A lot of my Baby Boomer friends, as they’ve gotten older, are a bit negative about America and society in general’s future. I see us just evolving with some good and some bad. In our lifetimes, we have seen some amazing progress. Civil rights. Women’s rights. Rights for the disabled. Look at medicine. Such great strides in cancer treatment. Cataract surgery is a miracle. Advancements in cardiac care. And with computers and the technology they bring to the medical table, the future will be more amazing than the past. Stem cell research and treatments will probably change everything. Most progress has its downside, but as I see it, the upside far outweighs the bad.
I have a gold record hanging proudly on the wall in my writer’s room. Unfortunately, she’s not mine. The owner is my great friend and former record producer, Jim Allison. The chances of me ever reaching this pinnacle are slim and none and slim’s on vacation. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to because I would! I’m too long in the tooth and late in the career for there to be reasonable hope of this happening. Yet I do privately dream and fantasize about it. At this stage it would be less long shot and more miracle. But big dreams and wishing are a real part of the music business. You know, Lazarus rose from the dead. Problem is, on the scales of possibility, that’s about where this dream is. That’s okay. I’m going to stop writing for the day and go polish Jim Allison’s gold record.
I was watching one of those Congressional hearings. It was stereotypical for that group of egotistical thieves. As usual they were all grandstanding. Trying to act tough and look like they really care about this country. BALDERDASH I say! All they want is to stay in Congress. THEY are America’s problem. They’re not really political, left or right, Republican or Democrat. They are rich bureaucrats controlled by special interests of all kinds. There are good Americans on both sides of the barb wire political fence. I call it barb wire because straddling it these days can be socially uncomfortable in some neighborhoods.
Those self centered SOB’s can tap dance on the head of a needle when asked a direct question. Of course, many are lawyers. I’m with Shakespeare on that subject! They write complicated laws with more gray area than black and white.
I hope I’m not candy coating this too much. Those jerks are the problem. If you think I’m being too harsh, keep this in mind. If there are one or two honest guys on the Capitol Hill and they happen to read this, they will agree with me and, by the way, they probably won’t get re-elected.
I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet for many reasons. One of the biggest is that I love my work. My father hated going to work the last 10 years or so of his career. That really made an impression on me. That’s why I tell young folks, “Do what you love.” It sounds simple but I’ve observed that when people do what they love, no matter what it is, the money follows right behind. Unfortunately, I think people try to find a career that will make them a lot of money. Then suddenly one day they wake up and realize they are 40 years old with a mortgage, kids in college, condo at the beach, boat and making lots of money at a job they really hate. Problem is, because of their great lifestyle, they can’t afford to change careers at this point so they crawl to work every day feeling like one of those guys working in a West Virginia coal mine. So do what you love, but save some money just in case your love for your profession wanes.
The last few weeks have been a bit of an epiphany for me. I’ve been mulling over the idea of retirement. I’ve discussed it with friends and acquaintances and even mentioned it on stage in a humorous way. For some reason there’s been a number of people telling me, and I mean in a firm voice, “You CAN’T retire!” What? If I told you specifics about what they said, it would sound egotistical. Let’s just say the bottom line is my music and stage show bring a bit of joy to their lives. One of them looked me right in the eye and said, “That’s important!” Really? I guess I really never gave that much thought. So after several of these humbling conversations I looked in the sky and said, “OK, God. I get it. I get it!” After 50 years in the music business I finally have a “mission statement.” I guess my unofficial mission statement has always been “Have fun. Make money.” But not anymore! Here it is! (Drum roll please!)
“MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY!”
Pretty simple but according to these folks, important. I know I’m getting long in the tooth, but this enlightenment has renewed me! I hope I write a real funny song today!
