes, some exposition, and gave you the basic big punchline.

Here’s The Whigs’ Staying Alive, which is what I try to do, living with 4 women, every day.

Thinking Out Loud – A Valentine’s Day Playlist

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If you’ve read this space more than once, you’ll know music rules my life in so many ways. The one aspect of my existence that doesn’t get a lot of run for tunes is luuuuuvvvvv or love. I’m not a huge fan of the songs of those types or the subject, at all. Maybe it’s because I never found “success” with that part of life until I was 37 years old, when I met my second and current wife. We are approaching our 8th year of marriage so through her insistence, I mean love and care, I’ve started to appreciate the songs of the heart.

My fellow musichead bud, Nancy Davis Kho of Midlife Mixtape asked me to put together a list for the Day Of Valentine’s containing songs that “put me in the mood”, for the love not necessarily the love making. That’s a WHOLE other post.

Here are a few ditties that dig into this dark spot in the middle of my chest and tell my tiny heart its okay to feel something.

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic The Police. I dig this group a lot, they’re a top 15 band of all-time for me but I couldn’t stand this song until a few years ago. Now, when I hear it on the radio or on my Ghost In The Machine album, I smile. It reminds me of the sunny blonde I live with and how I’m pretty much nada without her.

At Last Etta James. If I have to explain this one, then it doesn’t work. The woman can sang, not sing, but sang and it makes the cockles cockle.

Wonderful Tonight. Clapton. Guitar. Perfection.

Kool Thing – Sonic Youth. I have to maintain some sort of music snobbery alternative indie cred in this post. I know the lyrics have nothing to do with “love” but Thurston’s guitar and Kim’s snarling, sardonic vocal are sexy and funny and well, mood enhancing.

Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran. Um what? Who? Where’s Lance and what have you done with him? This is blogging fraud. Nope, sorry kids, I’ve gone soft and this song rules. It’s my significant other and I’s song of songs. The ginger popper does it all and I don’t care what card I giveover or bridge I have to burn to proclaim it.

There you go, five songs for my V-Day and yours if you want them. Happy Hallmark Day, lovahs. Go read my fellow music loving pals’ picks and enjoy yourselves this weekend with your Valentines.

Midlife Mixtape

Good Day Regular People

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Laurie White

Smacksy

Mrs. TDJ

Blue Orchid

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The power chords drove my mind into a dark place. I felt the singer’s voice scream his snarky question into my eardrums, “You got a reaction, you got a reaction didn’t you?” I was only on my second beer so there’s no way it was a drunken dream, Jack White wasn’t talking to me, at least not directly, was he? I struggled to keep myself together while writing in a notebook at the bar. Three weeks after filing for divorce, turning my sheltered suburban life into a drama worthy of its own reality show, I found myself wondering if The White Stripes were sermonizing to me like manic street preachers.

It was February 1, 2006, exactly 10 years from this keystroke. Miserable, lost and looking for answers in a bottle of Guinness, I swore then I’d screwed up my life so severely, I’d never recover. It was hyperbole worthy of a teenage YouTube star, that didn’t exist yet.

If life is made of key moments, ones that define you, this was one. I was alone, emotionally. I was single, living as a co-caretaker for my sick grandfather and trying to figure out how to be a good father to my then 2 1/2-year-old daughter. She’d never remember this tumultuous time in our family, but I’d carry the memory a decade later.

All I wanted was to be happy combined with finding the decent fatherhood skills. I didn’t ask God or myself for a new wife or more daughters or even to finally become the writer and creative force I’d envisioned when I graduated college 13 years earlier. Yet, they all happened. The details are pointless, because they wouldn’t have occurred without fixing my problems. I went to work on myself with a ethic I created on my own, as I went along. Church, therapy, writing every day, focusing on my kid when we were together and understanding that what I thought and did was important, as long as they were honest.

Almost 3 years later I would remarry and add two more daughters to my family. I fixed a broken man, then made him ready for happiness with people who deserved him and vice versa. It’s a bizarre but self-aware anniversary.

So yeah Jack White, I got a reaction, I got a reaction didn’t I?

