"Beat Up Pushed Around"
Since I last posted I’ve been hanging and working at the farm, playing music, mourning a dead dog, and young pig, drinking good ale, spending time with Ma, loving and questioning life--its machinery, mechanisms.
I’ve been studying broken things, dreams, causes, outcomes and modern being. The more modern it is the more stuck I am. The more stuck I am...the more modern it gets. It moves regardless, yet can’t move without me to process it. All I know is when I’m dead I’ll exist in the memories of those who know me and when they die so will I.
I’ve never been in time. Maybe once. I don’t know. Perhaps in my 20s--rowdy as hell, ringing-and-a dinging, head slinging, long headed, limping into my 30s.
At any rate, it’s always been an ill fit. I want so badly to talk about how music has saved my life, and how I’ve never known or thought about anything else as a purpose. To this day, I am still driven to keep going, although it’s been a money loser, a dream crasher, a garden of frustration--in season most of the time. I figured a long time ago, I wouldn’t do this for money. I’d do it for art. I would express myself. I mean, I’m a dreamer, but to dream to make money was a bigger dream than I thought I could reach.
I would save the dreams for inspiration and ability. Money and security would come as a result of all the open-hearted effort. It could never be the reason. I settled for the cake without the icing. I’d like to have a whole cake, though. I really would. I am lucky to still be creating music and I do know it’s a work in progress and how "it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” The dream, the supernatural drag, creates the desire and the desire creates the dream. And, I’m a lifer.
So, I am proud of my latest work, “Beat Up Pushed Around,” (BUPA). I recorded it at Matthew Knights County Line Sound Studio, a little over a year ago, using his band, The Witnesses, composed of drummer Kevin Heuer and bassist Don McGraw, and the muscular bang of Knight’s guitar. It’s Knights who produced, mixed and engineered the effort. I want to say how much I value keys man, Brad Durden. I contacted Brad, out of the blue, after about 25 years and asked him if he would play on it. I didn’t think he would, but as I said to him, I thought it was worth a shot. And, it was. It’s his distinctive keys that make the record sound unique-especially his piano work, the Fender Rhodes rolling, rolling rolling. Brad is the key man for former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer, Artimus Pyle. Pyle was in the plane crash.
In comparison to the other work I’ve created since 2007, it’s the most I don’t give a damn, I have nothing to prove music I’ve ever written, composed and released.
A lot of the songs on BUPA are semi-true in content and the others are simultaneous musically and lyrically stream of consciousness work. “Stream Engine,” the album’s closer, started as I was putting up my guitar one night and it started hailing on the tin roof of the barn. I sat down with my guitar, strummed a G chord and was off to the races.
“There’s hail on the roof, hell down below, hell in the truth, hell on the phone..it’s hailing in here, up from the floor, it carries me home, straight to your door...”
What does it mean? I don’t pretend to know, except it’s a manifestation of me and the master who feeds me. I hate the word muse.
“Burning Man” happened the same way as “Stream Engine.” I was playing around with a cockney accent, ‘cause I wasn’t getting any writing done, and “Burning Man” came hot and quick interrupting the foolishness til we had written a proper song. It took as long to write as it did to dictate the master’s words. I know where this song was born, however.
I was playing a house party and finished my set. Everybody was clapping and cheering, a real thunderous reception. I walked through the crowd to a guy sitting on a couch, practically sitting on his hands. I told him, “Come on, man! Let’s go! What’s the deal?” He said later he felt as if he’d been assaulted. I didn’t expect his reaction and comment. I thought about it, though. It bothered me. Sometimes I do well telling myself, my thoughts aren’t real, they’re just thoughts. And, what of expectations? He didn’t have to respond to me the way I expected. It was on me. But, it bothered me. I found some peace in writing “Burning Man.”
The incident made me think about my place, who I am, how I appear and how I can’t help but be enthusiastic, although sometimes it alarms others; and the fear in knowing you’ve put all your eggs in one basket and you’re still carrying them around including the broken ones, the shells.
