Thursday, March 26, 2015

(part 296) This Time Will Be Different

My brother Bill and I used to talk about the day I got a phone call from some stranger about an old album of mine from the 60's. Up until that day, in 2003, I had pretty much quit thinking and talking about my time in the music business. I would say to Bill, "I wish I never got that call that day!" And he would say back, "Yeah I remember it well, it screwed your life up again!"
"Yes it did," I'd say, "it started the same old shit all over it again!"
Again! That's the right word alright. That word represents my life in general. I did it again. It happened again. I tried again, and I got fucked again. Man what a lethal word.

Bill had watched me change a lot over the years we were in San Luis Obispo. He had seen me become more considerate, and reliable, when it came to doing things that helped the whole family, as opposed to just serving my own interests. Things like work. Work meaning physical labor and getting paid, which in my life had been something that mostly didn't happen. But that fucking phone call had landed smack dab in the middle of my life of responsibility, and began eating away, like termites, at the foundation of what I'd accomplished. I know I've said this before, and recently, but this event looms as the single most devastating thing that happened back then. Bill knew it, and wasn't afraid to say so. I knew it too, and so we spoke about it on numerous occasions. When you watch someone get better, like Bill had watched me, you know when that progress gets threatened, and in clear terms Bill saw the whole thing happen in one afternoon. The old obsession had been given entry into the quietness that life had become. The old uncertainty, and questions about an old record, quickly became the topic of too many of my days. In Bill's mind I had become more human, and less impressed with my past. But in the space of less than an hour he witnessed the dynamics of unwanted change stick it's ugly-ass face into his world, through me, and that telephone call. He was supportive, but feared the worst, because he knew me, knew how important all of it had once been to me. And that day he saw the old glint come back into my eyes, and heard that old mile a minute talk rumble out of my mouth. Like I said, he was supportive, but feared the future, if it was going to be filled with my past.

The call led to the internet, and connecting with people in the music business, and those who were interested in it, or otherwise had some sort of connection to it, real or fancied. In other words my focus had been completely altered because of that single telephone call. Everything I did after that was different than what I would have done had the call never come. My mother, and brother Bill, were as clear as a bell on what had happened, but knew that to question me would have been useless, so they did their level best to support my choice. They listened to me scream and yell about, not one, but two different albums that got reissued as cd's. They listened to me argue on the telephone with record companies, publishers, and others, about song rights, money, and the past. They watched me turn into a crazy person all over again and stood by helpless to assist, though they tried repeatedly to do so. My favorite thing to say to them was, "You don't understand," but in truth they understood perfectly. It was me that didn't understand...

Like a drunk who thinks, "This time will be different!" I traveled the same route that had led to my original downfall. I had to learn that it was a lie. A lie I wanted desperately to believe, but a lie nonetheless. Like getting clean and sober, I had to admit where and when I was wrong. It was, and is, the hardest thing I have ever had to do. To say, "No!" to myself. "Not again! We're not gonna do that again!" I wish I could have spared them, in their last few years of life, the turmoil that my choices brought them. I wish I had been unselfish enough to put them first instead of me first. I have had to sit with myself for many a long day, and look deep into what happened, and realize the damage my obsession with the music business has done, both to myself, as well as to others.

I don't pick up a drink, or get loaded, and haven't for 39 years, come April 1st of this year. It is my single true success in life. But I still need to learn that me and the music business are done, and until I understand that I will always be subject to trying just one more time, thinking, "This time will be



  1. Bob, no wonder you don't like the phone.
    I think that your guilt is justified, and I know how sad you are already because you miss them and are grieving heavily. I am positive that they forgive you. I think you couldn't have controlled any of what happened that sad day when the phone rang.

    1. Hi Lila...what makes it stick in my mind is the fact that the guy who called me got my telephone number by using my social security number that he got off some old union contract and gave to a private investigator who he hired. So it took and illegal act by a stranger to locate me, and I didn't want to be located. If I had wanted people to know where I was I would have kept in contact with certain people in L.A., which was not the case. It was a chicken shit thing to do, and a dumb move on my part to talk to the guy in the first place. But that old curiosity got to me and I talked to him...over and over again....

  2. congratulations on your long tern sobriety! :)
    I got some ideas about what really might have happened to you in this scenario.
    If you want me to, I'd like to share them.
    let me know and I will.
    Blog reader and online friend

  3. Nearly forty years of sobriety is definitely nothing to be sneezed at, and certainly seems to be, in your case anyway, a really good thing. You deserve congratulations.

