Country and Western

Country and western: (n) another name for country music

When I was a pukey little kid filled with pimples and promise, we called it hillbilly music. It was another thing we were permitted to “be better than” in an environment where our white skin gave us free pass to nearly every privilege.

It was particularly humorous because I lived in a state of the Union in which the hillbillies who made that music were not more than a “state of mind away.”

I grew up with gospel music, which was hillbilly music sung on Sunday, including a Wurlitzer organ. I didn’t care. It was the gospel.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

And the gospel, to me at that point, meant four-part singin’, clappin’ and words about my unworthiness but soon inexplicable admission to heavenly bliss.

After I escaped the educational system (when we both breathed a sigh of relief) I ended up in Nashville, Tennessee, surrounded by people who were not hillbillies, but just favored a twinge of “twang to their “thang.”

My opinion soon changed because they liked the music I was writing and offered me opportunities to record it, and even some open doors to perform it.

I never became a huge follower of country and western music, and to this day only enjoy it in small doses.

But the same could be said of Pepto-Bismol. Every once in a while, you need a little to calm your innards.


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Corridor

Corridor: (n) a gallery or passage connecting parts of a building; hallway.

Everybody tries to get into the main office.

There’s a general consensus that if we can just get into the boss’s headquarters one time, we could talk ourselves up and improve our situation.

But life isn’t really like that.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

We live life in the corridors. The minute we commit ourselves to entering an office or a room, we are no longer visible. We’ve taken a side. We have locked into a position.

When I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, back when I was young and knew everything in town that I could get to eat for fifty cents or less, I realized that walking into offices and trying to talk to someone who was notable so I could get my “big break” was a worn-out idea which may never have had its time in the first place.

I realized it was about finding the corridors.

I talked to many a music agent in the parking lot of his or her building, where I had waited so I could strike up a conversation when they came to their cars. I knew they eventually would come to their cars.

Likewise, I learned over the years where various interested talented people got their cars repaired, and I sat in the front room, waiting for a glance of them when they came to pick up their fancy auto after having an oil change. It was always a quick moment and I never pushed—just made my face familiar. Then, when I ran into them later on—in the corridor of an office building or in the mall—and said hello, they would swear that we had met before.

Now, I can’t tell you that through this process I guaranteed myself a shot at a record contract, but it was during the time of walking the corridors that I did get a lovely break.

Be careful signing on the dotted line with political parties, religions and movements. They will hide you away from the opportunities that just pass by in the corridors of everyday life.


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Cocaine

Cocaine: (n) an addictive drug derived from coca

Some folks might find me very interesting if I talked about my use of cocaine or my addiction. But even though it was plentiful in Nashville, Tennessee, in the 1970s, and I was offered the white dust frequently, I passed.

Now, I did not decline because I was self-righteous or anti-drugs. I passed because of the reasons I was given to snort.

“You’ve gotta try it, man. It makes you more creative, it makes you more horny and it makes sex feel twice as good.”

That’s some pretty heavy-duty advertising. But I went down the list:

I did not want to be creative because a drug expanded the walls of my arteries and forced blood to my brain. I wanted creativity to come from a different place in me. I wanted it to be real. I wanted it to be mine. I was jealous. I didn’t want cocaine taking credit for my writing.

I didn’t want to be more horny. The danger of being more horny is that you start screwing people you don’t care for all that much. I like a little romance with my sex, if you don’t mind. I did not want cocaine picking out my sex partners.

And you can call me conventional, or too well-satisfied, but I have found that the big bang available at the culmination of the sex act is quite enough for me.

Of course, the danger is that if you convince yourself that you need cocaine to have good sex, the intercourse, which would be very beneficial to your health, might be greatly diminished by the cocaine, which is similar to setting off a hand-grenade near your heart.

Beware of those who always want more.

Honestly, I don’t settle for anything–but I do have the capability of “gettin’ my own” without taking a hit from anyone or anything.

 

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Cadenza

Cadenza: (n) a virtuoso solo passage inserted into a musical work

When I attended my first musical jam session in Nashville, Tennessee, and I was sitting behind the piano, terrified that I would not know any of the songs floating through the air, suggested by my fellow-musicians, I was rather delighted that I turned out to be somewhat able to keep up–grabbing a chord here and there and playing along.

It went along real well until one of the musicians shouted out, “Take it, Jon!”

It was time for me to express my solo soul, in context with the mutual band experience.

I needed a cadenza. I needed some sort of passage I could play for about eight bars that showed that I was worthy to be part of such a musical combo.

The first time this was shouted out, I brought things to a complete halt by turning to the room–having stopped playing altogether–and saying, “What?”

They found this hilarious, explaining that all they wanted was for me to take a “ride.”

After giggling because I didn’t know what “ride” meant, I then was informed that I was supposed to improvise.

God, I wanted to do good. I wanted these fellow-troubadours to be impressed with me.

So the next time they said, “Take it, Jon!” I did.

I took it so much that I over-played, lost the rhythm and brought the whole musical experience to a screeching halt. One of them counseled me, “Maybe just a few less notes…”

Therefore, the next time I was afforded the opportunity, I played so few notes that they thought I had missed my cue.

