Archive | March, 2010

Till I Can Gain Control Again

9 Mar

There are perfect songs.

And I believe this is one of them.

When I say perfect song, I meant the guy who wrote it did it perfectly.  There’s nothing there that shouldn’t be there… and there’s nothing missing.  And every note is right where it’s supposed to be.

And the song just feels right.

This song has brought tears to my eyes more often that just about any song I know.  I first heard Willie do it back in the golden era.  Emmylou Harris has covered it as well.

It was written by a really great country artist named Rodney Crowell.  He was married to Johnny Cash’s daughter.  He has high hair.  And this song makes him a songwriting hero of mine.

Another reason I personally love this song: It seems like it was written by a family member.  It pays homage to cowboys and sailors.  Our family has produced copious amounts of both.

Anyway, the name of Mr. Crowell’s song is Till I Can Gain Control Again.  Here it is…

Roll Your Own

2 Mar

I think every human being is searching.

Searching for love. Searching for fame, or sex, or something to hold onto.

But the main thing is freedom.

And that’s what I loved so much about the outlaw country days.  I’m talking about the 1970s, when Waylon and Willie ruled the world.  When Kris Kristofferson was trying to get sober, and failing beautifully.

And Merle Haggard still had a fully functional liver.  And I still believed that the Brady Bunch was my real family or origin.

Those guys fought.  They drank.  They screwed.  And they lived.

Of course they made some of the most beautiful songs ever recorded, too.  These songs all had an edge to them.  They walked that fine line between pretty and profane.  That lovely country place.

It’s embodied in a Nashville diner at 12:32 a.m. on a Wednesday night.  1961.  The waitress and the outlaw exchange some small talk.  They’ve both been here before.  They wind up in bed, drunk.  The next morning they wake up with sunlight streaming through the busted shades and their heads whistling hot with burning hangover.  She has to be at work by noon.  He’s got nowhere to go.  And it’s another day in the South, with the heat coming down.

Or as K2 wrote:

On a Sunday morning sidewalk, wishin’ Lord that I was stoned… Cause there’s something ’bout a Sunday, makes a body feel alone.

Willie’s “Gotta Get Drunk” and “Whiskey River” come to mind.  They’re thumbing their noses at doctors, and societal norms and hygiene.  I just love all of that stuff.  And the latter-day outlaw saints still ring true to me too.  Your Hank Jr. and your Whitey Schmidts.

In today’s world, nothing so enrages proper people like smoking.  Smoking cigarettes, pipes, joints, bongs, hookahs, cee-gars, you name it.

So as a former cigarette smoker and current cigar junky, I wanted to write a song to all of us out there who refuse to completely turn away from the sot weed.

That’s right.  It’s time to put away your damn government warning stickers for a minute.  Time to forget about the Feds storming your house and busting you for relaxing in front of the tube with some fine tobacco products.

Let’s celebrate smoking for just one small moment (don’t tell the kids, okay?).

There’s something about the ritual.  Handling the smoke between thumb and forefinger.  Touching it to your lip.  The first tendrils as they rise into the cool air.

Pure heaven.

Before I play this song for you, I must confess.  The title, which I love, was borrowed from one of my all-time favorite essays.  It’s by Gunter Grass, and it’s called Roll Your Own.

And with that, let’s get down to it…