I’ve decided, while stuck here at home, to get into a new business.
I am writing short vignettes about rock stars. Sort of a Reader’s Digest version of them. The best part is…..I’m making it all up!!!!
It goes so much faster that way!!!!
Here’s my first one:
In the years to come, little Ian Hunter could never remember whether it was the music from next door or the wet diaper that woke him up.
Still wearing a diaper at the age of fourteen was bad enough but to need one because of raging teenage alcoholism was doubly troubling. He could never depend on getting through the night without a gusher erupting.
He remembers how he focused on the sound coming in through the window. Little Mott heard the band in the neighbors backyard. Mott was the nickname his parents, Ethel and Julius Hunter, gave him. They had three dogs in a row named Mott and when the third one died they couldn’t bear getting a fourth dog so they bestowed the nickname on Ian. It comforted them to yell “Mott” and have something show up for dinner, even if it was just Ian.
His best friend, Larry Hoople, was out there with his siblings again. His four brothers and two sisters had formed a musical combo and were wailing on this warm spring morning.
Mott listened and thought to himself…”not bad…but that lead singer is terrible. I could do better than that!”
But first, a fresh nappie.
If anyone has suggestions for future episodes…please let me know.
Gary “Dickens” Burr
At the end of the first week of August I have a show to perform in New Hampshire. That means I have to fly. I could drive but I’d have to leave today to get there on time.
No such luck. The show is with my band Laurel Canyon, the CSN tribute band with Mark Hudson and Mark Mirando. It’s a blast to do these shows. The songs, the harmonies, the hang…all wonderful. The downside is: I am going to have to get on an airplane. I truly thought that by the time flying became an issue for me, the pandemic would be a bit more in our rear view mirrors.
I am not freaking out per se about the show. It will be one of those outdoor, drive in shows. Everyone in the audience will be in a car. We are going to tell them, in lieu of clapping, to turn on their windshield wipers. The sing-a-longs will get a little tricky. Maybe they hit their horns instead of singing.
But now I have to get there.
I am a cautious man. I have no doubt that I will do my part to keep myself safe. Unfortunately, judging from our infrequent trips to Publix or Lowes….Tennessee still has an impressive number of morons who don’t dig the whole “science” vibe.
So I am going way over the top.
I got one of those disposable suits to wear on the plane. Actually TWO. When I land, I strip and dispose, baby!!! I’ll keep my ID in a plastic bag. I’ll have a carry on so no one but me ever touches my “stuff”.
I won’t eat. I won’t drink. I won’t talk. I used miles to go first class so I have a little more room. I bought a visor and will wear a mask as well.
I will be unidentifiable. I will be….safe?
When I get there, the three of us will keep our distances and refrain from eating in restaurants. It seems that New Hampshire is a pretty safe place to have a show (if you had to choose) so that’s a plus.
I guess there is a chance that everything could blow up again between now and August 7. Maybe New Hampshire will not allow Tennesseans into it’s borders thanks to the above mentioned morons. I admit it will not break my heart if that happens and circumstances beyond my control dictate that the show can’t happen.
It would suck cause it’s a good money show and I am ALL about the dinero.
If anyone has any horror stories…lay ‘em on me. If any of you have words of encouragement…ley ‘em on me. If any of you have any recipes for a nice casserole…lay ‘em on me.
You got till August 7th to talk me out of it or help me sleep at night.
We had a band but nowhere to play. If we were going to unveil our new group we would have to take it into our own hands and create a place to play.
One of my high school classmates was hurt in an accident and Dean suggested we put on a benefit concert for him. And we would be the headlining act!!
So the first time I ever play out in public was gong to be in my High School auditorium in front of 500 people. I did not have a great history in this auditorium. I had tried out for every play and talent show my high school ever put on and never got selected for ANY of them. The only time I had been on the auditorium stage was a concert we put on for our parents where I played “God Bless America” on a baritone horn.
Now I was backstage peeking thru the curtains to see if anybody actually came. I knew my Mom and Dad were out there. I knew my brother Randy and his wife Pat was out there. I told myself it didn’t matter if we had a crowd or not. But I couldn’t resist. I peeked out and saw the auditorium was full. I pooped my pants. Just a little. In show business it’s considered good luck. Some say “Break a leg!” Some say “Stain the Trou!”
Dean was in charge so he herded everyone out to their positions.
I went out, put my guitar over my shoulder and stood nervously behind the curtain. We were starting with “Mare Take Me Home”, a Wildweeds song written and sung by Connecticut legend Al Anderson.