In “Burning Man," the protagonist sings to himself, slipping in and out of tense, as if singing into a mirror, reviewing life from the age of 17 to now. It’s a “you have no idea” song to those who tear others down. The master doesn’t always use proper grammar.
I got 17 candles
Ain’t got nothing to lose
All this painted glory
Time I could’ve used
Tell me, what would you die for
Every night you wake up and cry for
Every night I wake up and I take up what is mine, Lord
I should’ve known better than the truth
You know the writing’s on the wall
And, you got nothing left to burn
And, you got nothing left to learn
And, it’s all because of you
You settle for a flickering candle
While I hold a burning man
And, we’re made in the image of yore
Make it right, make it bright, brand new
And, you’re looking for something to follow through
Make it bright, sunlight, brand new
In your hand you hold a flickering candle
And, your light shines for no one
And, you’re looking for salvation
You got nothing left to lose
I didn’t settle for a flickering candle
While I hold a burning man
The guy on the couch held the flickering candle.
Not all the tunes are streamed from the heavens in one swoop, however. Some of them are inspired by true stories, such as “Beat Up Pushed Around,” and “Face Down in A Grocery Store.”
About 2006 I was going to N.C. a lot, looking for something. I still don’t know what I was trying to find. At any rate, I was engaging in some pretty risky behavior (before BP diagnosis). So, I walked into a supermarket, in Asheville, drunk.
In a nutshell, I challenged the store manager, and antagonized the stock crew until one of the crew began to escort me out of the store. Unbeknownst to me, another crew member came up behind me, as I was walking away, and grabbed my legs picking me up. Simultaneously, the guy walking beside me, grabbed my torso. Like a roll of carpet I was lifted by both men and slammed to the ground.
I stood up, with them on my back bringing the rest of the crew on top of me. The guy directly on top of me began to push, I mean, grinding my face into the grocery floor. I screamed for somebody to call the police. The crew held me down. All I could see was their shoes, boots standing around in a circle. I was happy to see the circle broken when the police pants and shoes walked up to my face. The weight on my back and legs lifted as the guys stood up.
Long story short: no charges, no lawsuit. I wanted to get back to West Virginia, the crew wanted to get rid of me-- ‘cause they beat the hell out of me. And, the cop, for whatever reason, didn’t care. I do remember the manager telling me, “all you had to do is keep your mouth shut.” I left as I came in, on foot, walking toward Beaverdam.
I don’t know why these events became this album and didn’t appear in any previous post ’07 work. I guess I quit pretending to be in time. It’s pure, in that sense. It’s a damned existential nightmare.
I remember leaving Asheville for W.Va. in 1998. I stood at the crossroads. I made the right decision, but every crutch i ever leaned on was kicked out from under me. I started a new life, though.
As I was leaving town I stopped to get gas. Pumping gas at the pump in front of me was a drywall man who had worked with daddy. I told him I was leaving. He grabbed his face with both hands in mockery, and said, “Oh, Richie, what’ll we do without you?” I laughed it off. But, it killed me. You see the world in your head and it ain’t always as the world sees you. As I pulled away, headed north, I wished I had said, "The question should have been: It’s not about what you’ll do without me, it’s about what will I do without you. And, the answer is... everything.” But, you always remember that stuff later.
The song’s protagonist is bullied. Ever had a pink belly? He's committed to a mental institution. On release, he walks back home singing the chorus to “Beat Up Pushed Around":
I’ve been beat up
Pushed around by every shit ass in this shit ass town
Oh, look at that shit ass go down
Just a shit ass in a shit ass town...
I don’t know what he does once he gets back home. I presume he’s looking for the bully.
This song earned me my first explicit rating. I’m not thrilled with it, but I’m not beside myself either.
I’d like for you to buy, donate to this album. It’d be nice to think decades of open-hearted, passionate striving would be worth the price of a cup of coffee.
Thank you, Richie
Samples From "Beat Up Pushed Around"
"White Man On My Trail"
"Face Down In A Grocery Store"
"Beat Up Pushed Around"
"I Can't Hardly Die"