I used to drink with a depressed friend and early influence, the late protest singer Phil Ochs. He seemed to have everything with his notoriety and famous topical songs and ballads like Changes” and Pleasures of the Harbor”. He ended up disillusioned, hanging himself in despair three years after we met, so his fame didn’t bring him any peace of mind. He was a man who cared too much; he seemed to be carrying the weight of the movement, the guilt of the war, and the burden of injustice for everyone in the nation and it wore him out. I once asked him over some Bloody Marys how he wrote those great songs, hoping he’d reveal the secret. They just come to me,” he replied. Those four words didn’t give me much to work with but the thought of paying attention to your mind encouraged me to keep trying. Back then it seemed like all the great songs had been written, making my generation of Folk Rockers do our best to imitate Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, or Led Zeppelin. Dreams of glory could be realized by becoming a recording artist, playing anti-war songs for college students…with the side-effect of riches and adventure. Well, I found the adventure at least. Playing urban Folk Blues gets a classy audience and I enjoyed the traveling life, but I still hadn’t expressed myself.
When in doubt there’s only one course of action: think of Elvis Presley. He was the catalyst, the man who was pivotal to the evolution of shake, rattle, and roll. In my childhood, teenagers danced to the silly lyrics of Hound Dog”, a song devoid of any meaning and probably the most important song of the last century…for its sheer vacuum effect on the boy-meets-girl themes in every piece of popular music. The world could start with a clean slate and accept the shock of topics and messages. That song appeared when the content was stored on a 78 rpm disc that revolved unevenly as a little nail scratched out the music on one speaker. The records wore out, skipped, and broke easily. Music devices advanced to 45 rpm and LPs, then to the portable 8-track that could bring your library on the road. Before you know it cassettes came along and made us buy our entire libraries for the third time.
Now we can store several quadrillion songs on a shiny thing no larger than a pack of gum. I suspect there’s room for me now…a niche in the digital medium where my personal jukebox can exist everywhere, not just in selected restaurants where someone bought a thousand-pound machine full of records to collect quarters. Due to a wild string of coincidences I got it all together; I struggled through day jobs, recovered some lost tapes, and learned more about the medium where we are now communicating. One answer to the problem of having a mass audience was a website with a download capability to shop for music and writings. A pile of forgotten notes in a box resulted in a novel, The Golden Blues. My premiere novel is set largely in the sub-culture of the ‘Seventies, and is taken into the immediate future. It’s available in eBook format on the site. The adventure of a quest for love causes the hero to advance his knowledge through altered states of consciousness, mind expansion, and the disciplined philosophy of the martial arts. The challenge of describing the nature of existence, if I’ve succeeded in the meticulously detailed prose, will keep the reader in suspense wondering what’s going to happen next as a plan is devised to correct the mistake that cost him the ideal woman. He would use the way of the universe, the Tao (Dao), to reincarnate back into the same life, basing this possibility on the premise that we create our own reality and that the power of intention contains our essence. The traveler moves through vicious fights in Vancouver, bank robbers in the Montreal underworld, psychedelic journeys, and ghosts in New York, to the sublime awareness of Zen meditation and the resolve of love.
The final result looked like Kerouac got together with Vonnegut and Burroughs to teach Edgar Allen Poe how to type. It’s hard to be objective, but I consider it my masterpiece even though the idea to write the book started thirty years earlier while I sat in a bar interviewing a group of lesbians about their secret. Apparently, it just comes to them…naturally.