Perspective is perplexing,
Music is relaxing,
Plenty of coffee is “Ex-laxing”
And I’m sitting in a convection oven office
Trying to make sense of
Moods,
Mayhem,
Mental incarceration, and
Any other mmm-mmm bad
Thing that might surf through my brain.

Take perspective,
A walk in the reality of one,
Since we all see things differently,
Through our lens,
In our time, with our emotional makeup,
Under the stresses of our lives.
It’s easy to see how we can be so confused
By the way we are supposed to be
Because the rules are made by those seeing
In way unique to them, foreign to us.

In these days of Rrrrrr,
Political discourse, career apathy,
Self-inflicted physical beatdowns,
The rundown nature of getting on
Tends to taint my outlook on how things are going.
Music soothes, takes on that edge,
With just a little hit on the boombox bong
I melted away without the need for psychoactive properties
Given a little bass, some familiar words, and
I zoomed away from the manstrating mood I found myself in.

Today, Joe Walsh’s, Life’s Been Good To Me, played, it’s
A teenage anthem that never fails to raise my spirit.
Coming through beat up desktop speakers, Joe helped me leave now
Allowing me to drift back to a community gathering where
Big Pioneer speakers added the soundtrack
For a night of shenanigans that
Started a summer adventure
Where for a few weeks
I’d understand the importance
Of patience, pacing, and accepting the impermanence of life.

Maybe the song was the inspiration
For my nostalgic trip back to York County.
Maybe it was the river of coffee that I’d been drinking
Due to the absence of anything stronger
During working hours.
Interestingly, the java didn’t loosen my bowels,
It relaxed my thoughts, allowing those good memories
To flood my present and wash away
The stodgy way of thinking I woke up with.
Perspective, music, and coffee. Ahh…

A run can be just a run,
It can also be something more.
The effort to keep breathing,
To keep legs moving
To keep the mind focused,
It’s a lot.
I’m finding a connection
That might be too ethereal for some,
Too new age for others,
But what do I care,
I’m the one running and
I do believe in the independence of a person’s
Soul, no matter where it ultimately resides.

I kind of see running as a “Going Steady” lesson,
One where the girl and the boy
Wrestle with what it means to date.
In the 1950s the video teased with entendre,
“Have their way with you…”
“All the way…”
And as I hobble along with a balking calf muscle
I’m ready to get back to going steady with my runs,
All the way…
Just the way I like it…

So this morning,

As I went once around the block,
No more, no less,
And headed from the wide open love of the road
To the less risky, more laboratory confines
Of a sixteen lap to the mile track,
I fully intended to go slow
With my recovery.

Yeah, right.
My new playlist,
Inspired by American Pickers, the Ralph Stanley episode,
Looked to be the answer to the NASCAR perpetual left turn run
I was preparing to endure.

(Two laps-stretch-repeat for two miles)

Thoughts from some of the songs follow…

Sunshine Reggae (Laid Back)

Not being sure,
Is an absolute way to make a mistake.
Sunshine Reggae, more techno than Jamaican,
Sent an electronic vibe with a message of letting go.
The first few steps to the ganja synth
Were delicate, precise, full of fear,
But all was good,
No tension, no pain.

Leave a Tender Moment Alone (Lee Roy Parnell)

Heading to Nashville, by way of Stephenville, TX,
My old home before the move to the Old Dominion,
Was a reminder to go slow,
Not to push the pace,
Not to abuse my body just for the sake of being tough,
But there was a phantom pain, and
I’ve been burned by the idea
That opening up is good.
Going too fast can hurt,
Leave it alone.

Vertigo (U2)

Uh-oh, when Bono started counting,
My adrenals start pumping
And in that slightly euphoric pre-runners high,
Kind of like that feeling when the first drink or two hits,
Where the inhibitions are lost,
Socializing is easier,
And none of the bad decision making has arrived yet,
I was under extreme musically inspired peer pressure.
Two laps became three, stretching became less persistent
And my commitment to conservatism was gone.
My legs tied into my lungs and off I went
Like a train leaving the shed for the last time
I had resigned myself from the constraints tracks can
Put on a man.

Possession Over Judgment Day (Eric Clapton)

There are artists who inspire,
There are songs that stop me,
In Eric Clapton and his version of this song,
I was in the graces of inspiration and at least today,
Stopped in the pursuit of my cautious and easy jaunt.
The guitars, the gravely voice, the Vertigo inspired high,
All conspired to let me go
Where no injured runner should go,
All out.
The first few laps were a breeze,
I was flying around the track
Feet barely touching the ground,
Ego tempting the gods of remorse.

“You are cured, Effer,” I thought and pushed the pace.

Little did I know, but the Landlord comes calling
To those who do not respect time,

Those who think they can manipulate nature,
Those who get overly enamored with themselves.

Which is where I was
When the rent came due.

There was just a twitch,
A little telegraph sent from my Achilles to my gastroc,
A message saying, “Dumbass, you aren’t ready.”
I played the conductor, slamming on the breaks,
Sliding around the no grade curve above the basketball court
With a panic, I know too well,
It’s one of those feelings like being caught in a conversation
That you have no idea how to get out of,
One that only time can end.