Bring on the filthy guitar licks.

a href=”http://yeahwrite.me/nonfiction-writing-challenge-251/”>

 

 

Volunteers

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One’s man’s revolution is another’s nuisance, a philosophy I cobbled after running a Saturday morning errand.

I walked out of an auto parts store with jumper cables to help my wife from a bind. A young woman, around my daughter’s age, twenty, bounced past me with an arm full of political flyers. They read “Feel The Bern.”

Curiosity and mischievous like-mindedness made me turn around. I watched her get turned down by middle-aged men inside.

“We don’t do politics here.”

I smiled at her as she idled by and had a peculiar, sinking feeling that her burning idealism was better than my cold apathy.

 

****blogger’s note****

My friend Tara of Thin Spiral Notebook http://thinspiralnotebook.com/2016/01/27/100-word-challenge-peculiar/ has taken over the 100 Word Challenge from Velvet Verbosity. It’s how Tara and I met well over 5 years ago. Each week, a new word is posted and you write 100 words in any style then post it to your blog and hers. I’m excited to be back into it.

This week, Paul Kantner, the co-founder and rhythm guitar player for the legendary San Francisco band, Jefferson Airplane died of organ failure at age 74. In tribute to him, I wrote 100 words about being politically active. RIP, sir. Here’s one of the greatest political protest songs ever, Volunteers.

You Oughta Know; Why The 20th Anniversary Of Jagged Little Pill Matters

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One of music’s many powers is provoking decades-old memories from even the most forgetful people, like me. Most of the time I can’t remember my daughters’ names or what I had for breakfast, but a lyric, a guitar riff or even feedback as a song changes from soft to hard can take me back twenty years and recall almost every moment.

Alanis Morissette’s breathy, staccato vocal in the opening line, “I want you to know, that I’m happy for you, I wish nothing but the best for you both” bounced off my car dashboard. I knew it was a loaded line, probably a lie, and what was about to happen next was going to be memorable. As the power chord rolled and the unforgettable piece of naughty poetry occurred, “an older version of me, is she perverted like me, would she go down on you in a theatre” I knew I was listening to my generation’s “Go Your Own Way”, but much angrier, and it was fantastic. Kurt Cobain had been dead just over a year but there seemed to be an torch-bearer, literally and figuratively, to his honesty and rawness.

Twenty years ago today, June 13, 1995, Jagged Little Pill, the American debut album of Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette on Madonna’s fledgling record label, Maverick, was released. Sales were slow at first and it would take over three months for the first single, You Oughta Know, to rule the music world. Morissette’s Canadian invasion of the U.S. pop charts was unique. It would fully usher in an era of dominant popular female artists like Sheryl Crow, Sarah MacLachlan, Jewel, Liz Phair, and many others that would have their own festival tour, Lilith Fair, and break the ridiculous radio taboo of “too many women on the air”. Jagged Little Pill screamed its way into people’s hearts and minds and showed that female entertainers could not only sell millions of records but also fill stadiums.

Just after my July 4th weekend of 1995, I quit my radio job for a local Atlanta radio station, ending seven years in the field. The band I was managing part-time broke up shortly thereafter. While on my way home from one of their bar gigs, I turned on then Atlanta powerhouse radio station 99x, which played alternative and other new forms of music. Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know punched me in the gut and it felt brilliant. She was pissed off and wasn’t relying on flowery metaphors to convey her frustration. It was a well-crafted pop rock song. A waft of stale beer settled under my nose as I arrived home. I called a radio DJ friend of mine to ask him what he knew of this Alanis Morissette person. He reminded me of her appearances on the Canadian comedy show You Can’t Do That On Television, which we both saw as teenagers. I was a few months shy of turning 25 in July, 1995, but I was buoyed by a lack of cynicism over a new artist.

You Oughta Know became one of those touchstone songs. People of both sexes identified with it and the speculation over who it was about flourished for years. After many coy interviews, Full House actor Dave Coulier aka Uncle Joey, denied being “Mr. Duplicity” in 2014. Morissette has kept her secret even better than Carly Simon did with her subject of You’re So Vain. Former boyfriends including ex-New Jersey Devils hockey player Mike Peluso, Friends actor Matt Leblanc (who appear in a Canadian video of Alanis’ in 1991) and Leslie Howe, the producer of Alanis’ first two Canadian albums in the early 1990s are also likely culprits. Mostly people just plug into the rage and brutal honesty of being rejected or mistreated or forgotten by a former lover.

