Friday, October 29, 2010

Greatest musicians of all time

OK, I guess this really is, predominantly, a music blog. But hey, it's what I know! So today, I am gonna break down who I consider the greatest musicians of rock, and the song that best demonstrates that skill, in my opinion.

Guitarists:
1) Eric Clapton (Yardbirds, Cream, Derek and the Dominoes, Blind Faith, solo): "White Room"
2) B.B. King: "The Thrill is Gone"
3) Jeff Beck (Yardbirds): "A Day in the Life"
4) Jimi Hendrix: "All Along the Watchtower"
5) David Gilmour (Pink Floyd): "Comfortably Numb"
6) Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave): "Like a Stone"
7) Chuck Berry: "Rock and Roll Music"
8) Pete Townshend (The Who): "Won't Get Fooled Again"
9) Slash (Guns n Roses, Velvet Revolver): "November Rain"
10) Duane Allman (The Allman Brothers, Derek and the Dominoes): "Layla"

Drummers:
1) Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Asia): "Karn Evil 9: Second Impression"
2) Keith Moon (The Who): "Baba O'Riley"
3) Ginger Baker (Cream): "Sunshine of your Love"
4) John Bonham (Led Zeppelin): "When the Levee Breaks"
5) Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters): "In Bloom"
6) Nick Mason (Pink Floyd): "Time"
7) Stewart Copeland (The Police): "Everything she Does is Magic"
8) Tre Cool (Green Day): "Basket Case"
9) Zach Starkey (The Who, Oasis): "The Shock of the Lightning"
10) Phil Collins (Genesis, solo): "Turn it on Again"

Bassists:
1) John Entwhistle (The Who): "My Generation"
2) Jack Bruce (Cream): "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
3) Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings): "Come Together"
4) John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin): "Hey Hey What Can I Do?"
5) Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers): "Can't Stop"
6) Roger Waters (Pink Floyd): "Money"
7) John Deacon (Queen): "Fat Bottomed Girls"
8) Adam Clayton (U2): "Bullet the Blue Sky"
9) Sting (The Police): "Every Breath you Take"
10): Paul McGuigan (Oasis): "Live Forever"

Keyboards:
1) Elton John: "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"
2) Jerry Lee Lewis: "Great Balls of Fire"
3) Little Richard: "Good Golly Miss Molly"
4) Billy Joel: "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant"
5) Ray Charles: "Georgia on my Mind"
6) Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings): "Maybe I'm Amazed"
7) John Lennon (The Beatles, Plastic Ono Band): "Imagine"
8) Freddie Mercury (Queen): "Somebody to Love"
9) Fats Domino: "Blueberry Hill"
10) Leon Russell: "Stranger in a Strange Land"

Songwriters: (It's a tie at the top)
1) John Lennon: "A Day in the Life"
1) Paul McCartney: ""Hey Jude"
2) Bob Dylan: "The Hurricane"
3) Pete Townshend: "Won't Get Fooled Again"
4) Roger Waters: "Wish you were Here"
5) Neil Young: "The Needle and the Damage Done"
6) George Harrison: "Here Comes the Sun"
7) Noel Gallagher: "Falling Down"
8) Paul Simon: "Sounds of Silence"
9) Kurt Cobain: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
10) Bono: "Pride (In the Name of Love)"


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jason writes a new song

Any of us who have dabbled in songwriting in the past are aware of the fact that inspiration is what inspiration is, if you'll pardon the Forest Gump-ism. Sometimes it can be a phrase that sticks in your head. Sometimes it's something you see on the street. Look at a guy like Paul McCartney (not that I am equating myself with one of the greatest songwriters of all time). He saw, in a market in Atlanta, a product called "Run Devil Run." He promptly wrote a song using just that, called "Run Devil Run." Great tune in fact.
Well, just lately, I've been feeling a lil inspired. And today, I wrote a new song. Thought I might share.

