Archive for October, 2010

In honor of the start of the World Series..

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

A song I wrote in 2005 that I still perform live from time to time.

The Show

Can’t lift my arm to comb my hair
just one more game to get back up there
fastball dragging some at 85
slept in ice the entire 12 hour drive
we come overnight from Omaha
with that hanging curve sticking in my craw
out in front he ripped it down the line
and for me it was miller time

The kids they all call me old man
I try to help ’em when I can
sometimes I catch ’em when they stare
they’re thinking what the hell were you doing up there?
about the show this much is clear
it’s better up there than it is down here
went into Wrigley and I mowed ’em down
and I was the talk of Houston town

just one more day in the show
to savor when I go
if you let me grow old I’ll do it gracefully
paint the corners black just wait and see
down here time moves so slow
just one more day in the show

I could make that radar gun dance
going every 4th day without a backward glance
6 and 2 by the end of May
everyone lining up to hear what I had to say
in Philly I landed funny off the mound
that’s where I heard the popping sound
now it was cortizone and daily mass
with a fastball that couldn’t break glass

Lost 7 of 9 thowing mostly junk
mopped up a few when my sinker sunk
then they sent me down hoping for the best
5 years on I still can’t rest
I go Thursday night in Abeliene
with a lot of phone calls in between
my little girl says daddy when you coming home
I tell her sweetheart I just don’t know

just one more day in the show
to savor when I go
if you let me grow old I’ll do it gracefully
paint the corners black just wait and see
down here time moves so slow
just one more day in the show

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The Shillelagh Demos (get ’em for free)

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Stream online

Download for FREE

01. I’m Bound
02. Shine On
03. Strip It All Away
04. Suburban Love
05. Then You Walked In
06. Paddy Says
07. I’ll Do Right by You
08. Music Can Break Your Heart
09. High School Heroes
10. Dave Grohl
11. Take a Walk
12. State of the Union
13. Rock Record
14. Our Only Chance (Is That You Feel the Same)
15. Hand to Mouth
16. The Jukebox Knows
17. The Devil and Chuck Berry

all songs by Tom Flannery
copyright 2009

recorded July, August, September 2009

Ok, here’s what I remember. It was spring of 2009 and I was flush with cash. I had a hidden envelope stuck inside a book on my bookshelf and I kept slipping money in there. For a few years I was doing it. I was gonna make a rock and roll record. With a rock and roll band. Had the studio lined up. Was getting a great deal. The boys were ready. All top notch talent. I already named them. The Shillelaghs. Visions of the Warped Tour danced in my head. The bus. Jimmy Kimmel live. Conan. Groupies. Smashed guitars. Fishing out hotel room windows.

The band heard the songs and were looking forward to some mindless bashing (the songs weren’t exactly complex..three chords and a whiff of ozone). I had written a pile of tunes with screeching guitars and pounding drums playing in the back of my head. My head was playing them really loud too. It was as much fun as one can legally have with a guitar and legal pad.

Had that yellow legal pad and took it everywhere with me. Lyrics were pouring out. When I ran out of space on a page I wrote sideways along the sides. Didn’t want to be wasteful. I wrote songs about teens and booze and girls and music and filled them with angst and stolen riffs and cracked vocals. The lyrics still only exist on that legal pad. I never transcribed them, which is why this is the only record I’ve released that doesn’t include links to the lyrics. They’re in my desk drawer.

And then…..when all was right with the world…..I noticed the envelope had about $20 left in it. Apparently I’d been dipping over the years and was taking out more than I was putting in. By a wide margin. So I broke up the band I had never played with, bought a few sets of strings and some guitar picks, and was dead broke again. Familiar territory. I put the songs aside and wrote “Pete Townshend’s Ghost“, which I still think is the best thing I’ve ever done. So in a way I’m glad it all turned out the way it did.

