Why do my ears look so small? Who nose…

Not only am I and my songs featured in a fabulous new documentary. But the doc was literally made about a song I wrote and it’s premiering at the Nashville Film Festival Oct 2nd. 

I wrote a song with the Young Fables. It was good. They were great.

Shortly thereafter, their manager had an idea for us to write another song so he could film it. Start to finish. Concept to recording to album release. 

Sounded like a terrible idea. 

If I didn’t love Laurel and Wes of the Young Fables so much I would’ve said no. 

I’m glad I didn’t. The song we wrote is very special. 

And watching myself write a song got me pondering all sorts of important questions like:

“Why do my ears look so small?” 

(Who nose…)

But what was gonna be a short video about the songwriting process turned into much more.

Life dealt multiple heavy blows to Laurel and as a result, the song completely changed…without any of us touching it. 

The whole time, the camera was rolling.  What resulted is a remarkable film about our song. And a heartbreaking, honest, and inspiring peak at how precious life and love are.  

Here’s the trailer for “Fable of a Song.”

I drop the f bomb. Sorry, and you’re welcome…depending on how you feel about the f bomb. 

This is pretty cool:

1. Play dough was originally invented as a wallpaper cleaner. The slinky was intended to stabilize nautical devices on turbulent seas. And Coca Cola was invented as alternative to morphine. 

2. I love this 1937 headline in the New York Times: HEMINGWAY SLAPS EASTMAN IN FACE; Both Authors Agree on This, but Ernest Denies He Was Then ‘Stood on His Head’ RETURN BOUT IS SOUGHT Clash in Publisher’s Office Has to Do With ‘Bull’ and ‘Death,’ Both ‘in Afternoon’ Writers Compare Chests Hemingway Felt Sorry.

3. Speaking of headlines…A song I wrote with Stephen Kellogg called “Irish Goodbye” appears in the new movie produced by the Long brothers, “Lady of the Manor” out on Lionsgate. You can watch it in theaters and on AppleTV and Amazon Prime. 

4. I’ve been trying to write songs that our son will dance to. I’ve come pretty close with this new song I wrote that CB30 released called “Healthy.” They’re a really talented young pop/country duo under the mentorship of Luke Bryan.

5. Here’s a video of me performing an unreleased song, “Must’ve Missed Me” at the Red Clay Theatre. 

6. And “Always On My Mind”

7. And here’s a lyric video I made for “Back of a Drawer” out of post it notes.

Y’all good?
Let me know how you’re doing!

Beg your pardon Dolly Parton?

Our son won’t sleep. 

Late the other night I opened his bedroom door to find him staring at the ceiling. I asked him why he was still awake and he said,

“I’m thinking about Dolly Parton. I want to meet her.” 

The next night I walked in and he was standing up in his bed trying to put on the cat’s bow tie. 

He’s growing. We tell him “you’re getting so big.” And he’s worried that he’s going to eventually hit his head on the ceiling. I assure him that’s unlikely since I’m 5 ft 9 when I’m lying.

I can relate though. I remember obsessively watching every episode of Vh1’s “Behind the Music” carefully taking mental notes, worried that I might repeat the mistakes of the rock stars who had come before me.

Despite my preparedness, The universe had different plans. 

My Vh1 special would be more accurately titled “Behind: the music.” 

But I did get recognized in New York City one time:

I was in the city for a show opening for Madeline Peyroux and came in early for a mtg with my new managers. 

After the meeting and before the show I had some time on my hands, 
and a guitar on my shoulder, 
and a big heavy merch suitcase. 

I walked a few blocks lugging it all around and got really hungry as one does when walking and lugging. So, I squeezed into a convenience store to buy a snack. 

My money was particularly tight back then. If I had 2 nickels to rub together then I must’ve found a nickel on the street. 

I scanned the shelves desperately looking for something that didn’t require a bank loan and was just about to lose hope when I spied a favorite from my childhood: 

Canned Chef Boyardee Beefaroni.

