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Ramblings: A Music City Joke's Punchline 

Why did I call this album Music City Joke, you ask? 

It’s a fair question. 

Let’s step back in time about a decade. I was playing the low country bar band circuit, dodging alcohol-soaked song requests & a spilled drink or two, scraping by a hundred dollars at a time along with the occasional free meal at a bar where I was playing. One day, driving around Charleston, I turned to the country station, listened to a few songs and chuckled to myself, thinking, “Hell, I could do that.” So, I packed up my stuff…

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Ramblings: The Graduate 

Benjamin Braddock and Elaine Robinson riding away on the bus. Big smiles at first. Then pensive looks. Another big smile from Benjamin, then finally seeing Benjamin seemingly feeling the weight of his decision.

Is it happy? Is it sad? 

As a 12 or 13 year old, seeing The Graduate for the first time, I was affected by all of it. The way the movie looked, the passion in Benjamin's pursuit of Elaine(For years, I thought that in order to love someone, I probably had to be willing to go bust up a wedding by…

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Ramblings: James 

His room had not changed since high school. The Atlanta Falcons sheets on the single bed. The Yardbirds family tree poster, the poster of Butch & Sundance guns drawn & charging. 
His mother said that it smelled like teenagers. 
And she would never be able to get the smell out. 
His mother made a laughing scoff. “Boys,” she replied, shaking her head. “Sweat, and mud, grass. Whatever in the world was going on behind these doors.  Boys.” 
He couldn’t smell anything. 
He’d been back in his room for a…

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Ramblings: Harry 

“Swut they call a catch 22, I reckon,”  Harry said to the attractive doctor who was currently taking his blood pressure in response to why he still drank so much. “Booze got me on the street. But it also makes it bearable.” 
Harry smiled. Sometimes he forgot how the last decade and a half years living under bridges and tents had left his teeth, on the inside he was still that shaggy haired fella that could make the girls swoon with his guitar. And twenty years ago, this doctor was the type of lady he…

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Ramblings: Mr. Ruffles 

A plastic, crinkling cacophony spilled into the little girl’s ears. Her eyes darted to the sound, a blue and white plastic bag moving on its own. Jerky, unrhythmic dashes beside a line of plastic trash cans on the alley behind her house. She stopped her bike, newly liberated of training wheels and watched as the shape in the bag flattened and a figure slowly made himself known. A small puppy, a black bully type, white stripe on its chest, and a pink spotted  nose with potato chip crumbs. Five minutes of…

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Ramblings: Bob/Todd & Jacob 

He was talking to his father on speaker. Casual catch up conversation, the current goings on. 
“Tell him what happened at the Publix today, Bob,” he heard his mother say in the background. 
“What happened in Publix?” 
“Oh, nothing really. I was just doing all the social distancing stuff, standing back behind this guy in the steak section, and he was just taking his sweet ass time-must’ve spent ten minutes picking out a damned steak…”
“Ten minutes?” 
“Yeah. And there wasn’t a whole lot to choose from.” 

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Ramblings: Rock & Roll Almost Ruined My Life Sorta  

Small town southern son coming home from the movies.
Recreating what was just viewed.
Cameras nobody else could see.  
Kurt Loder interviewing River Phoenix, or somebody like River Phoenix.  
Ego lighting up like a flame thrower.  
I wanted to have long hair and answer questions about the cool movie I was just in.  
80s music videos.  Heartland, English, Glam Metal, Alternative. 
Decadence > music.  
Not gonna fall in line like everybody’s parents.  
Mind made up to go all in.  

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Ramblings: Truth & Salvage Co 

The Charleston Pour House. Sometime around a decade ago. 
There were maybe fifty people in the audience. 
Truth & Salvage Company slid into their set with a genuine ease & confidence that cannot be manufactured. I remember reading the liner notes for the Faces compilation, Good Boys When They’re Asleep, where someone from Creem Magazine, not Lester Bangs mind you, Dave Marsh it was, described seeing Rod, Woody, Ronnie & crew take the stage “the way a teenage gang takes a street corner, rolling into place with…

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Ramblings: Carolina Run 

“This guy doesn’t know shit.” 
I’m assuming this was the first impression of the rest of the guys I was about to start a week long run with, as I walked into a bar in Anderson, SC, running a little late, because I had trouble finding the place. And, I couldn’t get to the direct box I had borrowed from a friend to work. Corey Hunt saw me on my knees looking at the direct box like I’d never seen one before, reached down and plugged my cord into the jack that clearly said “input” and gave me a pat on the back…