"I Need You"

I thought
I was done fighting
I thought
What I was doing was right

But what I really know
Is that I can't go on
That there's nowhere to go
Not without you

Chorus
I need you tonight
I need you always
I need you to fight
I need you to stay

It's such a simple thing
Or so it would seem
Someone to take away the sting
Someone to set you free

And all those lonely nights
Would begin to lose their strife
And the sun it seemed so bright
Because you came into my life

CHORUS

MIDDLE EIGHT
Someday perhaps you'll see
What you mean to me
And that I need you now
Now and the rest of my life
Someday maybe you'll understand
That without you I'm nothing
Without you I can't sleep
Without you I can't dream
Without you I can't see
The hope anymore

So I wait for the day
Patiently waiting for you
To say what I know you want to say
That you love me too

And I'll sing this song
Hoping somehow you'll hear it
Yes I'll sing this song
Wishing, hoping, against hope, you hear it

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Greatest sad/breakup/heartbreak songs

Sometimes, you just feel the need to listen to a sad song. It doesn't matter if you've been through a breakup, a rebuff, or just feel like perpetuating a sad mood. Nothing like a good sad song to show you aren't the only one who has been there.

1) For no One - The Beatles
Written after a fight between Paul McCartney and then girlfriend Jane Asher, it is perhaps the most melancholy song the Beatles ever recorded.
"And in here eyes you see nothing, no sign of love behind the tears, cried for no one."
2) Trouble - Cat Stevens
This is a song everyone can relate to in the long run. It's a song that basically says, "lookit, haven't I paid my dues?"
"Trouble, oh trouble can't you see, you have made me a wreck now won't you leave me in my misery."
3) One - U2
Perhaps U2's greatest musical accomplishment. It is also the song that saved U2 from a messy split. It also says I can't stand all this indecision.
"Did I ask too much? More than a lot? You gave me nothing now it's all I got."
4) Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
Perhaps the most disfunctional band in rock history, Lindsay Buckingham channeled his anger, his frustration, his misery into this classic song of wanting one thing, but getting another.
"If I could, baby I'd give you my world. How can I, when you won't take it from me?"
5) Wasted Time - The Eagles
The search. That's what it comes down to, isn't it? The search. We are all looking for that one person who completes us. When we think we found it, only to discover we haven't, it is heart breaking.
"You never thought you'd be alone, this far down the line. And I know what's been on your mind. You're afraid it's all been wasted time."
6) I Miss You - Blink 182
There is one person for most of us, call them the one that got away, that remains a constant presence in our heads. A voice, if you will. This song appears to be written especially for those people.
"Will you come home and stop this pain tonight? Stop this pain tonight."
7) Only the Lonely - Roy Orbison
Sad! That's this song, to a "t." Roy Orbison was called The Voice, for good reason. In the annals of rock history, his may be the sweetest, saddest voice ever.
"Only the lonley know how I feel tonight. Only the lonely know this feelin' ain't right."
8) Somebody to Love - Queen
A cry from the desperate. Please, somebody help me to find someone to love, I can't stand this being along deal. Soaring Freddie Mercury vocals, great arrangement, great song.
"I just gotta get out of the prison cell, someday I'm gonna be free, lord."
9) Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis Presley
The king had a soft side as well, as this song demonstrates. It's really the first great rock and roll sad song.
"Although it's always crowded, you can still find room. Where broken hearted lovers do cry away their gloom."
10) Photograph - Ringo Starr