But these songs. Hmmm. I like them. Rough and sketchy as they might be….filled with flubs and sorta-tuned strings and rock star name dropping. They’re positively warped, mind-bendingly simple, and at times completely incomprehensible. And I’m giving them away for free.

So what’s not to like?

In a bit…


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Hibernation and exploding leaves

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I think part of what it means to grieve is having the bad memories obliterate the good ones. It’s like being stuck in deep mud. Not only does spinning your wheels do no good, but anybody who gets close is splattered. It’s not much fun being around somebody who is grieving. Party invites are rare, and when you sequester yourself in the corner nobody is in a hurry to ease you back into the middle of the room.

And it can be selfish too. What are we really missing? Perhaps the ease in which the departed could solve our own maze of problems? We want them back…but on what terms? Or who’s?

Alzheimer’s is an awful disease. I miss my father desperately. But I need to remember that it hurt more watching him suffer through it than it does seeing his empty chair. There’s no more pain. There’s no more confusion. There’s no more fear. I’ll never forget that look in his eye. The eyes can’t hide fear. Damn the eyes anyway. They are indeed windows.

But I’m not special. And my situation is not unique. That’s difficult to remember sometimes when you’re busy working on  hibernation. It’s hard enough when hibernation comes naturally.

The leaves are exploding. At their height now. I can stand on my front porch and see mountains that look like they are on 5 different kinds of fire. It can be breathtaking. There is beauty in the world. Yes. Still.

Soon I’ve pick up the guitar. Creeping that way. The songs are there. The guitar tries to hide behind the chair but the neck sticks out. I see it. All the time. Like the leaves.

In a bit…


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Remembering Drinking With Nick Drake

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Has it been 8 years already? Had a bunch of songs but no money. Made the decision to record solo acoustic in an old church with my friend Lorne Clarke working the mics. A freezing cold winter night with ripping winds and spooky sounds creeping under the doors. Did it all in a few hours….in the order the songs appear on the release. It was a very interesting time. Wars were both kicking off and imminent. Everybody was scared. I was a bit over-caffeinated and writing like crazy to keep the blues away. The songs are kinda all over the place….but looking back I still think they belong together.

Can’t remember how many copies I had of this, but they’re all gone so I’ve been offering this as a free download. Consequently, it’s my biggest “seller”. Funny how that works.

Give a listen here.

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What it could stand for

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s a blitzkrieg of negative political attack ads. They run right after each other too, which can be bewildering. One minute a candidate is accusing his opponent of being a diabolical tax and spend goat fucker, and the next moment the aforementioned diabolical tax and spend goat fucker is accusing his opponent of kicking jobless people in the teeth to keep corporate interests happy.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, if you can wade through the slime. Chris Carney is my DC rep, but I’ve never supported him since he supported the war. But to vote for a right wing crazy like Tom Marino is repulsive to me. So I do believe I’ll sit this one out. I no longer care much about the democratic process, since it doesn’t really exist. These guys are all bag men for corporations in one way or the other. And while I think it was both historic and proper to vote for Obama, if only to keep Sarah Palin on the lunatic fringe, I’m plenty pissed off that he hasn’t done more…or less depending on your point of view. Bailing out the stupid greedy fuckers on Wall Street wasn’t exactly what we put him in the Oval Office to do (nor putting in charge of the US Treasury former Wall Street hacks and expecting different results. That is the very definition of insanity). And what could have been a monumental universal health care bill was gutted by so many republican hyenas that what we’re left with is hardly FDR-ish. We’re still illegally detaining people in Cuba. We’re still waging a war.

The economy being in the toilet scares people. Fear is what drives the crazies to the front of the line. Obama inherited an 8 year spending orgy that would have made Reagan blush. But Obama is the new face. And like it or not, it’s his mess now. And he’s getting the blame. Is it fair? Of course not. But it wasn’t fair that Reagan got credit for freeing the hostages either. So it works both ways. A dog shits on my floor…guess who gets to clean it up?

