Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues: Welcome to 2017

elvisThe new year arrived under threatening skies in Portland. Stark and wintry, wind-tossed wires slapping the living skeletons of the aged cruciform elms. I walked the dog and realized that 2017 marks the 100th birthday of the house our family has called home for sixteen years. The generations of folks in our neighborhood lived through a lot: World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, diseases, unexpected death, truly grim and awful shit. Surely we’ll live through the next four years, I told myself. The wheels of the republic never stop churning, we are Americans, we’ll soldier through Trump and his ridick fantasies of turning the greatest nation into a dangerous totalitarian kleptocracy. The nation will cough him up like an accidentally swallowed bug, wipe its mouth and get back to being the shining city on the hill. It always has, it always will.

Right? Right? C’mon people I need an amen here. Someone? Anyone? Aw man you gonna leave me hanging here? For reals? Shee-yit.

I’m listening to “Elvis at Stax” the great recordings from the late ’60s and early ’70s. Top of his game right then. An epic singer paired with a great band and a sheaf of great songs — rockers, ballads, mid-tempo confessions. Between-take chatter reveals the King in all his regal confidence and charm. “Damn these takes are going by fast,” he says at one point, then launches into Danny O’Keefe’s “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues.” The words, sung by Elvis with great tenderness, summons both Elvis’s short future and now this moment of history with alarming clarity.

I got my pills to ease the pain
Can’t find a thing to ease the rain
I’d love to try and settle down
But everybody’s leavin’ town
Some gotta win, some gotta lose
Good time Charlie’s got the blues

I’ll be back tomorrow with news about speeches/presentations I’ll be making in Cleveland, OH, Sacramento, CA., Washington State University at Vancouver, Wa. and in St. Louis, MO. in the next few months. But first, here’s the news from Good Time Charlie, and Elvis.

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