Saturday, September 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Zook

Mama Tried, by Merle Haggard

The first I remember knowin' was the lonesome whistle blowin'
And a youngun's dream of growin' up to ride.
On a freight train leavin' town, not knowin' where I was bound
No one changed my mind, but mama tried.

One and only rebel child from a family meek and mild
Mama seemed to know what lay in store
In spite of all my Sunday learnin'
For the bad I kept on turnin' and mama couldn't hold me anymore.

And I turned 21 in prison, doin' life without parole
No one could steer me right, but mama tried, mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleadin' I denied
That leaves only me to blame cause mama tried.

Dear old daddy rest his soul, left my mom a heavy load
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes
Workin' hours without rest, wanted me to have the best
Oh she tried to raise me right, but I refused.

And I turned 21 in prison, doin' life without parole
No one could steer me right, but mama tried, mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleadin' I denied
That leaves only me to blame cause mama tried.

Happy birthday, Zook (David). You would have been 45 this year, and all of us in San Diego still cannot believe that you aren't here anymore.

I included the above song, Mama Tried, because you provided it to me on a tape you sent me of a Live Grateful Dead concert, circa 1971. At the time, I frankly did not pay a lot of attention to the tape, but, like most of the approximately one hundred tapes you gave me, I came to enjoy it over time, much like a fine old wine. In fact, I played this one so many times that (like so many of the other great tapes that you gave me), it wore out over time. However, I am happy to say that I found a copy of this song, and now I have a CD of this album, which I play all the time.

To me, this song is about two things: expectations and disappointment. I know that this song meant a lot to you. In fact, I think that you may have played it on your acoustic guitar the last time I saw you, in July, 2008.

I know that you had high expectations of yourself (and others), and, like me, you found that often reality did not meet your expectations. Like me, the profession you chose was not your first choice, but you simply shook off the negativity of not pursuing your original career option, and you instead found that you could build a successful working life and home life anyway. I think all of us go through the ups and downs of having high expectations and searing disappointments, and persevering through them, and I know you worked very hard in difficult conditions so that you could feed your family.

et me give you a quick update on what you have missed, since I know, if you were still around, I would have heard your strong opinion about these things:

  • The Padres--They have had an amazing year, since they were picked to finish last in their division, the National League, major league baseball, and, all in all, were in line to be probably one of the worst teams in the history of organized sports. At one point they were ahead by over six games over the Giants. I know that if you were here, you would have predicted their demise, and said the whole thing was a fluke, based on good pitching and a few timely hits and bounces of the baseball. And, of course, as the Padres seem to be burned out, and are now behind the Giants in the Western division, you would have been right.
  • The Chargers-Yikes, if you had seen their first game in Kansas City, where they were ran up and down the field in terrible weather conditions, and were handily defeated by a team that they have owned for a long time, you would have laughed your head off and said, the Chargers suck once again. And, unlike me, you maybe could have watched their second home game against Jacksonville since, out in Dayton, Nevada, you would have had a chance of seeing a game that is being blacked out in San Diego due to crummy ticket sales.
  • Music--I never realized, during your life, how much my sons Alex and Josh discussed music with you, in person, during the July 2008 cruise, and via email and blogging. The kids bring up, all the time, things that they went over with you about music. Recently, when we were discussing Subterreanean Homesick Blues, by Bob Dylan, the kids said they had discussed the version of this song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and you said that you thought it sucked. Josh regularly blogs about music, in his latest blog, which is, of course, dedicated to you.
  • Your musical interests and knowledge were quite diverse and amazing, and you were always generous in taking the time and making the effort to provide me your mixtapes of probably up to a hundred different artists. Also, you had the creativity (and the courage) to regularly record new songs and make videos of them on You Tube. At your funeral, where the videos were playing on a screen in the front of the room, more than a few people were moved to tears as they saw your moving portrayals of your hopes, dreams, and joys.
  • The Tea Party--You would not believe how these nut-jobs are all of a sudden winning primaries against established Republican candidates. I am sure that by now, you would have done extensive blogs and probably recorded some more songs about how those tax hatin', gun-tottin', immigrant despisin', extremists are now in a position to win some Congressional seats unless the country wakes up, in the general elections, to see how if these folks get in power, God help us (pardon the irony, Sarah P)
We lit a yahrtzeit candle last night, in your memory, David.

Thanks for all that you taught us, and for all of the memories we have of you.

Rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing this piece for David. You capture the complexity and ironic humor of his life so perfectly. I write about so many things myself but haven't been able to capture my own thoughts about our brother... so I am very grateful to you, Phil.