Girl I dated, whose name I do not recall

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I used to give quite a few presentations when I was working in the corporate world. I worked for a massive company and the presentations were always to other people in our company. After one of my presentations a girl approached me to ask me questions about my presentation. It seemed like she was slightly coming on to me. In the rarest of occurrences in my life, I just got ballsy and asked her out. She said yes.

For our first date I brought flowers and chocolates and took her to a nice Italian restaurant. I could tell during that date it probably was not a good fit. She spent her time at the restaurant judging and commenting on what other women were wearing and the styles of their hair. She was ugly about it. I was pretty turned off by it. The meal was decent enough, so all was not a waste. I dropped her off at her house and went on my way.

A few days later she called me to see if I wanted to go play some pool that night. I had nothing going on, so I accepted. We went to this little dive of a pool hall in a strip mall that at some point was a new and exciting addition to a neighborhood, but now was old and mostly vacant.

I love playing pool, grew up on it and had even seriously considered playing professionally at one point. I let her win, not because I was trying to earn points, but because I could tell she was a real sore loser. She started to a get a little too drunk, too fast. I went to the bathroom and was trying to figure out how to handle the situation. When I came back to the table, she was angry and pointed a guy out to me. She said, “That guy just called me a bitch. What are you going to do about it?” I was pretty sure she had incited the situation. The guy in question was not trying to escalate it to a fight. I told her I was not going to fight and that it would be better if we just called it a night.

She got mad at me, questioned my manhood, but then apologized in the car ride home and tried to make out with me. I was not into it. By the time I got her home, which was at most a ten minute drive, she was throwing up in the parking lot of her apartment complex and could not walk. I carried her inside, cleaned her up as best I could at the bathroom sink and put her to bed. I slept on the floor next to the bed to keep an eye on her. I wanted to make sure she did not puke on herself in her sleep. She made it through the night okay. She was however mad I chose to sleep on the floor, instead of in the bed with her. Not in a way that concerned my comfort, but in a way that said, “Why didn’t you take advantage of me, I would have been fine with it”. She was fairly mean that morning, but I did not really care at that point. I left that morning, but stopped by her house later in the day and made her some soup to help cure her hangover and she was still mean, so I broke it off entirely. I was just trying to be a good friend at that point, but even being her friend was not worth the headache.

A year or so went by and I got an e-mail from a friend of hers that also worked at our company. She told me that she considered me to be a very nice guy, that her friend always spoke highly of me and that I should give her friend a call. I asked why, she said “well right after you went on your dates with her, she met a guy and fell in love. He was still married, but promised to leave his wife for her. He eventually did and they were going to get married, but literally on the way to the wedding he got in a wreck and was killed. She could use a nice guy to help her get through it.”

I responded thoughtfully and eloquently, but the gist of my e-mail was  “There is no way I’m going to insert myself into that shit storm”.

There were no more e-mails exchanged.

Music memory – Survivor, Eye of the Tiger

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Eye-of-the-Tiger-Survivor

For a few years in a row, from 1979 to 1982, I was Rocky for Halloween. I went in black and gold boxing trunks, boxing gloves, no shirt, no matter how cold and a painted on black eye. I was the prime target audience for the Rocky series. I wanted to be a boxer. I wanted to chase chickens. I wanted to wear gray sweat suits and jog early in the mornings and run up stairs.

I was 12 years old at the time Rocky III came out. When I first heard the song, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, I had to get my hands on it. That is the theme song to Rocky III.

My mom took me to the mall, which was where the only music store in town was and bought me the Survivor cassette. I worn it out over the summer of 1982. I doubt I listened to anything else. I knew it from beginning to end, backwards and forwards. I loved that cassette. All my time was spent finding ways to listen to that cassette.

My parents had been divorced for a number of years by that time. Every summer my dad would take me and my sister to visit his parents. They lived in Arkansas. We lived in Oklahoma. It was a good 6 hour drive or as my dad would say, about six to eight beers away.

My dads dad was a retired Methodist preacher. My dads brother was also a preacher. My dad was probably the black sheep as he was a hard-drinking, country boy that spent his time hunting, fishing, gambling and drinking.