My brother and I used to eat it while fishing with my dad.

It’s best enjoyed cold, straight out of the can. The “beef” is a bit unbeef-like. It might be people-roni for all I know. But the noodles have a perfect bounce. If you’re ever experiencing a sodium deficiency this is your meal. 

Anyway, I was sitting on my suitcase, on a sidewalk, on the upper west side eating Beefaroni from a can with a spork when I heard:

“Dean Fields!”

“Are you Dean Fields?”

Spork in mouth, I lifted my eyes from my can and met the gaze of the friendliest face I had seen in hours and said “ummm.”

“It is you! You’re Dean Fields!”

(I wondered how I should answer. How could this guy possibly know me? Maybe he read my receipt from the convenience store?
Maybe he’s a Nigerian prince looking to take me for the nickel I just found on the street.)

He went on:

“I love your music. I saw you play at UNC with Rusted Root, and at the Living Room…”

His story checked out. And he knew all of my songs. His favorite was Dandelion Rainwhich I hadn’t even released yet. 

He told me how he accidentally left my first album in his car’s CD player when he sold it. So he burned a copy from his girlfriend (and he apologized for burning my cd. Remember when that was a thing?) And he was really, really kind. 

We chatted for a bit l, I invited him to the show, and then he left.

And, I…was…friggin’…flying.

For a minute there I was Elvis. 
I was all 4 Beatles. 

Drunk on fame, I finished my can and spent the rest of the afternoon walking the sidewalks of Manhattan making eye contact with every single person just in case they might recognize me. 

These days…my goals have changed. Sure, I want to write songs and play them for you. 

But fame? World domination?


Now, I just want to be big enough to introduce my son to Dolly Parton. 

This is pretty cool:

1. Dolly Parton has sent our son a book every month since he was born. Her amazing literacy program, Imagination Station has delivered 150 million books to kids all over the world. 

2. “Where the Wild Things Are” was originally going to be “Where the Wild HORSES Are” but Maurice Sendak couldn’t draw horses.

3. Madeline Peyroux covering Eliot Smith’s Between the Bars is one of the best covers ever. 

4. She’s like a modern Billie Holiday. Who I can’t listen to without thinking about David Sedaris singing the Oscar Meyer song

5. Elvis singing the Beatles. And the Beatles singing Elvis

6. And to the fella from the sidewalk. I know you’ll recognize this story. I didn’t get your name. I was so struck with the sound of my own. But I’d know your face in a lineup. Holler at me and I’ll buy you dinner. I know a place in the city with a mean Beefaroni.

7. In case you missed it: Operation Pet A Duck

Y’all stay cool,

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Autocorrect ducked up my ship! (a song for my mom)

I used to run.
Fast. And a lot.

It paid for college and gave me some great friends.
But that was a lifetime ago.

Now I’m much slower and I exercise solely to make room for donuts and to turn my brain off.

Nashville has some of the most beautiful greenways and our old house was steps away from the trail head.

In the mornings I’d wake up before the sun, throw on my headphones and shoes, and hit the trail. 

I saw the same people every single day. 

We never said a word to each other (way too early for that). 

We’d just wave. 

And everyone’s wave was different:

There was Professor Deadpan who smiled only with his ears, dressed for work, and waved like he was swatting at a bee.

Jacques Cou-slow ambled along in a knit cap regardless of the weather and waved with a sideways karate chop that looked like he was petting a pony or saying “that’s enough.”

Eura Indaway, who’s dog insisted on walking her on the wrong side of the path, had a wave like she was saying “I’m 5 years old.”

My wave has always been a lazy, half-open peace sign. (More of a “little Bunny Foofoo” now that I think about it.)

When you wave to the same people every day you start to feel like you know them. 

I made the mistake of saying “Hey!” to Candace Cadaver-hand at the grocery store and she looked at me like I had 10 heads. 

