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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Release the innocent prisoners

Here is a link to the story about the U.S. federal government's decision on recreational marijuana.
Although of great personal interest to many of us (see my way earlier blogs), this  decision should become part of a larger push for personal freedom. We cannot forget the innocent, adults and children, who are locked behind bars. They are in prisons and jails in the U.S., they are in Guantanamo, they are in secret prisons around the world (America's gulag) ...
Now, sticking to today's announcement on marijuana, letting Colorado and Washington states' pioneering laws and constitutional amendment (Colorado)  stand should be equivalent to admitting that all prisoners across the country who are incarcerated for a crime that is now legal in those two states should be immediately released.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

actually I KNOW I'd "love to shake the hand of Jimmy Carter!"

"Fritz (Mondale) is just back ... He thinks that Kennedy (Ted) has as a major goal the defeat of the Democratic ticket in November, and I think he's probably right." Jimmy Carter's White House Diary, pp. 431-432. You must read the book to see why President Carter said that in 1980.
I'd love to shake the hand of Jimmy Carter. Who sings that line? Blue Mountain?
Anyway, reading White House Diary is much better than watching the movie, I mean the CBS 60 Minutes show here on YouTube. This 15 or so minute segment is well worth watching as are the comments beneath the video. Reading this book has taken me back to a unique time in American history and my own life. I skipped to 1980-'81 because those were the years I best remember about his Presidency. Lesley Stahl does an excellent presentation in the abominable style of what passes for news in the United States today. This interview was apparently done in 2010, way into our Corporate fascist era in U.S. journalism. She uses the word "snarky" in reference to President Carter's diary. Sorry Lesley, but YOU were the snarky one.
What's so cool about the comments is how they show that so many Americans comprehend Jimmy Carter's presidency despite the snarky press coverage that he received, and still gets. What a cool, collected man. The only President who comes close to matching him in what I would call Christian behavior is President Obama! (The first trick is one must actually WATCH and LISTEN to Pres. Obama.) I do mean behavior, nothing else. The way they stay cool despite having to deal with assholes, to be blunt.
If I were rich enough to hire a personal assistant I'd put them right on researching this theory - Jimmy Carter was President at the exact moment when American democracy was hijacked by the right wing fundamentalist Republican Party and it took an awful lot of coordination from Nixon's presidency until then to accomplish that. Furthermore, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et. awful, were right there along with the Southern Baptist Convention! More on that "Christian" denomination's role later.
Check out the opening moments when Lesley Stahl's skirt is up around her thighs, she pulls it down, and ... cut to President Carter. Snark can be achieved in post-production as well.

about my little blogosphere and my "explicit" lyrics

Somewhat sadly, the stats page of Google blog shows my highest one day readership was 50 on August 21st. I know better (now) to begin a blog with a sentence like that. It'll end up on a search page. You think I care? Well, not about this post.
I don't know why because I didn't post that day. I'd like to crack 100 readers routinely, but the thing that keeps me at it is the interesting countries where I have had readers: U.S, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, South Korea, Poland, China, Indonesia, and Israel! (Oh, Canada where are you?)
On Jango Radio 420 people from all over the world have pressed the "fan" button and out of the countries listed above the highest number are in Israel. Very interesting. I love it - fans in the Philippines and Singapore and many other places!
When I listed my albums on CD Baby I had to list my lyrics as clean or explicit. Well, I used to be a teacher. Cannabis is not for kids so all but one of my "explicit" songs are listed that way because of some kind of reference to marijuana. They are hardly dirty songs and I imagine I could easily have called them "clean" with no problem. If you look at my downloads and CD order page on Amazon you can see the regretful results. You'd think I was doing porn! The song "Fear the Man" contains the word "fuck" many times because it's in the refrain: "Fear the Man who don't give a fuck." Rhyming with "bet your last buck." It's part of the album Contrary and I very much had U.S. foreign policy on my mind as well as how the song works into the story of the innocent man in the song cycle.
Now you know.
(Hours later ....) Good God, on the blog above I finished the intro "Burl Dunn Thinks ...) with "Actually, I knows I'd love to shake the hand of of Jimmy Carter." And I can't edit the "share" - it's like an email sent.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One hard-ass, workin' Texas gal, a story

This story is fiction only because the names have been changed and all the facts can’t be verified. So, this story is about as true as reporting is on the most important stuff. You know, secret prisons, what’s behind the influence of the CIA, etc. Just like that. True as hell; try and prove it ain’t.

A guy named Bill told me it in a bar. If we hadn’t ended up in a booth with no one nearby he’d have never told me, especially the part about one event that happened when he was a child that he seemed to be over within less than a year, but which now he claimed ruined his entire life. I mean, compared to, say, having a drone sneak up on your uncle’s wedding and killing your entire family except for you and you’re just eight years old - compared to that this is just whining, but I found it compelling – I was spellbound for nine beers.

“ So, ok,” Bill begins, “This is too complex if I try and separate all the parts that I saw happen, that I was a part of, from the parts that I figured out later. And then there’s the stuff that preceded this, ok, so it’s more like a snapshot of a moment. But in that snapshot you can see lot’s more, you know? Like a Diane Arbus picture, you know? Like, what we were just talking about JFK and Bobby and Martin, you know? That moment when it hits you like a punch in the gut and you go, ‘Oh my God, the government killed them all,’ you know.”

“Yeah, yeah, I got you. You know I had a cousin who just died of some kind of heart disease. It’d been diagnosed over a year before. The doctor told her she could die at any time, right? Now, get this. Her husband is a Baptist preacher, right? And this is a small Texas town. Everybody knows everybody. So I hear from my sister, ‘She died in her sleep. And the autopsy showed it was her heart.’ And, in the moment, you know, I just want to finish up the conversation, ok? I got the news, sorry to hear it, well we all knew it was coming, thanks for calling, would you mind putting my name on your card? You know. Then I hang up and it hits me. Autopsy?! What the fuck they need an autopsy for? Did someone think her preacher husband had killed her in her sleep?”

“Yeah, I hear you. What is this shit with autopsies? Cutting up bodies. It only makes sense when you suspect a crime has been committed, you know? You know what, talk about a punch in the gut. You know how every time there’s a plane crash they conduct a thorough investigation. Spend weeks, months if they have to. Finding the black box, looking at this, looking at that, right? So, it hits me. 9/11. Bush ordered the mess cleaned up as soon as possible, right? He fucking ORDERS that there will be no real investigation, right? And barges haul all this debris, which is the evidence, right? Barges haul it to secret locations and places that are off limits, classified sites and shit, you remember?”