After that they were rather reluctant to have me “take it.”

Honestly, I think everybody walked out of the room that night thinking, “He seems to know the chords … but he sure can’t do a cadenza.”

Or some Nashville way of saying that.

 

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Bronze

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Bronze: (v) to make a person or part of the body suntanned.

I’ve often missed out on conventional wisdom because I could not afford to go to the convention.

So I frequently found myself going against the common thread of understanding and sewing up my own solutions.Dictionary B

On one such occasion, I scheduled our music group to perform in Miami, Florida, in the month of July.

Nobody does that.

Miami becomes a glowing hot rock, to be avoided by any living creature which does not wish to swelter. But our group wasn’t that popular–we were certainly never going to be able to be in Miami in January.

So we went in July.

It was very reasonably priced (since nobody was there) and really no hotter than the rest of the country, which was also experiencing summer.

But my achievement during those two weeks was something I had never experienced before and haven’t since. For you see, I worked up the courage to put on a pair of shorts, go shirtless, and walk around the beach until my skin turned bronze.

God, I loved it.

At night, I stood in front of the mirror and stared at my brown hide, realizing that I had never before enjoyed my body–because it was the color of pewter.

I was bronzed.

I wasn’t intimidated to step along the sidewalks near the ocean in my cutoff blue jeans and just act like I was one of the locals.

In the midst of those two weeks, a friend of mine debuted her new book and invited me to come to Nashville, Tennessee, for the signing. When I arrived I was the talk of the town.

“Where’d you get that tan?”

“Must be nice to lay on the beach all day long…”

Never in my life had I felt physically valuable to the world around me.

  • Spiritually–yes.
  • Emotionally–certainly.
  • Creatively–I hope so.

But for the first time, my “bronze” covered up some of my obesity, puffiness and, shall we say, “whitey-white-white.”

Now, I know you’re not supposed to get too much sun. I know there’s a danger of cancer.

But I am so grateful that on at least one occasion in my life, I got to walk around, for a little while… as a bronze Greek god.

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Bronchitis

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Bronchitis: (n) inflammation of the mucous membrane in the bronchial tubes.

Odd as it may seem, the only way to stay well is to have been sick enough to build up antibodies to protect you.Dictionary B

It’s a strange system, isn’t it?

But without equity, some of us would believe that being ill was a sign of God’s anger, while others would conclude that clear nasal passages were a divine authorization to act superior.

So we all get sick.

It’s all about the timing.

When I was in my twenties, I recorded an album in Nashville, Tennessee, that started to get some attention. That in itself was remarkable, but then, when our group was invited to perform at a huge festival, our producers were nearly ecstatic, and were sure that this was the stepping stone to give us the focus to launch our career.

We planned the set, rehearsed the material–and somewhere along the line in the process, I got bronchitis.

I was so congested, choked up and stuffed that I was unable to produce any sound from my voice beyond a harsh whisper.

I tried everything.

Hot steam, over-the-counter remedies, honey and lemon and various configurations of prayer.

I stubbornly refused to cancel the festival, deciding that I would heroically see it through–that somehow or another, God in His infinite wisdom would grant me voice at the last moment.

In front of thousands of people, I croaked out what could have been our hit song–had I not been “Froggy McFrog.”

It was embarrassing.

No–humiliating.

Even those who loved me didn’t want to be around me. It made them try to be nice–and they didn’t feel nice.

So to some degree, from that point on in my life (since I kind of make my living from my voice) I have become a Cold Nazi.

If a sniffle is in the room or a child is dripping nasal fluid all over the house, I run away in horror.

I am not proud of that.

But my bout with bronchitis did warn me about the danger … of not having a voice in the matter.

 

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Broadcast

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Broadcast: (n) a radio or television program or transmission.

Like any good, red-blooded American, I reserve the right to have my own personal definition for words.Dictionary B

You can contradict me with Webster’s realities, but I will explain to you that the intimacy of my experience allows me to screw around with the vernacular.

Such is the case with two words: illusion and delusion.

An illusion, to me, is something I am pursuing which I do very well, and I am waiting for the rest of the world to acknowledge my excellence.

A delusion is something that deep in my heart I know I’m not very accomplished at doing, but I am hoping I will luck out and make a lot of money from it anyway.

When I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1992 so that my children, who were now aging out of their teen years, could settle in and find lives of their own, I maintained one little piece of my vagabond creative persona by initiating a radio broadcast which aired five minutes a day on a local station which had its headquarters in a building about the size of six outhouses.

I was under the illusion that my talent was strong enough and my ideas so clever that they would draw listeners to this little forsaken location on the AM radio dial, and make myself well-known as an innovator.

Matter of fact, I did well over a thousand episodes on this particular outlet before sitting down one day and coughing up a hairball of delusion.

I admitted to myself that I was being clever in a vacuum.

Nobody was listening–and if they were, their appreciation was quite silent.

It was then that I had to define the word “broadcast.”

Broad in the sense of covering much territory.

Cast, referring to being thrown out there.

In the purest sense, my effort was certainly “broad” and “cast.”

But literally, it was more small and spilled.

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