It was suddenly clear that, no…we don’t really know one another. 

We just wave. 

Yes, it is cozy. 
But it’s a coziness reserved for sunrise on the trail. 

One morning I was running along the tall grass when an idea for a song shot me in the head:

I had…the best title…for the best song…ever. 

I unlocked my phone to type the golden title into my notes.

But Professor Deadpan was waving at me.

So rather than stop and type it carefully I just sort of blindly smashed it in with my thumbs while waving back at him and continuing to run. 

When I got back home my amazing idea for the best song ever was…lost forever. 

My phone had autocorrected it to read Her and Hymns.”

Luckily I knew exactly what that song would be about: My mom.

I brought the idea to my co-write that day with Michael White. And I am so ducking grateful for autocorrrect. 

Because we ended up with this.

This Is Pretty Cool:

1. A ring tailed lemur and a red river hog became mommies at the Cheyenne Zoo this week. Baby lemurs and baby red river hogs are pretty dang cute.

2. During my first ever writing session with Michael White I went on and on about an Alan Jackson song that I love called Dancing All Around It.
Michael was shoving 7 pieces of gum in his mouth which he tends to do while writing and smiled at me in a way that said “I have really fresh breath and I wrote that song.” 

3. My favorite of his songs is Raising Humans. It’s great. Easton Corbin recorded it too

4. I love this picture of my mom and my childhood dog, Buddy

5. Brian Thibodeau has designed my album covers and T-shirts since “Everything Just Happened…” We’ve been pals since 6th grade. Last year he painted my portrait over zoom while we chatted about lockdown, creativity, and family. It was part of a series he called “Quarantined Portraits.” He just published them all in a book. I love everything he creates. But these are really special. Portraits of people being listened to and looked at when we were all needing more attention and connection. 

6. Update: Toonces + Britney

Y’all say hey when you get a sec,

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My absolute worst, most terrible show ever :)

Next time you’re small talking with a musician – sitting on a plane, or standing in the exchange line at Wal Mart you might be inclined to ask:

“What was your favorite gig ever?”

(Opening for Rosanne Cash at the Birchmere.
She was great and gracious.
And the crowd was sold out and attentive as a fly in a spider web. 

Or maybe the time I played a festival in Cincinnati on a gorgeous day overlooking the river and my set was between Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson.)

But favorite shows aren’t where the stories are though.
If you want the good stuff you gotta ask:

“What was your absolute worst, most terrible show ever?”

I was playing at a bar in Hollywood Florida for 2 people: 
1. The bartender 
2. a guy wearing a vest with no shirt underneath. 

Vesty McChesthair, was the lone patron.
He was under dressed and over served but really into the music and wanted to chat with me between every song.
And sometimes during them.
I was playing Anymore when Vesty interrupted: 

“Man, this is great!
I’m promoting a show next week at a new club in Miami.
I’ll put you on the bill.
It’s gonna be huge!”

I knew the club.
I had just seen Rufus Wainwright there a week or so before. 
And I liked this guy’s enthusiasm. 
So I commited. 

Turns out that huge gig at an awesome club was actually a variety show promoting a new alcoholic energy drink.
I was literally performing on a go-go dancer platform. 

There was a guy juggling fire on another platform and a hair metal band playing the main stage – at the same time.

I felt like an asparagus salesman on free-scoop day at Ben and Jerry’s.

I offered to play catch with the fire juggler but he was watching the band. 

Afterwards, Vesty was thrilled and invited me to an after party that was going to be huge. 
I passed. 
Drove home and watched Golden Girls.

There was one time when I was paid to NOT play:

I had a gig in Philly.
The night before I was in Saratoga Springs.
So I Drove all day stopping only for coffee and gas.

(I always stop for gas in Jersey whether I need it or not because the attendants still pump for you there. Makes me feel like Gatsby.)

I sweated in Philly traffic and made it to the club with seconds to spare.
The owner met me at the door with a wad of cash and said “the Flyers are in the Stanley Cup.
If I turn off these TVs the crowd is going to kill me.”