“Oh, yeah,” I answered, “I’m with you. So, the most important plane crashes in American history occur. By the end of the day, they say, ‘We know who did it. We know how it all went down. Here’s pictures. It was Osama Bin Laden.’ And they’re flying his relatives back to Saudi Arabia, right? But, this Baptist preacher has to have his wife’s body invaded before the burial?”

“Yeah,” Bill says. “And Bush says. It’s too distressing for Americans to see all this. We’re going to clean it up pronto. Get it out of sight. You ready?”
“Yeah, I’ll stick with Bass. I gotta go to the little boys room. I’ll get the next round.”
“Sure.” Bill gets this look. “And when you come back you’ll be seeing a man about a dog?”
“Huh?”
“ You go. And if it doesn’t bore the hell out of you I got a story to tell you about a dog.”
“Ha. Gotcha. Be right back.”

So I’m not a bar kind of guy really. I always looked at it like hey, I can go to the store and buy six beers for the price of two in a bar. But now, I’m gettin’ up there. I’ve most always done my drinking alone while I was playing guitar. But now, fuck it, I’m lonely. You know, I got no male drinking buddy. My wife won’t drink. Doesn’t like me to drink. So, it’s worth it to go to a bar. I always talk to somebody and once in a while I hit it off with some stranger and I end up getting stuff off my chest that I wouldn’t, or couldn’t tell another living soul, you know?

So, Bill and I settle in. He starts in, “I was just thinking. This story may bore you to tears. So just tell me, ok, and I’ll stop. I mean, we’ve never seen each other before and I may never see you again. And I want to tell somebody this thing that hit me in the gut. Well, I’ll know if you think I’m a nut and I’ll stop the story. Or you just …”

“Yeah, yeah. Go ahead. I’m into it. Tell me before I’m too drunk to listen, ok? I do this, too. Go. Tell me about the dog.”
“Ok. I’ll just start with the whipping.”
“You whipped a dog?”
“Hell no. My momma was whipping me.”
“Yeah?”
“Ok, I’m like eight years old. We just moved into a nice brick house in the suburbs.”
“Where?”
“Amarillo, Texas. I grew up there. It was nice for a kid, you know? Both my parents worked. It was, let’s see, I was eight. It was 1958. We left our doors unlocked, you know? I could walk to and from school. I’d get home, I could ride my bike. In five minutes I’d be out of town, out in farmland, pasture land, you know? I was really into riding that bike man.”
“Ok, got it. The dog?”
“Pudgy.”
“Ok, was he fat”
“No. I can’t remember why I named her Pudgy. She was a cute little cocker spaniel. Not a pure-bred, but she was a cocker spaniel. For the first time we had a nice fenced in back yard so I got a dog. My first memories about her are me, like, tickling her chest. I was sure I made her hair go curly there from all the tickling. She was … you like dogs?”
“Oh yeah.”
“So you understand me when I say I loved her more than anything? I mean more than ANYTHING. If you said, ‘Bill you can either ride your bike or stay home and play with Pudgy,’ there’d of been no contest. I’m with the dog.”
“Gotcha.”
“You ever see “Old Yeller?”
“Oh yeah, cried like a baby man.”
“Me, too. And I read dog books. I remember “Big Red” and “Lassie Comes Home,” right? We had a World Book Encyclopedia, man, and when I looked up dogs they had pages of dogs. Neat pictures. Hunting dogs. Working dogs. You know.”
“Oh yeah. Don’t tell me the internet is ever going to replace looking through a good encyclopedia.”
“No way. So, anyway, I loved her. Thinking now I think I loved her more than I loved my family, but you’re a kid, you’re only eight. You don’t think about that, you know? They’re your family, right? You think you love ‘em. And you do, but it’s, what? It’s a … it’s a conditional love, you know? We were Baptists. I believed I was bad, you know? ‘For all have sinned …’ stuff.”
“Gotcha.”
“So, my parents would spank me with a belt sometimes. And this one day, I don’t remember why, but my Mom was wailing away at me on the back porch. I’d put my hands back there, but she kept on, hurt my hands, so I moved them. And then, there’s Pudgy, man. And she was barking and snarling, scratching at my Mom’s legs, you know? Protecting her master, it’s just instinct, right?”
“Sure.”
“So my mom had just gotten in from work. She worked in an office and she liked to dress snazzy, you know” She wore nice, I guess silk, stockings, and Pudgy was tearing ‘em up. I remember laughing, like right from crying and going, ‘No, mommy, no’ to laughing - kind of hysterical I guess. So she takes the belt to my dog, but Pudgy stays in there, man. I don’t remember her biting mom, just scratching up her legs and snarling. Man, to me it was like a book or a movie. That’s what dogs do, right? You don’t have to train ‘em. They love you to death. They’ll die for you, man.”
“Oh, yeah.”
“So, I don’t know. I’ve got a vivid memory of her spanking me. My butt, my legs, my hands, whatever. And I remember laughing and then everything changed. Her expression. I don’t even remember if I had got down to protect Pudgy or if she just stopped. I think she just stopped and went in the house, Pudgy still going for her legs.”
“Wow, that’s a dog, man.”
“Yeah, and I stayed outside. Me and Pudgy hugging and her licking me, you know?”
“Sure.”
“So, I don’t remember how things went down when my Dad came home. He probably whipped me some more for good measure. Inside the house. Anyway, all I remember is the next day I get home from school, the back gate is open and Pudgy is gone.”
“Shit.”
“Pudgy is gone. But you know, Lassie comes home, man. She could have gone out, but she would have would have come back in, too. She knows where home is.  But she’s not in the alley. I spend the whole afternoon walking up and down the alley, calling, ‘Pudgy, Pudgy, reet, reet, reet (he was whistling), here Girl, Pudgy.’ But she’s gone, man. My parents get home about the same time and say, “Well, did you leave the gate open when you threw out the trash?” Man, all my life all you had to do to get me was lay a guilt trip on me. So that turned my mind to blaming myself, then there was some speculation. She looks like a pure bred. I bet someone took her. Maybe someone opened the gate from the alley and left it open when they left. Anyway, I was just a stupid kid. It didn’t hit me until I was middle-aged with two out of three kids grown up. All these thoughts like, if someone came into our yard they could have come on into the house and stolen SOMETHING. You know, and a lot of other things it’d take too long and whiny to get into, but one of them was remembering so vividly that look on my mother’s face when she went from  being mad as hell, whipping my ass, to just stopping. Oh yeah, she said, “That dog ruined my hose,” and just went inside.” So one day it hit me like a punch in the gut, “My mom had my dad take Pudgy away. I wonder if he shot her or just took her so far away she couldn’t find her way home.”
“But Lassie comes home.”
“Yeah. Every day after school I came home and looked for Pudgy. On foot, on my bike. With binoculars even, ha. I remember going out in a snow storm looking for her. Man, I just knew I’d find her. I just knew she’d come back. I didn’t give up for months, man.”
“Pudgy was dead.”
“Yep, I think so. If my Dad didn’t do it then I’ll bet she got her daddy to.”
“ So before we both start crying here let’s get set up.” So Bill got the beer and I took another leak, thinking. Feeling bad for that little boy looking for his dog. Then it hit me like a punch in the gut.
We settled down again and, what the fuck, if this had been a friend I might not have had the guts to handle it this way. I said, “Bill?”
“Yeah.”
“Tell me quick without thinking one good thing about your mother.”
“Huh?”
“Quick.”
“Well … That woman worked her ass off. Her good job is the reason we got by. My Dad was a salesman all his life and he either got a good commission, a bad commission, or nothing at all when things were bad. Oh, and she was in the union, man.”
“Which one?”
“Communications Workers of America.”
“Telephone company, huh?”
“Oh yeah. That’s pretty good, huh, for Texas? A union woman from the 1940s when she was a telephone operator. You know, plugging in those wires.”
“Did she cook?”
“ Damn good meat and potatoes. Not much on vegetables. From a can. Oh, except for fried okra. And you know what? Every Saturday morning for a long time she got up on Saturday morning and made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Hey, I see where you’re going with this.”