    "But I still need to learn that me and the music business are done ..."

    True that. But how can you ever be "done" with the music business when you keep bringing it up all the time and constantly keep posting your same songs & recordings over and over again?

    I think it's great and admirable that you have managed to purge alcohol and drugs from your brain & bloodstream, but I doubt you will ever find peace until you someday manage to do the same with your musical past.

    I also, like you seem to have implied, think you should put the music business behind you. All of it. It wasn't in the cards for you for whatever reasons.

    The music business is, or at least at that time - as you know - for the most part was more often than not an evil dirty lowlife business, controlled by and teeming with greedy, uneducated lazy predators,nutcases, conscienceless "merchants" and organized crime scum.
    And had you achieved "success" fame and money in such a business, especially based on your then predilection for alcohol and drugs, it more than likely would have destroyed you, as it did so many that we all miss today.
    Granted, some of your music is just as good, and to be fair, some of it just as shitty as all the stuff that was on the radio at that time, but you should know as well if not better than most that getting that first big "hit" is as much about luck, "right place / right time" etc. than it is about talent
    (though maintaining that success in my opinion is a somewhat different story).
    You were, based on what I have read, unlucky, and even a bit self-destructive career-wise as well.

    It's a free country, and you have every right to say and do and post anything you damn well please, and I would vigorously defend your right to do so.
    I took the time to post this on your blog with good intentions, and if it comes across as unwarranted criticism, lecturing, or some inept or sanctimonious attempt at "tough love" it is intended to be none of those.

    You have told your whole side of the story, and told it well.
    But I think that as long as you keep dredging up the music business, posting the same stories and music over and over, etc.
    - and while certainly there will always be plenty of online yes-men/women, toadies, inexperienced clueless "civilians" who are starstruck about the music business,
    and even genuinely decent well meaning people who, in search of "friendship" or simply in what they think is well-meaning support, will encourage you to keep doing so
    - they just might unknowingly be doing you more harm than good.

    In the end I doubt you will ever find any true peace until you close and LOCK the door on that whole sad ugly pathetic chapter of your life, as well as put to rest any remaining desires or temptation for "recognition," strokes or even justice
    ... and just let it go.
    Feel free to throw rocks.

    Again congratulations on your sobriety, and here's hoping one way or another you eventually find some true peace in this life.

    1. A hell of a comment anonymous, and as you say the business of music, is at best, bewildered by it's own success and failure. As a kid I had a dream, a dream that I followed, and to some degree, both succeeded and failed at. The fact that I keep digging through it and posting what I find, over and over, is like therapy for me, and possibly others. You seem to speak from an overly lofty position, that you have self-designated for yourself. I welcome comments both good and bad about what I do, but have no intentions of stopping what I do, for you, or anybody else. It must be interesting what I do ,or you wouldn't keep reading it. What the hell do you care whether I write here or not. I am just some angry guy who can't, or won't, let get of my past, but it is the only one I have. My need to seek recognition is built into my pursuit of a dream that started as a kid for me. Those kinds of things don't necessarily go away just because it may be a more healthy and happy way to live, according to some. I write what I want to write when I feel like writing. If you find what I do distasteful...don't read it...and if you find me to be full of shit, in your opinion, than wish me well and hope someday I see the light like you, and them, and someone else, other than myself! Maybe I could take you more seriously if you had the minimal courage to say who you are, instead of posting a comment undercover.....

    2. If anonymous posted with good intentions then why not reveal your identity instead of hiding behind "anonymous".
      You think it's admirable that Bobby was able to purge alcohol and drugs from his brain and bloodstream. Alcohol and drugs did not define Bobby; his music and writing is the essence of his being. Nothing short of a lobotomy could purge that out of his system. It is the ultimate nature of who he is and will always be.
      Each time he posts a song he gives people the opportunity to hear his music. No one is forced to listen to his singing; they listen by choice. There are many people who are hearing Bobby for the first time. They like what they hear and keep coming back for more. I, for one, feel very fortunate to have been introduced to his music. I don't see how posting his songs for others to enjoy is bringing up the music business at all. Yes, he's made his feelings very clear about how he feels about the music industry, but, his music isn't the music business. It's his unique talent that he is sharing. Every artist is looking for recognition. Why does a painter have an art show or have their works displayed in a gallery? Why wouldn't Bobby want recognition for all the songs he recorded? Why should he put that to rest? I think it would be a waste of a gift and very selfish if an artist didn't share their talents.
      I think Bobby has been more than honest about his own shortcomings and naivety when it came to the business aspects of the music industry. He trusted the wrong people and was exploited by them. That part of his life can't be changed. It is the past and he is well aware that part of his life can't be changed. I don't see it as pathetic, sad or ugly; I see it as being unfortunate and a hard lesson learned.
      I don't think anyone who encourages Bobby to keep posting his songs and writings is doing him any harm. People like what they hear and his writings are very moving and powerful. He has an ability to reach into your soul . He puts in words what many feel but are unable to express. He engages the reader and that's what good writing is all about.
      Everyone has an opinion, but, I find your opinions tend to diminish his talents and invalidate his friendships. You offer unsolicited advice in the guise of constructive criticism and "good intentions".