I remember that trip to his parents house more clearly than any of the other trips we had taken there. I was on the verge of booming into a teenager. Up until this trip I saw my dad as an authority figure and nothing else. This trip was the first time I had realized he was just a person like the rest of us and he had his own things to deal with.

I took my cassette on the trip, but I knew there was a good chance my dad would not let me play it in his truck. Not without some ridicule of my music choice he let me put it in between Johnny Cash, Hank Jr and Merle Haggard. I got to listen to it once on our way to their house.

He drank and smoked more than usual on the way there. He was not allowed to drink or smoke at his parents house, so he was getting it in while he could. I sensed he was stressed and not necessarily looking forward to the arrival. Before we got to his parents house he stopped at a gas station, brushed his teeth, changed his shirt and put on some cologne. From there, we drove to their house with the windows down to air us off a little more.

As all kids my age, I was incredibly bored at their house. I sat around while the grown ups talked about things I could not relate to. The first night there I could not sleep. The house was stuffy, too warm. I decided I would sneak out to my dads truck and try to listen to my Survivor cassette.

It was about one in the morning. I was very nervous about sneaking out. I was new to the concept. I snuck out of the house as quietly as possible and was walking up to the drivers side of my dads truck, when he swung open the driver side door and quietly and calmly said, “get in”. He was in there smoking and drinking and was in a real quiet mood. He was not angry. He did not even seemed to care at all about my actions. I told him I came out to listen to my Survivor cassette. He put it in and played it in its entirety while we sat there, quiet. He seemed to be in a real heavy mood and I remember feeling a bit sad for him, even though I did not know exactly what to connect his plight to.

After the cassette played, he said, “well we should probably get back inside” and we quietly returned to the house and went to sleep. It was never spoken of.

That summer passed and I moved on to listening to other things and have not heard that album since 1982.

These days I have a buddy I smoke cigars with while we sit in his truck and listen to new releases of artists we love. We also listen to old stuff we have not heard in a while. I had been joking around with him for a while that we needed to drive around, smoke and listen to the Survivor cassette in its entirety. He was reluctant, rightfully so, but a few nights ago we did just that.

I was nervous and curious. I expected to hate it. My only intentions were to see if I remembered any of it. Back in 1982 I had every second memorized. I was curious if that still existed in my brain somewhere.

We lit a smoke and put it on. It opens with Eye of the Tiger, so obviously I remembered that. The next five songs I had no recollection of. I was a little disappointed it was not striking more of a chord with me. I was however enjoying it. It was a solid eighties rock album. It sounded nice and warm. The songs were good, better than I thought they would be.

Then a piano ballad came on for song seven and I knew it immediately. I remembered how much I loved and wore that song out. It reminded me that I do love a ballad. Tears streamed down my face while that song played. It took me back to to sitting in the truck with my dad. I am a sap for nostalgia. It is something I have always considered more of a flaw than a blessing. Tonight it was a blessing.

There was only one more song I remember that was near the end of the album, probably because it was the other single from the album and was also somewhat of a hit.

Thanks Survivor. Thanks for giving me this memory with my dad.

Here’s the piano ballad for your listening pleasure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX8qggq4SbI

Hallway Closet

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Hallway Closet

When I was in eighth grade, the first night of spring break, I got a call. I was not an unpopular kid, but I was not in the click of the popular kids. The call was from Lisa Brodbeck, a girl I did not know very well. She asked me if I was interested in coming over for a party that night. Her parents were out of town and she was having a get together. I nervously, but eagerly accepted. I am not sure I had ever spoken a word to Lisa before this call.

I rode my bike over to her house. Probably a two to three mile ride. Normally I would be able to tell you what I played in my walkman on the ride over, but in this case I have no recollection of it. I am sure it was early rap, Nucleus or Fatboys or something of that nature.

When I arrived it was mostly boys and girls that I considered part of the popular crowd. I was happy to be invited into this scene.

Soon after arriving, it was revealed that the sole reason for this get together was to play spin the bottle. Any normal boy would have been ecstatic about this, but it freaked me the fuck out. I was slightly socially awkward, but more internally than externally. Inside I was a wreck, but I felt I kept my cool pretty well.