“You remember, about two hours ago when we first met we were talking about that damn Keystone Pipeline?”
“Yeah?”
“We talked about Rick Perry and how he wanted a mile-wide line all the way through the United States? And how the damn Democrats would probably open the door to that by okaying the pipeline? And how that’d be the thin wedge that, after that, why not lay down some train tracks along side, and a highway, and electrical lines, and the damn Democrats would end up making Governor  Rick Perry’s wet dream come true?”
“Well, yeah. Now, I don’t see where you’re going.”
“Well, excuse me, but you know I told you I was a songwriter? And I’m drunk and I’m going to go poetical on you.”
“Ha ha. Go man.”
“Well, that Pudgy thing? I understand it broke your heart. I bet your Mom did it, too, but you know what? That thing is your own personal Keystone Pipeline and …”
“Oh, brother, you are drunk.”
“I know. Fuck it. But man, that thing is like the Keystone Pipeline in your heart, man. It’s the thin wedge that took you down the road into forgetting all the good stuff and the more you dwell on it, the wider that pipeline gets.”
“Fuckin’ corny man.”
“ So are some of my songs. But they make a point.”
Bill looked at me, kinda opened his mouth, then shut it. I think his eyes got a little moist.”
“If you’ll shut up, I’ll buy a last round.”
“Done.”
We got our beers and Bill held his up. I reached mine over and we clinked glasses.
Bill said, “Burl, to my Momma …” I could tell he had more but couldn’t get it out.
“To your Momma. One hard-ass, workin’ Texas gal.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Hey Bill.”
“Huh?”
“ How can we convince those damn Democrats not to open the door to Rick Perry’s wet dream?”
“I think we’ll have to meet tomorrow and figure that out.”
Damn, it was good to have a drinkin’ buddy again.



                                                      Aillen Gilliland Dunn, 1923-2012
My kids would be appalled that I called her "hard ass." They remember a sweetie. Sure, she was that, too. The story is fiction, however.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Songwriter and the Dog - complete short story w/song

Johnny told me, “So here's everything you need to know if you want to make it as a singer - songwriter: it's just as tough as making it as an ugly whore. There are better looking women out there who'll do it for free. That's where the competition starts. Most of the time you only find a niche with those who failed to score with the beautiful girl. Not all the time, though. There are some who want things they can't get from the beautiful girl. There are some who want to do things they wouldn't dare do to the beautiful girl.

“The next thing to know is that singer/songwriters are like gunslingers and only some, as Townes Van Zandt knew ‘wear their guns outside their pants for all the honest world to feel.’ These songwriters want to blow you away. OK, some are more like Mac the Knife. They want to cut you. You know, like in jazz - to cut someone is to play so much better that you slink away or fade away or, as you take your next break, pretend that you're not just a bloody stump with a horn.”

“What can destroy a shy songwriter with some good chops and good lyrics, and that’s how I see you Burl, is to see all those semi-successful no-talent bastards with attitude. You see, in the entertainment business, attitude is equal to talent. Talent does not rise to the top. Attitude with a dose of talent does. And the ones with attitude got it by some alchemy of nature/nurture that you didn't get. You sit there and watch a guy go from C to F to C to F, ad infinitum. You hear hackneyed vocal lines and you think, this is shit. Then you look around and the room is filled with rapt attention and dreamy eyes and you think, what the fuck, I could do that when I was 13! Sure you could, but you had a shy attitude - you were a loser then and you're a loser now. The girls go for the boys who exude dangerous, edgy attitude not the very nice, shy ones with heads full of sensitivity.” Man, Johnny could go on.

“Now there's young attitude and there's old attitude. Young attitude should be perfectly enacted. Old attitude - they cut you some slack because they know your past. They admire the road you traveled. Once you were tough and hot and you rocked the house, so now you can get away with just reminding them of that – or maybe you’re one of those special old men who still rock the house like you did when you were young!” He went on.

“Before continuing I want to make the distinction between the only two types of musicians who count. There's the ones who can play. They range from the soulful C, F, and G types to some who really have nice chops - some can hang in any jam; they know some sophisticated chords; they have a number of pleasant songs. Then there's the Motherfuckers. They are Django Reinhardt, Paco de Lucia, Jimi Hendrix. I'm not talking about the Motherfuckers here. They are a breed apart and I am not worthy.

“To me the funniest way to get cut is by lyrics. When I listen to singer/songwriters I rarely walk away with any lyrics stuck in my head. I mean even the good players who made me nod my head and tap my foot. I enjoyed them, but nothing stuck. I finally figured out why. It's because they were singing about themselves and how sensitive they are. Makes me want to puke.” Johnny threw his head back and moaned:

“I'm receptive to your needs
I'm conscious of your wants
I feel things so deeply
I need to get deep inside of youuuuuu.