Co-written by George Harrison, Ringo tapped into something we all have done, sat crying over a picture of a lost love, wishing they would come home, come back where they belong.
"I can't get use to living here while my heart is broke, my tears I cry for you."
11) Nothing Compares to You - Sinead O'Connor
12) You've got to Hide your Love Away - The Beatles
13) Don't go Away - Oasis
14) Black - Pearl Jam
15) I'll Stick Around - The Foo Fighters
16) Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
17) Long May you Run - Neil Young
Sometimes you have a breakup, that while sad, ended well, and wish nothing but the best for the person. That was what the legendary Mr. Young was saying here.
"Long may you run, long may you run. With your chrome heart shining in the sun, long may you run."
18) Talk to Me - Peter Gabriel
19) With or Without You - U2
20) Don't Stand so Close to Me - The Police
21) Paint it, Black - The Rolling Stones
22) I Will Buy you a New Life - Everclear
23) I Fall to Pieces - Patsy Cline
24) Wish you were Here - Pink Floyd
25) Fool in the Rain - Led Zeppelin
26) Yesterday - The Beatles
27) The Heart of the Matter - Don Henley
28) Don't Look Back in Anger - Oasis
29) Brand New Day - Sting
30) Every Breath you Take - The Police
31) Since You Been Gone - Rainbow
A rocking breakup song, for sure, but a good one no less. Loud guitars, high singing. Great tune.
"Your poison letter, your telegram, just goes to show you don't give a damn."
32) I Hate Everything About You - Ugly Kid Joe
33) Candlebox - Far Behind
34) The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
35) Good Riddance (Time of your Life) - Green Day
36) I'm so Tired - The Beatles
37) Lips of an Angel - Hinder
38) Out of Tears - The Rolling Stones
39) Echo - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
40) Fourth Time Around - Bob Dylan
41) I'm Losing You - John Lennon
42) Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
Not necessarily specifically a breakup song, but it can be used that way, with it's melancholy, the menace of Roger Water's vocals against David Gilmour's innocence, and that guitar solo, perhaps the greatest ever.
"There is no pain, you are receding. A distant ship smoke on the horizon. You are only coming through in waves. You lips move, I can't hear what you're saying."
43) Lord is it Mine? - Supertramp
44) Two out of Three Ain't Bad - Meatloaf
45) I Heard it Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye
46) Ain't no Sunshine - Bill Withers
47) These Boots are Made for Walking - Nancy Sinatra
48) Bye Bye Love - The Everly Brothers
49) It's Too Late - Carol King
50) These Eyes - The Guess Who
51) Girl - The Beatles
A tale of a man, who knows his woman is no good for him, but he keeps going back anyway. He isn't sure why, he just can't help it.
"Well she was told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure, did she understand it when they said, that a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure, will she still believe it when he's dead?"
52) Falling Down - Oasis
53) You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
54) November Rain - Guns n Roses
55) Every Rose has it's Thorn - Poison
56) Message in a Bottle - The Police
57) I want you Back - The Jackson 5
58) Mr. Brightside - The Killers
59) Sundown - Gordon Lightfoot
60) Bell Bottom Blues - Eric Clapton
61) Heartbeats - Jose Gonzalez
I first heard this song on an episode of Bones. It's not a well-known song, but it is absolutely, desolutely, heartbreakingly beautiful. Here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A20rx8VQnTE
"To call from hands of above, to lean on, wouldn't be good enough, for me no."
62) Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
63) Ticket to Ride - The Beatles
64) Last Kiss - Frank J. Wilson and the Cavaliers
65) Feelin' Alright - Traffic
66) Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
67) Drive - The Cars
68) I Need You - The Beatles
69) The Thrill is Gone - B.B. King
70) Always Something There to Remind Me - Naked Eyes

