January 31st, 2019
I was driving home a little while ago when I heard a song on the stereo that was written by…me. That is truly a weird sensation. Karin and I have an ipod with over fifteen hundred songs on it. That is what we listen to when we are in the car. A couple of the songs on it are from me, or at least the lyrics are from me. I worked on the songs with Randy Vanvlaenderen, a close friend and an excellent blues guitarist.
I haven’t written any lyrics for a few years. Perhaps that is due to a lack of inspiration, or sheer laziness. I am good with words, but I can’t make music. Well, maybe I could if I worked at it. It’s been easier working with Randy. His whole life is music, and I envy him because of it. He can turn my words into song, and that is an amazing gift.
I am going waaaay out of my comfort zone now. I can’t describe the songs to you. You have to listen to them. So, I have to go beyond words, and use current technology to bring the recordings to you. I hate doing that. However, I will write down the lyrics for you.
There are three songs. They are all several years old.
“PTSD” is a song for my son, Hans. He fought in Iraq, and that changed everything. This song is modeled on “Father and Son” from Cat Stevens. It is the only song where I actually participate in the recording.
“Kiss My Rebel Ass” is a tune about racism and barbecue and southern culture, and it is also about Hans. I mention Ernie in the song. Ernie was a close friend who died of cancer, and I miss him every day. The song is not PC. Not at all.
“A Brand New Buddha” is about Zen. It is also completely blasphemous. The cool thing is that Zen practitioners won’t track you down and kill you for being a smart ass.
Kiss My Rebel Ass
Son drove his truck, all shiny and black,
Exhaust rumbling out of the back.
Eight-foot whips to use his CB,
Great machine if gas is for free.
The truck looked like a big, black whale.
I saw his sticker on the tail.
Stars and bars, kind of crude and crass,
Words said, “Kiss my rebel ass.”
Son loves barbecue, spicy sweet.
Down South you always find that treat.
We Yankees don’t have it so much.
We just don’t have time or the touch.
Where could I find my boy this meal?
I’ll ask Ernie; he knows the deal.
Ernie said, “Frankie, go to Speed Queen!”
“It’s all down home, meat nice and lean.”
“Speed Queen? Ain’t that down in the Hood?”
“Hell yeah Frankie, food there’s damn good!”
Son was at home, that was good luck.
I told him, “Son, let’s take your truck.”
“Wait”, he said, and swallowed his pride.
“I’m not stupid, We’ll take your ride.”
12th and Walnut; it’s kind of rough.
We weren’t staying long, just long enough.
“Son, you think that they got some beer?”
“Dad, we’re the only white men here.”
I went inside, ordered some pork.
Meat so tender, it melts on your fork.
Son left to smoke, gone in a flash.
Lady said, “Brother, we only take cash.”
Carried out a big plate of tin.
Smelt so tangy; sweeter than sin.
Son smiled crooked, breathed in the meat.
“Dad, so what are you gonna eat?”
Boy went back to his Lone Star home.
Didn’t stay long. He just had to roam.
It was fun, but all things must pass.
Texas can kiss his rebel ass.
A Brand New Buddha
Box arrived from some kind of store.
It happened back a month or more.
Inside was something bright and bold.
It was a Buddha made of gold!
Strike the moktak! Sing and shout!
Everybody come and gather ’bout.
Slap the chugpi, chant the sutras!
We got us a brand new Buddha!
Up on the altar sat Kwan Yin.
Taking her down, that seemed a sin.
Couldn’t decide where she should rest,
Guess she can keep the closet blessed.
Got no emptiness. Got no form.
Got us a Buddha gold and warm.
That boy smiles so shiny and bright.
Bet his grin glows late in the night.
No attachments here. None of that.
Cushions are fine, so is a mat.
We sit quiet both night and day.
Just don’t take our Buddha away!
Burn the incense and ring the bell!
Chant those sutras we know so well!
This dharma can’t be bought or sold.
We got a Buddha made of gold!
Father: My boy joined up ’bout four years back.
Army sent him over to Iraq.
I didn’t want him to go to war.
He’s here now, but not like before.
Son: My old man. He can’t understand.
He didn’t see the blood or the sand.
He didn’t hear the shouts or the cries.
Don’t look at me with those sad eyes.
Father: What does he feel? What does he think?
That boy just sits there; smokes and drinks.
He won’t talk. He won’t even try.
Just looks at me with empty eyes.
Son: What should I tell? What can I say?
I was ten thousand miles away!
He wasn’t with me. He wasn’t there.
What did he know? What did he care?
Father: Son, I did care. I prayed every day.
I wanted you home safe some way.
Tell me what happened over in Iraq.
Tell me how I can get you back.
Son: Dad, I went some place you can’t go.
What all happened, hell I don’t know.
It’s not simple. Not white or black.
Bye, Dad. I can’t ever come back.
Maybe the songs will mean something to you. Maybe not.
Should I write more songs with Randy?
Kiss My Rebel Ass
Brand New Buddha