Thursday, August 25, 2011

DIRTY ROOTS RADIO - August 25th Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at

Cat Power – Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
Tom Waits – Bad as Me
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Alligator Wine
Dave Clark Five – Glad All Over
The Who – Baba O’Reily
Run DMC – It’s Tricky
Moby – Flower
Hasil Adkins – Ugly Woman
R.L. Burnside – Chain of Fools
Izzy Stradlin & the JuJu Hounds – Pressure Drop
Mike Ness – Send Her Back
Rolling Stones – Before They Make Me Run
Mavis Staples – Creep Along Moses
Johnny Cash – The Beast In Me
Elvis Costello – Everyday I Write the Book
Willy Deville – It’s So Easy
The Clash – Police On My Back
The Beau Brummells – Laugh, Laugh
Ennio Morricone – L’arena
Social Distortion – Highway 101
Easybeats – St. Louis
Patti Smith – Gloria
Black Diamond Heavies – Numbers 22 (Balaam’s Wild Ass)
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – Bits and Pieces
Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mich & Tich – Hold Tight
Sir Douglas Quintet – Are Inlaws Really Outlaws
Buddy Guy – First Time I Met the Blues
Tom Waits – Bad as Me
Bare Jr. – Why Do I Need a Job?
Glen Campbell – By the Time I Get to Phoenix
John Prine & Iris Dement – In Spite of Ourselves
Townes Van Zandt – At My Window

Background Music: Miles Davis - Kind of Blue



"It's so sweet, I feel like my teeth are rotting when I listen to the radio." - Bono

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Awful, Beautiful Life

If you’ve read many of my music-related blog posts, or listened to my radio show, you know I’m fascinated with the dichotomy of life. I talk a lot about how the music I like is raw and rough, but has elements of beauty to it; much like life. Conversely, I love when beautiful music has some kind of raw element incorporated into it, which life often does, too.

It pains me to give any attention to anything having to do with commercial country music (especially when the writer and performer of the song scored much of his success through banal patriotic songs), but Darryl Worley’s tune (co-written with Harley Allen), “Awful Beautiful Life” says it pretty well:

“I love this crazy, tragic,
Sometimes almost magic,
Awful, beautiful life”

That’s life; Beautiful one minute, awful the next. And sometimes, both in the same minute.

Today, I noticed a feeble old lady in a wheelchair. I saw her from behind, and noticed that she’d hung a sign on the back of her wheelchair. It said:


As most of you know I am a perpetually grumpy cantankerous troll of an old/young man. But I walked a little lighter after seeing that. It brightened my day.

But, a very short time later I came upon another old lady. This one was standing outside of a doorway, having what looked to be a heated conversation with someone, invisible to me, standing on the other side of the doorway. As I neared, I realized she was having that conversation with her own reflection.

And I got really pissed off at life again.

One feeble old lady who won’t give up. One who no longer has all of her mind, fighting with the woman in the mirror.

Now, isn’t that a perfect(ly ugly) illustration of this “awful, beautiful life”?

I Missed the Point

“Atticus said that Jem was trying hard to forget something, but what he was really doing was storing it away for a while, until enough time had passed. Then he would be able to think about it and sort things out. When he was able to think about it, Jem would be himself again.” - To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

A little over a year ago, I experienced something that put me in that place. It was something that most people around me still don’t know about. Something that happened TO me; something I had no say in and no control over. Well, I suppose I could have made a choice, but the two options were: 1) Cut my losses and accept it, or 2) Risk EVERYTHING.

I chose the first option.

In the name of forced diplomacy, I couldn’t tell anyone about it. Everyone knew (and still knows) SOMEthing, but few know the WHOLE thing. The action led to a lot of disillusionment for a lot of people. Many called me a quitter. People said I'd turned my back on something important. I’ve never had to “eat” something like that without having the ability to fight back before. Or at least to explain.