Friday, August 6, 2010

100 greatest love songs

So I have rethought my love song list, and made some changes. You won't agree with them all. You will say I left off your favorite (maybe) or should've kicked out one of the others. Some genres aren't represented, like country, which I hate, therefore, I didn't include. Other bands were left out entirely, like Journey. Because they suck. So here it is:

1) In My Life - The Beatles
I still consider this the holy grail of love songs. There is something incredible about this song that just sums it all up, doesn't it? "But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with you."
2) All I want is You - U2
So many of their love-tinged songs had had such a dark tint. Think "One" or "With or Without You." This one is just a great love song. "All the promises we break, from the cradle to the grave. And all I want is you."
3) God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
Layered with lush harmonies, it received the ultimate endorsement. Paul McCartney called it the greatest song ever recorded. "If you should ever leave me, though life would still go on believe me, the world could show nothing to me, so what good would living do me?"
4) What is Life? - George Harrison
I moved this song up in the list, as I believe it never gets the recognition it deserves. Who says love songs have to be ballads? They can be up-beat rockers, too! "Tell me what is my life, without your love? Tell me who am I, without you by my side?"
5) Bargain - The Who
Not as upbeat as Harrison's entry, but still a rocker, this is a rather bizarre, with Daltrey screaming all over it, entry into the love song genre for The Who, but still a great song. "I'd gladly lose me to find you. Gladly give up all I got."
6) Secret World - Peter Gabriel
That's right. Not "In Your Eyes." At least not yet. This is a long, long love song, clocking in at just under 10 minutes, but Gabriel knows his way around a love song. "Down by the railway siding, in our secret world we were colliding. In all the places we were hiding love. What was it we were thinking of?"
7) Here, There, and Everywhere - The Beatles
A song written by Paul McCartney about his then girlfriend Jane Asher, it's not too long, at just over two minutes, but it's soft, it's sweet, and it's one of the best pop songs ever crafted. "There, running my hands through her hair. Both of us thinking how good it can be."
8) Your Song - Elton John
Elton's announcement to the world that he had arrived. It is one of the best examples of how two parts can make a whole, with Elton's music and Bernie Taupin's lyrics. "Excuse me forgetting but these things I do. You see I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue. Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean. Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen."
9) Secret Garden - Bruce Springsteen
A little more sexual than some of the other songs present, it is the Boss' crowning love song. It's sweet, it's soft, it's sensual. It's the Boss at his best. "She'll let you in her house, if you come knocking late at night. She's let you into the parts of herself if the words you say are right."
10) Everything I Do (I do it for you) - Bryan Adams
Cheesy? A little? Over the top? Perhaps. It's also an amazingly crafted pop song that is so damned romantic. "Yeah I'd fight for you. I'd lie for you. Walk the wire for you. Yeah, I'd die for you. You know it's true, everything I do, I do it for you."
11) Iris - Goo Goo Dolls
12) I Would do Anything for Love (But I won't do That) - Meatloaf
13) Let There be Love - Oasis
14) Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney
15) Touch Me - The Doors
16) It Had to be You - Harry Connick Jr.
17) Unforgettable - Nat King Cole
18) Can't Help Falling in Love - Elvis Presley
19) Just Breathe - Pearl Jam
Eddie Vedder is no longer the young, 20-something that wrote such angry songs as "Evenflow," "Better Man," "Animal" or "Jeremy." The simple fact of the matter is, he is in his 40s, he is married, he has kids, and he is happy. So yeah, Eddie. Go write your love songs!
"Did I say that I need you? Did I say that I want you? Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see."
20) Yours - Blues Traveler
This rather obscure track from "...Straight on 'til Morning" is really a splendid love song. Six minutes long, John Popper's trademark harmonica soars right along with his voice. And the lyrics are Popper's masterpiece.
"All that I begin is yours, every prize I win is yours, at your feet again I'm yours, all I am is yours."
21) Africa-Toto
22) Woman - John Lennon
23) And so it Goes - Billy Joel
24) Change the World - Eric Clapton
25) Fields of Gold - Sting
26) When a Man Loves a Woman - Percy Sledge
27) No Other Baby - Paul McCartney
28) Angel Dream No. 4 - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty is a helluva songwriter, that should be obvious at this point. Yet somehow, he gets overlooked in the conversation of greatest writers of rock. Influences by the Beatles, Byrds, Bob Dylan, and Beach Boys, he took all that and made a sound his own. This love song is perhaps the most beautiful ballad he has constructed.
"I saw an angel. I saw my fate. I can only thank God it was not too late."
29) Lay Lady Lay - Bob Dylan
30) Everything she does is Magic - The Police
31) Colorful - Rocco DeLuca and the Burden
32) Brighter than Sunshine - Aqualung
33) Love of a Lifetime - Firehouse
34) Beautiful Night - Paul McCartney
35) Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
36) Can't Help Falling in Love - UB40
37) If I Fell - The Beatles
38) You Got It - Roy Orbison
