Author: Judd, Brooks

Ten Items or Less October

1. I watch with measured regret as my brothers and sisters become more attached and obsessed to the latest revelations in cell phones. The more we become “connected” the more we become emotionally detached. The air waves are infested with the newest and latest “must have” phones”, I Pods, Kindles, you name it electronic gadgets that will make your life that much better than it was thirty days ago.I shake my head wondering where and when it will all end and and think of Thoreau and his life of simplicity.

2. Both political parties are going to give the American citizens a chance to see how many “things we can afford to live without,” with the current shut down of our government. Now there is a real message board topic. Just kidding Rick. Sit back down.

Hopefully both sides will get together, put the needs of American people first and foremost and begin to act like the extremely well paid agents of the American people they were elected to represent.

3. I mentioned last month Sheila and I were going to the state of the art, plushly decorated Gallo Center to see Mr. Lightfoot. I had gone online to see how his past shows were received and was dismayed that I did not find one positive review. Even his biggest supporters were posting that Gordon should hang it up and be thankful he had had such a long fruitful run. Having done my research and wanting to find out for myself if the reviews were in fact true I was prepared for the worst and hoping for the best as we entered the theater Monday night.

We were seated four rows from the stage, excellent tickets (thank you Sheila) and the theater was packed. There was a PR representative for Gordon in our seating area, a spunky middle aged lady wearing a brightly stitched Levi jacket with the autographs of various musicians scattered over it. She was scurrying around the front of the stage area passing out Gordon Lightfoot buttons to those who wanted one.

The lights went down at exactly 7:30. There was no introduction. Gordon’s four band members walked quietly out onto the stage to a round of applause and strolled to their instruments. A few seconds later a gaunt,frail looking Gordon, long red hair touching lightly on his somewhat stooped shrunken shoulders slowly walked out to the center of the stage reached down and with a bit of an effort picked up his well worn trusty twelve string guitar that was resting on its stand.

Gordon managed a grim grin and then his weak hoarse voice whispered,“1,2,3.” He strummed his twelve string guitar and began to sing.His voice, almost a whisper, searched for a strength that was hard to be found in his gaunt body.By being so close to him we could see as he physically struggled to push himself to reach each note.

As the show progressed,Gordon would sometimes bend over from the waist down and take a few deep breaths to collect and re energize himself. The audience knew Gordon was struggling but instead of being derisive there were nothing but cheers and chants of ”We love you, Gordon!”, rang out from his fans following each song. I was one of them

When the show was over we slowly exited the theater. It was the right decision to come to the show. I had prepared myself to see a songwriter and performer who had been a shining presence for fifty years in the music business but now had been battered about by the ravages of time. Even though Gordon was unable to fill the hall with his rich lustrous voice he was able to fill the hall with his character, presence and dignity.We were glad he let us visit him. We have his records to keep us company along with the lingering memory of a fading star, still twinkling, still alive. Thank you Gordon.

To all those aspiring songwriters everywhere.The following is a song from the great Pete Townshend. I’ve never written a song but like the bluegrass and rock and roll greats who DO write songs I think this sums up what it might be all about. Please share your thoughts.

You’re alone above the street somewhere
Wondering how you’ll ever count out there
You can walk, you can talk, you can fight
But inside you’ve got something to write
In your hand you hold your only friend
Never spend your guitar or your pen
You’re guitar or your pen...

When you take up a pencil and sharpen it up
When you’re kicking the fence and still nothing will budge
When the words are immobile until you sit down
Never feel they’re worth keeping, they’re not easily found
Then you know in some strange, unexplainable way
You must have really have something
Jumping,thumping, fighting, hiding away,
Important to say

When you sing through the verse and you end in a scream
And you swear and your curse ‘cause the rhyming ain’t clean
But it suddenly comes after years of delay
You pick up your guitar, you can suddenly play
When your fingers are bleeding and the knuckles are white
Then you can be sure, you can open the door
Get off of the floor tonight
You have something to write

When you want to complain, there’s no one to stop you
But when your music proclaims, there’s no one can top you
You are wearing your heart on your jumping feet
You’ve got a head start away from the street

But is that what you want, to be rich and be gone?
Could be there’s just one thing left in the end
Your guitar and your pen

When you sing to your mum, and you hum and you croon
And she says that she’d like it “with more of a tune”
And you smash your guitar at the end of the bed
Then you stick it together and start writing again
And you know that it won’t be too long “til your back
To bring her some money, she’s calling you “honey”
Stashed in a bloody great sack
In your Cadillac

You’re alone
You’re alone

You’re alone above the street somewhere
Wondering how you’ll ever count out there
You can walk, you can talk, you can fight
But inside you’ve got something to write
In your hand you hold your only friend
You guitar and your pen
Your guitar and your pen
Your guitar and your pen.

“Pete Townshend” from the “Who Are You” Album 1979

Until November: Read a book, hug a child,pet a dog, stroke a cat, eat a bar of chocolate and give thanks to all those songwriters who make our days that much more enjoyable.

Posted:  10/4/2013

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