Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ringing Out The Old

Happy New Year to One and All
Melody and I had an old fashioned New Year at home. We partied like it was 1929. As we stirred our pot of gruel simmering over an open fire in our den, I reminded her that we didn't have a fireplace. So after we stomped out the ashes, so as not to cause smoke damage to our High Definition television that I purchased right before the prices dropped like the Dow on a day when Bush holds a press conference, we settled in to watch how Dick Clark's attendants were going to dress him this year and wait for my balls to drop. But only Ryan Seacrest and Fergie showed up. I guess old Dick finally took the hint that the public doesn't want the New Year counted down by the Cryptkeeper. I still recall the New Year's in Times Square when the pickpockets were so aggressive, they tore the entire back pocket out of my friend Larry's pants. When they say that you must spend at least one New Year's Eve in your life in Times Square, they lie.

We were invited out by friends, and I appreciate them thinking of us, but like my Daddy used to say, "The only thing worse than staying home on New Year's Eve is going out on New Year's Eve." Add that to the fact that in my years as a working musician, every single New Year's was an adventure waiting to happen. Some were terrific, like playing the Hard Rock in New York with Isaac Tigrett acting as host. And some were nightmarish, like the private corporate party we played thrown by a CEO big shot who got shitfaced and insisted on singing "Summertime" with the band. The poor slob got up to "and the cotton..." and he could go no further. He just stood there slumped and numb, mumbling "and the cotton...," over and over. Finally, when a couple of his employees were helping him off the stage, I said into the microphone, "Hey, don't quit your day job," at which point he broke loose from his handlers like James Brown and charged the stage, jacking up Bob Simon by the shirt collar screaming, "What did you say, you sonofabitch?" Bob was beet red before the enraged and drunken man who was going to pay us could be torn away from his throat, proving that even in the most miserable of circumstances, there can still be amusing incidents.

I've seen the combination of an anxiety-producing overemphasis on having a good time, mixed with a "drink quick and suffer later" philosophy, end badly and early for a whole lot of people. Musicians refer to New Year's Eve as "Amateur Night." One thing I'm assured of by staying home is that I won't be killed on the road. I have no objection to anyone drinking, but I don't drink because it has an unpleasant effect on me. I wish I could achieve a little pleasure in drink, but I only get ill. I go directly from being straight to being sick, with no euphoria in between. That's why it's particularly difficult for me to be around drunk people on this night. It's like back in the 70s, when you walked into a party and everyone was high on Quaaludes but you. Unless you're part of the orgy, it's a gruesome sight. Melody and I even forgot to open the champagne at midnight sent to us by Father Farken, but that only means Mimosas tomorrow, headache or no.

Among the best New Year's parties we ever played, was for the congregation of St. Louis Catholic Church on White Station Rd. No one was drinking except for what they were sneaking under the table because they were in the Parrish Hall and the retiring Monsignor Clunan was in attendance. I got to sing "Danny Boy" for him. It turned out that several people I knew from high school were there and they were so happy the band turned out to be us, that they turned it into a 60s style sock hop. I've never seen sober people with so much abandon. They even did the "Love Train" all around the room. Of course, I've been on the other side of the coin until I realized that alcohol wasn't my friend, and have been carried from a few places, or woken up with my head bobbing from the back seat of a strange car in an unknown location among people speaking in a foreign tongue, but why dwell on that? The sick part was never worth the momentary fun part for me. I envy sociable drinkers. It's that glassy stare that gets to me.

My most memorable New Year's gig involved our late drummer, Mike Gardner. An agent had booked us at the Officer's Club in Millington, on the naval base- always a fun bunch. We needed passes to be admitted and when it took too long, the ever impatient Mr. Gardner got into an argument with a guard after calling him an "Anchor Clanker." Things got no better from there. The Naval officers and their wives had to have had the tightest collective sphincters of any group we ever faced. They refused to have fun. They hated everything we played. Our calls for them to hit the dance floor were met with icy stares. We played "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight and the place was empty by 12:05. We were unloading equipment through the front door and down a long sidewalk covered with an awning and into our vehicles when it began to rain. Mike got in his black pick-up truck and backed it into one of the rod-iron, decorative pillars that held up the entryway, bending it in half and collapsing the entire awning. We looked around, but the area was deserted, so we piled in our cars, booked for Memphis, and cashed the check. One of the few times I've enjoyed being with someone who had too much to drink on New Year's Eve was that night when Mike Gardner literally brought down the house.

I wish a very good new year to everybody, may the hangover be brief, and may the pain be made durable by the promise. If you wish to leave 2008 with a little hope, look at the face of this child gazing at our new president. May we all be so inspired in 2009. Randy


jane said...

Happy New Year Randy and Melody!
This is going to be a great year....and what a way to celebrate my birthday... inauguration day!!!!
Take care and keep on blogging!!!!!
Jane (and Gary)

Anonymous said...

What a way to begin the New Year with a message for us Born-Again Hippies! I cannot drink because if I have one, I will continue until I have one hundred. Then I'll get really, really sick. And committed (or admitted, whichever comes first).
Your fireplace needs a little work I would say and I hope your tender tootsies were okay.
Great writing, Randy and I am glad Melody can put up with you you ole Rascal Haspel YOU. HA! Pun intended.
Bob Weymouth Class of '65

Jackie said...

I remember several of those New Years celebrations....or at least parts of them. Haven't done that crazy in a few years.
I, too , was home last night and feeling great today!
HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for remembering me and sharing your past new years eve with me. The truth of my Dec. 31 memories is that they are similar to the my 60's and 70's memories. I can't remember shit about them, either.
Freshman Bob

SWT said...

