Why I am writing this blog.

Lad a dog When I was probably four years old, my grandfather gave me my first real book. Not a silver dollar thick, illustrated children’s book, but a real hard back. Admittedly, one meant for young readers, but a Real Book. Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune. I carried that book around for the first 25 years of my life until it was finally lost being shipped back from Europe by a government mover.

That book started a love affair that is still going strong 50 years later. I love to read, and am never without a book. In grade school it was juvenile baseball novels, adventures about people from history, Edgar Rice Burroughs-John Carter and Mars series. I graduated to Mark Twain, Dickens, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Maugham , Dos Paso’s, and on and on. I have played shortstop for Duane Deckers Blue Sox, I have trout fished with Hemingway in Spain and loved a woman named Brett Ashley , I learned just how deeply a physical  handicap could mark you from Phillip Carey,

On these pages I’d like to share books I am reading now or have read in the past. I hate to call it a review, since I think a reviewer would probably write about what he didn’t like as well as what he did. I don’t have time for that, and my mother taught me, if you don’t have anything good to say…you’ll only read about what I like here, sorry, but you can still get the NY Times Book Review if you want to see some poor bastard get lambasted. Also, I seriously doubt if I’ll be critiquing the books. I’m not going to tell you about plot foibles, weak character developments, or any of the other buzz words you have to get  a masters degree to use, when you can’t write anything nice. Don’t look for a synopsis either. I’ll be telling you about what I enjoyed, a tiny bit about what the book is about (but no spoilers here) and what I truly enjoy about the authors. I’ll usually have four or five books on the page and either links to those books on Amazon or links to the authors web site. These are what I am either currently reading or what is on deck. Once I am finished with that book, I’ll publish my opinions on that book under the Book Review link (for lack of a better description). Then I will put up the next book since I am like a junky and need to know where my next “fix” is coming from. I usually have at least five books stacked up. Obviously, the views expressed here are my own and are no guarantee you will like the same things. These views are also not meant as promotion for these books, just my opinion, just the things that moved me in some odd way. Oh, unless you are a current student, then they are mandatory reading!

Ray_Charles_1960s The second reason I am writing this blog is a love of music. Growing up, from my father, I heard Glen Miller, Artie Shaw and other swing orchestras. From My mother I heard Jim Reeves, Hank Snow and Johnny Cash. This doesn’t sound promising for a future rock n roller. But dad also had Louis Armstrong and mom loved Ray Charles. From there I synthesized  a love and fascination with jazz and blues that migrated quite naturally into rock n roll. 

Then in 1963, my mothers brother, my uncle Chuck, 8 years older than me, was singing “Do You Want to Know a Secret” one morning in the shared bathroom. We only had one back then and it was up hill both ways to school too. Later, walking to that school, up hill naturally, I noticed that every single telephone pole had a poster on it advertising Beatle Boots and Beatle Wigs. Pretty soon I was sneaking into my uncles room and listening to his Beatle albums. I was hooked. With my very first paper route money I bought Rolling Stones (first album), Beatles Please Please Me and some singles by The Zombies, Herman Hermits and the Kinks. I had been invaded. That lead to The Mamas and the Papas, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Steely Dan, Dire Straits, Green Day,  and so on.

Somewhere around 12 I decided I NEEDED to learn to play guitar, I wanted to be as cool as all these cats. I wanted to stand on a stage an smirk at all those girl and guys that thought I was a skinny nerdy kid. I was a skinny nerdy kid, but that wasn’t the point. My mother bought me an accordion (well, maybe that was the point)…you couldn’t be cool with an accordion. I “accidentally” left the accordion on a bus bench after learning Elephant Walk at class one day. Around 15 I saved my money and bought a Horner acoustic guitar and set out to be a rock star. What I did was learn three chords and how to make noise. I gave the guitar to my sister when,at 17, I joined the army and went to Vietnam. After 11 months and many misadventures in that beautiful country, I was sent to Germany. Started hanging out with an old master sergeant that played in a country/rock-a-billy band and we’d sit around his barracks room and he’d try and teach me to play. I could make noise real well by now. One night, his band had a gig at a local German club and his bass player had an accident on the way there, so he handed me the bass and explained that the bass guitar was like the guitar but with four strings and tuned the same as the top four strings on a guitar. Magic! he gave me one last piece of musical advice that proved to be invaluable over the years, he said, "Bob. Don’t try and sing. Not even a little back up. I’ve heard you in the showers. Don’t even hum." He would call out chords and I’d play that note. All "Ones" all night. But I tried to keep the beat and I didn’t sing…or hum…but I bobbed my head real good. Well, that was the start. I finally taught myself to play proficiently, if nor brilliantly. Then I taught myself to read music. It was a magical mathematical language and just reading music could make me cry, make me laugh, it was euphoric, being able to understand these strange little symbols.  I still play the bass today and love music. 

I’ll do the same here for music and musicians as I intend to do with books. You’ll probably hear about artists you have never heard of, and that is a shame because they are all fine musicians. Most of them play music because they HAVE to, it is there in their hearts, their minds, and their soul if not their pocket book. Again, if you want to hear about the top ten or the latest boy band, buy Rolling Stone or Billboard. If you want to hear about guys and girls that can move you with their music, well, you might just learn something here.

Same deal. I’ll have some albums up of what I am spinning at the moment. Links to the artist page or to the Amazon (or appropriate site) where you can buy those and learn more about them. I’ll also be writing a blog entry under the Heading of Albums about why I like them, and probably what they mean to me and about the artist.

 

Me

 Third reason I am here. I have spent a career as a techie. Electronic Engineer, migrated to the I.T. world in ‘82, I’ve taught off and on at the university level. But throughout my life I have dabbled in writing and music. Its been my therapist, my confessor, my best friend. I’ve written and published short stories, poems and articles on music. I’ve also played off and on in bands and some small studio projects. So, now that I am loosing my sight, I want to write and I want to get better at my instrument. There’s not much call for blind engineers, so lets do what you always enjoyed anyhow, says the muse. So, I’ll not torture your ears with my endless practicing, you’ll have to go to YouTube for that, but I will bore you with my writing. I’ll be putting up poems and stories from the past, and new stuff I am working on now. I hope you find something redeemable in it, but if not, well, take solace that it keeps me from trying to memorize eye charts so I can get a drivers license again! So, flatter me, it’ll keep the road safe!

Seriously, I hope you find it enjoyable, and I would appreciate any comments you might have. I’m not a critic and don’t want to write criticism , but regarding my stuff, I appreciate any criticism, tips, advice,  you might have, so please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail or follow me on FaceBook, my FB Badge is somewhere on the left, just click on it.

Lastly, if you are a musician or an author, famous, infamous, want to be famous… or not, and you think I might like your stuff, send me a link to where I can read it or listen to it. If it turns my crank, I’d love to mention you here.

 

Thanks.

 

Robert  Carraher
The Dirty Lowdown
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