Getting Through

I once met Kris Kristofferson at Johnny Cash’s house. I’ve written about it and maybe some of you have read of that meeting. I was eighteen years old and didn’t know him from Adam, he wasn’t famous yet. He offered to give me a ride back to the highway (I was hitchhiking to New York) but I declined his offer. Now I want to tell you about my second encounter with the man.

I had spent the last four and a half years of my young life hitchin’ around the country. I left when I was seventeen and came in off the road just before my twenty-second birthday. I had decided to start a new life for myself—a new life in a new town, someplace where I knew no one.

The town’s name and the reason I chose it ain’t important. It was a midsize city. The year was 1972. Got myself an apartment and found a job right off. I was all set to start my life in earnest. No more going from town to town and living off the land. I had got the roaming out of my system.

I went to work every day and then went home every day to an empty apartment. I was never much into watching TV, so I’d read books. I’d go for walks in the woods across the street. I played Frisbee by myself. I had no human contact outside of work. And work wasn’t all that great either, because I worked alone and had limited contact with other people.

I was so lonely I’d sit on the front steps of the apartment building so I could say hi to the other tenants as they came in, hoping they would stop and talk with me. There was a dive bar in the neighborhood and I’d go there in the hopes of a little conversation, man or woman, I didn’t care. But it never happened. It got so that I could really relate to the Hank Williams’ song I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.

You wanna know how bad it got? One day a guy came by selling magazine subscriptions. I invited him into the apartment and sat him down and listened to his spiel, enraptured to hear a human voice. I bought subscriptions to magazines I didn’t even want to keep him there longer.

There’s a special kind of lonesome for the young. When we’re young, we want to be a part of what’s going down. We want to meet up with our friends at the local pub. Get together for get-togethers, for parties, for going to the beach, to laugh and cavort. Maybe not so much in later life, but when we’re young, there’s a fire in us. And whatever that something is, I had it bad. I was so lonesome I could have cried. And on occasion, I did.

Now this is where Kris comes into the story. I was browsing through the bins of a record store one day and came across the album The Silver Tongue Devil and I. I took one look at his picture and thought: What the hell? I know that guy! I remembered sitting across a kitchen table from him as he sang one of his songs for Johnny. He had just written it and he wanted Johnny’s take on it.

I definitely was gonna buy the record, but did the cat have any others? Sure enough, in the same bin I found Border Lord. I took them home and put them on the turntable. From that moment on, the loneliness I’d been living with started to ease. It wasn’t overnight, but the clouds slowly parted as I listened to Kris sing When I Loved Her. When I heard him sing about that wasted guy on the sidewalk, searchin’ for a shrine he never found and wearin’ yesterdays’ misfortunes like a smile, I realized that I wasn’t the only lonely person on earth. I would find myself and get my shit together on that “lonely way back home.”

He sang about the lonesome, the misfits, he sang about me … he sang to me. He brought me sunshine. He got me through my darkness.

Well, long story short: Here I am in my dotage. But in the half century since I wore the grooves off those two records, I’ve never been lonely again. And I think if Kris were to offer me a ride today, I’d take it.

If you’re interested in reading about my first encounter with Kris, you can do so here:

https://andrewjoyce.wordpress.com/2018/05/26/john-kris-and-me/

John, Kris, and Me

This is a story that tells of my one and only encounter with Kris Kristofferson. I was a kid of eighteen and he was a janitor. We had a beer together and then went our separate ways. He went on to become the famous Kris Kristofferson and I ended up buying his records and thinking, That guy wasn’t so bad after all. Oh … and there was one other guy involved. His name was John.

It was 1968; I was eighteen-years-old, and I was hitchhiking from Miami to New York. I had gotten off the beaten track, so to speak. I should have stayed on US 301 (this was before the Interstate Highway System), but instead found myself just south of Memphis hoping to catch a ride into Nashville by noon and then catch a long haul out of that city.

It was early morning. The traffic was light, and I wasn’t having much luck when, suddenly, a black Mustang screeched to a halt, and the guy driving leaned over and said through the open passenger-side window, “I’m headin’ to Nashville, that do you any good?”

