Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Sword Of Damocles

My office is a wreck. That’s not a complaint or even an admission of guilt, it’s just an observation. Kind of like; “the sky is blue.” When I’m on the road, Buffy cleans up my office and puts everything neatly away. Then I come blowing in with 15 guitars and bags and CDs and magazines and small crumpled bits of paper with song lyrics on them and receipts and turn a once neat room into a cluttered catastrophe, once again. Thank you to my beautiful wife for taking care of me for the last 20 years!
 As I sit writing this blog, listening to an excellent Jeff Buckley bootleg (02/02/95, Skala Espacio - Fukuoka, Japan), I can feel the teetering stacks of CDs behind me. I turn around and choose one stack at random (there are currently 6 stacks total, behind me) and here’s what’s in the pile;
Steve Earle - I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive
Jesse Johnson - Verbal Penetration
Johnny Cash - Personal File, Bootleg Vol.1
Hank Williams Jr - Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound
Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson
Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection
Elton John - Madman Across The Water
Willie Nelson - Honeysuckle Rose Soundtrack
Townes Van Zandt - Live At The Old Quarter, Houston TX
Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Annie Lennox - A Christmas Cornucopia
Keith Richards And The X-pensive Winos - Live At The Hollywood Palladium
Cage the Elephant - Thank You Happy Birthday
Jeff Beck - Rock And Roll Party
Rush - Moving Pictures
Whitesnake - Greatest Hits
Beady Eye - Different Gear Still Speeding
Foo Fighters - The Colour And The Shape
R.E.M - Collapse Into Now
John Lennon - Walls And Bridges
John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon - Rock And Roll
John Lennon - Sometime In New York City

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Have a little faith...

 I am a man of faith. I Believe. I believe that my wife loves me. I believe that I’ll be able to buy all of the land contiguous to my land some day (it’s not a lot, I mean it’s a lot but not like the Louisiana Purchase ‘a lot’). I believe that every time my whammy bar comes back up, my guitar will be in tune. (Okay, that one’s just a pipe dream!) I believe in God and I believe that He is in control of my life, that the path that I am on is by His design, that He’s given me the talents and desires that I have and that as long as I stay true to Him, everything in my little world will be just fine...then I doubt. I worry. I get scared. I get scared and the little voices in my head start chattering away; “you’re not that good.”, “you’ve played that same lick a million times and now everyone’s going to realize you’re a fraud.”, “you don’t have a good singing voice.”, “you’re too fat/tall/skinny/bald...”...you get the idea. Sometimes it seems like the closer you get to some really great thing; (a vacation with my family, a big gig, a stable career...) something comes along and undermines it. An unexpected bill, an unexpected crisis, an illness (although I do not get SICK, TIRED or HUNGRY. Just ask my wife!) Something comes along and shakes my faith. 
 When I was growing up, I was taught that God (or as it sounded from the preachers and teachers; GOD) was my father. Now, you have to understand, my earthly father, Jess Holt,  is/was a gentle, loving, full of life and humor, supportive, understanding man.  He loved golf, books, backgammon, his sons, his wife, life, photography and most of all his family, (yes that means I put us in that list twice, on purpose). I could go to him in the middle of the night (which I did every time I saw the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds on late-night TV) and he would say, “it’s okay, son.” “every thing's fine.” “you just had a bad dream.” “I’m right here and I won’t let anything happen to you.” I would then go to bed and sleep like the baby that I was. 
 GOD, on the other hand, was a white haired, white bearded man who was angry at me. He had lightning in his hand that he was ready to throw at me. Nothing I could say or do would gain me the comfort that the church hymns said I was supposed to be feeling. In fact, every day that I was alive just drove me further from his love and grace.
 Lot of conflict growing up. Which I am still doing. Growing up, that is. I’m going through some tumult now, like I’m sure you are too. Mine’s minor, minor; business related so it might be small potatoes to what you’re going through. I was visiting a family member in the hospital recently and was reminded that there are worse things in life than being cutoff in traffic, (but I digress). My point, (and yes Virginia, I do have one) is about faith. Faith, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said; “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase.” Faith is belief. Belief that you are not alone. Belief that something is working beyond your power, knowledge and ability. That there is more to this than...THIS. What stops you from robbing banks or kicking canes out from under old ladies. My worries and issues these days are small. My worries are just little nuts and bolts issues. My family is healthy and strong and loving and focused. My dad faced death with grace and strength that I can only pray that I will have. I have family members that are dealing today with catastrophic issues. Things Buff and I have never had to face, (thank God). I have a very dear friend that is battling a life and death issue and I have watched, silently for the most part, while he deals with it in a fairly public forum (facebook). He posts his thoughts, his fears, his frustrations and I have been continually amazed and uplifted by his strength. “Here is a man of true faith!”’ I says to myself... A while back, he had some bad news. Then, he had some good news. Now, he’s had some sketchy news that rattles him. You can hear it in his writing. But, his faith remains. His ability to see through the doubt and fear is his biggest strength. I have always admired him for that. Tonight, however. Reading his latest post, I was struck by another realization; God is working on all levels. He’s caring for CK (my friend) and he’s also using his experience and his ability to articulate and communicate a bigger, more universal message. Basically the way I hear it, is like what my dad would say to me and certainly what I say to my daughter now; “ I got ya!” No matter what, no matter how bad it gets; “I got ya!” You might not believe me, you might not agree with the outcome, but “I got ya.” 
 I’m told that we’re all going to grow old and then die. I’m told that. I don’t believe it for me personally and if you ever happen to come to my funeral (which I promise you will be an affair you will want to attend...if you can get tickets for one of the performances!) and look down into my casket, you will see one very surprised MF!:) I am told that though. I have faith. I have faith that there is a plan. I have faith that there is someone, smarter than all of us, driving this train. That love will prove to be the prevailing force in our universe. There has to be a reason why children and old people suffer. There has to be a reason why good people leave here and not so good folks seem to thrive and carry on. Faith. Faith is believing in something. Have faith. Have faith in each other. Have faith in yourself. Have faith in your loved ones. Whatever your faith is (and even if you’re an atheist you have faith!:)), pray for my friend tonight. And, while you’re at it, pray for one another, pray for your enemies, pray for YOUR friends, pray for a stranger, pray for ‘your fellow man’, pray for our country, pray for your country, pray for CK, pray for me and I’ll pray for you. Pray and have faith that your prayers will be answered. What have you got to lose?