Sunday, August 13, 2006

There's an odd man who is a friend of my family. Ok, so there are a lot of odd folk who are friends of my family.

This one in particular is from Illinois and is a remarkable guitar player. I suspect he's hypomanic (like your humble narrator) and is a gabby, eccentric musical genius - his skills with the guitar are no less than astonishing.

Still, he's so spazzy and erratic that although he is obviously incredibly talented and intelligent, he can be difficult to take seriously. Odd parlor trick - name any book of the bible, any verse, and he can quote it verbatim, by memory. Random verses - so and so begat so and so... Not just the Lord's prayer and stuff everyone knows. It's amazing.

He claims he wrote a major country music hit of the 70s for whom someone else claimed credit, and also that a primary character from the novel "The Outsiders" was based on him. A bit of a stretch, perhaps?

Perhaps not. At my parents' house for dinner tonight, we talked about him. My brother said "He could really have a major career if he'd just shut up and play, but he can't shut up." (reminds me of someone)

Dad said maybe his issues have something to do with his mother cutting his face up with a beer bottle.
I think at that moment we all considered how incongruous it is for one of the most gifted musicians you've ever heard being forever thwarted by what can only have been a staggering degree of cruelty. (His mother cut off the tip of his nose and slashed his throat from ear to ear with a broken beer bottle - I think he was 8 or 9 at the time). I know he has struggled with demons of his own, probably many of them trifling directly with his sense of self-worth, and that he hasn't always won the fight, but I think he strives to be a good person and to overcome the worst of his nature.

Couple the physical damage with a mien of the true eccentric, and you have a person who might be unsettling to some, but who is infinitely interesting. I think no degree of success would fix what wrong life has wrought for him personally, and perhaps he knows that with success come the chains that wring every last bit of self out of an artist. Perhaps surviving as he does while playing the beer leagues is his own brand of heaven on earth.

I hope so. I like him and I think he deserves to be happy, and music is definitely too important an art to be left to the "professionals."


Will said...

If what you say about his Mom is true, then his demons will never go away and that probably explains his eccentricities.

He wraps himself up in the Bible or his Guitar, because they are the only two things he trusts.

It's sad that he has to carry this burden with him wherever he goes. Lets hope he's finding peace and fulfillment with the performing you've mentioned.

FHB said...


phlegmfatale said...

ben - I think you're right. Obviously, he has a remarkable mind and probably was too great a challenge for a strung-out mother. It is tragic that this was done to him, but at least he does have the tremendously positive outlet of music.

fathairybastard - I dunno. Ritalin, who knows?

Maven said...

Eccentrics are interesting. My gf is married to one. He'll sooner poot in your general direction (if you happen to be walking behind him outdoors), contrast/compare ancient Egyptian/Greek/Hindu deities, and then mid-convo bust out into Broadway show tunes. Likewise, a talented musician (allegedly played the drums for Blondie before they hit it big), a talented painter, and allegedly once was a high priest in some group/cult of ancient Egyptian religion-or-whatnot...

phlegmfatale said...

Wow, nuggetmaven - sorta who cares if its true - it's so interesting, isn't it? Actually, aside from the Egyptian and Blondie ties, he sounds a lot like me!