Of course I said, “Yes,” and jumped in.

As he’s accelerating, he’s looking straight ahead, not at me. In fact, he doesn’t say anything, which is strange but not unusual when you’re hitching. So, I said nothing and stared out the windshield at the fast approaching skyline of Memphis. Then it hit me. I know this guy; I should have tumbled from the voice.

At that time in my life, I was not into different types of music; I liked rock n’ roll. Since then my taste in music has matured to encompass all types. But even though this guy wasn’t a rocker, I knew him and his music. A couple of his songs had crossed over and were played on the top forty stations.

The driver was intent on what he was doing, but I think he caught me looking at him out of the corner of his eye. I noticed he had a firm grip on the steering wheel, his knuckles were white. After a few minutes, he turns to me, saying, “Howdy, my name’s John.” At the same time, he raised his right hand from the wheel and stuck it out in my direction.

We shook hands, and I said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Cash. My name is Billy.”

Once John and I shook hands, he became more talkative. Hell, he became downright verbose. He told me about his hitchhiking adventures and asked me about mine. We were three hours out of Nashville and I don’t think there was another quiet moment for the whole three hours. We talked about life, women, and we even got into a metaphysical discussion. He told me about his army days and the time he was arrested in Texas. Just to keep even, I told him stuff that had happened to me while on the road. We didn’t talk about his music or anything like that. I’d been around enough to know that coming off as a gushing fan would have been a major turn-off for him. And besides, at the time, I was not a fan, gushing or otherwise. But by the time we hit Nashville, I was becoming a fan … of the man if not his music.

As we neared Nashville, he told me he’d just gotten married a few months back and was dying to see his wife. “I’ve been gone two days and it feels like two years,” he informed me. Then he said, “It’s about dinner time; why not stop in and get something to eat and then hit the road. June’s a great cook.”

Dinner is what country folk call lunch.

I accepted his kind offer, and we got off the highway and headed for his home, which was only a few blocks away. When we got to his house, and as we were pulling into the driveway, he said, “Looks like June is out somewhere, but don’t worry, we’ll rustle somethin’ up.”

I told him not to bother, that I could cadge a meal down the line. He looked at me, shook his head, and in that deep voice, he asked me if I had any money. Of course, I didn’t and I told him so. He told me that he’d been on the road and hungry, and that if I didn’t get my butt in the house pronto, he’d drag me inside.

So in we went, and we walked right back to the kitchen. John told me to sit at the table as he opened the refrigerator and looked around for a moment before saying, “Ah ha! It’s still here. And he pulled out a platter with a ham on it. I mean a real ham, bone and all! He also came up with a jar of mustard and a hunk of cheese. As he started to slice the ham, he told me where the bread and plates were kept and asked me to get them.

When the sandwiches were made—two of them—he asked me if I’d like a beer.

“Yes, please.”

So there I am, sitting in the kitchen of a man I’d met only a few hours before, and I’ve got two thick ham and cheese sandwiches and a can of beer in front of me. Not a bad score and the day was still young!

I asked him if he was going to eat, and he said beer would do him fine.

We’re sittin’ at the kitchen table, shooting the shit when the doorbell rings. John gets up, but before he leaves, he takes a long swig of beer. “Be right back,” he says. A few minutes later, he comes back into the kitchen with this guy.

“Billy, I want you to meet a friend of mine. This here is Kris.”

I had my mouth filled with ham sandwich, so I mumbled a hello. He waved and smiled, “Glad to meet ya, Billy.”

John asked Kris, “How about a sandwich and a beer?”

“Just a beer, please. It’s my lunch hour, and I’ve got to get back to work. But I have a new song I’d like you to hear and see what you think of it.”

By now, I’d eaten my two sandwiches, and I had nothing to add to the conversation, so I figured I’d just finish my beer and get the hell out of there. But before I could say my thanks and hit the road, John leaves the room and returns a moment later with a guitar.