Doing the right thing is not always easy. It’s not always black or white. There are times when situations become moral dilemmas. Let me give you a simple hypothesis. You sell someone a car. They pay you and say they will pick it up the next day. When they arrive to get THEIR car, one tire is flat. What do you do? Legally it is THEIR car, but morally should you offer to fix the flat or replace the tire? I say you buy them a new tire or at least fix the flat. Legally you don’t have to. That’s for sure. “Hey,” you say “they bought the car as is, where is and I’m not spending $20 to fix THEIR car’s tire.” Although that is a legitimate argument, what is your reputation worth? Twenty bucks? Or would you value it higher? Your reputation is priceless! Like good credit, it takes years to build and moments to tear down. So fix the damn tire the next time you get in this gray area of life. If it’s big money then offer to pay a portion. If you don’t, the other person won’t tell anybody any details. They’ll just say you screwed them. Again, what’s your god name worth?
The political far left and far right are so extremely different that they’re just alike in a lot of ways. First of all, if you’re not for all they believe, you’re against them. You’re un-American and the enemy. Neither believes there is such a thing as a moderate. Moderates? Those are just fence straddlers who can’t make up their minds about anything.
Both are so dogmatic that no amount of truths or facts shakes what they believe. That is because they refuse to consider the possibility they could be wrong. Present them with any undeniable information and they go ballistic or just laugh and say, “That’s a lie.”
Normal people and, I would say, even the most insane realize they don’t possess all the answers and will admit they can be wrong. I believe that’s the majority of us. “Know-it-alls” don’t really know much! But at this political moment, the inmates are in charge of the asylum or at least running around the yard with the keys.
Why don’t the left and right have a great battle like in the Civil War? Get this over with. As they charge at each other from the left and right, they would meet in the middle and find the vast majority of their fellow countrymen and women waiting, wondering why it took so long for them to get there. If one of these fanatics reads this, they’ll be saying, “Brent just doesn’t understand. He’s sittin’ on the fence.”
In my recent visit to Europe I was struck by the lack of opportunity for people in many countries. There just doesn’t seem to be that American style ladder to climb. I’m not saying some Europeans are not succeeding. I’m saying it’s a lot more of a struggle than here. I truly believe if you have average intelligence and a great work ethic, you can be a great success in America. No wonder so many people want to live here. If I were living in a country with little chance for success, whether it be Mexico or Romania, my ass would find a way here. Legal if possible, but I’d get here.
I know we have an immigration problem but the pioneer spirit it takes to get here and work two jobs is the same spirit that made this country great. I wish more of us had their gumption. Deport 12 million illegal aliens? Are you serious? Who’s gonna mow my lawn?
What a wonderful city it is! I always recall the video of Hitler doing a little dance at the Arc de Triomphe after conquering Paris. Now, after a week there I know why. Of all his conquests, Paris was the crowning jewel because it is so special, unique and amazing. Don’t get me wrong. Rome is unique. Vienna is special. Prague is amazing. BUT Paree is all these and more. The people, the food, the museums, the history, the food, the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, the food. Did I mention the food? Pastries, cheese, baguettes, crepes, the little restaurants and cafes. O la la! Here at the beach we say “If you get the sand in your shoes, you will always return.” Well, I went to Paris. I ate a crepe and I will return if God allows me a bit more time on this earth. We saw so much, but we missed so much. There is much to see in Paris. Bring plenty of money, comfortable shoes, pack light, learn some French and don’t forget to smile! Bon Voyage!
First of all, I’d like to publicly apologize to all the citizens of France. As many of you know, I’ve been critical and judgmental of the French especially in my song, “FTF (Forget The French).” Unfortunately as us humans often do, I allowed myself to be prejudiced by the opinion of others without firsthand knowledge or experience.
We just spent a week in Paris waiting, searching and seeking out those rude Parisians we’d been warned about. Well, I guess they had the week off because we never found one. Heck, I guess even mean people need a vacation. Seriously, the people of Paris were very nice to us. Keep in mind I started every conversation with a smile and a greeting spoken in French. I used a two dollar app to learn a few basic phrases like “Can you help me?”, “Thank you,” “Please,” “How much does it cost?” and the most important one “Where’s the john?”
I’m not naïve. I know there are folks in Paris who don’t like us just as some people in the States don’t like the French. It’s usually older people on both sides who can’t get over old grievances. Neither probably ever met nor got to know someone from the other country. Now that’s real prejudice! So what is one to do? I say, “Let them eat cake!”