Music has shaped who I am. I barely know New York City but the Drifters are in me; the Big Thicket of east Texas not at all but George Jones shapes my days; I do know the near west-side of Detroit where John Lee Hooker stomped the boogie. Music and places, and the shapes of trees in fog at midnight in north Mississippi and woodsmoke hazing the telephone poles in the part of Virginia where that state meets Tennessee and North Carolina. America is the forge of the greatest music I've ever heard and I'm always looking and listening.
My family was my father's job, moving around the middle of the country like a drunk crossing that midnight street, and what we heard on the radio united my brother and I, as well as dividing us from my parents. You couldn't hear 'I got nothing Ma/to live up to' (Bob Dylan) on the radio but you could buy it at Crowley's department store.
My dad bought me my first guitar and that was the only time I heard him play. Fifty years later he liked to sit and listen to me practice and I like thinking about that. We shot straight pool and we were both fine with Billie Holiday on the box. My mother liked 'I Left My Heart In San Francisco', and my brother and I later lived there. I learned the guitar going to coffee houses and watching Doc Watson, Joan Baez, and Tom Rush. I began singing and writing, and I'm not sure about the singing but the songs were bad.
Rock and Roll was different in that you could lose yourself. I've never tired of Buddy Holly, and Elvis-- don't get me started. I still do those songs, and people light up. It's not me. If you did them they would as well. My songs these days are OK and I like doing them. You write, get a publisher, people respond, and one day, in the company car taking the mail to the post office, you hear yourself on the radio. It's not the Drifters, but it's a thrill. I work every day on the guitar. I deeply identify with something Eric Clapton said about the Delta bluesman Robert Johnson: 'I have lived with that man every day of my adult life'.
I hope we meet and have a time. Thank you for taking the time. Have a blessed day.
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