Thursday, March 26, 2015
My brother Bill and I used to talk about the day I got a phone call from some stranger about an old album of mine from the 60's. Up until that day, in 2003, I had pretty much quit thinking and talking about my time in the music business. I would say to Bill, "I wish I never got that call that day!" And he would say back, "Yeah I remember it well, it screwed your life up again!"
"Yes it did," I'd say, "it started the same old shit all over it again!"
Again! That's the right word alright. That word represents my life in general. I did it again. It happened again. I tried again, and I got fucked again. Man what a lethal word.
Bill had watched me change a lot over the years we were in San Luis Obispo. He had seen me become more considerate, and reliable, when it came to doing things that helped the whole family, as opposed to just serving my own interests. Things like work. Work meaning physical labor and getting paid, which in my life had been something that mostly didn't happen. But that fucking phone call had landed smack dab in the middle of my life of responsibility, and began eating away, like termites, at the foundation of what I'd accomplished. I know I've said this before, and recently, but this event looms as the single most devastating thing that happened back then. Bill knew it, and wasn't afraid to say so. I knew it too, and so we spoke about it on numerous occasions. When you watch someone get better, like Bill had watched me, you know when that progress gets threatened, and in clear terms Bill saw the whole thing happen in one afternoon. The old obsession had been given entry into the quietness that life had become. The old uncertainty, and questions about an old record, quickly became the topic of too many of my days. In Bill's mind I had become more human, and less impressed with my past. But in the space of less than an hour he witnessed the dynamics of unwanted change stick it's ugly-ass face into his world, through me, and that telephone call. He was supportive, but feared the worst, because he knew me, knew how important all of it had once been to me. And that day he saw the old glint come back into my eyes, and heard that old mile a minute talk rumble out of my mouth. Like I said, he was supportive, but feared the future, if it was going to be filled with my past.
The call led to the internet, and connecting with people in the music business, and those who were interested in it, or otherwise had some sort of connection to it, real or fancied. In other words my focus had been completely altered because of that single telephone call. Everything I did after that was different than what I would have done had the call never come. My mother, and brother Bill, were as clear as a bell on what had happened, but knew that to question me would have been useless, so they did their level best to support my choice. They listened to me scream and yell about, not one, but two different albums that got reissued as cd's. They listened to me argue on the telephone with record companies, publishers, and others, about song rights, money, and the past. They watched me turn into a crazy person all over again and stood by helpless to assist, though they tried repeatedly to do so. My favorite thing to say to them was, "You don't understand," but in truth they understood perfectly. It was me that didn't understand...
Like a drunk who thinks, "This time will be different!" I traveled the same route that had led to my original downfall. I had to learn that it was a lie. A lie I wanted desperately to believe, but a lie nonetheless. Like getting clean and sober, I had to admit where and when I was wrong. It was, and is, the hardest thing I have ever had to do. To say, "No!" to myself. "Not again! We're not gonna do that again!" I wish I could have spared them, in their last few years of life, the turmoil that my choices brought them. I wish I had been unselfish enough to put them first instead of me first. I have had to sit with myself for many a long day, and look deep into what happened, and realize the damage my obsession with the music business has done, both to myself, as well as to others.
I don't pick up a drink, or get loaded, and haven't for 39 years, come April 1st of this year. It is my single true success in life. But I still need to learn that me and the music business are done, and until I understand that I will always be subject to trying just one more time, thinking, "This time will be
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