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Ramblings: 5 Singer-Songwriters, 1 Van, Texas Hill Country 

Sleep didn't come easy for me the first night in Dripping Springs, Texas. The insomnia thing is a gift from my mother’s side of the family. Apparently, quite a few McKeowns spend a good portion of their nights staring up at ceilings. I’d had a little more whiskey than a I normally drink, so I thought I might shut my eyes to the world fairly easily, but sometime around 3 in the morning I was still awake. Then some rain rolled in and I finally rested. Rain on the canvas pop out section of a trailer is a…

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Ramblings: Don't Matter How You Get It, As Long As It's Got 

Yesterday, I was out and about, and my phone was almost out of juice. The charger chord in my car, which I’d been seeing some wire poking from behind the white, finally quit working all together, and so, I was without my phone. You know, the way I spent the first couple decades of my life. No phone means no Spotify, so, I went back to the radio. The plain ol’ radio. Since I got Spotify Premium, I altogether quit listening to the stuff off the dial. Picking & choosing whatever artist, song, or album I want…

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Ramblings: Heavy Metal Marvin Has Got the Blues 

It was an unfortunate name. 
Maybe not for the gray haired mechanic who had fixed your parent’s cars for years. But, a little off, antiquated, paired with the quiet, occasionally impatient fella who packed his own lunch every day and went to movies by himself. Chris Roper, who was in a cubicle about ten feet from Marvin, had taken his wife to see Avatar a few years ago, not having seen a movie in the theater since Titanic, and on the advice of a brother in law who said, “Avatar HAD TO BE seen…

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Ramblings: If Anyone is Selling Replacements T-Shirts, I'll Pass... 

I remember eyeing the rock-n-roll rags on the magazine rack at the drug store when I was kid. Rolling Stone, Spin, maybe Circus or something, and it was very affective. I remember one time in particular, picking up a copy of Rolling Stone, and thumbing through the pages until I came to a piece on a band, and in one of the photos, one of the dudes was letting spit hang towards the ground, the other guys were cracking up, and seeing that, it all made sense to me. From that moment, it was all about the sort of…

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Ramblings: The Greatest Country Album That Never Was 

“Woke up this morning my house was cold 
Checked the furnace, she wasn’t burning 
Went out in hopped in my old Ford 
Hit the engine but she ain’t turning” 

These are the opening lines to “One Step Up,” a song off of Bruce Springsteen’s 1987 album, Tunnel of Love.

The line about the engine, I always heard, and still like to hear as, “...buddy, she ain’t turning.” Buddy or not, lyrically, it doesn’t get more country than this.   Just on paper, it feels like it could be a lost Billy Joe Shaver cut that never made…

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Ramblings: Another One from the Archives: Four Months and a Kick in the Teeth 

I spent a few long months in LA. I arrived in Los Angeles on a relative whim. I didn't get into graduate school, I had a buddy who was living out there, so, I drove across the country. The drive was the best part. Hours and days of contemplation and unfamiliar terrain and the feeling that I was a part of something bigger than what I'd known before. I would like to do that again sometime. Maybe I'll drive it with my son. Or, maybe that's something he'll need to do on his own.

LA got the best of me, or as they…

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Ramblings: One from the Archives: Rubberneckers in a Car Crash World 

I wrote this coming off a week long run from Charleston through Mississippi and Louisiana and right on back. I didn't know it, but I had a brain tumor at the time. Far out. Maybe it shows in my writing. Maybe it doesn't, really. But, I guess it does, since I was physically and emotionally affected by the tumor. Crazy times.

Rubberneckers in a Car Crash World

I'm standing above the Mississippi river. I'm a few hours away from a hangover. To my right is the "JAX" beer sign, it is reminding me of the "Emser…

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Ramblings: 2000 Miles of Christmas Spirit 

One year it took me until Christmas Eve and hearing “2000 Miles” by the Pretenders to get into the Christmas spirit. I was driving west on Interstate 26, from Columbia to Greenville, South Carolina, and it just came on while flipping through the channels. This was around the time that a few radio stations started playing nothing but Christmas music sometime around Thanksgiving. Some of you may remember a time when Christmas songs just sort of showed up randomly on stations. I kind of liked those days. How…

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