Summertime usually dredges up old memories, good and bad, but occasionally it is the opposite; something else brings back long gone days of summer.

I sprinted home from school in the one hundred plus degree weather the last day of school in 1977. I was a skinny fourteen-year old that just squeaked past my freshman year. My brother was waiting for me at home, my parent’s house. Home for him was a 22′ travel trailer he pulled behind his new Ford F-150 four wheel drive pick-up.

My brother and two other guys lived in the travel trailer on job sites up and down the west coast interstates. They built truck stops. As small as that trailer was, a fourth person in it made it feel a little like the inside of a sardine can.

Everybody can point to a specific time in their life when they grew up. I don’t mean mature and wise, some of us are still working on that, but the time we finally measured up. For males, it’s considered the time, “A boy becomes a man”.

It didn’t matter that I was smaller and weaker. When you’re on a job and getting paid, even if it was against the law due to age, you gotta pull your weight. Especially when an older brother that gets you the job expects more out of you than the average punk kid.

Mishaps happen with youngsters… especially on job sites. I got caught between the handles of a wheel barrel full of wet concrete tipping over more than once. It’s like getting body slammed by Hulk Hogan. I hit one of the guys in the head with a pick on a full back swing, but only once. That dull “Thud” still echoes in my ears.

I shoveled so much concrete off the back of a 2×4 screed board I dreamed about it. And somehow, no matter how hard I tried to prevent it, I always ended up with concrete inside my concrete boots.

But those memories didn’t come back to me this summer that dumped me back in ’77 until I heard a song.

We worked like desperate people because we were, but we still took Sunday’s off.

Roger had a canary yellow Chevy Monza with a v-8, along with a stereo that was a teenager’s idea of heaven.

It didn’t take long to memorize every word to Bob Seger’s Night Moves album. But it was the song by

long gone days of summer

photo courtesy of wikipedia

Boston I heard the other night that shot me back to the summer I became a man.

“We were just another band out of Boston, on the road tryin’ to make ends meet”. That band used the memories of difficult times to motivate themselves. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s what I’d be doing most of the days of my life to come.

Difficult times and struggles are gifts. Not all bad things are bad. They can be as powerful as jet fuel. Perseverance doesn’t come from being comfortable. And, “There is no increase in strength without resistance”. It’s God’s design.

He can use anything in creation to remind us of that fact… even a Boston song and the long gone days of summer.


“I ain’t like that no more,” my buddy said. We laughed. It’s a line from Unforgiven, a Clint Eastwood movie. We both laughed because we know that people don’t change, not without Divine intervention anyway.

It ain't like that no more

image courtesy of photobucket.com

But there’s another part of us that doesn’t change, it can’t. That part of us is woven, or “knitted” into us, into our DNA. All of us have inside of us what makes us – us. Some people call it, “The way we’re wired”.

I believe each person is uniquely gifted by God to be contributors in society. Some use their free will to deny their gifts or use their weaknesses more than their strengths.

I have a brother that loves to hunt. Works out pretty good for us, since he’s willing to share what he takes. I kinda liked hunting as a kid, but have only done it a couple of times since. It’s not my thing.

I have another brother that loves to use his hands to build things. He’s been that way since we were kids. He could put a model car together in minutes. I only built one model. I smashed it to pieces when I couldn’t get the wheels to stay glued in place.

I do get the “building things with your own hands”, I’ve done it most of the days of my life too. The gratification is unparalleled.

I have a sister that could sell ice to Eskimos and has never met a stranger. The latter she gets from my mom. I don’t have the gene that makes me want to talk to everybody, but once I do get started, I can yap with the best of ’em.

I’ve shared some stories about my grandpa, my dad’s dad. He was a poet that was trapped, most of his life, by poverty and cotton fields. He had a propensity to drink and fight, but don’t all of us have our demons to contend with?

The truth is Troy loved music. And he didn’t have to be drunk to appreciate it. It was how God made him, the thing that couldn’t be changed.

I’ve heard it said that being drunk brings out the true heart of a person. That’s probably true. But I think it’s fair to say the same is true for other things. I believe money and power bring out the true nature of a person in much the same way alcohol does.

We all have gifts and we all have weaknesses. We’re all like that shiny nail that gets bent. Once it bends, regardless of meticulous re-straightening, it bends in the same place over and over… just like we do.

We have the good attributes and the bad. The part of us that is made in God’s image and the fallen flesh it battles. Our nail still tends to bend where it always has. We also have the good and honorable gifts. The two will forever be at odds till our soul is released.

I’m pretty sure the folks that feel compelled to tell you, “I ain’t like that no more,” are trying to convince themselves.


Mathematics was a necessary evil that didn’t come easy to some kids. I was one of them. But words came easy. While math was a painful chore, reading was a walk in the park. Creative writing didn’t come as easy, still doesn’t I suppose, but the process of creating is gratifying.

Not all words are created equal. Our best words probably aren’t going to earn you or me a Pulitzer Prize, but that doesn’t mean our words don’t have a purpose.

Some of my words lately have taken a detour. They have a different sound, but a similar purpose; to prod emotions out of the hearts of others. Their purpose is to make others think and relate similar feelings of their own lives and circumstances.

These words I’ve been creating in some ways are easier, but in other ways a whole lot harder, specifically setting the rhyming words to music.

A father's Pride

creating is a gift from God

Music is magical, spellbinding. Especially when it’s mixed with words that speak to our hearts. I’m not saying my words are magical, just music in general. I can say that mine, whether rhyming or not, are from the heart.