That man can never understand you
He can never give you what you need
Only I have the love so true
That can make you become brand newwwww.

“To  me, the worst of the worst is the good looking chick with performance attitude and sensitive songs. And low-cut dresses that swirl as she plays, dresses that you can almost see through. She expects you to fall in love with her. She's used to it. Before you know it you've bought her a drink, tipped her tomorrow's lunch money, and then her boyfriend comes in. He's not jealous. He knows you're just another useful john who will never get to first base, but who'll probably buy him a drink to be sociable before you excuse yourself.

“Oh, I'm such a curmudgeon. I forgot the hippies, the tried and true enthusiast who is just happy to be there. They play from the heart. They are infectious; they leave you feeling good. If they are also a Motherfucker, they are sure a rare gem.”

 That's what Johnny wanted and wanted it desperately. He wanted to go back to the 60s when he knew God. When he trusted the world. When he took no offense. All the shit in the world could be dumped on his head and roll like water off a duck's back. He played on.

Johnny was like that in the 60s. He loved his guitar so much he played all day. The calluses on his left hand were so thick that his left hand fingers were a quarter inch longer than the right hand. Sitting on the edge of his bed wailing out a new song was as exciting to him as if he were at Carnegie Hall.

Right now, Johnny was back in Texas. Not the part he grew up in, that flat, dusty, windy Panhandle - the part that makes the wind blow in Oklahoma (because it sucks). No, he was down around Austin and San Antonio, a beautiful place to be - in the winter when it's not 103 in the shade with 90% humidity. East Texas has more side-of-the-road rest areas, rest stops, and picnic areas than you can shake a stick at. They are a reminder of the gracious Texas, a reminder of the time when a few tax dollars were spent with the comfort of families in mind. Johnny's type of family - the kind that packed a cooler with sandwiches and bought a watermelon from a roadside stand. Picnic areas with nice mowed grass, tables, a water spigot, and a toilet.

You could be poor as dirt and yet have a place to be. Having a place - Johnny took that for granted as a kid. His family home was small, but Daddy had it almost paid off. He could ride his bike all around the neighborhood - his neighborhood. There's something wrong with a country that refuses to spend a few bucks for the public. A country where you have to go into a store and ask for a key to the restroom and where you get a hard look if you haven't spent any money there. A country without public parks and plentiful water and restrooms is a poor country that doesn't give a damn about kids.

Johnny was moving from rest area to rest area in a hundred square mile area. Some nights he was parked by a sweet little river or creek. Tall trees with leaves rustling in the breeze. Most nights there was no one else there and the stars at night were big and bright. And it was all his because everyone else was afraid to spend the night outdoors. Americans have become full of fear, that's why. Empires create fear both abroad and at home.

Johnny was practicing his songs, getting ready for the open mics he intended to play in Austin. He was 65 years old and thought he still had one more chance to make it if only he could do on a stage what he could do alone. All he wanted was for an artist to pick one of his songs. He still had the feeling in his heart, the muscle memory in his fingers and wrist, but the mind was slipping. He had to run through his song list every day to keep those lyrics fresh in his mind. And then in the bar, waiting for his turn to sing two or three songs, he drank and smoked. The smoke helped keep his voice solid on the low notes. The drink all too often made him slip up. He might sing one line out of order, keeping the meaning but ending on the wrong word, ruining the rhyme. Then he'd think about that and hit the wrong chord. Jesus, why oh why did I pick music as my dream career, thought Johnny. I'm a loner by nature, I can't cut loose in front of an audience. I'm tongue-tied and not having fun. Hell, I should have been a writer.

Johnny woke up to the sound of a bulldozer, a front end loader, and a truck. He stuck his head out the van door and a friendly Hispanic man said, "Sorry Buddy, I've got to ask you to move. We're tearing this place up today." "How come?" "Well, Texas passed this new law that allows neighbors to ask the state to remove rest areas and picnic areas." "Isn't it state land? Why would they want this nice place torn down?" "Yeah, it is nice. I can remember stopping here with my family when I was a kid. But people are claiming that drug users meet up here. They're scared and the law lets them decide." "So taxpayer dollars built this nice little place and one guy can have it torn down just like that? Does he have to pay for it?" "Hell, no. The taxpayers pay. It's a raw deal, but it's the law. Gotta ask you to take off so we can get to work."
So Johnny drove off to Sweet San Antone.
                             *********
Sheep Springs, New Mexico is a bump in the crossroads. Westward are the Chuska Mountains of Navajo land, East is Chaco Canyon, an important Anasazi ruin; it's north to Colorado and south to Gallup, New Mexico (where everyone is a minority). Navajos spread out on the land so you can't see many hogans or houses from Sheep Springs, but they are out there. And each spread has dogs and the dogs have puppies.

Sheep Springs is mainly a convenience store with gas and some storage units. On weekends a flea market springs up around the parking lot and across the road. If there are a more enterprising people than the Navajo I've never seen them. All across the reservation there are Grandmas getting up at 4 and even 3 a.m. to make breakfast burritos to sell to folks on their way to work. They make the thick tortillas by hand. On weekends they set up little propane stoves and make fry bread, mutton stew, and Navajo Tacos fresh on the spot. Johnny kept track of what he called the Navajo fast food inflation index. His first mutton stew 10 years ago was three dollars. You just say mutton stew when you order. It's assumed that a big hot piece of frybread and a cup of coffee are part of the order. The last time it was five dollars. Inflation.

A pack of dogs was running around the flea market this winter. Every one was a female with the tits of a mother. Everyone had had a cute litter of puppies and every one was abandoned after that. It happens even in wealthy areas. This pack was a very cooperative little band. Winter is cold in Sheep Springs and during the long nights they huddled tightly together, pushing into each other for body heat. And every now and again a dog would find her way into the middle of the warm mass. Ahhh, blessed heat. There was no fighting; fighting was a waste of energy and it took you away from the warm mass. During the day the dogs begged for food at the flea market (bringing their own contribution of fleas) and jumped in and out of trash cans. So they were very friendly, both with each other and with people. As a cooperative mass they survived the cold and as friendly individuals they charmed food from hungry humans.

The dogs didn't know it, but plans were in the works to hunt them down. A little boy had been killed by a pack of wild dogs near Gallup. Animal Control was planning on bringing the trucks and a group of men with guns was planning on mopping up after that.