    3. This "human" has repeated himself at least 5 times and more that I can count in which he suggests by stating the same advice with different variations of the same great advice that the ONLY way you will find/have peace in YOUR LIFE (for which he certainly believes he is THE expert on) is by "stopping your music". He or she also seems to spew out venomous hate on "the music biz" themselves which is a direct indication that they may have, perhaps been burned or at least became a very disgruntled musician (IMHO) or someone who has attempted to build THEIR life around it themselves in some sort or way. Do I get the feeling they are speaking of THEMSELVES? I think I may be onto something. Gee, only wonder how many "shitty" songs they came up with to be able to call some of yours "shitty". To whomever they are, they most defiantly have no heart whatsoever to bring any of this up directly after the complete HELL you just went through losing your closest loved ones basically at the same time. This MORON wanted to hurt you. You keep doing what you do because YOU want to, its not about pleasing anyone else, AND it may even help some people who follow you, and btw enjoy your songs and postings. I find this person heinous and I know you are big enough to know that this person needs help and I know you are the bigger person and can ignore ignorance. You have people who love you AND YOUR MUSIC and you need not answer to any crap like this when you have so much on your plate. I really could go on and rip this person to shreds with what they said, but hun it is so not worth it. I only wrote this because YOU, yourself are worth it. I pity the fool who wrote that since they sound so darn bitter. I bet they don't even respect themselves..... much love to you Bobby Jameson xx P.

  4. Bobby can be "done with the music business" and still post his stories and his music. His stories and his music are part of HIM, not the music business. Or do you think that on top of never paying him, they also have the right to steal his work and have it not count as being part of "him" at all ?

    Why didn't you just help them by taking a big knife and carving out his very soul while they held him down as well ? Does NOTHING belong to him ? Is he such a commodity to you, that he has no right to separate what was his, what was part of him, his music and his creativity, and keep that for himself ? Do you not even view him as a PERSON, as a human being ??

    From your comments, then I would say it is you who is star-struck about the business, so much so that you are too jaded , and, or ignorant , to even believe that there are friends who don't see him only when, or if, the false light of fame illuminates him. In the end that's just an illusion, anyway, leaving a person with false friends who only stay til the party is over.

    Did it ever once cross your mind, that there are many friends here who love Bobby' s work, and also love who he is as a person?

    I'd bet everything I own that you are not an artist of any type , in any capacity, for no artist would want another artist to separate themselves from their passion.

    I don't think your comments were helpful, or tough love, or meant to be good advice. I don't believe you had "good intentions". You were condescending, and gave him a compliment about his sobriety, at the same time that you insulted him again and again. You don't even have the guts to sign your name to your post above.

    In one fell swoop, you informed him from your all-knowing omnipotent perch, that none of his different categories of friends matter in the least, all are caring about him for the wrong reasons, he's conducting his life wrong, he handled his past wrong, he should erase from his heart and soul his life's work.

    What do you do for an encore, gauge his eyes out with a spoon ? "Feel free to throw rocks ", you said ?? What for ? You're a foolish person with no clear idea of friendship or art, and no rocks could penetrate that depth of ignorance about the human spirit. Lori Kamyk

  5. I would like to thank Lori Kamyk and Joan Diamond for their responses to the comment by anonymous, the very long comment I might add... These are the views of two intelligent women to the points you made anonymous. They differ considerably with your take on who I am, what I've done, and failed to do, and what I should do, or not do, in the future. They are quite capable of making up their own minds as to whether what I do is in any way valid and constructive. They, as far as I know, are not under any spell cast by me, in fact, I am rather surprised and pleased to see them here. It is a recognition I thoroughly enjoy, which is contrary to your idiotic suggestions...