Saturday, January 28, 2017

I don’t know where we went wrong . . .

All of my life I’d wanted a piano. I have no idea why, but they have always called to me and I’ve always felt that it was a most impressive and beautiful instrument. Now when you grow up dirt poor, in a one room cabin without plumbing (yes, that means without even a toilet), it’s kind of unlikely that you are going to have a piano. It was only at great effort on my part, and with the help of a wonderful old man, that I bought my first guitar as a teenager and taught myself to play it as a consolation prize.

Okay, so now we fast forward about 30 years and I’m all growed up,  I’ve got my own home with in-door toilets I might add, and so I went out and bought myself a used piano! Of course I still aint exactly wealthy, so that sumbitch went on a credit card, but hey, I digress. . .   
Besides the credit card payment, the bad news here is that a love and admiration of the piano does not equate to skill and talent on it. So yeah, I’ve got a piano of fair quality now, but I’m not about to claim that I can actually play the damned thing. I don’t have the time for lessons or anything like that, but I’ve been playing around with it now for a few years and have even managed to make somewhat pleasing sounds come out of it once or twice. Often, I’ll be messing with it and do something completely by accident that sounds neat, and then I have to spend an hour trying to figure out what I did and try to replicate it. Something much like that happened about six months ago, and so started my first song with lyrics that was created on the piano.

I can’t speak for anyone else that writes songs, but I don’t really care to try and be creative in front of an audience. Creating a song involves lots of trips down the wrong street, lots of trying words and notes that don’t work, and lots of playing parts of the song over and over while trying to refine it and get it right. Well, a full size piano is not something that you just casually pick up like a guitar and trot into an empty room with for privacy, so yeah, my family had to listen to this over and over for months while I was thunking it up. Then, when I at last had the song created, they again had to listen to it over and over and over while I recorded it on my Multi-track system. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a special recorder that basically turns your home into a mini recording studio. A simplified explanation of the system is that you can record something like a piano, then play that recording back. While that recording is playing, you can then record your guitar on a separate recording (track). You then play both of those recordings back, and record your vocals on another track. Then, you play all of that back while recording something else. You do this on and on until you run out of “tracks” to record on – hence the name “multitrack” recording for the process.  Using this process, a single person can put together an entire song all by themselves, but there are a few drawbacks to it:
1-Very few people that I’ve ever actually met can play a wide variety of instruments really well. I’m sure that there are a few freaks . . . err . . I mean really talented people out there that can, but I aint one of ‘em.
2 – Different people bring different perspectives and “visions” to a song. I think that in most cases, these different qualities bring a vibrancy and life to a performance that a single person can not duplicate regardless of their talent with multiple instruments.
3 – Recording a song where you play all of the parts requires playing it over, and over, and over, and so everyone in my home has had to hear my songs hundreds of times while I was writing and recording them. Even if a song was of the caliber of Ludwig Van Beethoven's 5th Symphony (no, I’m not making that claim) you would come to HATE it after hearing it so many times. More or less, everyone in my household, including me, has come to hate every song I’ve ever recorded.

So, here is my latest song, and the only song that I wrote and recorded solely on the keyboard. I hope that you like it because God knows I can’t stand it now. Fair warning – y’all know darn good and well that I am Transgender, but if you have only seen my photos, this might be a bit jarring. 😀  Also, if you pay close attention, you will hear a female voice once or twice in there – that’s my daughter Audrey!  👧

 Things are relatively slow for work right now, but I have made a few service calls. I took a trip up to Tulsa Oklahoma to perform preventative maintenance for a customer up there. Roughly mid-way between Austin and Tulsa is the Choctaw Casino where I often stop to make a modest donation. I’m not much of a gambler, but it’s a convenient place to stop and stretch my legs on the 7 or 8 hour drive.

I draw the line at about $40 and kind of figure that this is a more or less reasonable fee for an hour of entertainment, and what the hell – there is always the chance that I might actually win something. Well, this time I was down to only $10 of the $40 left when I hit three bars and won $40. If you did that simple math, that means I had almost lost my money, but was now up by a modest $10. Feeling relieved that I hadn’t lost money after all, I cashed out and continued on to Tulsa where I checked into the remodeled Holiday Inn Express there.  