I dealt with the situation however I could for a while and I put it away fairly quickly, until enough time had passed. Then I was able to think about it. I became filled with anger. The “feelings hurt” kind of anger. I allowed myself the grace to feel this for a while, thinking it was part of a process.

Eventually, I came to see that my anger had become my trophy, which I displayed defiantly. Usually to the wrong people.

As I came to realize that my anger and paid had become idols, I again sought to put things away. Until enough time had passed that I could think about them and really sort them out.

That time has been coming for a while now. I don’t know how it will manifest itself, but I do know that I’ve been filled with a growing anger again. Not a “feelings hurt” anger, like before; but rather, a righteous anger.

The other night, I chatted online with an old friend who was going through a rough patch. Through the course of our conversation we jointly came to the conclusion that each of us knew what we ourselves, and what the other, were born for; what each of us were born to do. Knowing each other as we did, it was obvious.

As I went to bed that night, for some reason the words of Rocky Balboa randomly floated across my mind. Every Rocky movie has a motivational speech; usually from Adrian to Rocky. In the final movie in the series, Adrian is dead and it’s Rocky’s turn to motivate his son:

“I'd hold you up to say to your mother, "this kid's gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid's gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew." And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you're no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain't gonna have a life.”

"If you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth." I began to realize that THAT is what’s been bothering me about this whole situation.

When things unfolded, I had a few options for how to look at the situation.

One way was the simple – and not completely untrue – conclusion that things were simply out of my hands. As I said, this option isn’t completely untrue…however; I’m learning that things in this life are very, very seldom truly and completely out of one’s hands. The alternatives may not be pleasant, but there usually are SOME kind of options.

Another option – and the one I chose at the time – was to look at things as though God wanted them to be this way. I’d been questioning things at the time it all came down and I was looking for “some kind of sign”. I took this to be that sign.

But it didn’t sit well. It never sat well.

Going back to Rocky’s words, I realized: This situation never sat well with me because I know what I’m worth. And I let someone put a finger in my face and tell me I’m no good. When they did that, I went along with what they wanted, and I turned my back on what I knew I was worth.

I know the world is a mean and nasty place. I come more and more to grips with that with every day that I grow older.

“Pain or damage don’t end the world. Or despair. Or fuckin’ beatins. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man. And give some back.” - Al Swearengen (as played by Ian McShane on “Deadwood”)

Even though the world is a mean and nasty place…I still know what I’m worth. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I believe we all know – somewhere deep down inside ourselves – who we are.

I betrayed that. I consciously, knowingly, and willingly turned my back on it.

I have spent more than a year telling myself that I’m not angry with myself over it. But the truth is that I am angry. I’m furious.

Everyone wonders why I’m so cranky lately. You wonder what makes a young man like me with a beautiful family so grumpy? Turning his back on what he knows he’s worth. That’s what. Forsaking who he knows he is.

People do this to themselves every day, in many different forms. And just like Scout, the main character in To Kill A Mockingbird, and her brother, Jem, I’m wrestling with how seemingly reasonable grown-up people can do this kind of thing, which is obviously completely insane. How can the world be this crazy?

I SEE people do this to themselves every day. And I wonder how they sleep at night. I wonder how they can marvel at how I’m so cantankerous when they should be, too.

But they aren’t my concern. I am my concern. I’m the only one I ultimately have any control or power over.

I don’t know where it goes from here. But I know where the righteous anger that burns in my heart is coming from now. I also know that it is not wrong. It may be “complicated”, but it is NOT wrong. And I’m done allowing myself – or anyone else – to convince me that it is wrong or inappropriate in any way.

I suppose the next step is figuring out how to keep living in this messed up crazy world while doing something about the anger inside.

I don’t want to put it away anymore, though. I don’t want to not think about it anymore. I don’t want to wait and sort it out later. I want to do something about it.

"An' I have so many chances to be
The hero I believe's inside of me
But I get busy and I get distracted
And I do nothin' when I could've acted

I laid low when I could've stood high.
I said nothin' when I should've asked why.
I saw somethin' that I might've done and I didn't,
A chance to speak my truth and I hid it."