The curtain rose, Dean counted off…and I started my music career. I thought we sounded great. I have a cassette of the show…whoever recorded it missed the opening numbers. It only captured a sampling of the middle of the concert…but the vocals sound great. The only instrument you hear is my cheap acoustic guitar with the pickup in the hole. This is what the show was:
“Kind Woman”…a Poco song that I sang. Funny how it’s a song that is very much dominated by steel guitar but Eddy wasn’t playing steel yet. In a year he would switch.
“Down By The River” by Neil Young. This began my lifelong obsession with imitating Neil.
Rocky Racoon (Beatles) sung by our bass player Dennis O’Neal
The JONI MITCHELL version of Woodstock!!! How cool were WE?
Then we brought out Paul Kroll and he sang with us…this was considered quite a coup. It validated us to have the BIG folk singer in town deign to perform with us.
With Paul we did:
“For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield
It took a while for this song to get going because you can hear Eddy replacing a string that broke during Woodstock. Between songs was always dead silence only slightly interrupted by us tuning…always tuning. My Dad drove me back up to WPI the next weekend and his only criticism of the show was “Don’t tune so much. It makes you sound amerish.” To this day I use that phrase and it makes me smile. “Let’s not play that…it makes us sound amerish.”
“Bluebird” by Buffalo Springfield…a train wreck. A very ambitious train wreck…but a train wreck. The end of this record has a banjo in it. John, our sound guy, made me a little stomp pedal to make my acoustic guitar sound like a banjo. I stepped on it and the guitar just sounded like….the same guitar… only cheaper and thinner.
“Handsome Johnny”….this was a song Richie Havens sang at Woodstock…I knew this one…I heard it at Woodstock and so did Paul. I can slightly hear the band playing behind him but it’s mostly just Paul.
“Coming Into Los Angeles”…Arlo Guthrie. I fell in love with it at Woodstock so I made sure our band learned it. Paul knew it so we let HIM sing it here. I was generous in the years before I became bitter.
The last song on the tape is “Helpless” by CSN&Y. Not a bad version. Once again it’s me doing Neil.
That’s all that’s on the tape. I kind of remember that we took a little break and came back with Paul and me singing Mr. Bojangles.
I’m not sure if we sang anything else together. We ended the show with “I’m a Man” by Chicago and had everybody that wanted to jump up on stage with us. Dean’s girlfriend Cindy grabbed him around the neck as he played and screamed about how great the show was. Our friend Chris Lippit grabbed percussion and played along.
The audience went crazy and the curtain came down. I excused myself and went and changed my pants.
“He’s no fun…he fell right over.”
Well, I did it.
I booked the session for this week. This Thursday we go in and start the record. MY record.
I went with a very stripped down band. I am not even sure what songs I am going to record. I have been writing like a fiend these days. I’m trying to stick to songs that I wrote by myself or wrote with Georgia. We have plenty of those. I have a couple of contenders that I have written with other people. One of them might slip in.
I figure I’ll do about seven songs with full band and then two or three more just acoustic, recorded here at the house.
I usually wait until the record is done before I decide on a name. I wrote a song about my Dad’s business that might make the record. My Dad had his own electrical contracting business the whole time I was growing up. I even worked at the family business for a few years. I was suppose to take the business over at some point but music got in the way. My Dad fought off the unions his whole career. He had a non-union shop but paid his guys really well and was beloved by them all. When his heart started to go bad he sold the business to his foreman. Within a year the union came in. Within another year Burr Electric was out of business.
I was thinking I might call this record Burr Electric.
That would work, right?
The record is a lot of songs played electrically with a band…so…”Burr Electric!”
I’m a clever little willy, aren’t I?
By the way…I really enjoy writing these blogs. I am not sure what I expected them to be…or DO for me…but I am finding it very cathartic to share my thoughts like this. Even when those thoughts are dim and inconsequential.
My Master Songwriting Class is coming out soon. I will be sending out all kinds of emails about that. I like to think that the class is totally separate from my Monday Musings. The musings were not setting you up to be pummeled by requests to buy my class. If any of you want to learn how to be songwriters…you’re going to be given that opportunity soon enough.
If you think to yourself…”Hey! He’s only been sending me these blogs so he can sell me something!!”
I beg to differ.
Picture it like a bodega with a gambling parlor in the back. You can browse around the bodega. Buy some baklava. Buy some gum. Who doesn’t like gum?
While you are shopping I might, in passing, mention that there is a card game in the backroom if you are interested.
That doesn’t make my gum any less delicious. Or my baklava any less flavorful and dripping with honey.
My Musings are my bodega.
My Songwriting class is the poker game in the back.
I hope that clears it all up for you.
I will let you know how the session goes in my next musing.
The day after the session I head to Chicago to play with Laurel Canyon, my CS&N Tribute band with Mark Hudson and Mark Mirando.
Somewhere in the middle of all that my class comes out.