One particular dog didn't know it but a guitar player named Johnny was just now crossing the state line from Texas in an old Chevy van. He'd laid around and played around San Antonio for a week playing open mics at night then sleeping in picnic areas outside of town. And he was beginning to be noticed – and I don’t mean as a musician.

Johnny tried to spread out his nightly locations, but he knew the cops had his number. It's legal to spend less than 24 hours in one spot, but the problem for Johnny was driving sober to those spots. Alcoholism is a job hazard for musicians and in the U.S. the legal limit is so damn low. Hell, Johnny with one beer on an empty stomach was over the limit. He was ready for a break from the booze and the city so he was off to the Four Corners, an area about as vast as Alaska and almost as thinly populated. He had a few acres of cheap land with a funky cabin. And he had a sweet little yeller hound with the softest tongue in the world waiting to be saved.

Johnny pulled into Sheep Springs because he saw a frybread stand. As he got out about seven dogs came up, barking and romping in a friendly way. He was handed his frybread, the most greasy one he’d ever had. The bread was so hot that the excess lard pooled up on it without congealing. One little dog had the nerve to come close to Johnny. She was, I guess, a medium-sized dog, but on the small side of medium and she reminded Johnny of Old Yeller, a dog in a Disney movie he’d loved in his youth.
He held out a piece of the bread and she took it daintily, but wolfed it right down. Johnny said to her, “I might just come back for you.”

You see, Johnny was still in mourning for his last dog – also an abandoned rez dog. He felt a bit like a man might feel who’d lost his loving wife less than a year ago. It didn’t feel right to bring a new love into his life yet. Edy had been his best dog companion ever. Instead of telling you, let me put in this song he’d written about her.

Good Dog A’Mighty      c BurlDunn

I had a dog one time, I mean to tell you the best of her line

That sweet girl loved me to the end

When it got so she could hardly move her tail still wagged for me

You don’t have to tell me how to treat my best friend.

I got down on my knees, held her to my chest

She gave a long, relaxing sigh and surrendered to her death

At that moment the love that flowed was pure and blessed

You don’t have to tell me how to treat my best friend.


I howled at the moon, I growled at strangers

The pal I’d lost was ever ready for laughter and dangers

I’d give six more years for each one she gave me

You don’t have to tell me how to treat my best friend.


Every dog I’ve had has been all a dog can be

God help me be the man those dogs have seen in me.


I had a dream last night, seemed so real

We were walking on a ridge that was so high

Lord I slipped, I fell, I was falling straight into hell

But my good dog dug in, she didn’t let me die.

I landed on my knees, she jumped up on my chest

Licked my face and gave a great big grin

She said, “You can stumble, but you can’t fall,

Not as long as I give my all. You didn’t have to train me to be your best

friend.”


“I howled at the moon, I growled at strangers,

You were the pal I loved, ever ready for laughter and dangers

I gave you six more years for each one you gave me

And you didn’t have to train me to be your best friend.”


No, and you don’t have to tell me who is my best friend

No, no, it’s my good dog a’mighty

You don’t have to tell me who is my best friend.

Johnny pulled out onto the highway and that pack of dogs followed him, nipping at his tires and barking in a friendly way. The yeller hound was romping along, too, and Johnny thought, “She’s just doing that because she has to be part of the pack to survive. I couldn’t stand it if she were run over.” He did a U-turn. Johnny asked around the flea market, “Are these dogs strays? Do you think they belong to anyone?” Everyone answered that, oh yeah, no doubt, they are all strays, so Johnny went into the convenience store, bought a can of dog food, opened it and then picked up Ella Frybread from Sheep Springs, New Mexico, put her in the van and took her into his life. He knew he was saving her life. He didn’t know she was also saving his.
                                    *****
Ella worked every bit of meat out of that can as Johnny drove along. Soon he shortened her name to Ely – pronounced LLE – he had her “fixed” and wormed and deloused.
Ely leaned into Johnny hard as he drove along. Both vehicles he drove had manual transmissions and it required a great deal of effort to push against her when he needed to shift gears. I don’t mean to push her away; I mean just to get hold of the shifter and make the motion. It was funny at first. Ely would just sit leaning her entire weight against Johnny, looking forward at the road with a calm look on her face, like saying, Yeah, it’s just me and my man heading down the road. Several times in towns Johnny would see someone in a facing car laugh as they went by and he realized that Ely looked like some girl pressing against her boyfriend as they drove down the road.

While on the smallish side, Ely became deceptively heavy. Johnny took to teasing her, calling her a “dog muscle.” One solid mass of muscle (with the softest tongue in the world).
The folks who abandoned her must not have needed a sheep dog, because most sheep-herding dogs on the rez were medium size hound dogs. Ely would have been one faithful hard-working dog, thought Johnny.

Unbeknownst to him, she was working. She was working on Johnny. Making him move more because he loved to let her go off leash in the country and watch her playful running around. Making him laugh like a fool at her antics. Teaching him to love again because Johnny was getting bitter about life and music, politics and people in general. I think the feeling of love is essential and it doesn’t have to be love of God or love of mankind or love of a human even. For some of us as we get older, especially those of us without enough money to keep our old cars going and buy good food, the world is a loveless place. We have one entire political party dedicated to the principle that people, even children (once they are born), don’t deserve health care unless their mommies and daddies make enough money to buy it. A political party that would deny food stamps to the poor even though food stamps are necessary for the health of the families of our soldiers – soldiers and military being now objects of worship – “heros” and “support our troops” – but we don’t support them with a living wage or meet their needs when they return damaged by wars fought for corporate greed.

Then we have another political party too indebted to the real power-base of America to heed to voices of the majority of Americans. Too busy justifying the need for more spies, more private prisons, more bombs, more corporate welfare so our jobs can be outsourced overseas. A corporate media that guides us towards empire; the empire breaking the backs of the poor and middle class who pay for it.

No, it’s pretty true, as Dylan sang, “Everything is broken.” But not real love. That’s not broken. Not the love of a good dog or a good man or a good woman. Johnny loved Ely and Ely gave Johnny six more years of life than he had been destined for. Just that moving and loving and thinking of the needs of another being gave him six more years.

But one day, Johnny just kind of sank to the ground inside his isolated cabin. He was awake and aware, but he couldn’t move much; certainly he couldn’t get up. And there was no one around to help him up. But Ely was there. And as Johnny faded away his last sensations of life on earth were simple yet as full of love and as powerful as God could offer: he heard little whimpering sounds right in his ear and felt his face being licked by the softest tongue in the world.


The post right below this one contains the lyrics of “Good Dog a’Mighty” with chords and links. Thanks for reading this to the end. You must love dogs, too.