Through conversation leading up to spin the bottle it was revealed that I was kind of far down on the list of boys she called. Most boys had gone out of town for Spring Break with their families. It was not meant to hurt my feelings, but it did. It was clear who had crushes on whom and being pretty good at reading people, due to being a mostly silent observer all of my life, I knew no girl in that room had their eyes on me. This was going to be a disaster.

This was the first and only time I played spin the bottle. As I predicted it ended in disaster for me and another girl. I don’t recall many of the details, but I tried to capture it in a song on my new album, WOLF. The song is called Hallway Closet.

The song ends on a cliff hanger, but I did up in the closet with Lisa. As soon as the door closed, she told me she did not want to kiss me and for one solid minute, we stood in that closet in silence. I can literally still conjure up the sound of her breath from that minute in the closet. It sends chills down my spine to recall it.

There are more tracks from the album in the sidebar to the right. If you are interested in the entire album, it can be found at http://robertsteel.bandcamp.com/album/wolf-4

There will be an official release in June. Thanks for reading.

Music Memories – Motley Crue

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I will never forget the first time I heard Motley Crue. My sister had the same boyfriend through all of her junior high years and through most of high school. Towards the end of her high school years, she was growing apart from her long time boyfriend, Ron Fralix.
Ron was the biggest athlete in a very small pond in junior high. He was the star quarterback, the star pitcher, the star at all track meets. However, that was junior high. In high school he found himself to be more in the middle of the pack.
My sister was planning her move to college. Ron had no college plans and his plans of being an athlete had fizzled to the point where he was no longer even on any high school teams. I was two years younger than my sister. Ron was always real nice to me and spent a great deal of time playing sports with me and teaching me anything I wanted to know about any sport. I was real fond of the guy and he felt like part of the family. He went on all trips with us. It was hard for me to watch him and my sister grow apart.

Ron Fralix and my dad from a camping trip

Ron Fralix and my dad from a camping trip

One day Ron was parked outside of our house, talking with my sister. At this point my sister had broken up with him and he was coming around trying to find anyway to stop that train. He was looking for any reason at all to stop by. He wanted her to hear this new band, Motley Crue.  He turned it up with his window down, while she stood outside of his car door and pretended to listen. The intro came on loud and sounded like a howling train and then a voice comes in and delivers a Vincent price type of intro, “In the beginning…”. If you know the album, you know the intro well. If not, here’s a link:

In the beginning
Good always overpowered the evils of all man’s sins…
But in time
The nations grew weak
And our cities fell to slums
While evil stood strong
In the dusts of hell
Lurked the blackest of hates
For he whom they feared awaits you…
Now many, many lifetimes later
Lay destroyed, beaten down
Only the corpses of rebels
Ashes of dreams
And blood stained streets
It has been written “Those who have the youth have the future”
So come now, children of the beast
Be strong
And Shout at the Devil

I was outside playing basketball, mainly to eaves drop. This intro sent chills down my spine and when the first song came blasting out of his car, I was absolutely hooked. I walked over and asked him who it was and it changed the course of my music landscape forever, which had primarily been real early rap, i.e. Fatboys, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Nucleus, etc.
I fell head first into Motley Crue and covered my room with Metal posters. Between Shout at the Devil and Motley Crues next album the lead singer, Vince Neil killed his friend that was in the passenger seat of his car while he drove drunk and recklessly. I grabbed every Metal magazine I could get my hands on in hopes to find out new things about the trial and the new Crue album.
Vince got off with a slap on the wrist and then released a new album called, Theater of Pain. I could not wait to get my hands on it and got it on the first day of release. At this time my dads sister had decided to take the family on a trip to Colorado. She invited me and my sister to come to Colorado with her family.
I got the new Crue album right before this trip and I was disappointed in it. I was hoping for more rawness, but it was more glam and polished. I remember purposely taking only a handful of cassettes with me on that trip and decided I would spend my time in the back seat of the car listening to Theather of Pain and trying to find a way to love it.
We drove from Lawton, Oklahoma to Creed, Colorado. The entire trip there I listened to Theather of Pain over and over and over and over. I listened to nothing else. I remember taking off my head phones and exclaiming, “I give up on this album. I don’t like it”. My sister, whom did not like metal at all asked to listen to it and put on my head phones. After a while she took them off and said, “I like it” and I said, “and that’s exactly why I don’t”.
That was 1985. I have not listened to Theather of Pain since that trip until a few days ago. I lit a cigar, put gas in my tank and set out on I-35. I was excited and nervous. I could not even recall the track listings. I did not even know what song started off the album. I got on the highway with a lit cigar and hit play. It is a fairly long album with thirteen songs on it. As I listened to it, I pictured being back in the back seat of my aunt’s car. I conjured up any memories I could find. I remembered I had a red Koss walkman at the time. The Motley Crue cassette was the very first clear cassette I had seen. My headphones had tape holding one side together. My Uncle was a Doctor and I remember on this trip my cousin taped him on the shoulder while he was driving and he said, “Not so hard, you’re going to give me a chronic inflammation of the left clavicle”. I remembered the small tan box that held my cassettes. I remembered going out to fish at six in the morning and encountering a doe and her baby no more than ten feet away, drinking from the stream with no fear of me. I sat behind the passenger seat the entire trip, crammed up against the door. A few nights ago I took a trip back in time to when I was fifteen and full of angst. I listened to Motley Crue’s, Theather of Pain very intently… and it still sucks.