Prior to my going any further, I’ve got to lay the scene out for you. We’re sitting at a round kitchen table. To my left is John and directly opposite me is this guy, Kris Kristofferson. John and I were hitting our beers and watching Kris tune the guitar. Then he picked at the strings and started to sing. I don’t remember what the song was. I wasn’t really paying attention. In my mind, I was rehearsing my good-bye speech to John.

When Kris was done, we all three sat there looking at one another. I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t my opinion Kris sought. Kris didn’t say anything because he was waiting for John to say something, which he finally did.

“It’s not bad. But I don’t know if it’s for me.”

I’ve got to hand it to Kris; he smiled broadly and said, “That’s okay. I just wanted you to hear it and get your thoughts.” Then he lifted his beer and said, “Prosit.” That was my cue to leave. I stood and told John I had to hit the road. He said he’d drive me back to the highway, but I told him not to bother, he had company, and besides, it was only a few blocks away. Kris said if I could wait a few minutes, he’d drop me off at the highway on his way back to work. I declined his offer. I didn’t want to wait around. I had a full stomach and New York City was calling to me. I said my good-byes and walked out the front door, retrieved my case from the Mustang and headed off for further adventures.

Just one last thing: When I got to New York and opened my case, there was Benjamin Franklin staring up at me from on top of my clothes. John must have put the C-note in there when he went to let Kris in.

Kris

Danny’s Freedom

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Hey guys, it’s me again, Danny the Dog. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Andrew Joyce’s roommate and he is my human.

I’ve just been reading a little Billy Shakespeare and listening to Kris Kristofferson. Genius will tell out. What got to me this day was how they both spoke to having nothing. Billy said: “Having nothing, nothing can he lose.” And Kris wrote: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose. Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free.”

In dog years I’m an old man, or an old dog if you will; and with age comes experience and with experience comes wisdom. And with wisdom comes the realization that we need nothing to be, nothing to exist. We accumulate so much crap and it never makes us happy. Here in America we have storage facilities on every corner. We have so much crap we have to pay someone to hold it for us!

Over one hundred and fifty years ago, Henry David Thoreau told his neighbors that they saved things; put them in their attics and there the stuff stayed until they died. Then their heirs sold the stuff and other people bought it and put it in their attics until they died. Etcetera … etcetera … etcetera.

I reckon what I’m trying to say is that all we need—dogs, humans and anyone else—is love. There is only love. There is fear of course, the fear of not having enough, the fear of not being loved enough. But love always triumphs over fear. So to my non-dog friends, I say choose love. I’m only a dog and I love my human unconditionally. Love those around you. Never, ever trade your love. Never ask for something in return for your love because then it is not love.

Danny the Dog, over and out.

P.S. This missive was inspired by Kris’ words.

http://geni.us/molly

John, Kris and Me (A True Story)

johnny and kris

It was 1968 and I was eighteen-years-old. I was hitchhiking from Miami to New York and had gotten off the beaten track, so to speak. I should have stayed on US 301 (this was before the Interstate Highway System), but instead I found myself just south of Memphis hoping I could catch a ride into Nashville by noon and then catch a long haul out of that city.

It was early morning, the traffic was light and I wasn’t having any luck when suddenly a black Mustang screeched to a halt and the guy driving leaned over and said through the open passenger-side window, “I’m headin’ to Nashville, that do you any good?”

Of course, I said, “Yes,” and jumped in.

As he’s accelerating, he’s looking straight ahead and not at me. In fact he doesn’t say anything, which is strange, but not unheard of. So, I say nothing and stare out the windshield at the fast approaching skyline of Memphis. Then it hits me. I know this guy; I should have tumbled to him from the voice.

At that time in my life I was not into different forms of music, I liked rock n’ roll. Since then my taste in music has matured to encompass all types. But even though this guy wasn’t a rocker I knew him and his music, a couple of his songs had crossed over and were played on the top forty stations.

The driver was intent on what he was doing, but I think he caught me looking at him out of corner of his eye. I noticed he had a firm grip on the steering wheel, his knuckles were white. Finally after a few minutes he turns to me and says, “Howdy, my name’s John,” and raised his right hand from the wheel and stuck it out in my direction.

We shook hands, and I said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Cash.”