I Checked into the hotel and watched Golden Girls. 

Then there’s the show in Atlanta when the headliner got sick.
So at the last minute they booked a rapping puppet. 
I opened for a rapping puppet. 



Whenever I find myself sleeping in my truck after opening for a puppet I try to remember what Rose said on Golden Girls: 

“When I was a little girl, and got depressed Grandma could always cheer me up. She’d take out her dentures, take a healthy swig from the aquarium, and then she’d put a flashlight under a chin, and we could watch the goldfish swim from cheek to cheek.” 

The next night’s show was awesome.
But the story will bore you.

This Is Pretty Cool:

1. Matt smith who runs Club Passim where I have had numerous wonderful shows – none of which involving a puppet, hosts a radio show and played my cover of Always On My Mind.  Have you heard it? Listen/Download it here.

2. Here’s Paul Simon and Dave Letterman talking about their worst show intros ever.

3. Penn and Teller tell a funny story about meeting David Allan Coe again for the first time.

4. John Prine co-wrote David Allan Coe’s You Never Even Call Me By My Name with Steve Goodman but John wouldn’t put his name on it because he thought it sucked. Here he is talking about it and playing it better than anyone could.

5. I love Rufus Wainwright’s version of his dad’s, Loudon Wainwright III’s, song One Man Guy.

6. And I love Loudon’s version of Daughter and The Swimming Song. The latter was Toonces’ first favorite song. It literally worked like a pause button when he cried as a baby. 

7. Here’s whats working for him now. You might want to try it for yourself.

Y’all good?

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Sometimes you just gotta lie to your kids

The moving company lost our stuff. 
Like…they had no idea where it was.

We got one of those POD things.
They bring it to your old driveway.
You fill it up, and then they take it to your new driveway. 

Simple enough. But…no. 

The company was very easy to reach when we were purchasing their service.
Super friendly and helpful. 

But when we called them to let them know our POD full of our stuff didn’t show up at the new place they didn’t answer the phone for 2 days.

And when they finally did answer our call they said  “ummm, we’re not really sure where it is.” 

It took them weeks, but eventually they did find and deliver it.

Moving is stressful.
Throw in a pandemic, a 3 year old, losing your stuff, 6 weeks at your in-law’s, and you will learn exactly what your significant other thinks about the way you chew and breathe. 

Everyday while our POD was MIA we’d stop by the new house to check on our cats, pull weeds in the flower beds, or whatever else we could think of as an excuse to spend time at our new home that we didn’t live in yet.

Our son, Toonces, immediately made friends with a beetle.
He spotted it the first day as it crossed the sidewalk very, very slowly.
It had a couple of wonky legs.
Still, this little fella appeared to be on a determined march.
By the end of the day the beetle made it through a patch of grass to the edge of the flower bed.

And when we came back the next day it was closer to the wall of the house.
Where it stayed for a week. 

Each day Toonces would excitedly rush from the car to see his friend the beetle, squat down in the mulch, and pet it’s back.
It just sort of seesawed under the weight of his tiny finger – back and forth between a wheelie and a face plant. 
Wheelie…Face plant…Wheelie…Face plant.

The second day the beetle’s ticker may have been still ticking.
But by day 3 its soul was definitely on its way to the ol’ flower bed in the sky.

Toonces called it his Dung Beetle. 
We didn’t disagree. 
I mean…Why can’t it be a dung beetle?
Shoot, why can’t it be a living dung beetle for that matter?

Sometimes you just gotta lie to your kids:

“You would hate this cookie.”

“Britney Spears wants you to poop in your potty.”

“A big bunny brought you a basket full of candy.”

“And a fairy will pay you for your teeth when they fall out.”

So we went along with it.
Everyday we were part of this “Weekend at Bernie’s” ruse:

Park the car.
Kneel in the mulch to see Dung Beetle. 
Say hi. 
Check on him a couple times. 
Rock him a bit. 
And say bye when we left. 