Fox News. Limbaugh. The “Tea Party”. This right wing noise has always been with us. In various forms. From Father Coughlin to McCarthy to Goldwater to Nixon to Reagan. Put Spiro Agnew in drag and what have you got? Sara Palin without the good legs. Being a student of history, none of this surprises me. Hate sells. Always has. And it’s good theater. Say what you want about a gas-bag like Limbaugh. But he’s good at what he does. He knows his audience. He dumbs it down. Nobody on the left can touch him….because the left insists on explaining things. Who’s got time for details when you can just scream “socialism” in a crowded theater? It matters little that someone like Sara Palin probably can’t actually define socialism. I doubt McCarthy could define “communism” either. All that matters is that what they are talking about is them. It’s the ones who look different. The ones who talk different. The ones who interfere with the price of doing business. The ones who dare ask pesky questions.  You know, like “why”?

I really don’t think on this much anymore. I used to be a political junkie, but in retrospect it seems only because I was utterly transfixed by the sheer balls of a guy like Dick Cheney, who pissed on the Constitution with the same regularity he collected draft deferements…..and still maintained that anybody who disagreed with him did not love America. It was all a bit like slowing down to a crawl on the highway to inspect an accident. I feel almost guilty for getting sucked into it actually.

Thanfully that nightmare is over, but we seem to be mired in yet another. Just watch the ads. I’ve completely lost faith in the healing powers of politics. If in fact it ever had any. I used to think it mattered. The words. The impassioned plea’s. The pomp of it all. What it could stand for if we were even aware of what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”

But then…Lou Barletta and Abraham Lincoln? In the same profession? It sounds perverse. And you know what? It is.

In a bit…


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I miss them

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

In my 20s I used to dabble in drink. Maybe more than dabble actually. I took to it like a whale to water.

I’m not in my 20s anymore….a good thing for my liver. But while I was I had a main watering hole. And I met some extraordinary people during my time there. It’s been said that God loves a drunk. If so this place would have warmed his heart. It was kinda like the bar in the Star Wars movie. Only more colorful.

Tonight I met up with an old friend, who informed me that 2 of my old drinking partners, each of them not too much older than me, are now deceased. I was stunned.

Everybody dies. That’s one of the indisputably shitty things about life. But when people you used to drink with start dropping dead before they’re old enough to retire, that can ruin your day. I know it ruined mine.

Both were raging alcoholics and incredibly sweet-natured people. One drank at least a case of Genesee a day, the other was infamous for saying to bartenders….”when midnight comes, no matter what I say, don’t give me whiskey”. He was a hard guy to resist though. When drunk his neck muscles would hibernate, and he looked like a bobble-head doll sitting at the bar. That is, when his face wasn’t planted in it.

Think about a case of Genesee a day. The stuff is vile. Like drinking someone else’s urine that’s been preserved in a third person’s bladder. The wonder isn’t that the guy died. It’s that he lived as long as he did. But he was also the softest touch you can imagine….befriending every cast-off who ever walked in the place….from dwarfs who carried guns to a motley assortment of ghastly strippers, most of whom had teeth you could count on one hand. I knew he was sick. He was always sick. Guys who drink more than 20 bottles of  Genesee beer a day have no immune system to speak of. But still. To hear that he’s dead? He’s been dead 7 years. I never knew. I feel terrible for not knowing.

The other? Died in his bed apparently. Heart just gave out, no doubt prompted by a liver the size of a grapefruit. Many’s the night we’d talk until the english language became impossible for him. One night he drove home (he lived only a few block away) and managed to hit 5 parked cars. When told about it the next day he said, “only five?”

I miss him. I miss them both. Neither ever married. Or had kids. Probably just as well. One lived with his Mom. I never knew where the other lived because he always seemed to be at the bar. He may have slept on the floor. There was plenty of room. One night two brothers started to beat the shit out of each other and one ended up throwing the other through the ladies room door. For the next 6 months if a girl was modest she posted a sentry and used the men’s room.