- Jeff Bridges, “Maybe I Missed the Point”

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Inspirational Wisdom From Al

"Pain or damage don’t end the world. Or despair. Or fuckin’ beatins. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man. And give some back." - Al Swearengen (as played by Ian McShane on "Deadwood")

My Friend

It's a well known fact that my dog, Gracie Mae, is madly in love with me. My wife goes to bed earlier than I do and Gracie usually goes with her. I haven't been home much this weekend and haven't seen Gracie much. After she laid with Amber in bed for a few hours, I heard Gracie rustling around. She got up, nosed the door open, and came and laid down on my foot. And sighed.

And that makes me feel good.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True

As I sat here tonight, checking my Facebook account, a friend complimented me on my announcing of today’s pee-wee football game in our community. I’ve done that now for the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teams for about ten years. I do it in a pretty unorthodox way – yelling and screaming a lot, acting silly, having fun at the expense of the refs, playing music, etc. I just try to keep it light and have fun.

At any rate, the friend who complimented me hadn’t heard me do the announcing before. She said it was fun and seemed like I was having fun.

I’m never having as much fun as I am when I’ve got an audience, maybe some music at my disposal, and no script whatsoever.

It always feels good to hear someone say I’ve done a good job. But the compliments that come from someone who hasn’t been to one of the games before feel especially good.

I started thinking about it tonight, and I realized; when I was asked to be the field announcer those ten years ago, I actually had a conscious decision to make: how to do the announcing. Do I do it “straight”, with “respect for the game”? Or do I just be me?

I have, at best, a “basic” knowledge of football. These pee-wee games make for long days (four games run about 8 hours). I don’t have much “normal” music…much less “sports anthems” in my catalog. So, I figured rather than being phony, I’d just be me, and see what happened.

I figured that the kids would have fun with me being crazy. And I figured me keeping things light would be appreciated by those parents who aren’t the over-aggressive super-sporty types.

And it all worked out well.

After this Facebook conversation, I looked through the “info” section of my profile. I took a look through the “People Who Inspire Me” section. Those listed include:

Al Swearengen, Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Hasil Adkins, Charles Bukowski, Quentin Tarantino, Lemmy Kilmister, Hunter S. Thompson, Huey Freeman, Joe Strummer, Keith Richards, Kris Kristofferson, Pete Seeger, Howard Zinn, Johnny Cash, Crazy Horse, Abby Hoffman, Che Guevara, Martin Luther King, Jr., and T-Model Ford.

Not exactly a “normal” list of heroes.

There are a few “standards” there; Martin Luther King and Jesus. There are a few “rebels”: Howard Zinn, Abby Hoffman, Che Guevara, and Pete Seeger. There are a few who inspire me creatively.

But the ones I really call “heroes” is smaller. The list of those I truly draw inspiration from, when it comes to living life, is still smaller yet. It includes:

*Bill Hicks (a completely irreverent comedic genius who gutted every sacred cow in America)

*George Carlin (poked fun at many of the mores of our society and showed us how silly we could be)

*Hasil Adkins (a WAY “out there” one-man-band musician)

*Charles Bukowski (a curmudgeonly writer who wove his own life story into tales of outcasts)

*Lemmy Kilmister (leader of Motorhead and the only human who will outlast cockroaches if there’s ever a nuclear fallout)

*Keith Richards (the human riff...the inspiration for Captain Jack Sparrow...from The Rolling Stones)

*Hunter S. Thompson (a W-E-I-R-D journalist/genius)

I won’t go into any further biographical history for them than that; you can look that up yourself. But, these guys are my hero because they did things their own way. Some got famous from it. Some did not. Some found success and a few made money. Others didn’t. None were “driven” by the money, though. They’d be who they are now whether they found success, fame, or money along the way.

These guys are weird. At the very least, they're unorthodox. They were also bold. And brave. They marched to the beat of their own drummer. They said what they knew they had to say and played how they knew they had to play.