One day we showed up and he was gone. 

We told Toonces his Dung Beetle’s POD had finally arrived at its new dung beetle house and it had to hurry off to move in its dung beetle stuff.

We’ve told him worse lies. 

This is Pretty Cool:

1. If you’ve never seen a dung beetle in action you need to see this.

2. I zoom-wrote a song yesterday with my friend Jessica Roadcap. She and I wrote Back of a Drawer from a poem I had written years before. It’s on my latest album

3. We also wrote this song Distracted with her husband David Dorn. Still waiting on some big famous star to record it. 

4. I’ve always thought my Beatle was John. Toonces is more of a Paul guy. Here he is dancing to “Dear Boy” when he was a long-haired 1 year old.

5. Picking a favorite Beatles song is like choosing a favorite oxygen particle. But if I had to…its definitely Rocky Racoon. No, Penny Lane. Wait, no, Eleanor Rigby.

6. Did you know the Thong Song was originally written to a sample from Eleanor Rigby? Here’s a fascinating video about the creation of the Thong Song. Seriously.

Hope you’re good,

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“MERIWEATHER!” – this is a lousy story…

I read an article by a guru who swears by the strategy “under promise and over deliver.” 

As I understand it, the idea is to lower your audience’s expectations beforehand so that you can then knock them over with the result. 

Couple of ways you can apply it:

1. Tell your family “Dinner will be disappointing tonight.”

2. In bed, turn to your significant other and say “you’re going to wish you had read a book.”

3. When you’ve got a story to share, lead off with:

“This is a lousy story.”

Let’s give this last one a go…Onwards and upwards from here! 

The summer of our wedding was a long Christmas morning.
Except for the humidity, of course.
And Santa brought exactly what we asked for.
Annnnd we only asked for housewares.  

The postman delivered our packages to our condo’s front door. We didn’t use that door much because it opened into a hallway we shared with a trash room (where everyone from our building took their trash) and a door to our neighbors who we only knew by the smell of their cigarettes seeping into the hall. 

By June the gifts started showing up daily. We’d bring the package inside and tear it open to see what our friends and relatives had sent us. I’ve never been so excited about plates…that we picked out. 

One afternoon I came home to find my wife-to-be beaming through the patio glass with a look on her face I had seen only once before when she returned from running through town after eyeing a lamp shade made out of vintage photos of cats.

But on this day that glimmer in her eye was even more glimmery. 

I slid open the door and she said “which one of your friends sent us a squirrel?”
“A what?”
“A squirrel”
“A squirrel?”
“A squirrel in a canoe!”
“In a what?”

She lead me to the coffee table where there was a squirrel in a canoe. A real taxidermied squirrel holding an oar in a leather canoe. 

It was quite something.

Whoever stuffed this sucker really nailed the eyes. The emotion. The focused, far off gaze. The kind you’d need for a long, treacherous river journey. And the posture was spot-on for thrusting a canoe through the water.

We reveled at it.

We turned it around and awed from every angle.

And then…

We burst out laughing. 
For a long time.

We just kept looking at it, then each other, and then laughing. 

And we kept coming back to the same question: 
“Who do we know that would give us such a perfect wedding gift?!”

“Whose name is on the return address?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I just tore it open and left the box in the trash room.” 

So we walked out to the hallway into the trash room and retrieved the box. 
The return address was from a shop we didn’t recognize in Utah. Strange.

And then Carrie pointed out that the “to” address was not ours. But rather our smoky neighbor. 

Our hearts hit the trash room floor.

This was not our squirrel.
This marvelous seafaring squirrel was to live on the other side of our condo wall where we will never see him again. 

We took photos. 
We said goodbye.
And then we carefully placed him back into the pieces of cardboard that used to be a box and walked it into the hallway to make the delivery. 