Jagged Little Pill was more than one amazing song. It was a 2-year chart phenomenon. Seven cuts from the record were released as singles including mega hits, You Learn, Hand In My Pocket, Head Over Feet, Ironic, and my personal favorite from the album, All I Really Want. Ironic became famous for not being Ironic. Many stand up comedians performed bits over how the lyrical content was simply a collection of bummers rather the definition of Ironic. Jagged Little Pill’s plug into the culture made it a global success, topping charts in ten countries. It was number one in Morissette’s native Canada for almost 6 months. It hit the top spot in the U.S. for 12 non-consecutive weeks. In 2010, its sales topped 33 million copies worldwide. Billboard ranked the album as the number one Best Selling Pop album for the 1990s decade.

Jagged Little Pill ages well. As the father of a teenage daughter, I recognize the sentiments of the album in her life. But how the record was so well-written and produced by Glen Ballard and Alanis Morissette speaks to its power. You Oughta Know still gets the same reaction from me and many others when it comes on the radio.

Twenty years is a long time for anything. But the memories of what Alanis Morissette was able to accomplish with raw emotion are impressive. She oughta know how much people love that record.

Tell me why you like Jagged Little Pill and your favorite track in the comments.

Scar Tissue ; A Year Of Hurting Myself With Crossfit

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Vanity is a snarling, relentless beast that feeds on weakness and insecurity. It attacked thirteen months ago, during a rush out of the house to take my kids to school, I posted a picture of my oldest daughter on her last day of high school. In the background, a reflection of bloated and shirtless me circulated around social media and the comments, while funny, were devastating. I was overweight, to go along with middle-aged.

The weird thing is, I knew it and had begun to try to improve my looks and health. Two weeks earlier my wife had given me a groupon for Crossfit. Since my savings obsessed bride believes the world can only be made better through groupons, I had to use it.

For the past year and one month I’ve been part of what many people think is an exercise cult. Gyms are boxes, sweaty people are athletes, and workouts are WODs. The axiom is, the first rule of Crossfit club is you have to talk about Crossfit club. But I kept it to myself for months.

I’m a little over a week into a self-imposed one month rest period. My knees are garbage, the right one has a bruised ligament, and my back isn’t much better. I did these things to myself through bad form and working through injuries. Despite what your Facebook friends may tell you, Crossfit doesn’t kill people, people do. You know, like guns? Except you don’t really die from counting box jumps and deadlifts while easily bought pistols will end your day in a hurry.

Instead of defending Crossfit and posting after pictures which will underwhelm you since I dieted like a college fraternity pledge through the process, I’ll just say, I’ve never felt better. I’m twenty pounds lighter, with four pounds of muscle added back. At 5’8″ and around 178lbs, my BMI says I won’t die tomorrow, maybe. I’ve improved my mile run times by over fifty seconds and I’m lifting weight unseen since my high school football days. I’m in shape. Maybe I’m not underwear model shape, because I’m almost 45-years-old, I have a wife,  three daughters, and a day job. but I’m doing things physically I never imagined, like participating in a Crossfit competition.

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I did spend a year hurting myself, mostly because I didn’t listen to my body telling me what my age is, how tired I always am, and the limits it arbitrarily places on me. So, I rest for the next month.

You can find blog posts all over the internet about Crossfit being the worst thing in the world and the best. It’s neither, for me. But it is the best workout I’ve done next to boxing. My wife and kids nixed me getting hit in the face years ago.

I’ve made some pretty good friend friends over the past year. They’re fairly normal people. Okay, they hang out with me and they do Crossfit, maybe not that normal. I don’t know anybody with abs and there was no evidence of folks oiling up or experiencing organ failure. My box, gym, whatever, is family friendly, easy to get to, and everyone knows my name without me having to be an alcoholic.

I’m weaning myself off ibuprofen, getting back into blogging, finishing my books (the sequel to The Ballad Of Helene Troy is in editing), preparing to make my open mic comedy debut at the end of the month and learning how to pay attention to my body. When I return to Crossfit in a few weeks, I’ll be smarter. If anything, my scar tissue is mental.