Lyrics and chords for "My Good Dog a'Mighty"

Good Dog A’Mighty      c BurlDunn
GCGD
           G          G7                          C                               A
I had a dog one time, I mean to tell you the best of her line
                 G    Em                          A       DD7
That sweet girl loved me to the end
             G                              G7          C                           A
When it got so she could hardly move her tail still wagged for me
                           G                         D          GCGD
You don’t have to tell me how to treat my best friend.
   G                      G7     C                   A
I got down on my knees, held her to my chest
                 G                 Em         A                        D           D7
She gave a long, relaxing sigh and surrendered to her death
           G                             G7             C           A
At that moment the love that flowed was pure and blessed
                           G                         D          G            CGD
You don’t have to tell me how to treat my best friend.

   C                  G          C              G
I howled at the moon, I growled at strangers
       Em                        A                               D          D7
The pal I’d lost was ever ready for laughter and dangers
             C           G           Em                     A
I’d give six more years for each one she gave me
                           G                         D          G            CGD
You don’t have to tell me how to treat my best friend.

Em                  C                 G                 Em
Every dog I’ve had has been all a dog can be
C                  A                       D                       D7
God help me be the man those dogs have seen in me.

            G             G7     C             A
I had a dream last night, seemed so real
                                 G             Em     A            DD7
We were walking on a ridge that was so high
           G            G7           C                         A
Lord I slipped, I fell, I was falling straight into hell
                    G                     D                           G    CGD
But my good dog dug in, she did not let me die.
G                     G7      C                            A
I landed on my knees, she jumped up on my chest
                 G           Em                  A        DD7
Licked my face and gave a great big grin
                             G                              G7
She said, “You can stumble, but you can’t fall,
           C                       A                               G                   D
Not as long as I give my all. You didn’t have to train me to be your best
G                CGD
friend.”

    C                  G          C              G
“I howled at the moon, I growled at strangers,
                    Em                    A                              D           D7
You were the pal I loved, ever ready for laughter and dangers
                 C           G           Em                      A
I gave you six more years for each one you gave me
                                  G                           D             C
And you didn’t have to train me to be your best friend.”

                                       G                  D          C
No, and you don’t have to tell me who is my best friend

No, no, it’s my good dog a’mighty
         G                D           G           CGDG

Don’t tell me she’s my best friend.

I put a free mp3 of this song in my public dropbox folder here. The song is one from "Texas Dance Songs"

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pictures while recording "Contrary - an Outlaw Tale

This google web page series has some of the best photos and links of Big John Mills, Sterling Finlay, Johnny Arredondo, Russell Tanner, and Burl Dunn during the recording of "Contrary - an Outlaw Tale." Cheatham Street Woodshed Studios, San Marcos, Texas.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Three from "Texas Dance Songs" lyrics, chords, mp3s

This link should take you to my public Dropbox where you should be able to download the mp3s and html docs. of the songs. (I won't leave the mp3s forever.) I say should.
If it doesn't work for you here's an alternative:
I'm putting the songs here on this page. You can go to your favorite internet radio station or download or streaming site and search for "Burl Dunn" and find these songs. The are all published by CD Baby, so you pros out there know who to call. Adele, are you out there? T. Bone Burnett?

Dream On You Dream Come True
copyright by Burl Dunn

C Dm G
C     Dm       G G7
When you close your eyes to those starry skies
C         Dm       G G7
When you let go your thoughts and dreams press through
F C
I’d give a fortune to be near
        G CF
To have you here..

C     Bflat       F
And if my mind were a net I’d catch your dreams like butterflies
G   Bflat
I’d study them well, but I wouldn’t tell
F
I’d just look and let ‘em fly away
                       G                                           C      CF
So you could dream them again some other day.

C
And if I find you’re dreamin’ of me
Dm                                GG7
Should I pretend not to see?
      C
Or could I take your dream like a mold
             Dm                                 G
And be reshaped, one you could hold?
       F                                 C                    F                              C F
For years I’ve dreamed of you, so dream on you dream come true
F                   C          F                 C F
Yeah, dream on you dream come true
F         C          F                 C       FCFC

Dream on you dream come true…


I Never Waltzed With You           c by Burl Dunn
G          D                  G  G7          C                                    G  G7                      
I never waltzed with you               Never did the two-step, too
C                                                    G                   Em
I was too shy                                 You were too proud
        G       D                  G        CGEmGDG
So I never waltzed with you.

G          D                  G  G7          C                                    G  G7
I never waltzed with you               Never did the two-step, too
               C                                 G             Em
We went straight from high           To goodbye
   G       D                  G  G7
I never waltzed with you

Ch:
   C                                          G
I wish we had waltzed across Texas
C                             D
Instead of Careless Love
   C                         G          Em
I wish I were deep in your heart
D                         G            transition notes G F# G# Achord
Instead of Faded Love.
Instrumental in key of A just as below
A                            E          A A7
Why did we never dance a jig?    
               D                         A A7
Why did we never shake a leg?
D                       A           F#m
We tap danced around romance   
               A             E          A
Why did we never dance a jig?

A         E                    A A7          D                                    A A7
I never waltzed with you               Never did the two-step, too
D                                                    A                   F#m
I was too shy                                 You were too proud
        A       E                  A
So I never waltzed with you.
  D                                           A
I wish we had waltzed across Texas
D                             E
Instead of Careless Love
   D                         A          F#m
I wish I were deep in your heart
E                         A A7           
Instead of Faded Love.
           D                         A         F#m
Yes, I wish I were deep in your heart
E                         A
Instead of Faded Love


In Our Dance c Burl Dunn

D  A  G   D  A
D               A   G                   D A
Who is this man waltzing with you?
D                     A            G                    D  A
Whose are these hands, so lucky, touching you
          Bm     A       Bm      A       Bm     A      G GaddF# A
In our dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance



Who is this woman, yesterday’s girl?