They figured out somewhere along the line that they weren’t like everyone else (are any of us?). Most importantly, they figured out early that trying to “be like everyone else” wasn’t worth it. It’s too much work. Too much effort. IT’S TOO HIGH A PRICE TO PAY IN LIFE.

Be yourself. Let your freak flag fly.

To thine own self be true.

The guys I look up to did that.

Being someone else is too high a price to pay. What’s the cost? OUR LIVES. I don’t want to live my life being what or who ANYONE else thinks I should be.

I’ve managed to accomplish that in two areas: my weekly radio show and the four pee-wee football games I announce every year.

I gotta work on expanding that.

It’s your life. We all know, somewhere deep down, who we are.

Be who you are.

Friday, August 19, 2011

DIRTY ROOTS RADIO - August 18th Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at

Bottle Rockets - Hard Times
Johnny Cash - Ain't No Grave
Jeff Bridges - What a Little Bit of Love Can Do
Lou Reed - Vicious
Duane Eddy - Rebel Rouser
The Coasters - Down in Mexico
Greg Brown - Freak Flag
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Little Bitty Pretty One
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Hear You Knockin'
Hasil Adkins - I'm In Misery
Tom Waits - Nirvana
Charlie Louvin - Must You Throw Dirt in My Face
Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Johnny Cash - Wichita Lineman
Isaac Hayes - By the Time I Get to Phoenix
Elmo & Hezekiah - Mother's Dead
Possessed by Paul James - Feed the Family
Esquerita - Rockin' the Joint
Little Richard - Get Rhythm
Ben Harper - Rock and Roll is Free
Bottle Rockets - Smokin' 100's Alone
Bottle Rockets - Rural Route
Tinariwen - Imidiwan Ma Tennam
Social Distortion - Far Side of Nowhere
Smith - Baby It's You
Dwight Yoakam - Baby Why Not
Tom Waits - Bottom of the World
Solomon Burke - Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers - Why do Fools Fall In Love
The Cramps - Surfin' Bird
Those Darlins - Be Your Bro
The Monkees - You Just May Be the One
Perry Como - Juke Box Baby
Charles Bradley - The World (Is Going Up In Flames)
Deadstring Bros. - Sacred Heart
Jeff Bridges - Everything But Love
The Heavy - How You Like Me Now
Jeb Loy Nichols - Heaven's Right Here
Credence Clearwater Revival - Who'll Stop the Rain
Bottle Rockets - Kit Kat Clock

Background Music: Duane Eddy - Guitar Man



"I think good radio often uses the techniques of fiction: characters, scenes, a big urgent emotional question. And as in the best fiction, tone counts for a lot." - Ira Glass

Monday, August 15, 2011

LIFE by Al Swearengen

**Swear warning: If you're offended by rough language, you'd best skip this one.

In life you have to do a lot of things you don’t fucking want to do. Many times, that’s what the fuck life is… one vile fucking task after another. - Al Swearengen (as played by Ian McShane on "Deadwood")

This may sound negative and depressing to you. It's inspiring to me. Helps get me through. Good ol' Al.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

DIRTY ROOTS RADIO - August 11th Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at

Hasil Adkins - No More Hot Dogs
Buddy Guy & Johnny Lang - Midnight Train
The Clash - Death or Glory
5 Spiritual Tones - Bad Situation
Merle Haggard - If We Make It Through December
Tom Waits - Chocolate Jesus
Led Zeppelin - Heartbreaker
Little Richard - Rip It Up
Howlin' Wolf - I Asked For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)
R.L. Burnside (w/the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) - Snake Drive
Social Distortion - California (Hustle & Flow)
Gil Scott-Heron - Whitey On the Moon
T-Model Ford - Let the Church Roll On
Dwight Yoakam - I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
Peter Tosh - Why Must I Cry
HeadCat - I Ain't Never
Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You
Black Diamond Heavies - Nutbush City Limit
Monks - Monk Time
Steve Earle - Breed
Mike Ness - Long Black Veil
Son Volt - Drown
Johnny Cash - Wreck of the Old 97
Hank Williams - You Win Again
Urban Dance Squad - Deeper Shade of Soul
Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown
Ada Richards - I'm Drunk & I'm Real High (In the Spirit of God)
Mavis Staples - You Are Not Alone
Jimi Hendrix - Castles Made of Sand
Iggy Pop & Kate Pierson - Candy
Reverend James Cleveland & the Angelic Choir - Peace Be Still
Blues Brothers - She Took the Katy
Townes Van Zandt - Dead Flowers