Once John and I shook hands, he became more talkative. Hell, he became down right verbose. He told me about his hitchhiking adventures and asked me about mine. We were three hours out of Nashville and I don’t think there was another quiet moment the whole three hours. We just bullshitted about life, women, and we even got into metaphysical discussions. He told me about his army days and the time he was arrested in Texas. Just to keep it even, I told him about shit that had happened to me while on the road. We didn’t talk about his music or anything like that. I’d been around enough to know that if I came off as a gushing fan that would have been a major turn off for him. Besides, at the time, I was not a fan, gushing or otherwise. Well, to be honest, by the time we hit Nashville I was becoming a fan; of the man if not his music.

As we neared Nashville, he told me he’s just gotten married a few months back and was dying to see his wife. “I’ve been gone two days and it feels like two years,” he informed me. Then he said, “It’s about dinner time why not stop in and get something to eat and then hit the road. June’s a great cook.” Dinner is what country folk call lunch.

I accepted his kind offer and we got off the highway and headed for his home, which was only a few blocks away. When we got to his house, and as we were pulling into the driveway, he said, “Looks like June is out somewhere, but don’t worry we’ll rustle somethin’ up.”

I told him not to bother, that I could cadge a meal down the line. But he just looked at me and shook his head, and in that deep voice, asked me if I had any money. I course didn’t and I told him so. Then he told me that he’d been on the road and hungry, and that if I didn’t get my ass in the house pronto, he’d drag me in.

So we went inside and walked right back to the kitchen. John told me to sit at the table and then he opened the refrigerator and looked around for a moment before saying, “Ah ha, I knew it was still here when I left.” Then he pulled out a platter with a ham on it. I mean a real ham, bone and all.

I’m sitting there and he goes back to the fridge and comes up with a jar of mustard and a hunk of white cheese. I remember this because I was not a big mustard lover and it was the first time in my life that I had ever seen cheese that was not orange or yellow in color. Then John starts to slice, or maybe hack would better describe it, the ham. As he’s doing so, he told me where the bread and plates where kept and asked me to get said items, which I did.

When the sandwiches where made, two of them, he asked me if I’d like a beer.

“Yes please.”

So there I am, sitting in the kitchen of a man I’d meet only a few hours before, and I’ve got two thick ham and cheese sandwiches and a can of beer in front of me. Not a bad score and the day was still young yet.

I asked him if he was going to eat, but he said beer would do him fine.

Okay, enough already with my long winded shit. Now to the part you guys wanna hear about. We’re sittin’ at the kitchen table, me eating and John’s drinking beer. We’re both shooting the shit when the doorbell rings. John gets up and before he leaves the table, takes a long swig of beer. “Be right back,” he said. A minute later, he came back into the kitchen with this guy who was a little older than me, but his hair was longer. In those days you were judged by the length of your hair.

“I want you to meet a friend of mine. This here is Kris,” said John. I had my mouth filled with ham sandwich, so I mumbled hello. He waved and smiled, “Glad to meet ya.”

John then asked Kris, “How about a sandwich and a beer?”

The guy replied, “Just a beer, it’s my lunch hour and I’ve got to get back to work, but I have a new song I’d like you to hear and see what you think.”

By now, I’ve eaten my two sandwiches and was washing them down with the beer. I had nothing to add to the conversation so I figured I’d just finish my beer and get the hell out of there. But before I could say my thanks and hit the road, John leaves the room and returns a moment later with a guitar.

Prior to going any further, I’ve got to lay out the scene for you. We’re sitting at a round kitchen table. To my left is John and directly opposite me is this guy Kris Kristofferson. (At the time I thought he was Chris.) John and I were hitting our beers and looking at Kris tune the guitar. Then he picked at the strings and started to sing. Now I know ya’ all are going to kill me, but I don’t remember what the song was. I wasn’t really paying attention. In my mind I was rehearsing my good-bye speech to John.

When Kris was done, we all three sat there looking at one another. I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t my opinion Kris sought. Kris didn’t say anything because he was waiting for John to say something, which he finally did.

“It’s not bad. But I don’t know if it’s for me.”

