originally published in Sound Waves Magazine November 2020
Football just isn’t the same. Baseball wasn’t the same. Halloween wasn’t the same. Thanksgiving undoubtedly, will not be the same. I try not to think about the dissimilarities too much because they just make me ornery. And nothing good ever comes of being ornery. Grumpy old men who never got what they wanted out of life are ornery. Aging spinsters and old maids who never married, if they’re mad about it, are ornery. Scrooges are ornery. Children who don’t get their way are ornery. Musicians who never became rock stars can be the orniest of all. I’ve seen them in action and it ain’t pretty. I’ve even seen one in the mirror.
It’s rather easy to be ornery these days, so hard to be upbeat and positive. But historically, I have preferred to not be ornery. I have preferred to roll with the punches and grab what kind of joy I possibly could. I have preferred to bring joy, not more orneriness.
I was in a band once (remember those?) where the bass player was the orniest dude I ever met. He was overweight and had constant back problems so therefore always had the perfect excuse for not helping load the equipment. “Hey Jack, some help here with this one-hundred-pound bass cabinet?” “No, not today Sue, back’s acting up.” “OK, I’ll get it. Rock on.” And he would in fact rock on, he was a darn good bass player. He could throw down some nice vocal harmonies too. So, we let him stay even though he argued about every song choice, every arrangement, every gig, every dollar of low pay. He was ornery, we knew, because of his constant pain, so as human beings trying to bring joy to others with our music, who were we to judge? I’ve found him recently on social media, and wouldn’t you know it, every single post or comment from him is: ornery.
Once an ornery dude always an ornery dude I reckon.
So in this grouchiest of years that is 2020, I’ll continue to try and not be ornery (I don’t want that label, no sirree.) This month I’ll still cook a turkey with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and eat the leftovers for a week. I’ll donate a turkey or two. I’ll bring some canned goods to the shelters. I’ll pray for an end to this thing. I’ll think about playing music again. I won’t let this thing turn me into that dude.