The comeback kid. Roy Orbison released this in the 1980s, decades after his era of prominence. However, some rock folk always loved him, and George Harrison, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne helped him craft this comeback song. Basically saying, whatever you want, I can do that.
"Everytime I hold you I begin to understand. Everything about you tells me I'm your man."
39) Taking you Home - Don Henley
40) (Just Like) Starting Over - John Lennon
41) Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns n Roses
42) You Took the Words Right out of My Mouth - Meatloaf
A mini rock opera, this song is just so much fun, and so damned sweet, you can't help but love it. Perfectly suited to Meatloaf's massive voice, and there is no other way to describe his voice, how nice is a vision of someone saying they love you in a kiss?
"You were licking your lips, and your lipstick shining I was dying just to ask for a taste. We were lying together in a silver lining by the light of the moon."
43) My Girl - The Temptations
44) It's all too Much - The Beatles
45) Got My Mind Set on You - George Harrison
46) Talk Tonight - Oasis
47) I've Just Seen a Face - The Beatles
48) Tiny Dancer - Elton John
49) Crash - Dave Matthews Band
50) Hello, I Love You - The Doors
51) Oh Daddy - Fleetwood Mac
52) I Melt With You - Modern English
53) Head Over Heels - Tears for Fears
54) Something - The Beatles
Frank Sinatra called this the best love song he ever heard. Long considered George Harrison's masterpiece, it showed that he had caught John Lennon and Paul McCartney as a songwriter. Listen for the excellent haromies Harrison and McCartney weave. And the amazing bassline McCartney crafted is proof positive that he is one of the finest bassists the world has had.
"Something in the way she knows, and all I have to do is think of her. Something in the way she woos me."
55) Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
56) Just the Way you Are - Billy Joel
57) You Make Loving Fun - Fleetwood Mac
58) Still the One - Shania Twain
59) Somebody to Love - Queen
60) Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
61) Never Gonna Give you Up - Barry White
62) Unchained Melody - Righteous Brothers
63) You Are so Beautiful - Joe Cocker
64) If not for You - George Harrison
65) What Light - Wilco
66) Michelle - The Beatles
67) Oh, Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
68) Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley
69) I'm a Believer - The Monkees
70) I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
71) Wonderwall - Oasis
The spark that ignited worldwide Oasismania, this song was inescapable in the mid-90s. Off the classic "(What's the Story) Morning Glory," it showed that Noel Gallagher could write a catchy song in his sleep, and that his brother Liam, was the perfect vehicle for his songs. Not since Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey had two men been able to read each other like this in rock.
"I said maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me. And afterall, you're my wonderwall."
71) I Will - The Beatles
72) Melissa - The Allman Brothers Band
73) Bad - U2
74) Something About the Way you Look Tonight - Elton John
75) Collide - Howie Day
76) Everything you Want - Vertical Horizon
77) Earth Angel - The Penguins
78) If I Ever Lose my Faith - Sting
79) Let my Love Open the Door - Pete Townshend
The Who is one of those groups that is more the whole, than the sum. But Pete Townshend is an amazing songwriter, and nothing was gonna change that. This solo track is truly special, and he showed he could handle the vocals on his own, thanks. Though one has to wonder how great this song would've been with Roger Daltrey's astounding voice singing it.
"When everything feels all over, everybody seems unkind. I give you a fourleaf clover, take all worry out of your mind."
80) In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel
John Cusack. Boombox. Peter Gabriel. An indelible image. And a song of soaring beauty and splendor, and Peter Gabriel never really saw it as a love song. That's OK, Peter, it has been adopted and made classic. How is he not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
"In your eyes. The light the heat. In your eyes, I am complete, In your eyes, the resolution, of all my fruitless searches. Oh, I want to be that complete. Oh, I want see the light the heat."
81) Loving Flame - Paul McCartney
82) Can You Feel the Love Tonight? - Elton John
83) Don't Go Away - Oasis
84) At Last - Etta James
85) Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
86) She's got a Way - Billy Joel
87) Isn't She Lovely? - Stevie Wonder
88) Bed of Roses - Bon Jovi
89) More than Words - Extreme
90) Something to Talk About - Bonnie Raitt
91) I'll Stand by You - The Pretenders
92) Call Me - Blondie
93) More than a Feeling - Boston
One of the classic, monster riffs of all time. Who doesn't want to rock when they are in love? And that soaring falcetto. I mean, c'mon!
"When I'm tired and thinking cold. I turn on some music, forget the day. And dream of a girl, I used to know."
94) Voices - Cheap Trick
95) Wicked Game - Chris Isaak
96) And I Love Her - The Beatles
97) For you Blue - The Beatles
98) This Year's Love - David Gray
An amazing piece of music, it is beautiful, it is vulnerable, and it is true. How many times have we all thought, before we decide to go ahead with it again, this time it better last, because I can't do this all over again.
"When you hold me like you do, it feels so right, oh now. I start to forget how my heart gets torn, when that hurts gets thrown."
99) She Will be Loved - Maroon Five
100) Wildflowers - Tom Petty