It was the kind of place where eyes twinkled from dreams….even though those dreams were unfulfilled. It was the kind of place where everybody knew your name. It was the kind of place you could fall into like a comfortable chair. It was dark and smelly and the stools were held together with duct tape. It was also the kind of place you had to get out of if you didn’t want to die young….but that’s not what I remember.

I wish I didn’t hear what I heard tonight. I wish I thought they were still there.

In a bit…


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Updating the website…

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

….in case you couldn’t tell. Little bit at a time. Eventually I’ll have the entire catalog….er…catalogued.

In a bit..


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More Guitars

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment

What the world needs is more guitars. And more obnoxious twits to play them.

More volume. More riffs. More attitude. More swagger. More angels off-stage and devils on it. More strings to snap and amps to blow and knobs to twiddle. More neighbors who will put up with the noise coming from the garage across the street. More crafting the new and bludgeoning the old (but with reverence). Less judging and more dancing. More 25 year old vans filled with duct-taped equipment and empty beer cans and pillows and 20 somethings willing to play for the adrenaline and gas money and the possibility that girls might finally notice that acne mysteriously disappears when a kid learns 3 chords. We need less people in ties and more people in Doc Martens.

I remember Pete Townshend saying that when he first heard the Pistols and the Clash….he felt that he was too old to participate….but was thrilled to be able to watch. I feel that way. My punk rock days are over. But the squeal of a Gibson SG still makes me feel, if only for the length of the song, young again. There is no sound quite like it. They say Muddy Waters invented electricity. I like that one.

So onward I go….with my acoustic Gibson jumbo, crafting soft laments and trying to tell stories with a hush built in. But I still grasp at new kids with loud guitars. And old kids too.

With enough decibels pointed back at us, we’ll never really get old.

In a bit…


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How I spend my money (or gift certificates)

October 5, 2010 Leave a comment

I just pre-ordered Keith Richards’s upcoming autobiography. I’m not sure why I did this. I think it’s sorta the same thing as slowing down and rubbernecking when you pass a gruesome accident.

Like everybody else I’m amazed Keith is still alive. I’m hoping he has some interesting observations on the subject in his memoir. Someone told me one time that 2 living things would survive a nuclear holocaust. Cockroaches, and Keith Richards. This guy offered to provide scientific evidence but I found that unnecessary.

I as approach the mid of my mid-40s, I’m enjoying more and more reading about other people’s train wrecks. I also just ordered a really cool Angus Young t-shirt. In lieu of my latest revelation, I simply consider it the proper thing to do. Keith is also a big fan of Angus, so you see it all comes ’round.

I haven’t forgotten that I fancy myself a musician as well. I’ve got 10 songs ready to go for my new record, but spent a good part of yesterday re-writing half the lyrics. So actually I don’t have 10 songs ready to go for my new record. But I’ve got 10 songs. Someday I’ll get up the courage to record and release them. Or maybe I’ll just put them in a drawer and write all new tunes. I can’t decide. Never tried what I’m trying now. Don’t want to be bad at it. That would besmirch a memory.

I need a new website too. Gonna get one eventually.

Weather is cold. Rainy. Overcast. What I’ve been waiting for all these long months. It’s so nice to be back in the midst of fall. The leaves are beginning to explode. At night you can see the breaths you’re taking. Lets you know you’re alive. Now if the grass would only stop growing.

This weekend is the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk. Gonna shuffle the 2 miles in honor of my father. Drop a few coins in the bucket if you can. Let’s beat this fucking bastard of a disease.

In a bit…


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My Inner Angus

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

I must come clean. I’ve been in the closet (so to speak) since pre-high school. As difficult as it is to comprehend, a fan of Nick Drake and the Weepies can share the same brain with someone who thinks Angus Young is a genius.

