Category Archives: Music

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

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.

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

I want to say Amy

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In nineteen eight-five I went to my first heavy metal concert on June nineteenth. The band was Ratt. It was general admission at the Great Plains Coliseum in Lawton, Oklahoma. It is a real stretch to call this place a coliseum. It is more like a large warehouse, smaller than a Wal-Mart.

great plains coliseum

I worked really hard to create heavy metal attire. I got a pink bandana from my sister and tied it around my thigh. My sister also had a kind of netting tank top thingy that she gave me. I cut it into a half shirt. I had some work out gloves with the fingers cut out. I put on my grey stoned-washed jeans, teased my hair up with Aquanet hair spray and had my mom drop me off at the show.

Shortly before this concert experience, my father had died suddenly. I was still reeling from it.

Ratt

The concert was general admission, so I ended up down in front. After the opening band, Mama’s Boys, I met a girl named Amy Macel. She wasted no time being very flirty and it was not long before we started kissing. During the show, she began grinding on me and letting me feel her boobs. I was fifteen. It was awesome. After the show she gave me her phone number and told me to call her.

I wasted no time. I called the next day and she asked me if I could come over. She lived on the military base, which was far away when you did not have a car. It was about fifteen miles away. I needed a ride so I called around. My step brothers’ friend David offered to give me a ride for ten bucks. I gladly agreed. He drove me out to Amy’s and dropped me off.

When she answered the door she seemed very uninterested in me and getting any conversation going was difficult. Shortly after I arrived, another guy came to the door. She was excited to see him and they quickly retreated to her room as I sat in the living room by myself.

This was well before mobile phones, so from her home phone I kept calling David’s house over and over until he finally got home and answered. I told him what had happened and begged him to come get me. He felt sorry for me, so he turned around and came back. I was at her house for a little over an hour. I never saw Amy again, but I will never forget that bitches name, which is relevant, because she is the girl that inspired a song on my last album called, “I want to say Amy”. Although, I remember her name very well, there are several girls that I dated at that time whose names I cannot recall.

Here’s the song I wrote about it that appeared on my last album, The Calm Waters of Youth.

Goldie Roxx

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In 1985, I was in 9th grade. Me and my friend came up the the idea to start a glam metal band called Goldie Roxx. We’d all bleach our hair blonde and wear white and pink and have white and pink guitars. Though the band has yet to happen, I still have my flying V 28 years later.

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Collecting Myself – Volume I

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Back in the nineties I was inspired to write a concept album. I chose to do a real life subject, because that is the kind of stuff that I am normally interested in writing about. It came in a storm and I wrote 90 percent of it in about a two week period. I kept saying I was essentially done and could release it at anytime, but never have until now.

It is a concept album about my life from spring break of 85 to the summer of 88. Most do not know of what all that consists of, so here it is in a nutshell.

My dad died the first night of spring break in 85. At the time of his death I was trying to get laid by a girl I had, had a crush on for four years. My mother interrupted us in the heat of passion with the news that my dad had a heart attack and that we needed to go to the hospital. That girl never talked to me again after that night. I was fifteen at the time.

Upon returning to school the next week, a teacher took a jab at me and told me in front of the class that I would end up drunk and dead just like my father. I had always been a pain in her ass, so she took a chance to get back at me and crossed the line. I told no one about that because I knew the shit storm that would cause and I just did not have the energy to start a shit storm.

Around the time I was turning seventeen I met an older woman at a heavy metal club.  She was in the Army. I got her pregnant and married her. I spent my senior year with a wife, child and near a hundred thousand in debt with a new car and a four bedroom house. The only reason that I was able to attain such debt is because my wife was in the military and basically had a guaranteed job. My family was not crazy about all this to say the least. To be honest, neither was I.

To help support my family I took a job at a flooring factory from 4pm til 1am six days a week on top of my school.

I got divorced after high school for many reasons, but the catalyst for the actual divorce was my infidelity. My infidelity was in fact my plan at how to end the relationship, unwilling to man up and just say this isn’t working.

I was as honest as I could be in this book. I had no interest in painting myself into anything I wasn’t. I know my wife’s road was tough as hell, but I cannot give her side of the story. A lot of guts went into making sure this book was honest and didn’t make me out to be some hero stepping up to his responsibilities, but rather a boy who was lost, weak and let himself get deeper into things than he could handle.

The picture on the cover was taken a couple of months after my father died, and yes that is a mullet. I was graduating junior high and moving on to high school.

This book is available here and at my shows.

UPCOMING SHOWS
1/13 – 8PM – House show at Annie Street Arts Collective w/ Rotten Apple Gang
1/15 – 6:30-7:30  – Momo’s
1/29 – 8 – Close -w/ Jamie Marie and Ricky Stein – Flipnotics
2/18 – 8PM, w/ Mike Molaro & Jamie Marie – Cherrywood Coffee House

Wil Cope CD Release

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Wil Cope - Sunset CravesI met Wil Cope at the Cactus Cafe a couple of years back, but hadn’t seen him in a while. I noticed he was having a CD release at The Scoot Inn last night, so my friend Dan and I went to see the show.

His CD is entitled “Sunset Craves” and features a top notch band, including three members of The Heartless Bastards, two of whom  played with him on stage last night. The drummer of The Heartless Bastards, Dave Colvin produced the CD as well.

I would have liked a more attentive and less raucous crowd, but the Scoot Inn is in general a more rowdy place, meant for rowdy bands. Wil’s music does not really fit into that category. His music is slow and laid back, with some tracks singer/songwriter song with a hit of country. Then some songs are more in the vein of old-time country, featuring a lot of slide guitar. Through it all is a laid back vibe, which certainly fits Wil’s personality.

Wil doesn’t mince words. The words are simple and to the point, but poetic in their bareness. His CD has a vibe of some of the work of now disbanded The Scud Mountain Boys. Hard to say at this point if the songs will get under my skin like The Scud Mountain Boys, but to me it’s a CD meant to enjoy when you just want to enjoy sitting under the sun and enjoying the beauty of the small things in life.