I’ve got to hand it to Kris, he smiled broadly and said, “That’s okay, I just wanted you to hear it and get your thoughts.” Then he lifted his beer and said, “Prosit.” That was my cue to leave. I stood and told John I had to hit the road. He said he’d drive me back to the highway, but I told him not to bother, he had company and besides, it was only a few blocks. Kris said if I could wait a few minutes, he’d drop me off on his way back to work. I declined his offer. I didn’t want to wait around. I had a full stomach and New York City was calling to me. So I said my good-byes, walked out the front door, retrieved my case from the Mustang and headed off for further adventures.

Just one last thing. When I got to New York and opened my case Benjamin Franklin was there staring up at me from on top of my clothes. John must have put the C note in my case when he went to let Kris in.

http://huckfinn76.com

Danny’s Freedom

Hey guys, it’s me again, Danny the dog.

I’ve just been reading a little Billy Shakespeare and listening to Kris Kristofferson. Genius will tell out. What got to me this day was how they both spoke to having nothing. Billy said, “Having nothing, nothing can he lose.” and Kris wrote, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose. Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free.”31091_1348757250745_6079042_n

In dog years I’m an old man, or an old dog if you will; and with age comes experience and with experience comes wisdom. And with wisdom comes the realization that we need nothing to be, nothing to exist. We accumulate so much crap and it never makes us happy. Here in America we have storage facilities on every friggin’ corner We have so much crap we have to pay someone to hold it for us.

Over one hundred years ago Henry David Thoreau told his neighbors that they saved things and put them in their attics and there the stuff stayed until they died. Then their heirs sold the stuff and people bought it and put it in their attics until they died. Ecetra … ecetra … ecetra.

Wait a minute … it’s hard to write and listen to Kris … “Feelin good was easy Lord when Bobby sang the blues. Buddy that was good enough for me … good enough for me and Bobby McGee …” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-J7mLyD3yc

Wow … that song does something to me … okay where was I?

I reckon what I want to say today is that all we need, dogs, humans and anyone else, is love. There is only love. There is fear of course, the fear of not having enough, the fear of not being loved enough. But love will always triumph fear. So my non-dog friends, love. I’m a dog and I love my human unconditionally. Love those around you, never trade your love, never ask for something in return because then it is not love.

“I’d trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday …”

Danny’s Road Trip

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Hey guys … it’s me Danny your favourite dog. I’m hangin’ out just listenin’ to Willie sing a little Kris. My human, Andrew, doesn’t get it, he doesn’t know that Kris and Willie are speaking for God. Have you ever listened to “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down?”

Andrew is off the boat … gettin’ in trouble no doubt. Me, I’m listenin’ to Willie.

I love to ride in cars, don’t you? Sticking my head out the window, barking at any dogs I see along the way … I can even put up with Andrew when I’m riding in a car.

So this is what I wanted to tell ya. Two days ago Andrew took me out to his car and opened the door and told me to get inside. Normally I wouldn’t do what he wanted. But a ride in the car … so I jumped in. I didn’t know where we were going, but as long as I could stick my head out the window I didn’t care.

It was a Sunday morning, the roads were empty, and it was a good thing because Andrew was a little worse for the wear. He had had a rough Saturday night and he was still a little tipsy. And just like in the song, he stopped by a church and we listened to the choir.  It was then that I knew what Kris meant when he wrote, “There’s something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone.” Because I saw it in Andrew’s eyes that Sunday morning. It was indeed a Sunday morning coming down.

He turned to me and said, “I need a beer.”

I thought, “You need more than a beer pal, you need help.”

We were still by the church and a lonely bell was ringing … and Andrew was wishing he was stoned. just like in the song. Friggin’ humans!

I knew that the only thing Andrew cared more about than getting high was me. So before he could start the car and go looking for booze on that Sunday morning, I jumped out the window and took off, knowing that he would chase after me. As long as he was focused on me he’d not dwell on … his Sunday Morning coming down.

I’m sorry to say he caught up with me right away and then we went and bought a six-pack.

It was indeed a Sunday Morning coming down, and it came smack down, right on the head of my human.