Thursday, July 28, 2011


As I sit here trying to write this I don't know whether to punch my computer or just break down. Today my mother, who is 92 years old, had to go and begin the process of signing up for SSI which in real terms is Federal Welfare. I, at 66, have no assets, no way to intervene financially and provide for her, other than to kick in the bulk of my own SSI check for rent, food, and etc, which I willingly do.

Somebody asked me the other day why my mother would have to sign up for SSI, "Doesn't she get Social Security?" Yes, but she was born in 1919 and falls into some odd group that gets nearly nothing, $304 a month. She had a small trust her father left her, but it has run out, so she has to go for SSI.

It is at times like these that I resent, in the deepest way possible, the realities that exist and have existed in my own life since I was a child. The endless financial strife and my inability to do anything about it. I have worked since I was 15 years old, that is a half a century, and have nothing to show for it other than a bunch of songs and recordings that have never provided any money at all.

I have endured, and still do, the endless nonsense of, "It's not the money, it's the music!" for 50 years now, as if being paid for my work is somehow out of the question. All I can say to that is, "Why don't you work for free for half a century and then let me know how you're doing?" The pompous nature of those who say this sort of thing, is like a slap across my face with a bullwhip.

I bring this up now, not for my own sake, but with bitter regard to the facts and realities I see unfolding for my mother. I cannot begin to tell you the respect I have for this women. Her strength of character and willingness to push on at 92, as if what she faces is yet but another day to do her best.

When I think of all the charlatans I have dealt with in the music business since 1963, and the abuse that has been dumped on me since I came to the internet in 2007, I wonder what in the hell I was thinking when I started all of this. As recently as the previous post, I have listened to an endless drone of criticism and garbage from people who have not, and could not survive what I lived through and continue to live with.

There are of course some who stand far above that crap, and for them I am eternally grateful, but to be here now, with no way to provide what is needed to make my mother's life comfortable and secure at 92, simply because I was systematically ripped off for every penny ever owed to me from any and all of my endeavors in this god-awful industry is more than I can stomach.

Even as I write these words, I already know that way too many will line up to tell me how lucky we are to get SSI, as if there were no other outcome we could wish for. There will be, as there always is, too many voices spewing pseudo positive rhetoric over the wound. But most of all, and branded into my flesh for eternity, will be the fact that nothing will change, and nothing I say will mean a goddamned thing in the long run.


  1. It is difficult not to go into a lengthy political rant here, but I will try to refrain. Despite the fact that the movement to destroy the social safety net has been gaining momentum for the last 30 years, there should be no shame in accessing public assistance. The exploiters (others have tried to label them "job creators," but that name is a sham) have purchased their political and media power to push the view that we should all be on our own out there— that we should be satisfied to be exploited, extorted, undermined, undervalued, tricked, fooled, and lied to with no recourse but to work "harder." Of course, the people who actually "work" the hardest, who do what we call "menial labor," get paid the least.

    In this case, we are talking about the concept of insurance. People, including you and your mother, have been paying for this insurance, even when you have little income or pay no income tax. You pay it in sales tax; you pay it in providing income for others when you buy things, etc. The SSI program is a specific program designed for those who qualify. There should be no shame attached to making a claim on that insurance. As you know, my wife was let go from a dream job, and she had no income and no job for six months. There was no shame in receiving the unemployment insurance that she and I have been paying into for nearly fifty years. The only difference with these government insurances is that they are not privately owned, and the profiteers and exploiters are not able to rig the system in their favor or look for loopholes to deny coverage.

    I have read your mom's blog, and I have read yours, and I know that she is a powerful, loving woman. The tragedy of the situation is not that she needs assistance, but that the assistance will be less than she deserves.

    What you have gone through with the music exploiters is what other workers have gone through; people work thirty or forty years for a corporation only to have it declare "Chapter 11" and wipe out its workers' pensions while keeping the "insiders" and management protected and whole. The main difference is that you saw that promise be reneged on much more quickly and repeatedly.

    You can't smooth over it: poverty is cruel and unfair, and too many are working to make it even more unfair.

    In a recent song I wrote called "Black and White," the punch line is:

    “As you’d have them do unto you”
    is a wonderful phrase,
    But just “Do Unto others”
    Is taught to kids these days
    The music and images run day & night
    Claim to get to the top you must claw and must bite
    They are lies, but they sold us on
    “Money makes right”
    Instead of “Good guys can win
    When they fight for what’s right!”

    Finally, as for the pathetic malcontent in your previous post, he is a perfect example of that selfish, ignorant malevolence that is passing itself off as social discourse. The irony is grotesque: "I just tried to dump a truckload of shit on you—you better damn well let everybody else see that pile of shit? Furthermore, you whine about being exploited and not paid for what you did 'you wannabe!' Oh, by the way, I am going to steal from you too and post your music for others to steal, you whiner!" If the music has no value, then why is this hypocritical, little, scumbag, criminal stealing it and sharing it with others? Then there's the incredibly stupid and pathetic arrogance and hypocrisy: "I am standing outside your door calling you all the most despicable names I can think of...Why won't you let me in?" It does give us a glimpse into what you are talking about when you go off from time to time, but he really does deserve to be ignored. Let him blog of his myriad accomplishments on his own blog rather than denigrating others. Judging from his eloquence and thoughtful analysis, I am certain that it will be breathtaking....
    Okay, it was a long rant anyway, but it wasn't all political,

  2. Bobby, it's not really surprising that a lot of a-holes spew shit, is it? Don't listen to them. Easy for me to say to be sure, but please hang in there. I really don't understand why some people think that you as an artist and creator aren't entitled to make a living from your work just like the rest of us. I wish only the best for you and your family and hope that you and your wonderful mom, and brother keep on, keeping on.

  3. I do appreciate the comments....I would even appreciate comments from those who disagree and/or dislike me....but there has to be an intellectual point to it.... anyway it seems that the art of disagreeing with someone has been lowered to the point of nothing more than digital mouth doo-doo....