My Old Man

This next new release is a song about my dad; it’s called My Old Man.
...Listen to it here

My old man was born in 1943
While his old man was overseas
Fighting in the big one; Shooting at the Nazis
He grew up in Akron Ohio
Went to the same high school as David Allen Coe
But his buddy Bob was his favorite country music singer
He started drinking PBR when he was 15
With a pack of Pall Malls rolled up in his sleeve
He wore his hair slicked back and always had his sideburns low
He had plenty of jobs because he loved to work
He once was an ambulance driver; he was even a soda jerk
Until he started up his own Aluminum siding company; Back in the ‘60’s
When I look back what I always remember
After his long work day him sitting at the table
In his plain white t-shirt and a pair of Dickies work pants
He had these giant work boots, I used to put ‘em on
I’d run around the house with them flappin’ along
It never seemed I’d ever get big enough to wear them shoes
He loved to sit at a Barstool with all of his friends
Shootin’ the bull about how things used to have been
Tellin’ those same old jokes that were funny every time
Although I was just a kid, he’d take me along
Had me queue ‘em up; all his favorite songs
After he loaded me with quarters for the jukebox and the pinball machine
He loved Hank Williams and Johnny Cash
And Elvis was king no disputin’ that
Hank Thompson, Johnny Horton, Loretta Lynn,
Heck, all of the good ones
Things were pretty good and they should’ve went on
But life has a way of knocking us down
And those good old days turned into this sad country western song
I got a little older, and we butted heads
I thought I knew it all and hit the road instead
Years went by before we were able to patch things up
But even then I didn’t see him much
Which was a dang shame cuz I liked that old cuss
The world seemed right just knowing that he was around
But those Pall Malls finally took his breath away
And they tried to cut him back to just one beer a day
But he was gonna gamble for as long as they’d let him stay and play
He never did fold, he always went all in
But in the end the house always wins
The stakes are Rich and we’re all gonna run out of chips
On a cold March day we said our goodbyes
With my funeral suit on and a tear in my eyes
I wish we could’ve had just one more for the road

   I started writing this song for my dad, back around Christmas 2009.
   It was going to be kind of a funny song, because he was quite a character!
   I thought maybe I’d record it for him as a Christmas gift, but I didn’t get it done, so I figure I’d finish it up and get it done in time for his birthday in May (2010).
   Unfortunately, he got sick… for the final time.
   He passed away on March 19th 2010, about 2 months before his 67th birthday.
   As you can imagine, this song did not get finished that year.
   I didn’t have the heart to work on it anymore.
   I felt bad for all of the time we had missed together over the years; and not getting his song done in time…well that was just one more thing to make me feel badly.
  But finally, a couple of years later right around May of 2012, I got to thinking about this song.
  I decided it was time to finish it up.
  The entire ending had to be rewritten of course, and what was once a comical song, now turned into something much different.
  The final verses actually came pretty quickly to me this time, and I feel like these are some of the best lyrics I’ve ever written.
  Who knows, the old man may have helped me along a little bit with the ending.
  It sort of felt that way when I was working on it.

   Now, other than all that, the toughest part of writing this song, is that my dad was such a character that I had waaaaayyy too many stories to fit into a verse structure of a 2 or 3 minute song (in fact, this song is over 4 minutes long; which is much longer than most of my stuff)
   From the minute I started writing this one, I had page after page of words... which had to be whittled down and distilled to get to an actual song.
   Each line of this song to me is the launching pad for a story; and I had to cut out so many stories that never made it into the song. 
   Like, how many kids get to ride with their old man to pay off a loan shark named Nick the Greek.
   Or get to hang out at the race track and help their dad pick the ponies.
   He told me stories of the brand new Ford Galaxy he had before I was born with a Police Interceptor Engine; or working on a construction job back in the 60’s when he and his buddy decided to jump a fence to pet the cows in a pasture next door. Unfortunately these cows were BULLS!...they were running for their lives!
   I could go on for days…
   From the get-go when I decided to write this song, I chose this sort of country western talking blues style of song structure.
   My dad always loved songs like this; some of his favorites were “A Boy Named Sue” or “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash. Also, all of the Elvis songs where the King would just speak a verse like “Are you Lonesome Tonight”
  I think he would like this one.
  I wish I could play it for him.
  Maybe I will someday.
   Now one thing I will always remember about this song, (and which is also an absolute highlight of my music career) is the first time I played it at a live performance.
 (I put off playing it live for a while, I wasn’t sure how it would go over in front of an audience. Most of my stuff (up until then especially) is pretty high energy.  A lot of short, fast, fun/ funny, songs. Also, I wasn't sure if I could make it through the lyrics without choking up.)

   Well, we had rolled into Philadelphia to play at the world famous Shore Road Tavern.
   This was our first time there, and our first time in Philadelphia.
  (I’ll be writing a blog about the Shore Rd. Tavern in the future, so I won’t go into it too much here, but it has been one of my favorite all time places to visit and play a show.)
   Anyway, when we got into town we didn’t know anyone, and the night started off kind of slow, but I ended up playing 4 one hour sets; so I was reaching deep in my bag of songs to keep them entertained.
   There were a lot of great people we met that night, from Mike and Kathy who own the place, to Awesome Bill and Loki, and Smitty and Mike, and all of their crew.
   These guys were raising some hell… they were swing dancin’ with their girls... they were grabbing up Jean and swing dancing with her, they were heckling me… making me play hilarious songs like OMB versions of Flock of Seagulls and Safety Dance… Just a great time.
   So, in the midst of all these drunken hell raisin’ shenanigans, I decided to try out my new song “My Old Man”…very unsure of how they would react, and unsure if I could even get through it without getting choked up.
   As I got into the first verse, the place went silent.
   All of these big tough Philly guys with their gals moved closer to the stage.
   We were all locked in and connected during that 4 minute song.
   When I finished, there was a round of applause
   (And I did get choked up on some of the verses at the end.)
   I’ll never forget that…

  For the recording of this song, I used my late 1930’s Kalamazoo Archtop guitar that I found at Barn Treasures, which is a really cool place, sort of an Antiques and Salvage store in the Canal Fulton area of Ohio.
   I ran direct into the board, and also mic’ed it up close to the f-holes with my Shure-55.
   On the bridge sections of the song, I used a brass slide, which I made by cutting up a pipe I got at Home Depot one day with a hacksaw.
That’s about it
See you all soon out there on that road