originally published in Sound Waves Magazine January 2020
I heard a hootin’ owl howling out my window last night, just like the song, “She went calling Wild Flower…,” the one with the epic piano coda at the end. In the song, the singer thinks that because he hears a hootin’ owl that his long-lost love will come back to him and they will both go riding on the horse Wildflower. He’s heard it three nights in a row so it must be true! For decades, because this guy said so, I thought hearing owls was some sort of good luck. As the sweet mystical sound echoed through my backwoods on a foggy Connecticut evening, I thought, OK, this is it. Something really good is going to happen.
Oh you silly bird.
Upon further investigation, I discovered that hearing a hootin’ owl is actually a BAD omen, as owls are believed to be harbingers of death.
Now that the holidays are over, and our holiday hopes and dreams and wishes upon a star are over, it’s time to get real. My hootin’ owl is definitely not going to bring me oodles of good fortune, so it’s high time I figure something else out. Or perhaps, except my fate.
When we’re young we feel invincible and we are sure beyond a doubt that everything we want is going to come to us if we just work hard enough. If you can see it, you can be it, as it were. That sort of thing. But as we get older, and we’ve worked and we’ve worked but still things haven’t worked out the way we had envisioned, and we find out the hard way that little things like luck and hootin’ owls bringing luck ain’t so easy to come by, or is just misguided thinking, our hopes diminish, our dreams scale down. We graduate from the School of Hard Knocks. We get real.
I watched the musical fantasy “Rocketman” about Elton John and I pondered, if fame had found me, would I have turned into an alcoholic cocained bloody nosed drug addict who would down a bunch of pills and jump into a pool in a suicide attempt in front of a ton of family and friends? Or would I have just taken it in stride like Springsteen? Would I have built an amusement park like Dollywood?
Anyhoo, because I’m hopelessly stubborn, and will probably never know that answer, I will continue to play gigs, write songs, drop new albums, work on my skills and try out new gear, until I’m as stiff as a stuffed owl.
“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” – Maya Angelou
By the way, hootin’ and howlin’ will still be encouraged at all shows.
Thank you and good night.
We had a couple of mating screech owls here last year and the year before. Also misguided about the omen thing. Keep hooting, the singer IS the song (Edith Piaf/Judy Garland).