Happy New Year from Santa Fe, Sputnik. I stumbled across yer blog when I was looking at other bloggers who like the movie THE LOVED ONE.

I'm a fan of Mr. Monroe too. I used to see him wrestle in OKC when I was just a kid. One time I went to his side of the ring to get his autograph. He smiled, took my little autograph book and RIPPED IT TO SHREDS as the crowd booed. I was shocked and pissed off but I respected him for it.

You have great taste in music.


Cousin Cliff said...

Happy New Year, Cousin. I remember well your New Year's Hard Rock gig in NYC, as Brad and I came up with dates to see you play.

kimk said...

Seven-hundred-and-fourteen daze and nites:

He's being hauled out by bandmate's from the back bedroom where a visiting mother had been sleeping. She's awake now and sitting up at bedside where moments before he had sprawled down atop her not knowing she was there.

He mutters, "I sorta' thought the old gal went for me . . ."

Jazzdad said...

Happy New Year Randy, Melody and all Born-Again Hippy Readers

I can confirm my friend Jerry was caught in Times Square In his tighty-whities after pickpockets tried to get his wallet.Times Square was a forgettable experience. I should have been back at the Hard Rock hearing The Radiants play "Crosscut Saw"
As the drummer on the 4 to 4:30 shift, It was a great New Years Eve! I might have even snuck eight bars of drum solo in (Randy hates drum solos!)

Best of Luck and Love


Up in heaven, Joshua move over Freddie Hubbard ia replacing you!

julie said...

Happy, happy New Year!!!!
And I enjoyed your blog, and I love reading the comments.
I saw Dick Clark. Maybe he came on late, I don't remember what time it was. It was kind of sad, his speech is bad b/c of his stroke.

Anonymous said...

I loved this Randy....really took me back. I miss ole Michael G. He left us way too soon as so many others have.

Love you guys.


Anonymous said...

Alcohol is a lousy drug, especially if you use it as your primary thing to get off on. My prescription is as follows: Start with a couple of tokes of some high-grade. Then slowly sip a beer or two over the course of the night. No hangover and no big detriment to your health.

Anonymous said...

Massachusetts has just de-criminalized pot. That makes 13 states (I think) that have done so. Oh, I forgot about Eureka Springs, Ar. The citizenry voted to de-criminalize pot a couple of years ago. Anyway, that makes 37 states to go. I bet that Willie would help to do the same for Tn. Randy, why don't you use your clout for some practical good and start a movement to de-criminalize pot in Tn? At one time lots and lots of folks knew that it was better for your health than alcohol.

Father Farken said...

Johnny*Burnette!!! Bless me Sputnik for I have sinned!In my New Year's sermon I told my congregation That the economy was so bad that I partied like it was 1929! I was about to credit the SPUTMEISTER but all that laughter...well it caused me to gloat instead... as if I had an original thought! Forgive me my good friend! I owe you big! The New Year's party @ St Louis reminded me that there is a lot of room for song & dance in Catholc, Eastern Orthodox & Jewish theology. Matter of fact its a sin not to enjoy the presence of others. True spirituality is life affirming....Calling us to be fully human & fully alive. Hell is the absence of love...Heaven is where G*d's Love reigns. Like singing Danny Boy to the GREAT MONSIGNOR CLUNAN. (My favorite versions of DannyB are sung by Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson & Mario Lanza but I'm sure Randy's rendition is right up there. Never heard Carl sing it!) And Clunan! Well he was like an uncle to me! My good friend Ernie Pecker did a charming painting of the old saint. By the way! Did the good monsignor lead the Love Train? Which reminds me... I meant to mention something in your last blog (which dealt with homosexuality)! I took some courses @ Memphis Theological Seminary & my professor of Church & Culture challenged us..."To love others! You've got to spend time with them". He had us dress up as homeless paupers & go begging on Beale St. with the poor. (I made a butt-load of beer money that night but I don't recommend sleeping on the sidewalks in front of Silkey's!) The late Dr. Paul Brown assigned McGirk & me to go to a gay bar some where near SUN RECORDS(This was in 83) & give a report the next day! I confess I didn't want anyone to recognize me so Shecky McGirk & I dressed up like clowns thinking we were incognito. Every thing was going alright till I had to go to the restroom. This guy follows me in & stands right beside me & sez " I couldn't help noticing the shoes!"(Me big ass clown shoes) Then he starts stairing at me privates & sez while shaking his head "All shoes & nothing to show for it!" I thought this was no time to be competitive. Then I hear all this moaning...I turn around & there were about 12 guys doing the weirdest love train I have ever seen...they all had their pants down below their knees holding on to dear life to the person in front of them! They were all connected! This was no Little Eva's Locomotion! It was more like a Boo foo choo choo! It was not pretty! To be honest! I got the hell out of there before that LOVE TRAIN ran over me! Then I find my way to the bar only to discover that its open mike night & Shecky Kierkegaard McGirk is singing the worst version of Danny Boy that I have ever heard! Thank G*d Clunan wasn't there to hear that! In my report the next day I disagreed with the professor. When you are in is blind. When you are serving in a soup kitchen...Love has no nose! When it comes to loving our brothers of a different orientation...stay away from that boo foo choo choo...for it might make one a wee bit judgemental...let us not forget... we all fall short. Love unconditionally!The Peace of the Lord! Fr.FerghusFarken

Sputnik57 said...

Father Farken,
You are absolved for sharing my line with your congregation. Say 4Our Fathers, 4 Hail Marys, and 2 B'ruchas, and we're cool. And that was the funniest thing I've ever read. It helps to be from Memphus.
Yours in Carl,