Background Music: Link Wray - Rumble: Best of Link Wray



"I like doing radio because it's so intimate. The moment people hear your voice, you're inside their heads, not only that, you're in there laying eggs." - Doug Coupland

Hamburger Helper & Jungle Book

Tonight, while grocery shopping with my daughter, she told me she wanted Hamburger Helper for dinner again someday. (I confess, in my limited culinary skills, when Mom is unable to join us for dinner, Kate and I often partake of the Hamburger Helper).

Kate's face lit up and she said, " you remember the time we watched Jungle Book and ate Hamburger Helper???"

I kind of remember that evening. That's all we did. We ate Hamburger Helper and watched her Jungle Book DVD. Nothing else. Nothing fancy. I'm sure a lively conversation was held, but nothing more than that.

And it remains a memory for her. One that stood out. One that lit her face up, almost a year later.

That's the kind of thing that takes the pressure off as a daddy. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be there for our kids, to do this, to do that, to do the right thing. Always.

Those things are all important; but self-imposed pressure can be too much.

It doesn't take much.

Just some Hamburger Helper and Jungle Book.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DIRTY ROOTS RADIO - August 4th Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at

A3 – Woke Up This Morning
Abner Jay – Woke Up This Morning
Misfits – Rat Fink
Steve Earle – Oxycontin Blues
Johnny Cash & Carl Perkins – Brown Eyed Handsome Man
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – Gunpowder
Charles Bradley – Golden Rule
Billy Bob Thornton – Starlight Lounge
Billy Bob Thornton – Walk of Shame
Run-D.M.C – My Adidas
Credence Clearwater Revival – Up Around the Bend
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – Bits and Pieces
Detroit Cobras – Heartbeat
The Crystals – He’s a Rebel
Nina Simone – To Love Somebody
Lead Belly – Black Betty
Harry Belafonte – Jump In the Line
Parliament – Dr. Funkenstein
Cab Calloway – Minnie the Moocher
Booker T. Jones feat./Sharon Jones & Matt Berninger – Representing Memphis
James Leg – Fire and Brimstone
Tom Waits – Bottom of the World
The Stooges – 1969
James Cleveland w/the Angelic Choir – I Had a Talk with God
Bare Jr. – Why Do I Need a Job
Mike Ness – Six More Miles
Jim & Jesse (The McReynolds Boys) – Are You Missing Me?
Stealers Wheel – Stuck In the Middle with You
Ramones – Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
R.L. Burnside feat/Lyrics Born – Goin’ Down South
Pastor T.L. Barrett & the Youth for Christ Choir – Like a Ship
Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
Johnny Thunders – You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory
Bruce Springsteen – Pony Boy
Billy Preston – Slaughter
Buddy Miles – Them Changes
James Brown – Mother Popcorn, Pt. 1
Toots & the Maytalls – Pressure Drop
April March – Chick Habit
Hasil Adkins – Somehow You’ll Find Your Way
Johnny Cash – Redemption Day
Dwight Yoakam – Never Hold You
Nancy Sinatra – How Does That Grab You, Darlin’?
X – The World’s a Mess; It’s In My Kiss
Flat Duo Jets – The Phantom
Willie Nelson – I Never Cared For You

Background Music: Menehan Street Band – Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming Instrumentals



"I like radio better than television because if you make a mistake on radio, they don't know. You can make up anything on the radio." - Phil Rizzuto