Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride

I looked at the name on my concert ticket: Paul McCartney.

I sat and waited, along with 42,000 other people in Vancouver’s B.C. Stadium, for McCartney to take the stage. I was part of a group of 17 and we had talked about our expectations and the songs we wanted to hear. Every song mentioned was a Beatles song. Every one.

It wasn’t a knock McCartney’s solo career. He had written and recorded lots of good songs since the Beatles. But every person in our group was a Baby Boomer. The ticket got us in to see McCartney. But the ride we really wanted to go on was the Magical Mystery Tour.

The Beatles provided the soundtrack of our youth. Our formative years. The years when emotions, and sometimes youthful arrogance, informed our thoughts and actions. We were carefree and, maybe, even a little careless.

The cultural impact of the Beatles will be debated for as long as there is music, but clearly they influenced the way tens of millions of people dressed, wore their hair, and how they thought: politically, philosophically, about drugs, and many other important aspects of life. I know they didn’t set out to accomplish that, but it happened. That the effects have been so long lasting is astounding. Just a little more astounding than a 77-year-old rock star selling out stadiums around the world.

As McCartney played each Beatles song, memories rewound and played from the middle: From the part where that song helped me get by with a little help from my friends. From the part where love fell apart and I longed for yesterday. From the part where I tried to take a sad song and make it better. Sad, melancholy, happy… Beatles songs made me feel all those things deeply. Not for the first or last time, but in way that I remember every time I hear the music.

When McCartney wrote “When I’m 64,” and when we all heard it back then, 64 seemed as far off as Mars. Yet whenever he sings that song now (although he didn’t tonight), it probably still seems far off to McCartney, even though he now sees it in the review mirror.

But the man looked good. Maybe even better than when he was 64.

McCartney’s voice was not as strong or as smooth as it was back then. Yet for as ragged as it sometimes sounded, we filled in the rough spots with memories of the voice we had heard thousands of times. It was this specific voice that we’ve heard for more than 50 years and will hear every time those songs are played for the rest of our lives. And though other singers might sing them more proficiently, no one will ever sing them better.

As I looked around B.C Stadium, as our group of 17 sang as one, occasionally out of tune, we all looked pretty good too. Didn’t seem quite as old.

People look younger when they smile.

And they feel younger when they sing.

 

HUMOR – “Punkin’ Donuts” Guitarist O’Bryan Drops New Tracks

HUMOR – “Punkin’ Donuts” Guitarist O’Bryan Drops New Tracks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (OGSR – Los Angeles, CA, March 20, 2019) Former lead guitarist for the defunct Punkin’ Donuts, Slugger O’Bryan, is in New York City promoting his new album, “Can’t Recognize Myself in a Mirror.”

Slug—as he is known now—is perhaps best remembered for an off-stage incident that took place in the fall of 2014. As you may recall, after the Donuts fell apart Slug vanished from the music scene but found new life singing novelty songs such as “Hang on Droopy,” “Baby, Take a Little Piece of My Hat,” “When a Man Loves a Weirdo,” and the hugely successful pastiche of the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” entitled “She Ain’t Chunky, She’s My Wife.” It had long been rumored that many of Slug’s novelty songs were about his long-suffering common-law wife, Bella Donna Schwartz, whose struggles with meth-amphetamine and food were well documented on the couple’s short-lived OGSR TV Network reality show.

Shortly after the release of “She Ain’t Chunky…” tragedy struck. Slug was found nearly beaten to death in his Miami apartment, which he shared with his wife. Although he never lost consciousness, Slug was unable to identify his attacker.

Following the attack Slug founded a group called “Men Attacked By Women.” But his attempt at activism was short-lived. His action of founding the group was roundly condemned on social media as an act of aggression against women.

The self-destructive side of Slug’s well-documented battle with addiction was on display during his ill-advised stint as spokesman for his “Men Attacked By Women” group. In one memorable exchange, captured in a YouTube video that currently has more than 37 million hits, Slug explained that, “In an enlightened age of equality, people should be allowed to be attacked in equal numbers—or at least ratio—regardless of their gender.” He later said the remark was taken out of context, but when asked to supply any other context, Slug declined to answer. For about a year.

Recently Slug began posting unplugged versions of famous Punkin’ Donuts songs on YouTube, including “I Hate Myself, But I Hate You More,” and the band’s famous 17-minute epic, “Shit on a Stick.”