We knocked…
No answer. 
(“If they’re dead we’re keeping the squirrel”)

There was a rustle. Then the lock clicked and we were greeted by a cigarette plume and our neighbor in his bathrobe and shorts. 

His condo looked identical to ours in shape but was decorated like the set of “Sanford and Son.”

“MERIWEATHER!” He exclaimed.

Our squirrel had a name!? Maybe we weren’t the only ones who loved him. Heck, we hadn’t even named him yet.

Perhaps Merriweather should live with our half dressed neighbor? He would be loved and could float on the seas of debris in his new Sanfordian home.

We handed him over and listened to how Merriweather came to arrive on our doorstep:

Mr. Sanford and his wife (she was either not home or had the decency to not answer the door without being fully dressed) had recently vacationed in Utah where she saw the rowing squirrel in a shop and with a look reserved for only this exact situation (and possibly spotting a lampshade made of vintage photos of cats) she let her husband know that it should and would be theirs. 

They bought it, named it, and asked the shop owner to ship it to their condo in Virginia to avoid smashing that cute little face in-flight. 

And if it weren’t for the postman misreading the address we never would have spent our afternoon with Meriweather. 

Nor would we have been treated to this story. 

Or you for that matter.

This is Pretty Cool:

1. Y’all wanna see Meriweather? His picture hangs in our son’s bedroom.

2. My pal Jeremy and I had post-college plans to either build furniture or float down the Mississippi Mark Twain style on a raft. Since we had never made furniture the raft seemed plausible. We learned a hard lesson about saying your dreams out loud. Pretty much everyone told us that was a bad idea. So he went to law school and I went to Grad school. They were wrong.

3. That same Jeremy texted me this week saying he imagines this is my inner monologue voice.

4. I’ve been reading PG Wodehouse and watching the final season of Schitt’s Creek. So these days my inner monologue actually sounds like a combination of Bertram Woosterand Moira Rose

5. Here’s 3 great songs about boats:

6. Have y’all heard my cover of A Pirate Looks at 40?

7. I started writing my song Anonymity that summer. It  was going to be my wedding vow. But something about “I’ll die If I outlive you” seemed like the wrong tone.
I wrote it and rewrote it countless times. Took me 6 years but I finally finished it for my latest album. I knew it had more to say…I just hadn’t lived it yet. 

Say hey when you get a sec,

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I liked you better when you were miserable (and other compliments)

So he said to me “I liked you better when you were miserable.” 

But, wait. I’m ahead of myself…Letting the stinger out before the bee, so to speak. 

Let me rewind…

I was packing up my guitar and getting the rest of my gear off the stage, when this guy walked up to me. Told me he had been a big fan since seeing me open for John Hiatt at the Avalon Theatre. Said he drove 3 hours from Annapolis for this show. I was flattered.

Since this was an album release show I asked “what do you think of the new album?” 

(I was thinking of the question as more of a “how are you?” kinda thing.
The answer typically being a reflex: “I’m fine. How are you?”
No one really says how they are.
No one really says “I slept poorly last night, paid too much for lunch, and got a parking ticket.”)

I was surprised by his response:

“I liked you better when you were miserable.” 

I don’t hide embarrassment easily. So I was simultaneously trying to redirect the red from my face while wrestling with mouth to keep it from saying “well, I liked you better when your voice was a mystery.” 

After a long pause he explained:

He’d had a rough year. And my own misery in the form of my 2 previous, sadder albums were keeping him company in a difficult time.
While I had recovered and moved on to write about how many spiders we eat while we’re sleeping and wanting to be the calloused side of Carrie’s feet, he wasn’t quite there yet. 

I get it. Whenever I bought a new CD the first thing I would do was skip to track 4 convinced it would be the best song on the album. Track 4 was usually the point where the band had played the upbeat opening track, then a couple of hopeful radio singles, and brought it down to do the more acoustic, emotional song. And what a drag it was when it wasn’t.

In the trail mix of music we all dig around for what we like. 

