Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stevie Ray Vaughan: 20 Years After He Leaves Us, and He’s Still One of the Best

So…the other day I’m on the highway at 0 dark thirty.

I am sober.

It’s a warm, clear, full moon-lit morning.

Sunroof open.

Windows down.

Smith & Wesson on the bucket seat next to me is riding shotgun.

He’s my only friend at this hour.

Stereo is blasting with the SRV and Double Trouble album Couldn’t Stand The Weather on the mp3 player.

The song Things That I Used To Do comes on.

I let it track through.

When it’s over, I actually say to myself as I tear-ass down the interstate, “Gawd-damn! That song fucking rocks! Stevie’s getting the fuck off!”

I wish I was a Texan.


I play it again, Sam.

Now…I’ve heard that cut probably 500,000 times, as I have owned the vinyl album since its release way back in the mid-80s, and SRV in general has always been one of my favorites.

In this case, the planets must have been in alignment, or the conditions were perfect, because it was like I’d never heard the song before.

Or, maybe this was the first time I ever really listened to it closely.

It was truly amazing and spectacular, and I vowed to find a video of SRV performing the song live, because I figured it would be even more awesome than the studio recording I had just listened to twice.

The thiiiiiiiiiiiiings… that I used to do… lawd I won’t… do no mo’…

I was fortunate enough to see SRV live and in concert at Emens Auditorium at Ball State University way back in 1986.

I don’t remember too much about the show, probably because I was TIRED, but I do recall that it seemed as if SRV played rhythm and lead guitar all at the same time.

The thiiiiiiiiiiiiings… that I used to do… lawd I won’t… do no mo’…

It was amazing and spectacular, and his rhythm section, known worldwide as Double Trouble, was stupendous!

A few years ago on the anniversary of SRV’s unfortunate helicopter ride, I was sitting home alone and drinking screwdrivers, nursing a bad back with muscle relaxers, and jamming through my SRV record collection at ear-splitting levels.

I was enjoying myself too much, apparently, when my wife and kids came home from some kinda wholesome approved activity.

They were horrified at my condition and the decibels of my ass-kicking stereo.

I exclaimed to no one in particular and everyone, “Damn! This shit rocks!”

It wasn’t long before I got TIRED, and fell face first into my plate of spaghetti at the dinner table.

I was a bad Dad that day.

Here’s a little tip: Try not to mix muscle relaxers with screwdrivers. It is neither prudent nor proper, but it makes you forget all about an aching back!

The thiiiiiiiiiiiiings… that I used to do… lawd I won’t… do no mo’…

Now…I have heard it said, on the intardnets and elsewhere, that SRV really wasn’t that big of a deal.

…that his amazing sound was simply because of the super-sensitive nuclear powered pick-ups on his guit-box Fender Stratocaster…or something…and that any dumb monkey could play and sound like he did.

I’m no guitar geek, and I can’t read or play a note of music on any kind of instrument known or unknown to mankind.

But, I say to this, “Whatever, man.”

I’ve also heard it said that SRV simply ripped off about a thousand classic black blues men and Jimi Hendrix and electrified everything and never really did anything original or cool.

Whatever, man.

I told my kids that when they say ‘whatever’ to me, I interpret it to mean, “Fuck you, Dad.”

Same kinda deal here with the SRV naysayers.

Fuck you…and your dads.

Rest in peace, Stevie.

Coming up on twenty years since you left us, and I still miss you brother, but your music continues to bring joy to my heart.

The thiiiiiiiiiiiiings… that I used to do… lawd I won’t… do no mo’…

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Letter To My Dad On Father’s Day

Hey, Dad!

I know you’ve been watching, but just in case you’ve been busy up there, I thought I’d update you on the goings on down here.

The kids are all teenagers now! All three will be in high school this Fall. They are all healthy and doing great.

Lynda and I have tried to raise them right, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it so far.

I imagine you would be proud of them and how we’ve raised them.

I’ve used many of your tactics…changed some, reduced others, added my own twists.

I guess that’s the way it goes.

Rick effortlessly glides through school, gets excellent grades, and is a multiple Varsity letter winner on the swim team. He makes it look easy. He is 6 feet tall, and a good-looking kid. He’s like a bigger, smarter, more athletic, and more attractive version of me. His passion is computers and related things, but I suspect he will be highly successful in whatever he decides to do with his life.

Recie makes school look easy too. Good grades, popular, free-spirited, and multi-talented. Music and competitive swimming are her passions, and she has done both expertly with many awards. She is like her mother…tall, pretty, and lady-like. She is a treasure.

Willie is smart as a tack, built like a brick shit house, and is most like me mentally and emotionally when I was his age. He is a very active young man. Handsome, strong, and always on the go. He enjoys music, swimming, and bike riding. Strenuous physical activity is his passion, but he is far from being a dummy. He has excellent powers of deduction and reasoning, and can read people and situations unlike most kids his age. He is capable of getting good grades and has done so, but he must actually apply himself and work at it. It doesn’t come easy for him.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it, Dad?

Lynda has been extremely helpful in keeping Willie focused on schoolwork.

Lynda is healthy and busy as ever. I couldn’t have chosen a better wife. She is the biggest reason the kids are doing so well. I tagged along for the ride and contributed an important fatherly influence.

The value of an intact family, with a mother and father, cannot be overestimated.

You and Mom set a fine example for me.

Speaking of Mom…she is healthy, and is keeping busy helping with grandkids and great grand kids.

She still misses you terribly, and she speaks of you often.

Hell…we all do.

Mom has moved on with her life. She seems happy, and enjoys the company of her family surrounding her.

All of your children are healthy and doing great also. They are free-minded and contributing members of society. You raised us right.

I have kept your memory alive by contributing many of your racing photos to various projects. Your work has been published in calendars, magazine articles, promotional advertising, and many internet sources.

You might be angry that I haven’t been paid for allowing your photos to be used, but I didn’t feel right about profiting from your work.

I am happy that your skills are so well appreciated and acknowledged now…something that didn’t happen often enough while you were with us.

I also published all of your Vietnam articles on the internet. They are highly acclaimed and well received also.

I have had many Vietnam veterans and their families contact me to tell me how much they appreciate your work.

It has been emotionally rewarding and personally satisfying that you are finally getting the recognition you deserve.

I never knew much about your professional life and attitude, but I have a sneaking suspicion you were never a braggart or a show-boater. I think you didn’t crave attention and accolades. You wanted to be respected as a professional in your field.

I know you are up there with your mom and dad and Uncle David. I can just imagine the shenanigans you four are up to!

Even though he is advancing in years, Uncle Tom is as healthy and robust as ever. Must be that clean living, and that wonderful wife he has! She is an angel.

I have come to really enjoy Tom’s company. He is always coming up with another humdinger of a story about you that I’ve never heard before.

You know that I always loved you and respected you. I appreciate your guidance, and I am thankful you were my dad.

I know now it wasn’t easy.

I still miss you and think of you often.

To this day, you still help guide me through this life.

A son could ask for nothing more.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.