At that point, I judged my run over
And me the idiot
For losing patience,
For too much hubris,
For not listening to my legs.

So endeth the playlist…

And the running for today.

If it’s true
That a run is not just a run,
What have I learned?
I’ve got a long way to go
My ability to be patient,
And evidently a patient,
Is still a weakness.
Better to go slow,
Listen to my body over my plan,
And stay healthy
Because recovery can be it’s own
Marathon.

Rushing memories,
Fleeting emotions,
Songs of a cold basement,
Signs of the bad
And worse
Of times.

Rays of brightness
Slow a running mind with
Cooling thoughts and
Songs of enlightenment,
Signs of the most exciting
And frightening
Of times.

A brilliant dimness,
The perfect antidote
To the ups and downs,
A song of truth and love,
Signs of eternal commitment
And security
Within these times.

Last week, I did a post about my all-time favorite albums. The criteria were simple, I usually listen to the albums start to finish and I like them. This time around, I’m going for my favorite “Greatest Hits” albums. Honestly, I think greatest hits albums are a bit of rip, especially for groups that have them with very little to offer, but I’m a consumer, so I must be gullible. Hopefully, I’m not that way as a voter. I rest with a clear conscience after our last election…

Once again, feel free to share your greatest hits album favorites in the comments. I’ll check them out, but please play nice, I realize there may be limitations to my choices.

1. Chicago IX (Chicago): For me, it’s the summer of ’83 and I’m jamming with the windows open in my bedroom, the smell of boxwood shrubs outside, and a cool breeze coming off the James River before I head to Busch Gardens for work.

2. Crossroads (Eric Clapton): Don’t get snippy with me, it’s my list. I realize this is a box set, but if it had not be for this set, I might not be where I am today. If everything happens for a reason, I was meant to sit in my Philadelphia apartment listening to this for hours as I contemplated moving back to the South. Thank goodness for Sam Goody’s. Anyone for Tennis…

3. Dreams (Allman Brothers): Yada, yada, yada…I get it, you’re not a fan of box sets. See Crossroads… These two sets are my 1990-1991 year. Without them, who knows where I’d be.

4. Legend (Bob Marley and the Wailers): There is more to reggae than Bob, but I bet this album is the one the allowed all the other reggae artists to get paid. You can go wrong with any of the songs on this album and “Three Little Birds” might be my favorite. Many years after a reggae summer, I saw Ziggy Marley in concert. It was cool getting just a hint of the Bob vibe.

5. Eagles Vol. 1 (Eagles): My first album as a fifth grader was Already Gone. It was a gift from my sisterish aunt. The song, “Already Gone,” is one of those anthem songs for me. I think that the Eagles are the first band that I became aware of and this album is full of great songs. [Vol 2 came a little too soon for me. Okay, the more I think about, the more I think it should be on the list. Let’s include it without making it official.]

6. All the Great Hits (Commodores): After taking a rocket fuel ride in a lime green Monte Carlo, circa 1976, with Brick House blasting, I was a Commodores fan. I still wish Lionel Richie has stayed with them, but at least there’s this collection.

7. The Best of Earth, Wind, and Fire Vol. 1 (EWF): Nothing screams middle school like the Commodores and EWF. Where the Commodores faded away, EWF tightly held its grip on me. They are a big part of my second act and I once rode an escalator with one of the guys in the band. It was about twenty minutes before a show at the Borgota and I wasn’t sure, but when I saw him on stage, I knew. The energy of their show is awesome, just be prepared to stand up because everybody knows all the words and everyone wants to dance.

8. Greatest Hits 1974-78 (Steve Miller Band): All of my friends in high school had trucks. They were very different than the one I drive now as they only had the one bench seat. We would cram three or four into the cab and head down the road. All of my friends also had this album on cassette. We listened to it a lot. Thank goodness it’s a keeper.

So there you have it, eight greatest hits albums that left a lasting impression somewhere within my musical soul.

Oh, no, I forgot “Hooligans,” by The Who… It’s got to be on there somewhere…

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Note: This is a bit of a political rant… Just saying…agree or don’t, but be nice.

How great is that the President of the United States is planning his defense for potential charges that go against everything America stands for and then disinvites a championship team that is named after a national symbol, E-A-G-L-E-S because they believe in a person’s right to protest?

It’s not great at all, but that is the way of things in our country today. The Philadelphia Eagles, who won the Super Bowl, will not be attending the White House as has been the tradition for championship teams for some time now. The reason was that too few of the team members were going to show up, so Trump bailed. It’s great that the team, by standing up for what it believed and backing it up with several players planning to do charity work in DC rather than bow to the minister of deceit, have shown that we must stick up for what is right within ourselves. Further, the country is not about Republican, Democrat, or Trump, it’s about our laws and beliefs that we have certain inalienable rights, one being freedom of speech.

The President has shown again that he doesn’t believe in that right unless it’s about him.