Yeah, I wasn’t real fond of this color of green back in the 70’s when it was first popular, and I find that I am no fonder of it today. While I was working with my customer, he asked me if I had asked the Holiday Inn to give me the special rate that he had negotiated for his company. I told him that I had done this once or twice in the past, but that I hadn’t done it this time. He got kind of a grin on his face and then explained that he had this agreement with the hotel because a good friend of his used to be the manager there. For just a second, I was concerned, since I have checked into this hotel many times over the years, and have on occasion told them who I was working with. If his friend was the manager when I had checked in on one of these occasions, there was a really good chance that she had probably said something to him about me. Then all of the sudden I decided that I really didn’t give a shit. I’m getting old and tired, and am finding it harder and harder to get worked up over things like this. Either he knows I’m TG or he doesn’t. I guess it’s up to him to decide if this is a problem for him or not.

In the interest of full disclosure, I stopped at that Casino on the way home too, and this time they got the whole $40. Damn it.

Next, I headed off to a service call an hour or so south of Shreveport Louisiana.  I started to laugh when the GPS guided me off of the paved roads and through miles of dirt road through the woods. I hadn’t realized it when I headed out, but I recall visiting this customer a few years ago. It’s the only time I’ve ever worked on an $80,000 Infrared Spectrometer, outside, on a hand poured concrete pad.  Git ‘er done!

On my flight home, I had to catch a connecting flight through the Atlanta airport. Yeah I know, it seems kind of silly to have to fly all of the way from Louisiana to Georgia in order to get to Texas, but hey, I didn’t design the airline system, I’m just stuck using it. So anyway, as I enter the gate area, I noticed two beautiful young ladies with beauty pageant sashes across their blouses. They were sitting on the floor and leaning back against the wall. I didn’t want to look like I was staring or anything, but I figured they were wearing the sashes for a reason, so looked at them long enough to read them; Miss Alabama and Miss Teen Alabama! Yeah, I know all of the arguments about how these pageants exploit women, etc, etc, but still – I am suitably impressed and strike up a quick conversation with them.
“So are you competing for Miss Alabama or are you the current Miss Alabama?” I asked the woman on the left.
“I am Miss Alabama and this is Miss Alabama Teen” the older of the two replied for both of them.
“That is SO awesome! Congratulations!” I told them, and then immediately got onto facebook to brag about having met them. Of course everyone on Facebook started giving me hell, saying that it didn’t happen if there were no photos or videos to prove it. Yeah, I rose to the bait.
“Excuse me?” I asked the two, when I noticed that they weren’t talking for a moment. “Honestly, I’m kind of bragging on Facebook about having met y’all here, and I’m getting shit for not taking a photo to prove it. Would you mind if I take your photo and share it?”
They both laughed, and despite the fact that you could see they were both tired, they rose and stood just so I could take their photo. So here is to Miss Alabama and Miss Alabama Teen, who were both gracious to an old fart with a camera:


  1. I appreciate your tale of creativity. I am an actor and have tried writing a play or two. It's dang hard!

    And for the record, as I get older my attitude mirrors yours in this incident - hard to get worked up.

    Thanks for continuing to share your experiences. I will be making my first venture into the casino "pretty" in mid Feb with a girl friend. Since it's Feb 15th, she's calling it our Galentines Day Outing.

    1. So when it comes to your pending visit to the casino, should I say "good luck" or "break a leg?" :-)

    2. Lol - I'll accept either. Truthfully I am more concerned about what to wear!

  2. Back in the day, when I had pretensions towards serious Music College I spent a lot of time, and a lot of money working out that I can't play the piano! These day I just stick to things with Bass in the name.

    1. Yup yup! I'm pretty sure that you have to start YOUNG in order to get your brain to do one thing with your left hand, while the right does something totally different. MY brain is not up to the task

  3. Love the song as well as the blog, keep it up. hugs

  4. I loved the song. Sad--but a good song. Keep it up.
    Yellow Mustang--yes! You are on the right track.