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My father

This is going to be relatively short.
My parents married young. My mother was 18, my father was, I think, 23. And despite the odds, the lasted 11 years. My father was a good father when they were married, despite the fact that, I found out later, he was a practicing alcoholic.
He coached baseball, he showed my brother and I around the workshop, he took an interest in our schooling.
Then the folks divorced. Not amicably.
My father, for a time, lived in an apartment in Maplewood. Then he moved to Arkansas. And that's when the disappearing act began. We'd see him infrequently. Hear from him infrequently.
Sometimes, he would drive up from Arkansas and see us, for a day. Sometimes, we would go down there and see him, usually at my grandparent's insistence.
This went on and off like that for years. Until around the time I was 18, I stopped hearing from him altogether. It hurt. But not as much as when I was younger and longed to see my father, to hear from him, and didn't or couldn't.
By the time I was 20 or so, I just kind of figured that was that. I remember, when I wast SEMO, I got a call from my brother saying our father had had a stroke. I didn't know what to say. I called him and basically said, "I heard you had a stroke. That sucks." That was about all I could say. We now had absolutely nothing to talk about.
For the next six odd years it continued like that. I didn't even invite him to my wedding.
Then, one day, I found out that my brother had been talking with my father. I asked him for the number. My brother was reluctant to give it, afraid, I think, that I was going to lay into my father and scare him away again. That was tempting, but I had to talk to him. I had to find out why we were so easy to put in the rear view mirror.
Well, of course he said we weren't. He thought about us everyday. OK, then why not try and get in contact. Why did Eric have to track you down again? Why not try and find us? He thought I had decided I was done with him. And at that point I had. But, I decided, against all logic, to give him one last shot. I told him, this is it. You disappear again, I am done. And the onus is on you to do the heavy lifting.
Over the last few years, or relationship has been repaired to a certain degree. I guess there will always be a sense of mistrust on my part. But, as long as he is doing his part, I am willing to give it a go.
I could've said more about this, I guess. But why? It is what it is. I am sure, my feeling towards my father in my early, and angry, 20s led to some of the anger control issues I had then. But, as I have said before, those anger control problems are behind me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Step-father fun times