It’s true. I’ve secretly devoured AD/DC for years. Even since I plucked “Let There Be Rock” and “Highway to Hell” out of the stack of my older sister’s records. I was appalled and fascinated. It was like somebody driving a screw-driver into my head. As a young teen who played a mean air-guitar, it was also irresistible. But I didn’t want anybody to know. AC/DC fans were freaks. They all looked like the members of AC/DC. I looked like an altar-boy. I was an altar-boy. My irish catholic guilt went into overdrive. I was pretty certain Jesus didn’t want me to listen to a guitarist who wore devil horns on his head.

But sorry Jesus. I heard “Whole Lotta Rosie” and I thought I could fly. That riff. I’ve never been on speed, but I suspect the feeling is somehow comparable. It just sounded so raw and nasty. If Tipper Gore could put a warning sticker on a guitar riff, this is one she’d pick (at the time I had no idea the song was about banging a fat chick).

Who were these guys? Well it turned out the singer was dead. Choked on his own vomit, which somehow seemed appropriate. The ultimate rock and roll way out. So that was that. I’d arrived late to the party. That much was clear.

And then “Back in Black”. With a new singer who sounded like his larynx was being shredded by a power-tool. Other than him, not much had changed. They still sang about hell and sex, using dick metaphors so juvenile that even I winced. But I got over that quick. Dick references were ok. After all, it’s a free country. And AC/DC never claimed to be Dylan heirs anyway. If they weren’t singing about hell or a penis, the song had “rock and roll” in the title. The guitar riffs were insanely catchy (and, as I was to discover later, insanely simple too). The drummer never ever played a fill. He just laid down a crushing beat like an crazy man banging his head against the wall in an asylum. And the band never recorded a ballad. And I mean never. These guys were scary. Led by a 5 foot 2 inch 110 pound guitar player who seemed invented purely to test a human’s reaction to different sets of drugs. His brother stood in the back covered with hair. He looked like a wild animal in a zoo. Heavy stuff this.

“Back in Black” was everywhere. I had a crush on a girl in 8th grade and needed to get her a birthday present. I bought her the cassette. I thought I was in. Turns out she already had the album. I should have known. So went my love life in those days.

I was learning that you weren’t supposed to like this band (to this day nobody who owns “Back in Black” will admit to it until you find it under the seat in their car and confront them directly with the evidence).  Critics hated (and hate) them. AC/DC were (and are….you get the tense idea) puerile. They were misogynistic. Lyrically they hadn’t progressed much beyond the stuff scrawled on bathroom walls. And every record they released sounded like the last one.

What the critics didn’t understand is that we loved the last one (AC/DC would not appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine until 2008, by the way). AC/DC had no “disco” song. No power ballad. No nod to punk in a bid for street cred. No synthesizers. No orchestra wailing behind them. And they sure as shit never did anything “unplugged”. They weren’t always great, but they were never truly bad. Not many can say that.

Still, we pretend to grow up don’t we? Our tastes “mature”. I suppose nothing but really really loud rock and roll boogie is not a completely healthy diet. Maybe like living on beer with chips and doritos. So Angus and his boys were shoved to the side to make room for more respected fare. Less singing about male organs and such. More political things (ever wonder why AC/DC weren’t invited to Live Aid or Live 8?). I don’t think Angus ever gave a shit. He always had a fresh batch of 12 year olds combing through their sister’s CD collection.

And he probably knew we’d be back.

A final thought….and I don’t know why I can’t let this go but I just can’t. I’m not big on the Armageddon thing. But a few years back I saw Celine Dion on an awards show singing “You Shook Me All Night Long” and attempting to do the Angus duck-walk. It was positively treasonous. I was afraid Angus might see it and decide to kill himself. For days I scanned the paper fearing the inevitable. Then I thought…..surely what I saw on national television was the mark of the beast. Lucifer himself. Or herself in this case. I’ve needed medication ever since. I’m not convinced totally that the end is not near. But at least I’ve got “Let There Be Rock” to keep me company until then.

In a bit…


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