Here’s a song I wrote lately. The tempo is similar to Neil Diamond’s “Morningside – (For My Children)”.

“When he died
I silently cried
I couldn’t hide
The tears were justified

Years roll by
We sometimes cry
I can’t deny
I struggle to see blue sky

Although he died
His legacy cannot be denied
A man whose lips never lied
The Father’s pride

Oh, Dear Lord
It’s like my heart’s been pierced by a sword
I recall the man that everyone adored
… his soul has soared

Though life is sad
I was blessed to have the dad I had
The life he lived was full and dignified
The Father’s pride

Although he died
His legacy cannot be denied
A man whose lips never lied
The Father’s pride”

There you go. Not grand, but real. If and when I get music set to it I’ll share it here.

Where are your words taking you?


He was born about an hour from where I was. A little southwest of Little Rock, down Interstate 30 in Arkansas. I was five years old when his first hit, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, hit the airwaves. Long before he or I actually lived there. He doesn’t live here anymore… Glen Campbell died this last week. And it’s been Gentle On My Mind.

Living life in the spot light has to be difficult. Fame has its price with plenty of trappings along the way. I appreciate the price Campbell paid, ’cause I appreciate his music.

Gentle On My Mind came out that same year as By The Time I Get To Phoenix did in 1967. Wichita Lineman followed in ’68 and Galveston in ’69. His mid-seventies hits, like Southern Nights, Country Boy You Got Your Feet In LA, and Rhinestone Cowboy were pretty good, but those first hits are so memorable for me I even have them on my I-Pod.


What most people don’t know about Glenn Campbell is that he was considered to be one of the top five guitar players in the world – country or rock. Eddy Van Halen tried to get lessons from him.

Before he was a household name, Campbell played guitar for lots of other folks. People like The Righteous Brothers, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Roger Miller, The Monkees, and The Beach Boys. He even toured with The Beach Boys for a short time after having played on the albums that made them famous.

Campbell had his demons to fight. And he did most of it in the spotlight. Drugs, alcohol, a weakness for women were his demons, but in time, and with the help of God, he beat them. His unlikely local pal Alice Cooper vouches for him.

Deep into his battle with Alzheimer’s, his family supported and guided him. He toured right up till the end and released his last album, a farewell record titled “Adios”, on June 9th of this year.

Even with his mind slipping, a guitar in Campbell’s hands was like breathing. His fingers did what they’d always done; use his God given gift of music and playing guitar.

A lot of people speculate about which musicians we’ll get to hear again in heaven. Glen Campbell will definitely be one of them.

Glen Campbell is a good reminder for all of us. Despite his flaws and shortcomings, he grasped God’s amazing grace.

Those famous lyrics are now for the Father,

That YOU’RE waitin’ from the back roads
By the rivers of my memories
Ever smilin’ ever Gentle On My Mind


They said he cried. It was hard to believe, but I chalked it up to him being on a drunk. He’d been living with his youngest daughter and her husband. I was glad he wasn’t living with us.

My aunt didn’t have any kids, which made her home suit my grandpa a whole lot better. Not to mention, alcohol wasn’t allowed in our, my mom and dad’s, house. I didn’t know it at the time, but that ruled our grandpa staying with us, after my grandma passed, out of the question.

Grandpa bounced around a bit. He stayed with a select few of his nine kids, on and off, daughters only. His drinkin’ and lifestyle would eventually wear on his daughters patience, even the drinkin’ one.

Retirement didn’t suit grandpa. So, eventually, he drifted back to the place he’d cussed and cursed all his life. Back to the place he’d blamed all of his ills on; the cotton field.

Sometime toward the end of his golden years he did his last stint with his youngest daughter; my aunt Sharon. The family figured that if anyone could handle Troy, it would be Sharon. She was tough as nails and twice as sharp. Sharon was the type of woman who could make a seasoned sailor blush. Her scowl was scarier than a rattlesnake.

on a drunk

my brother, grandpa holding my brother’s oldest, and my dad… 4 generations.

Troy didn’t like people and tolerated family. His Cherokee brown eyes burned at the edges in golden flames when he was on a cuss laced rant about the numerous subjects that didn’t square with his world. That’s where Sharon learned it… I thought.

Troy wasn’t a gentle man. he was hard to the core. He didn’t show emotion often and when he did it was after he’d been drinkin’. That’s how we knew he loved music. Music and booze. That’s what he loved for sure.

I didn’t mind hearing Troy blow a hurricane through his harmonica as he stomped the earth in time. But I never knew my dad’s dad was a writer until I found out about the night he cried.

My hot-headed aunt, who was a chip off the ole block, was fed up with her dad’s drinkin’ and coming home late. She threw Troy’s belongings, that fit into an old suitcase and a couple of garbage bags, out into the front yard.

It was a rare Southwest desert night with the type of winds that made tumbleweeds famous and a rain that rivaled Noah’s. The wind and rain stole and or destroyed Troy’s writings. He slumped in my aunt’s front yard and cried. Someone told me some of his songs were ones he’d written for my grandma.

That was one of those rare moments to glimpse the soft side of a hard man.

Funny how people choose to see in themselves what they want…

Even when I was violent, impatient, angry and mad dog mean, I never considered my grandpa’s genes. They skipped a generation, you can ask my brothers and sister. I guess that’s one of the reasons we can be blinded to our own shortcomings. That, and not seeking wisdom from God.

A loved one destroyed a piece of Troy, even if he was on a drunk, maybe the best part of him. I get why he cried… now.