Whose is this magic around me twirls
                                                  Bm     A      G GaddF# A
In our dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance


A       G                           D
It’s so easy out here on the dance floor
     G                       A
As easy as one, two, three
G      D      A
One, Two, Three


A         D                  A
There’s no doubt who this night is for
           G        D              A
It’s for us- it’s leading  us toward
D        A
Music, laughter, and love
       G                     D            A
Our moon, our stars, swirling above
          Bm     A        Bm     A       Bm     A       G GaddF# A
Our dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance

There you go dance bands! Some new cover songs. My permission to play them in clubs. Copyright laws to apply for recording, use in films and videos, etc. You know what I mean. My publisher is CD Baby.


about identity

One of the fascinating college professors I had told us that in medieval times if one ask a stranger in Europe, "Who are you?" they would be likely to answer, "I am a Christian,  I am from (name of city or village), I am (name) the son of ___,." Since medieval times Europeans and Americans, I think, have passed through a sea change in identity. Now we would tend to first say our names and we would not likely mention our religion ... that is most of us. At least until some topic comes up such as politics. Politically, we have regressed back to identity, at least among Republicans. "I am a Christian, I am a Republican, I hate abortion and the doctors who perform them ..."
Salman Rushdie is quoted in Salon (link here) as saying we more and more identify ourselves by what we hate or oppose. I think the Christian Right in America and the other fundamentalist groups worldwide - jihadists, Hindu nationalists, etc.) are hurtful.
The absolutist Christian Right, having aligned itself with the Republican Party, gives a patina of righteousness to all things right wing, and consequently paints all things not right wing as satanic. It is just one of the factors killing American politics. And it is as phony as an alcoholic tent revivalist.
Just to take one issue - children. The Christian Right focuses on one thing - abortion. I don't need to tell you about the death threats, the harrassing ... But after a child is born the Republican Christian Right is perfectly willing to leave that child's health and safety to fate. They don't want that child to get free health care, enough good food, a safe home or any other factor that is important to life. So the Christian Right does not believe in the sanctity of life. Now when the child reaches the "age of accountability" the Christians feel obligated to make sure they have heard the gospel. Then, if the child rejects Christianity they can just go to hell -  and in the meantime they will be happy to make life a living hell on earth. And Christians are just so happy about prison rape.
Christians aren't. Not the ones we hear yelling on the news. George Carlin had it in a nutshell - "If you are pre-born you are precious. If you are pre-school, you're fucked."
Let's work at taking the Christian patina away from these hate-filled people. Let's get religion AND the corporations out of our politics. Then we might be mature enough to have a useful discussion about a culture of life.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

my song, Dream On You Dream Come True

I updated my public file at Dropbox. The new free mp3 is "Dream On You Dream Come True." I also have the lyrics there for you. I will add the chords tomorrow because I do hope you will play and sing this song. It's copyrighted and you can sing and play it in all situations where bands and people commonly cover other people's songs - you know bars, coffee houses, and stuff.
This song has multiple layers of meaning that I like. It's a belly-rubbing slow-dance love song for sure! Go here for my public folder.
"Dream On You Dream Come True" is on the album "Texas Dance Songs."

My albums are on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, and other download sites.

Monday, August 12, 2013

free lyrics with chords and free mp3 for "I Never Waltzed With You"

I wrote "I Never Waltzed With You" in 2011 before my first musical trip to Texas. My wife loved it from the start and when I came back with the master she and I spontaneously danced to it. It was her first hearing of Big John Mills on that big-sounding acoustic guitar. It's a simple waltz with an old-timey sound (I've been told by a young Texan in Amarillo).
I enjoyed the transition from the key of G to A right before Big John's solo.
I have the mp3 and lyrics with chords up for a short time for free here on Dropbox.
I would love it if bands all over the world played this song! Don't worry about copyrights and legal stuff. If you want to record it for sale or use it in a soundtrack just contact me or CD Baby. The song is published by CD Baby, and I am associated with BMI, but there are no worries about live performance by local dance bands. Play it, play it! I hope people dance to it everywhere!
Soon I will take down the free mp3, but leave the lyrics and chords up.
I'd love for you to buy "Texas Dance Songs" from your favorite download spot and request my songs on your favorite internet radio station.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Marwan Bishara rocks on al jazeera's show "Empire

I just watched an episode of Empire on al jazeera. Wow. Where was the snark we see constantly in the U.S. media? Where was the obvious political bias of the host? Where were the stupid politicians spewing think tank truisms. Where was the obvious attempt to hide, evade, shape public opinion, and lie?
The episode was about Latin America. Anytime they turned to the war on drugs I waited to hear some expression referring to how the military training and weaponry provided to Latin American regimes over the years has provided governments with the implements of a war it could use on its own people. And Marwan Bishara did! He asked if the war on drugs was a "Trojan Horse."
I, for one, wonder at the genius of Nixon and his henchmen in declaring a "war on drugs." Here was a way to get around the horrid legacy of CIA sponsored coups AND to disenfranchise Americans, especially the dreaded youth and minority vote.
I have just been made more intelligent by not only the material discussed, but by seeing an example of how reasonable people interact. You don't get this on American news shows. Everything American news networks do is based upon making money and propagandizing for the Military/Industria/Secrecy/Prison Complex. American children don't have on television a role model to teach debate and questioning skills. I believe the loss of reasoned debate in America, both in Congress and on television will ALONE undermine all educational reforms.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

we need to go back to pre-Reagan Broadcast news and newspaper laws

So did you hear about the American band Bloodhound Gang who desecrated a Russian flag in the Ukraine? You can read about it here. God, I'm sick of stupid, ugly Americans acting up overseas.
I think stupidity in the United States has been on the rise because of the laws that changed how we get our news. Before Ronald Reagan there were laws in my country about radio and television news. If a station expressed an opinion instead of delivering facts they had to offer "equal time" to someone who ask to express an opposing point of view. To prevent having all those people taking up air time, broadcast stations were careful to give news and go easy on the editorial comments.
Before Reagan media outlets were limited as to how many and what kind of businesses they could run, especially in one town. No way could you own a TV station, a radio station or two, AND a newspaper in the same town!
Now when I want news I have to go to al jazeera online. Really, al jazeera news reporting reminds me a lot of what television news used to look like in the U.S.
In the U.S. there is precious little unbiased reporting. There are multiple outlets spewing hateful lies 24 hours a day. And not even precious little NPR (National Public Radio) can be trusted. They turned distinctly rightward after the 2000 election and now you can listen to one of their shows for 10 or more minutes before hearing any news. Infotainment. That's what Americans get and too many of us think its real news. It makes us more stupid and hateful every day.
I will go so far as to say this, too: Better public education in America is doomed unless we revert back to pre-Reagan broadcast news laws (and apply those standards to online outlets of those broadcast news organizations). It's doomed because children are not able to watch and think about reasoned debate. What passes for debate is really BAITING. In fact, it's bullying. The same behavior I have seen during an interview from, say Anderson Cooper even, I would have called bullying in my classroom. Instead of clarification-type questions Anderson and almost ALL the others on TV "news" will try to make the interviewee escalate his/her original statement. It's like kids. "I hate this class." "Oh, yeah. Are you saying you hate our teacher. I like her." "No. I just hate this class." "Oh, maybe you hate me, too, huh? Is that what you're saying?" Etc.