And I’m just glad you’re listening.

This is pretty cool:

1. Have you checked out the 360 view from the Mars rover? Our son will be upset to learn that it doesn’t look like this

2. Elton John singing an oven manual. But my favorite Elton John song is Love Lies Bleeding.

3. I’m watching the Sinatra documentary “All or Nothing at All” on Netflix. It’s him telling his story with interstitial performances of him singing favorite songs from his catalog on what was supposed to be his final concert. I prefer his voice when he was older. And I love Nancy with the Laughing Face.

4. John Hiatt was the nicest headliner I’ve ever opened for. My Favorite John Hiatt song is Crossing Muddy Water

6. “Letting the stinger out before the bee” – I made that up. Thought it sounded good. Just like in 4th grade when I asked my best friend to call me Casanova. His mom called my mom. I regretted it. I blame this song

7. Which is not a great segue way into telling you that I’m keeping a running playlist of the songs in these newsletters. It’s actually pretty good. Check it out on Apple and Spotify.

Say “hey” when you can,

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1-eyed dead fish in a pork and beans can

We moved.
Away from our old house where we lived nextdoor to Blair from The Facts of Life.

Nice lady, nice family. Other than spending her childhood in our television once a week, she’s totally normal. A model neighbor. 

It was impossible to walk by her house and not get the Facts of Life theme song stuck in your head.

I love our new house. Particularly the backyard that butts up against our pond which we share with our new neighbors. I can honestly say that I haven’t been this excited about anything since the last time I was this excited.

Every morning I look out the back window to see the ducks, geese, turtles, and whatever shit my neighbors’ kids have chucked into the pond. 

Yesterday I pulled out 3 tennis balls, 2 fake pumpkins, and half of a dresser drawer. 

Not the fishing I had in mind.

I grumble along the water’s edge cleaning it all up thinking “Blair would never do this.”

But if there’s anything she taught me it’s:

You take the good 
You take the bad
You take them both and there you have
The facts of life. 

I spent most of my childhood summers camping with my family on the Rappahanock river. My great aunt Mee Mee bought a boat when my great uncle Earl died and she loved to take us out fishing. We’d be up at dawn and come back in time to cook whatever we were lucky enough to catch. 

There was a lot of quiet out there on the water. But MeeMee and my Dad would interrupt it by trying to make each other laugh. 

I wish I could go back and smack the headphones off of my younger self on those days I brought my Walkman along; choosing to listen to Skid Row instead their stories. 

But I do remember her telling us how uncle Earl never caught a fish. He caught all sorts of cartoonish stuff: a boot, a cooler, an old rusty fishing pole.  But no fish. 

This one time though…his line took off like a firework. He shot up grunting and beaming about the river monster he was reeling in. His rod bent like a paper clip and the reel whirred until he finally wrestled it to the surface…

Sweating and panting he came to face to face with his catch:

a one-eyed, dead fish, in a pork and beans can.

It counts, as far as I’m concerned. 
(But it gets an asterisk.) 

This is Pretty Cool:

1. Octopus punching fish

2. “Bored” a poem by Margaret Atwood

3. Skid Row’s singer Sebastian Bach played Gil on the TV show Gilmore Girls which featured music by Sam Phillips. My favorite Sam Phillips song is Reflecting Light.

4. Here’s 3 great songs loosely about fishing:

5. Tom Waits’ song about his neighbor – What’s He Building?

6. Last week I zoom-wrote a cool new song with my friends William Clark Green and Ross Cooper. Our last song, Goner went to #1 on Texas radio and only existed because I said “hi” to a stranger.

Say “hi” when you get a sec,

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I killed Midnight Von Halftail

My album Under A Searchlight Moon turns 10 this week. 10 years…that would make it a 5th grader.

In 5th grade I was the new kid. Being a new kid is a lot of pressure:

If you make the pretty kids laugh you’re golden. 
Accidentally let your lunch speak while stretching in gym and you’re done. 

