I Gently Weeps


Among the suggestions made to those going stir-crazy from virus quarantine is to take up a musical instrument.

This prompted Karen to inquire whether I was going to resume playing guitar. I’m sure she dreaded a positive reply but pretended to encourage me.

My problem as a singer/songwriter, for those who haven’t heard the music first hand, begins with my unfortunate voice, which is more like a whine. It’s actually a weepy, wheezy, whine, like the faint sounds you hear coming from a fawn in the woods who realizes for the first-time mommy isn’t coming home to feed her because mommy was mowed down by a speeding SUV being driven by a 16-year-old opiate addict from Manhattan with coronavirus.

My whine is the same one I used throughout childhood — the one that made people hate me. Coupled with a big mouth and a know-it-all attitude, it made the other boys wants to smack the hell out me, and more than a few did.

The antidote, of course, was to align myself with the biggest, ugliest, nastiest bad asses in the schoolyard, who are my buddies to this day.

Karen has Orders of Protection out against most of them.

I am tone deaf as well, defiantly so. In fact, I am the worst kind of tone deaf, the kind of fool who thinks he has a beautiful voice and sings extra loudly. People assume I have some kind of syndrome.

My singing hurts house plants.

Sometimes I’ll play Karen a new song and ask how it was and she’ll reply, “It made me cry.”

I do have a greatest hit. Back in early ’70s, I played a few parties and performed my touching song about unrequited love, “The Pimple Song.” The timeless refrain still echoes in the soul:

“I’ll put it to you very plain and simple

I wish your face would turn into a pimple”

I’m sure the guy I wrote it about felt the anguish when he was making love to my Patchouli Daydream, formerly Annette Pasquale, before I renamed her. She had long braided pigtails that came down to her waist — from under her arms.

The whole point, I think, is while we are in quarantine — I’m not preaching here — we do need to avoid the obvious pratfalls of house arrest, which for me are overeating and staring at the TV.

I have trouble reading because, in my business, I’m at the computer all day and my eyes burn. I also can’t exercise much because I am really really lazy, I mean because I have a bad back I hurt in Nam, so the threat of turning this imprisonment into something even more negative is very real.

That’s where the guitar comes in. Is this a sign for me to play again?

If I get back into it, I would write a whole album of new songs with some of the old faves — the biggies — thrown in, because that’s what the people want to hear, like “Purple Patchouli” and “I Yodel Over You.”

She still makes me weep to this day. There’s nothing sadder than a man on the coronavirus march crying because his hairy girlfriend dumped him 40 years ago, believe me.

Sometime soon, on a moonlit night, I will go to that place where the twin rivers meet in my mind, the mythical canyon where words flow like lava (or is it larva?) down the mountain into the craters of my mind. I will pick up Gertrude (that’s my guitar) and dust off those rusty strings one more time. And if I hear a fawn crying out in the night I will know the answer — yes, it is time to make music with my lovers and my friends (I’ll have to get some).

But if I hear the guy across the street yell, “Shut the hell up, you whiny maggot!” I will binge watch “The Wire” instead.

Speaking of binge watching, Kevin Costner has a series on the Paramount network going into its third season called “Yellowstone” that is kind of “Dallas” meets “Bonanza.” It’s worth finding and watching the first two seasons (you’ll have to stream it). Also, highly recommended, “Hell and High Water” with Chris Pine and Tommy Lee Jones, which very quietly got nominated for an Oscar. Also, I have to reluctantly admit, “Downton Abbey” was great even though someone made me watch it.

Meanwhile, keep an eye out for the new album: “More Pimples: Aches and Acne” by Rickey T and the Corona Hotcats.

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