I know I said I was going to talk about the old man this time around, buy I am changing the plan.
Today, I am gonna write about my mother's second husband. I will name him, as he is now dead. His name was Bill.
Bill came around, if I am remembering correctly, when I was in, maybe fourth or fifth grade.
He was a big guy, 6'5" or so, and probably 250lbs. Ostensibly, he was from Kirkwood. However, when my mom met and started dating him, he was residing in St. Clair, MO. Cracker central.
He drove a large, Ford F-150 that was his pride and joy. It also went to show that he knew his own product. See, Bill worked for Chrysler in Fenton, and refused to DRIVE a Chrysler product. Telling, eh?
He was a good ol' boy. Buy American. Vote republican. Listen to country music. Wear cowboy hats and boots. Wear trucker hats.
And he was a charmer. There is no doubt about that. I often wonder what he could've made of himself had he had some general idea of how to focus that charm and a fair amount of native wit and street smarts.
He won us over fairly well, though as kids, you always thing, "it's not the same as my real father." He made us laugh, he made us dinner, he made our mother happy.
They dated for quite a while, then got married. Small service at my grandparent's house.
He had a dark side. A very dark side. And despite the fact that he and I had a bit in common, we both loved the outdoors, sports, etc, he really started to not like me all that much. He showed that dislike with his hands.
He would choke me, hit me, twist my ear, he even kicked me once. All in good fun, or to teach the boy a lesson he might've said.
I remember one time, we were at his house in St. Clair. He had fallen asleep in his chair, as he always did. I grabbed a bat. I was determined to end his abuse. I stood behind him, while he slept on, trying to work up the nerve to do it. I couldn't. I slunk back into the bedroom and tried to sleep. Sleep didn't come.
Now, I have had people say to me, "Why didn't you tell someone?" I thought about it. There were a lot of people I could've told. But I talked myself out of it. If I had told my mother, she would've killed him. Flat out. No if, ands, or buts about it. My grandfather, I could've told him. He intimidates just about everyone he meets. To this day. But I also feared he wouldn't just tell Bill to get the fuck out, he would kill him. My own father. Now, there was something. But when you can't find a guy, you can't really tell him, now can you. Plus, there was also the old cliche hanging around. "If you tell anyone, I'll kill you." Good deterrent for a little kid.
It continued right on through seventh grade, when we lived for part of the year in Alabama. Decatur. Don't go.
Then, one day, it all became clear to my mother what was happening. I had done something wrong, or something Bill thought was wrong, and he was gonna take me to the tool shed. Literally. He was gonna wail on my ass, literally, with his bill ol' cowboy belt. I went out there, determined not to let him see me cry. Not anymore. And I waited, and waited, and waited. And finally mom called me back in. I came to find out years later that she told him that he couldn't. And if he tried, as I mentioned before, she said she would kill him. Her words: "You have to sleep sometime you son of a bitch."
We moved back to St. Louis to live at my grandparent's house. I never really opened up about what happened for years.
Finally I told mom and my brother about it. Their response was, of course, "You should've told us." Hindsight.
My mom had had a daughter with Bill, and while he wasn't the most...around...father, there would be spastic periods of him calling, or whatnot. Something happened in that time. I went from a kid of 5'3" to, within a few years, a kid that topped out at 6'1". I added muscle. I began to lose my fear of him. I felt that if he ever tried anything again, I would be physically able to kick his ass. I found out, long after, that he never threatened to kick my ass again. He threatened to kill me. He had guns. My mother took out a restraining order on my behalf.
He would call sometimes, and this was before we had caller ID. I would answer. He would try to be nice, but then resort to the old ways. "I'll kill you one of these days, boy." "Whatever," I would respond. "Leave your guns at home and come fight me. See what happens now."
As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to have a terrible temper. I would fly off the handle, and it would sometimes border on violent. I put my fist through the wall more than once. I believe, more so than anything else, it was resultant of Bill. His favorite place to grab me for a beat down, was the back of my neck. To this day, I can't handle anyone touching my neck.
I worked hard on my temper, as I said, I got it under control.
I finally got to the point where I could talk about it. Which was healthy, and still is. I don't talk about it daily. But I can if need be.
Bill died about five years ago, and I was actually able to muster some pity for him.
So that is the story of my ex-step father in short form.
Next, I will tackle my pops. I swear.

