So, when my son Jude was growing up, I took him to lots of concerts, early on, and always had music going in the house and car. But I never really wanted to push my guitar “thing” on him, since of course, he’s to be his own man. I did keep him going on piano lessons for a pretty long time, he played clarinet in band and he was into both to a fashion, but after high school, he didn’t pick them up much on his own. Which is fine. Then, lo and behold, this summer, he asked to play my guitar(s), which evolved into hours a day, which involved me going halves with him on one of his own to take to college. It’s wild to hear him playing and singing from the other room, well, like me at that age. He’s really enjoying it and quickly improving which as y’all know, is what happens when you put the time in.’
Also, as part that bug, Jude wanted to go back and visit Sun Records again in Memphis, his last week of summer vacation. It had been ten years since the last trek and even longer since I recorded there with my band, Bucket Number Six. Of course, it’s still cool and unchanged, even if that isn’t true of the rest of us. Some flipbook snaps of he and I here (2011 versus 2022).
Joy Harjo is the current and first poet in residence at the Dylan Center, but her artistic cred goes much deeper and wider, having just finished three terms as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States (2019-22) – the first Native American to hold this honor. She is also a Tulsa resident and citizen of the Muscogee (Creek Nation), and her ouvre covers poetry, nonfiction, and music. I have her “American Sunrise” collection, but was happy to run across a shelf full of signed works at Magic City bookstore, so I picked up her memoir “Poet Warrior” and latest CD “I Pray for My Enemies”.
At the Dylan Center, there is a reading nook with a typewriter, curated by Ms. Harjo. It’s a space where people are invited to stop and reflect, think, and engage. Circling back through the museum a second time, I noticed a woman on the typewriter, engrossed, typing away. She was there some time and it reminded me of how we are all links in a chain, separate but connected, in this case, following from Rimbaud and Guthrie to Dylan and Harjo to a visitor who may be planting a seed for the future. Or at least, for the moment. And, that’s really what it’s about, being part of that pool of individuals bearing witness to our singular and shared experiences.
Count me among those who really dug the new Elvis biop. Yes, I was leery of Baz Luhrmann, and yes, I wondered what could they add to the mythology. But, somehow Baz’ style was perfect for the tale and Austin Butler was phenomenal as Elvis. His portrayal and the film as a whole, brought the humanity back to the King, after too many years of caricature, in my opinion. I’ve always felt for Elvis. I mean, he really invented an art form. Yes, I know there were folks playing some “kind” of rock before him, but he was the first to bring together this odd stew of country, blues, gospel, and R&B and turn it into what we know as rock and roll, and on a level that took it from roadhouses to stadiums. He turned the whole picture from black and white to color. Yet, I think in many ways, he just did it intuitively. And there was no playbook to follow, he had no bandmates (like the fabs) to help support him, no longstanding producer -no one. He was out there on his own. And, I think he suffered for it, ultimately.
I have to say, too, a lot of folks dismiss him or write him off as racist for “ripping off black music,” which also isn’t the case. The truth is he did a lot to open the doors, as sort of an unintentional civil rights pioneer, breaking barriers through the music, and in many cases, bringing attention and dollars to folks he admired. Back in the day, they said if a songwriter got an Elvis cut, the return would undoubtedly buy a house. But, also, music isn’t race based. Ray Charles did country music. Duke Ellington played classical music. The jazz cats loved Debussy. Today, everyone uses hip hop beats, it seems, while also, still borrowing from the Beatles and Dylan. It’s a melting pot, like what America is supposed to be. And, when Elvis hit like something from outer space, America became cool, all over the world. He encapsulated an intangible sense of possibility, although like the country, his later years would reveal the dark side of that dream.
I’ve had many Elvis moments myself, being fortunate enough to record at Sun Records with my ol’ band Bucket Number Six, and of course, many years later, taking my son to visit the important sites (throwback photos included). FINALLY, it was also great to see Jimmy Bowland, my brilliant sax playing pal, who played on my last couple records, on the soundtrack credits for the new tracks they cut right here in Nashville at ol’ Studio B. Jimmy said Baz was a peach.
So, over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to garner a few awards for my cds and books (Nashville Music Award, Independent Music Award, Independent Publisher Award), but NEVER two for one as with last year’s “Ten Seconds In-Between” collection.
Yep, last year it bagged the Royal Dragonfly Award for Best Collection of Short Stories, 2021, and just now, a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Medals are in the post, which I will wear around my neck ala Flavah Flav, at my next live performance.
This is no mean feat, as the competition is plentiful Of course, you knew this, having read the book. And if you haven’t, well, check out the link. Thanks!
Happy to be part of the Summer 2022 edition of “Whimsical Poet: A Journey of Contemporary Poetry,” a fine collection edited by Sarah Altman and available at Amazon for purchase (link right here). Other poets included are Teresa McLamb, Bruce Parker, Kim Malinowski, Stan Sanvel Rubin, Kate LaDew, George Kramer, Stephen Cavitt, Maureen Sherbondy, Daniel Gonzalez, Jason DiFlippo, DS Maolalal, and John Stocks.
My contribution is the following piece, titled “The Osprey” – enjoy, and then pick up the journal if you can, for the whole sha-bang.
The Osprey (Doug Hoekstra)
On a broken log by the water The waves hold up a mirror The elderly couple walk together Gingerly on the sand, always in step Nothing but time. Ahead. Behind
I sense something, hear nothing. Look up. An osprey spreads its wings Glides. White, with brown spots It coasts to its destination. Silently.
Like a Zen master, a fount of wisdom Coming from the east, heading to the west Reversible toes, laser eyesight, super power The good sense to say nothing When nothing needs to be said