Monday, August 5, 2013

you should record at the Woodshed Studios in San Marcos, Texas

I think a lot of people might enjoy learning something about recording in a real studio. Too bad they'll never see this blog. -) I think I'll focus on someone like me: an amateur who does not have a band and will want to hire good musicians. But, I'll also assume you have almost no experience in serious performing with others.
Not counting a 4 channel cassette and an 8 channel digital work station (which actually added a lot to my recording education), I have recorded in six "real" studios: one each in Amarillo, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, and San Marcos, Texas. The first five were back in the tape days and I recorded solo all but once (Hi Richard). At the Woodshed Studios of Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos they use ProTools digital recording.
I recently looked into studios in the Denver area and I must say they have a bunch of fancy looking ones. Of course, so does Austin, just 35 miles from San Marcos. First thing I'd say is this. If you need a gorgeous setting to record your song you'll pay a lot more, but your song won't sound any better.
Now, I don't intend this to be an ad for the Woodshed, but most of what I've learned about what to expect I learned there. I'm going to start with the thing that bugged me the most - the damn click track. The pros I worked with just needed a simple click, click ... maybe an emphasis on the first beat sometimes - Click, click, click ... for a waltz. Now, from talking with Kent Finlay (owner of the Woodshed), I get the idea that most beginners go in and record what he called a "scratch track." This is you and your guitar (or whatever) playing and singing your song while hearing the click in your earphones. If you don't do this you probably don't have good enough timing to salvage the operation. You don't notice yourself speeding up and slowing down. You don't know that sometimes you slip from 1,2,1,2 to 1,2,2,1,2,1,2 and stuff like that.
So before spending the bread in the studio practice to a metronome or some computer simulation of one. If, like me, you get thrown by the click, try playing to a cheap drum machine (or computer simulation of one). Woodshed engineer Russell Tanner would play different sounds until he came up with a "cheesy drum machine" that I could play to. You don't want to be thinking too much about the click, but you must stay with it! If you do, when the pros come in they will do you a better job in less time.
Now, let's address the auto-tune misconception. A lot of people think that the computer program can make anyone sound like a decent singer. Not true. The most common auto-tune phenomenon makes people sound ALMOST like themselves. I think Cher had the first auto-tuned hit years ago and you know she can sing on pitch. Most pros using auto-tune today can sing on pitch; they use it as a special effect. You know it's auto-tuned when it's Cher and it ALMOST sounds just like her except she's been transformed into a Stepford wife robot.
If you want to sound like yourself the engineer will probably use auto-tune on a note here and a note there, not entire passages. I needed auto-tune on a low note that I was, like, a semiquaver away from and a high note that I kept missing by an inch. Russell would use as much as was needed unless it started to sound artificial, then back off to keep it sounding real.
Here's a more practical thing to do if you have pitch issues. While making the scratch track make sure your instrument is right on with the click and sing the song in your head. You can do this with practice. THEN lay down the scratch vocal track and use this trick I learned this from Moira Smiley (of VOCO) at a seminar. Moira was allowing those of us gutsy enough to go solo to sing for her critique. One young lady was very off pitch and had no clue. Moira said to the class. "Let's all sing this note to back her up. Hmmmmm" I think the song was in the key of C and she got us all humming a C note. The young lady sang in perfect tune then!
So, the engineer can put a note in your headphones. S/he can change that note if and as needed. It helped me get through an a cappella Scottish-like tune. Russell even made the note sound like a bagpipe!
OK you've got a scratch track. Both guitar and vocal are on beat and in tune. You won't drive the pros crazy! You're job is done for now.
I don't know about the situation of finding pros (or great amateurs) to be your sidemen. You can figure that out on your own or by asking people "in the know." If you are in San Marcos here's what you do. Ask Kent Finlay. He knows Texas music like Billy Graham knew the Bible. Tell him what kind of sound you have in mind -country band, rock band, whatever. Or just say, "Kent, I want a drummer, an electric bass player, lead guitar, a fiddler, and a button accordion player. I can afford to pay about x amount." When I asked him about getting a Mexican-style accordionist, he asked, "Would you prefer Flaco Jimenez or Joel Guzman?" That's like saying, "Who should I get for your religious needs Jesus or Buddha?" You probably know that Texas is kinda nonunion so he'll get you someone you can afford and they'll be good because you are in one of the heartlands of American music. If you can afford the best he'll get you the best. In my three years of recording at the Woodshed all the players worked by the song. I won't tell you how much I paid whom, but I'll tell you there were fantastic people willing to play for $35.00-$50.00 a song at that time. No kidding. The studio and engineer cost me a few hundred a day. Now, the musicians expect to come in and get the song done in just a few takes. Actually, they get most of it the first take and then "fix" (punch in) a note or phrase they weren't happy with. If you insist on playing along at the same time, as I often did, you need to be sensitive to when YOU are the one causing all the retakes and raise their fee accordingly.
There you are. You have a professional version of your song's background. It's just you and the engineer (and Russell is very convivial and helpful). Now you can sing your song over and over, or line by line, until you are happy or broke or too drunk to go on.
Then you sit on the couch, drink a Shiner and listen to Russell mix the song. He'll ask for your opinion, maybe like an eye doctor - "Now which sounds best. This? Or This. This? Or That." When that's done you'll have a decision to make. Are you going to take your master to a professional mastering studio (or pay, like CD Baby to master it)? That's the way it's done by Willie and Waylon and the boys. Mastering is a compression technique that sort of brings out all the sounds so they stand out to the ear. It's what makes a song sound best on the radio. Or you can do what I did which was to let Russell play with all his toys until it sounded damn good and as loud as a mastered CD. I liked that more natural sound. The engineer will need to know because s/he must not use certain tools from the computer kit if it's going to be mastered.
Last, but not least, ask what you need to bring for the engineer to load your digital master onto. I bought a portable hard drive for under $100.00 and it's still not full. I wanted ALL the files so they could be used by any ProTools engineer anywhere. Russell labeled the final mix so I'd know which one was the one to burn or send to CD Baby or whomever. They are WAV or AIFF files (right now).
Ta Da! You have a song for the ages and have had the experience of a lifetime!