Monday, July 19, 2010

On being 24 and in love...continued and into 25 and beyond

As I said, I got the message that she was dropping. I bought a ring (expensive) and prepared to propose (elaborate). Long and short, she said yes.
So then began the arduous process of planning a classic weddding. Big, lots of people, lots of folks in the wedding party.
To be fair, it was a very nice wedding, quite fun. Good food, good people, good music (even had Flogging Molly played at my wedding. A coup akin, with my ex-wife, to having Slayer played).
We went totally classic. She wore a white gown (HA!) and I wore a tux I didn't even get to pick.
So Sadie and I were married. We went on a very nice honeymood to Jamaica. Beautiful place. If you have the means, I would suggest going.
When we got back, we stayed a few days at her folk's house until my grandparents, who had kindly consented to let us stay there while they summered in Wisconsin, got ready and left. It was a nice time. Uncomplicated for the most part. We went to work, we came home, we had dinner, we made love, we went to sleep. Did the whole thing all over again the next day.
We also started looking at houses. I was originally opposed to the idea. I thought an apartment would be fine to start. We were, after all, newlyweds, did we really want to make life more complicated with a house. She prevailed on me that we could be making payments on a house rather than an apartment which we will never own.
I tried to say that there was more to home ownership than mortgage payments and electric bills. Maintenance, carpentry, yard work, painting, etc. All of that would fall to us. Mostly me. I did a lot in that house, but that house has become, for me at least, embilmatic of the differences between us. For her, money was all consuming. Now, look, I get the importance of money, truly I do. I just understand that there are more important things. Between us, we were doing pretty well. We were comfortable. And, while I wasn't out to shoot away all our cash, thought we had enough to do things we wanted and/or needed to do. Let me give you an example.
I did all the cooking at our house. She was not a master chef by any stretch. To quote Adam Sandler from "I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry," "I was Wolfgang Puck to his Wolfgang Suck."
Our stove was a piece of crap. It was probably 20 years old, one of those electric bastards with the metal coils that cook uneven. I wanted a new stove. Not an extravagant one. Just a glass top. You could get glass tops for around $450 then. Nope, Sadie said there was no money for it.
One day, she came to me saying she wanted the garage drywalled. THE GARAGE!! I said no. I am not a fan of doing drywall. I can do it, and I can do it well, but I am not big on it. Besides, I didn't see a reason for it. It's a garage. It's where we kept our cars. We were the only ones who saw it, except for her father or brother who came by every now and again to borrow a tool (her father, in fact, still has my very nice ratchet set).
I had said no. Drywalling that garage would be a hassle, and it would cost much more than she thought. One day I come home, and there in the garage, is a stack of drywall. A large stack. Almost as tall as me. Not, however, nearly enough to do a two-car garage. But there it was. I was furious. Her father was there. He had a nice, new Silverado that was used to transport the materials. I went to her and said, "I told you, I didn't want to do this." Then her father said, "You told me he was fine with it." She said, "It will be fine. He'll do it." I said, "Look, dammit, when I said no, I meant it." Her father looked at me, and said, "Sorry Jason." I just shook my head and went inside. Later, I found that her father had called her and reamed her. Pretty cool.
But you see, there was money to do things like drywall a garage, because it was what SHE wanted, and not money for a new stove, which I felt was NEEDED.
At this time, I was working for an NPO that helped folks with disabilities. At first, I truly enjoyed myself and my work. But the organization I worked for was less than forthcoming about how things worked when I went through one of my 4 interviews with them. That's right. 4.
I was told I would be able to reject clients I felt were unplacable (lie), and that my caseload would never become unmanagable (lie). I also ended up working with a site director who had never done placement, but felt she was more than qualified to yell at myself and our other developer, when placements were down.
The job began to become a chore, and I began to dread it. It started making me physically ill. One day, I had enough. And I gave notice. Without another job in the works. Stupid. Very stupid. I know that now. But the stupident part is yet to come. I didn't come outright with it with Sadie. I scrambled to try and find something new. It didn't work. I had given 1 month's notice. The month was up, I still hadn't told Sadie. I lied to her. Told her they fired me. She found out. She left me.
Now, I am more than willing to accept my share of the blame on this one. More than willing. I, in crude parlance, fucked up royally. However, had she loved me, I feel certain that she would have stayed. She would have forgiven me, and we would've gone on, soldiered through, as it were.
I went into a talespin. I fell apart. I was devastated. But in all that misery, a kernel of hate was germinating. Within six months, that hatred had bloomed into a fullblown loathing. Everything she did or said, because we still had to have SOME contact, what with a divorce in the offing, and other things as well, sent me over the edge. When we talked, invariably, I would end up yelling. I think she was shocked at first. She had never really seen me that angry before. And for good reason. I have been told by people who should know that my temper is, when full blown, frightening. I worked very hard to get it under control. But now, it was out and released and unleashed. I began to look forward to calls she would make, about her lawyer sending papers, or something to do with the house. She had the nerve, more than once, to call and ask for help on things that went wrong with said domicile. I would look forward to it so I could blow a gasket.
And I held onto that hate, that anger, because it kept me from falling into a depression I feared I would never escape. It took willpower, and hate to keep me from going insane.
Well, time moves, as it will, and I began to let go of that hate. I backed away from the idea that Sadie was the only woman I would ever love, and began to think about dating again. Since then, I have dated, off and on. Some lasting longer than others. My search continues to this day. But I finally got to the point where I felt I could be the one to extend the olive branch. I sent her an email via, what else, facebook. In it I said I know we will never be the friends we once were. But odds are good that we will meet again, with mutual friends still in play. And if we do, I would like it if it could at least be pleasant. I never heard back. I didn't really expect to. But I felt it was important, an important move on my part, because I realized I could forgive her if I wanted to. And I did, because I didn't want to carry that hate.
So that is the short version of me and my ex-wife.
Next topic, my father. Holy crap, is this just a psychobabble rant? Meh, probably.