I remember 2 things about 5th grade: my teacher’s kids called their grandfather Donkey (Donkey?!?) 

And I killed the class pet. 

Our room had a black gerbil with half a tail. Its name escapes me. But being the new kid, I was tasked with taking it home for the weekend. 

Its travel quarters was a precarious combo of a rusty bird cage without a bottom on top of a cafeteria tray held together with 2 bungee cords.

Night 1 was a success. Midnight Von Halftail slept, exercised, and ate like gerbils do. The next morning I took him out to stretch. 

He never made it back into the cage. 

In my defense…the process was not unlike trying to change your car’s oil…while holding up the hood…And it’s in neutral. 

The whole family searched. But after 2 days without a sighting we knew what we had to do:

Go to the pet store and find a black, half-tailed gerbil. 

They’re not as common as you might think. 

So on Monday I delivered to the class their brand new pet: a blonde and white hamster that I named Twinkie. 

Who doesn’t love Twinkies?!  

(Don’t blow it kid.)

This is pretty cool: 

1. The Moon has a tail.

2. How the ancient Greeks knew the earth was round by using “sticks, eyes, feet, and brains.”

3. I need to clarify in Tongue Like A Hammer when I say: “belly button fuzz and your hip hop name.”
That’s MY belly button fuzz and HER hip hop name. 
Her hip hop name being “Malik the 5 foot freak” named after Phife Dawg in A Tribe Called Quest.
My favorite Tribe song is Buggin Out.

4. Here’s the largest collection of belly button lint in the world.

5. Under a searchlight moon would be far less cool without the production and friendship of Trey Pollard. He released a gorgeous album of his classical music that I love.

6. Here’s a Twitter thread of classical music used in cartoons.

7. I rewatched the video for Forever Never Knowing for the first time in 10 years. That was the day I dressed up my newlywed wife like a horse to dance around with me in front of my friends for the album cover. 

Say “hey” if you get a sec,

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It’s Bitney Bish!

Our son loves Britney Spears. He’s devoured all of the hits. Now he’s into the remixes.

He knows all the words…phonetically. For the most part he has no idea what’s she’s saying.

Unfortunately, along the way, Britney Spears taught my 3 year old how to say…

the b word.
The _itch word.
The bitch word.

He says: “It’s Bitney Bish”

Makes me think of Neil Young…

I was 14 when my sister got her drivers license. She got a car and the chore of taking me to school with her. I didn’t always appreciate being able to avoid the 45 minute yellow bus ride. And on one particular morning I was not in the hurry she was in. 

I mosied into the passenger seat and while I lazily fastened my seatbelt she hit the gas and began to let me know what she thought of my tardiness. 

We lived in the goondocks. The roads zigzag like Elmo’s EKG. Some time during her speech a thought entered my brain that I decided she should know. I’m not sure if I said she was a bitch or acting like a bitch but those semantics didn’t matter to her. 

She completely let go of the steering wheel. (This was long before Teslas) And with both of her hands she made my cloudiness of judgement crystal clear. 

Most of her punches landed on my shoulder and the car seat. But her point was made.  

Then with her hands back on 10 and 2 she gained control of the vehicle. I’m not gonna say who was crying but we both were. 

Neither of us said a word the rest of the way to school. Just the occasional sniffle while Neil Young’s Harvest Moon played in the tape deck. 

This is pretty cool:

1. Trombone til the cows come home

2. My favorite Neil Young song is Out on the Weekend

3. I love Emmylou Harris’ version of Neil’s song Wrecking Ball

4. My otherwise kind, loving sister’s favorite song of mine is Pretty Girls.

5. I love these 2 songs and I have no idea what they’re saying: El Invento Juan González and Ne Me Quitte Pas Nina Simone

My favorite Britney Spears song? Jury’s out til I hear every…single…remix.

I’ll let you know in a week or so 🙂 

Y’all good?


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