Slug’s return to the stage coincided with his reconciliation with Bella Donna, as well as the launch of their new public access reality show, “The O’Bryans: From Here to Maternity.” The show documents the struggles of their daughter Sethisha, who attempts to adopt a baby emu from Australia. As you may recall from the couple’s earlier reality show, Sethisha used to be their son Seth.

(Editor’s Note: None of the people, places, songs or any other details in this “press release” are based on any actual person, place, song or situation, and are solely the product of the writer’s imagination. Or lack thereof.)

Passion’s When You Can’t NOT do it

Passion’s When You Can’t NOT do it

By Hamilton Caine

I often hear people talk about their passion for writing and for music. Yet when I ask them what they’re doing to pursue that passion, there’s usually a shoulder shrug followed by a common complaint: “I’m too busy,” people say. “If I just had a little more time…” As though this were the sole criterion that separates the successful from the unsuccessful. That’s like saying, “The only thing that separates me from some world-class brain surgeon is that he had more free time on his hands.” Really…

I know people with nothing but time on their hands. If free time were the key to success, they would be multi-billionaires. Ironically, they are often the people who get the least done.

My experience is that people make time for what they really want to do. Remember when you were in the early stages of a romantic relationship? Even if you were too busy to get together, you at least made time to make a phone call to let the other person know you were thinking of them. You make time for what you care about, even if you have “no time.”

Passion’s when you “can’t NOT do it.” Yes, I realize that’s a double negative, but it makes a point. People who have a genuine passion for something make time for it. They can’t help themselves. It’s really important to them. They’ll watch fifteen minutes less TV and learn pentatonic scales on YouTube. They’ll write lyrics on the subway to and from work. They sign up for an online song writing course instead of watching the politicians they voted for hammer the politicians they voted against.

If you’re lucky enough that some of your passions have survived the onslaught of digital distractions and sensory overload, cherish them. Nourish them. Make time for them.

Our passions are what make us feel most alive.

The Therapy of Writing Music

The Therapy of Writing Music

Music has always been there for me. Sometimes when there was nothing else. When I write songs that are completely honest, sometimes even brutally honest, those songs become enduring truths to which I can return. Reminders of wisdom earned.

“I’ve lived a real life and paid full price.” Always liked that line.

We all have stuff to deal with:

Gotta jump off the victim train
Everybody’s got their share of pain
Darkness ain’t gonna keep you sane
Don’t waste a minute

No one knows how much…time they got
(Focus on what is), not what’s not
Treasure what’s given, not what’s bought
Somethin’ no one can take away

From “Streamin’ Dreams”

Everyone’s got their share of pain. Some more than others. When I look back on my life, I realize that some of my deepest wounds were self-inflicted. And while that is a somewhat daunting realization, it also is empowering. I can, and have, changed over the years. The choices I make create my life experience. My songs provide a window through which I can view my life. An opportunity to purposely pay attention to my life.

Experience means nothing unless you’re paying attention.

Recovery from life’s setbacks is part of life and how you recover often helps determine the person you become. For some, recovery is all about figuring out who—other than yourself—is to blame.

I never found blaming others very helpful or empowering and, besides, I couldn’t afford that kind of expensive therapy. However, music was a form of therapy that was always available to me. The only price I needed to pay was being honest with myself. If I was completely honest when I wrote and sang my songs, it often surprised me with insight into the narratives I’d created to help me make sense of the world and my place in it. With that insight I often made different choices and changed my story.

For me the process of writing and singing songs is extremely therapeutic. I find that the more honest I am, the more therapeutic the process becomes.

Using raw emotion and even specific details of my life creates a sense of authenticity that I feel every time I sing that song. Below is a verse from one of my songs:

Memories haunt my dreams at night
I rewrite stories to make ‘em play out right
Like a newly-blind man searchin’ darkness for the life he once had
I remember the day…I came to pick up my things
There was someone there…you wouldn’t let me in
Man, I thought I could never hurt that bad
 From “Makin’ Peace With Myself”

Some of my best songs will never be played for anyone. They’re too personal. Yet I play those songs often. By myself. It’s like revisiting old friends. Helpful friends. Friends with whom I’ve shared very personal and intimate, often lonely, moments of my life.

It’s meant a lot to know that this friend is there for me no matter what. It’s a safe place to go.

Music has never let me down. Never abandoned or judged me.

While I never became a famous rock and roll star, music has meant more to me than anyone will ever know.