A wallet

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a wallet

This was my dads wallet. He died when I was fifteen. Before the estate auction I was able to go through his house and get small things. I took his wallet, a few Texaco shirts, a pair of shorts and a few other things. His wallet had business cards, his current fishing license, some receipts for gas and a receipt for an old traffic violation. No cash as he carried a money clip for that.

From age fifteen to twenty-two I used this wallet as my own. It is morbid to think about now, but at the time it was sentimental that I left everything of his in the wallet.

From the time I stopped using it, it has resided in the top drawer of my dresser. The dresser was passed down to my father from his father and then to me.

I do not see or think about this wallet often, but it stood out to me today and I thought long and hard about my dad. Little things can really ruin/make a day for me. I can be going along fine and something small will throw a stick into the spokes of my mind. Often the rest of the day I’ll silently stew in heavy thought or if I can turn it into something productive, I will do what I am doing now and write.

In March of next year, I will have had this wallet for thirty years.

While using the wallet, I pulled it out to pay for something one day. I was with my grandmother and she mentioned that the wallet had seen better days and that she was going to get me a new one for Christmas. She did not know this was my fathers wallet. I do not think anyone knew. I think I kept that to myself.

Come Christmas that year, I opened a gift to see a new black wallet. Pressed into one side of the leather, on one side of the fold was a man fishing. I figured that was as good of time as any to move on. I took his expired fishing license and my current one out of our wallet, placed it in my new one; Threw away the rest of the stuff in it, except some of my receipts. Thinking about that now, it might have been my first tiny step towards accepting his departure from this world.

Phil Samson

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In my hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma, there was only one real music instrument store, Frontier Music. For me it was clear across town, which was about four or five miles away from my house. At age fifteen, after school I would ride my bike to there and play any guitar I wanted to. It was a shop that encouraged you to plug in to an amp and let loose.

The owner was Phil Samson. He wrote a country song in the early 80s that T.G. Sheppard made a hit. The song, “I loved ‘em everyone”. Phil was about as nice of a gentleman as you could meet. He was a real big fan of putting instruments in the hands of anyone with the urge to play. He loved music and it really showed.

For a while, every day I would walk in and pick up a purple/blue pearl B.C. Rich electric guitar and play Cinderellas, “Nobody’s Fool.” At the time, learning this song seemed to be a good avenue to getting laid.

One day Phil walked in to the guitar room and said, “you really like that guitar don’t you? I see you pick that one up more than the rest”. I said, “Yes, I like it a lot”. He said, “Well take it”. I said, “I don’t have any money”. He said, “I don’t care. You like that guitar and I want you to have it. Pay me when you can, what you can over any amount of time it takes. Let’s also set you up with cables, an amp, guitar strap and anything else you need”. That day I walked out of Frontier with my dream guitar. I had just turned sixteen and was now sharing a car with my sister and step brother.

