Monday, January 21, 2013

My Days With Brother Jukebox

There are those who know me personally - if anyone does - know before I began writing books, I spent a lot of years - actually what I call "years of night", meaning I didn't have a lot of days, in the music business. Nights were when you made your living. I was a singer, singin' all kinds of music: doo-wop, progressive jazz (remember The Four Freshmen, the Hi-los? Prob'ly not.), rock and roll, blues. Finally, I sang songs that were about heartbreakin', womanizin', cheatin', hard-drinkin' and fightin'. Did they all end in "in"? Songs like "Brother Jukebox" and "Hank Williams You Wrote My Life" and others. Those two and more were written by my friend, Paul Craft, who also wrote for the Eagles, Linda Ronstad and Dolly Parton. There were also lesser songs in this genre that I didn't sing (one has to have standards), songs like "If I'da Killed You Then I'd Be Gettin' Out Now" or "Ain't No Trash in My Trailer Since You Left."

It was those latter clubs, some with chicken wire in front of the bandstand to ward off beer bottles, in places like War, West Virginia and Penns Grove, NJ, that introduced me to a number of things the other music scenes hadn't provided, such as going to sleep on Monday and waking up on Wednesday on a bus, somewhere, with people, some of whom I knew and others who had just joined the fray while I was sleeping. It was a "Brother Jukebox, Sister Wine" kind of existence.

I was thinkin' about some of those experiences late last night when I realized my blog had been pretty much ignored while my brain was searching for the next novel. I then asked myself was music or writin' the most fun. Ever do that? Ever ask yourself what the best time, the best period of your life, the one with the most fun was? Just for you. Don't think about anybody else.

Looking back, I would have to say music was the most fun time without question. Musicians have no responsibilities except for the music. Musicians have no responsibilities except for the music. But, I also have to admit writin' is a good time, too, and less damaging and safer. I would also have to admit that the life experiences I got through music gave me things to write about. (Nothin' Left to Lose). We will talk more about this later. I'm off to Virginia, but I'm not invitin' Brother Jukebox or Sister Wine.