Funny, I started writing this while listening to a suggestion by a fellow blogger that Some Girls by the Rolling Stones is a great album to listen to start to finish. Having never done it, I put my headphones on and started pounding away on the keys wondering if I stepped over some proper boundary in expressing my opinion about the idiocy that is happening in the ever-deepening swamp in my nation’s capital. Have I gone all rock and roll on this thing and put my invite to the White House in jeopardy? My first book of poetry is coming out soon and I’m sure I’ll get an invite or an offer to do an open mic in the White House. Yeah, right…

Let me say, I hope I haven’t ruined that opportunity if it even was a chance. I’d love to make a profit off the White House, it’s in vogue right now. Additionally, I have a great deal of respect for the office of the President. I know that the job is a no-win servitude, kind of like the Rolling Stones singing “Just My Imagination.” (Some acts should not be covered… All say, “NIXON.”) At least, however, the Stones’ version is acceptable, not an embarrassment, and catchy in that garage band-country crossover Rolling Stones way. 1600’s replay of the early 1970s political games, however, is far from respectful. The President seems to want to erase the slate of Nixon’s malfeasance, by rising to a higher level of whatever may or may not be Constitutionally allowed. And why, who knows, ego?

As it goes, the Eagles are probably better off. They don’t have to put up with ridicule for not being themselves. They don’t have to be associated with Russian diplomats and North Korean emissaries/spies as those two groups have been invited to chat with the Manhattan monarch. The Eagles should just be proud of being American and standing by their values and respecting the tenets of our country.

Hey, Congress…

BTW: Some Girls is worth a start to finish listening…Interesting that I like “Respectable” the best… I also realize that I’m late to the RS party. Unfortunately, in 1978, I was in the throws of a disco detox. Thank goodness for middle school, The Who, and The Eagles (coincidently).

List posts can be lazy or fun, it all depends on your perspective, I suppose. I’ve been in a music mind lately. My son, a guitar player, has me thinking about the rhythms of writing and how words can be musical or just abstract avenues to greater understanding. He and I also have been talking about what makes something interesting and I have to say, “I don’t know.” So, from him, I’ve got a music thing going.

An old high school friend reached out today and we messaged back and forth about Bonnaroo which was the focus of a recent post. He and I have not seen each other since maybe 1986-87, but music became a connection today as it did with a fellow blogger and super writer “Copper Cranes.”

While the vibes are high, I’m going to lay down my favorite albums. Not all of them were huge critical or commercial successes, but for whatever reason, they resonated with me. These are “start to finish” albums which means that I listen to them in full and without skipping any songs. There may be others, but for now, this is it. Feel free to add your own in the comments as I’m always looking out for albums I should check out.

Sorry, MT, I left Sting off the list, although that was a good show back in our college days.

1. The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby: Bruce is a local guy for me and this first album has carried me through all these years. It’s serious, sentimental, and soothing. A great combination…

2. The Final Cut, Pink Floyd: Don’t kill me on this one, Floyd fans. I know that it doesn’t resonate with many, but I find the emotions to be deep and the story to be so important.

3. The Joshua Tree, U2: The second CD I ever owned (The Wall…). For me this album is about The Edge and his biting guitar. The more I listen to it, the better it sounds.

4. Yell Fire, Michael Franti and Spearhead: This album came to me at an important time in life. I would take long walks in the evening with this blasting on an iPod Classic. There was enough happy pop to mask the serious nature of the album so it could move me past angry yet satisfy my need to be “causey.”

5. No Alibis, Eric Clapton: I grew up in a southern museum town and moved to a major east coast city. To say that there was a little culture shock would be an understatement. Truth is, the city has taken over my heart and Clapton through many songs helped foster that change. This album, though, was there every day during that first year of urban living.

6. Born In the USA, Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band: There is so much to choose from with Bruce, Atlantic City and The Rising nearly making this list as well, but this album is about a 1976 maroon Pontiac Grand Prix and more high school shenanigans than my mother would want me to write about in a public forum.

7. On the Road, Lee Roy Parnell: My earliest years were spent in a small Texas town. Lee Roy is from that town and this album helped me break my phobia of country music. It’s the background noise to my writing of this post and as retirement gets closer I think about that “gold plated watch.”

As with any list, there will be criticisms, but remember, this is a “me” list and not some kind of statement as to the absolute nature of any of these albums. They all speak to me today, but the list could easily change tomorrow. (See LA Women, Hotel California, Sweet Baby James, Thriller, Kind of Blue…)

Trapped in a theater of misery
The voices in my head
Talking over the frown lines
All over my face.
Loneliness, pity, and loss of me was
Nothing but a way of life
Back in the mid-2000s.

Friends picked me up
Taking me to Tennessee
To stand in the dust
Before rains turned it all to mud
Just so I could listen
To the plaque-clearing sounds
Of protest songs about the war in Iraq.

The rain fell with great effect on my mood,
I jumped with all the others,
Most twenty or so years younger than me,
But I didn’t care,
I was free, away from the chatter, sold on the idea
That I could move on.
I owe Franti that one.