I was not working much at the time, but I would stop in with some allowance money every now and then, five or ten bucks a month. He never gave me a hard time about payment and did not even seem to care if I paid him anything.

I took a job at a lure company for a few hours a week after school and increased my monthly payments to maybe twenty dollars a month.

Then I got my girlfriend pregnant. I had to find more stable work as I was now moving out of my mom’s house and gearing up for a family. I took a job at a flooring factory. It was full-time job, but seeing as I had promised my mother I would finish school, I had to take a night shift from four in the afternoon to one in the morning. Between school, work, a wedding to plan and a daughter on the way, it left little time to play.

My soon to be wife and I sat down to figure out our budget. After we budgeted everything, I said there is one other thing we have to pay for, my guitar. She was adamant that I return the guitar, but I refused. After a long fight, she agreed that we would continue with twenty dollars a month if we could afford to. We stopped in every month and handed Phil twenty dollars or less. He still did not seem to care.

My marriage lasted about a year and a half. I still owed Phil on this guitar and I was now eighteen. I made my final payment before moving to Texas at age nineteen. It took me close to 4 years, but I paid it off. I loved this guitar and stiffing Phil was never an option. That was at the end of nineteen eighty-eight.

Flash forward nine years. I still owned the guitar and I was in a band in Dallas. We had a rehearsal space at a rehearsal studio. By this time I owned several guitars. I did not pick up the B.C. Rich very often, but it was in the rehearsal room. My friend was in the band and would often bring his nephew to come watch us, Justin. Justin was a shy kid, but very polite. I was really fond of him. He was probably in his early teens. Often when we would take a break from practicing, we would come back in the room to see Justin noodling around on the B.C. Rich. I asked him, “Do you like that guitar?” He said, “Yes”. I said, “Then it’s yours”. I figured that guitar belonged to anyone with the urge to play it. Just like that, the guitar that had been such a huge part of my life and got me through many really bad days was now in the hands of someone new. I never for a second have second guessed that decision.

That was nineteen ninety-seven. Right after I gave the guitar to Justin, I went back for the weekend to my hometown. My mother told me Phil was getting a lifetime achievement award that weekend, so I went to the ceremony. Phil got up and played a set of his songs and finished the set with his “hit” song. Afterwards I got a chance to talk to him. I told him who I was, he already knew. He knew which guitar he gave me and remembered it all very well. I told him I had recently given the guitar away, but that I owned many others and still played. He was happy to hear it. I asked him if he had given others away like that and if anyone had stiffed him. He said, “Well I never really cared one way or the other, I just wanted to get instruments in kids hands. I suppose I let hundreds of instruments walk out the door without payment and of all of those, only one person did not finish paying me. I figure that’s a pretty good track record”.

When Phil’s song became a hit, he was offered a lot of money to move to Nashville to write, but he liked what he was doing and did not want to move his family, so he passed on the offers. Phil still owns a music store in my hometown.

Phil also had a song that was on a Grammy Award winning album in the nineties. He still plays in bands in my hometown and still writes lots of songs and releases records.

A few days ago, photos showed up of the guitar on Justin’s facebook page with the words, “One of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received”. Me too, Justin. Me too.

B.C. Rich

Visit Phil’s Facebook page and music store site. Buy his music. He is the stuff heroes are made of.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhilsMusic
His newest CD: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/philsampson
His store: https://www.facebook.com/PhilsGuitars

The Blue Door

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I played The Blue Door in Oklahoma City a while back. Doug and Telisha from Wild Ponies were gracious enough to have me open their show. It’s a venue I hold in high regards; a place I have always dreamed of earning the right to play. That stage has graced so many of my musical heroes, including Doug and Telisha.
My sister, a few of her friends and my step dad came to the show. My step dad had never seen me play other than on youtube. I was nervous to play in front of him. He doesn’t really get what I do, but he was there in support and shot this footage. He gave me a thumb drive with the files on it and I forgot about them, because I thought it was a bad set and didn’t want to see the video. I just found them while looking for something else.
Shortly after this night he died. I’m putting them online because I’ll probably lose them if I don’t and I kind of would like to hold on to them because it was the last time I saw him.
Enjoy.