Archive for January, 2011

Still learning…

January 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Will not leave the house until I learn how to play the piano well enough to sit down and write a song. Getting there.

In a bit…


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The White Keys

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment

We interrupt our regular programming to inform you that I am now learning how the play the piano.

Not by the book mind you….but I’m bashing away on the white keys so far and pulling out things approaching melodies. I really want to use the piano for songwriting. ‘Tis a very expressive instrument.

Stay tuned.

In a bit….


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If I can do this…

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m not that quick to jump on the “hate speech” bandwagon. Let’s face it. If a guy can be talked into shooting someone by listening to Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh on the radio, it’s a good bet he’s pretty far gone already. Folks who listen to talk radio of any sort are defective enough to start with. The last thing they require is a push off the ledge.

I do feel a bit of a twinge that it’s perfectly legal in Arizona for a diagnosed mental defective to walk into a store and walk out with a Glock 19…..but at least I’m 2,386 miles away from Tucson. I like to look at the bright side. However, Glock sales have surged since the shooting, coincidentally, which probably says more about where we are as a nation than all the rest of this story combined.

We’re pretty fucked, basically. Mired in a pile of shit. That’s what it says. But while rationality may have left the building, Elvis never truly died….so he’ll be back and the old biddies will be tossing underwear at him again in no time. You know that sentence makes perfect sense so there’s no need to read it again.

I used to dive headfirst into political debates but no more. Political bloviatiers are even worse than the politicians they bloviate about. I’ve got my own views, and even if I’m force-fed Fox News intravenously I’m not going to change them. I consider myself reasonably intelligent. I am reasonably educated. I can read (half the adults in this country are illiterate, so reading is not something I take for granted) and I like to think I’m sorta open-minded. I believe in what I can see with my own eyes. I think if somebody falls down you should help them up. If you help somebody up and then they steal your wallet that’s kinda bad form but I think these assholes are pretty rare. It’s been my experience that people needing the most help are often the most helpful. The reverse also seems to hold true, which can really piss a fella off.

Who knows why folks feel like they do? I’m a liberal not afraid to use the word liberal, but I might feel differently about, say, immigration if armed mexican drug smugglers were using my back-yard as a hostel. I might feel differently about guns too. It’s easy to be enlightened when you’re not personally affected, which is why we should always be suspicious of guys who never fought in wars starting them.

No House or Senate member or major political pundit on either side of the aisle is in danger of missing a meal, or of having to choose between that meal or health care for their child. So there’s not a credibility “gap” so much as a credibility chasm. Being lectured at is annoying enough. Being lectured at by a guy making 6 or 7 figures is unbearable. So beware of the screeching head that demonizes those who just happen to be in a way lower tax-bracket. It’s not a crime to be poor in this country, although if Reagan had a third term….

See, I caught myself. If I can do this, surely everybody can.

In a bit…


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Listening. Learning. Writing.

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Everyday I’m getting ideas. Everynight I sit with a light barely strong enough to illuminate my pen and I try to get the ideas down in one of those marble-covered notebooks that have replaced legal-pads in my world…legal pads having replaced the computer…..which I divorced after realizing that paper doesn’t crash and get lost for no apparent reason.

Someday when it’s not so much fun writing them I gotta record some of this stuff. Pop songs. I want to write the perfect one. Well, the perfect one has already been written (Noel Gallagher’s “Wonderwall”), so I’d settle for the runner-up spot. That might be worth some cash actually.

In a bit…


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The USS Indianapolis

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve written a lot of songs over the years. Some fall away for ages and I’m nudged back to them periodically. Such is my song “The Indianapolis”, which I wrote back in 2004.

Like most I learned of the story from Quint’s monologue in the movie “Jaws”. To me it remains the greatest monologue in movie history (I’ve since learned that it played a bit loosely with the facts, but at its core the horror was well conveyed).

But there was so much more. I studied. I read (I recommend In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton). I questioned. I learned the shameful secrets. And in a white-hot fever I sat down and wrote the song in one sitting.

It was soon picked up by a wonderful woman named Kim Nielsen, who organizes reunions for the Indianapolis survivors across the country. She’s also put together a presentation for schools, churches, and civic groups…teaching new generations about one of WWII’s blackest holes. She heard the song and asked if she could use it to make a video montage as part of her program. I was honored.

I bring this up now because there was recently a “Jaws Marathon” on TV, and it’s a movie I can’t help but watch no matter the time, which is why I find myself extremely sleep deprived at the moment, as I’ve stayed up into the wee wee hours the past two nights….watching it 3 times.

And now I find myself revisiting a song I’ve always been very proud of….

The Indianapolis
by Tom Flannery
copyright 2004

Who on earth knows why
some men live and some men die
he was a better man than I
or would have been…we were boys
We were nearly twelve hundred souls
watching how war takes it’s toll
it hates to watch the young grow old
it seeks and destroys

To Tinian we were bound
to deliver the end from above the ground
never knew a thing never heard a sound
get her there on time
then we pushed for more
and torpedoes from the ocean floor
cut us in two with a mighty roar
in war nothing’s a crime

captain said “boys we gotta go”
900 jumped into the water below
those that could not see still could hear
when the Indianapolis….she disappeared

We thought they’d come when the sun it rose
but the sharks they gathered and the world it froze
10 footers from the tail to the nose
well this was not war
Some boys thrashed and some lay prone
some were bit in half some left alone
all we had to give was flesh and bone
tell me what are you fighting for?

For 4 days we died
some floated away when the night flew by
others with madness in their eye
I can still hear the sounds
calls for loved ones in the air
and whoops for things that just weren’t there
the chattering teeth and the Lord’s prayer
with the devil all around

That PV-1 finally came
called the PBY and the ships the same
you learn about luck in war
’cause we weren’t exactly what they were looking for

317 survived
so there’s that many men asking why
how do I live when I’ve watched men die?
where did they all go?
you may seek to blame
state your case…make your claim
stick your goddamn brass up in a frame
because you’ll never know

Now I’m an old man
still never got further than the sand
dreams can bring me back and force my hand
like it was yesterday
Put a seashell to my ear
grandson says “pappa what do you hear?”
I’ll turn so he can’t see the tear
someone tell me what to say

captain said “boys we gotta go”
900 jumped into the water below
317 survived
so there’s that many men asking why

Who on earth knows why
some men live and some men die
he was a better man than I
or would have been…we were boys

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