Sunday, December 23, 2007

You may say I'm a dreamer.....and you'd be right.

There's something about snow and Christmas. At least here in the northeast. How many Christmas tv shows end with "Hey...look!!!! It's starting to snow!!!" I'm at least as cynical as the rest of you but danged if I don't feel just a little choked up during "It's a wonderful life." C'mon man....the angel got his wings!!!! And when Scrooge sends that kid down the road to buy the goose? Well....let's just say my feminine side comes out.

I remember one Christmas Eve in Piscataway, NJ. It was probably around 1970 - 71 and I'd spent the evening with a few of the fellas at one of their parent's house down the road. Just doing what twenty year old guys do. Around midnight or so I took off and walked the mile and a half home through a fresh snowfall. The climb up Rivercrest Drive had a magical air. A night to remember. The snow made everything so quiet. Just me crunching my way home. Clear, clear sky. And stars. I stopped at the baseball park about halfway and pulled up a seat in the dugout. Again. (Did some of my best thinking in that dugout.) It was one of those moments you don't want to end. Moments that usually come when I'm alone. Or does it just seem that way. Floods of memories. Christmas will do that. Another Christmas Eve/Christmas morning an old flame and I were sitting downstairs in my parents house....probably watching "It's A Wonderful Life"... when a pal knocked on the window and he and his soon to be wife dropped in with a bottle of Amaretto. We did a few warming shots, laughed, wished a merry and said adios. Another moment....memory. Going out with my mom for a last minute Christmas tree and cringing as she worked the guy down from a dollar to fifty cents. ("Hey, what's he gonna do with it tomorrow?") Touche, mi a mama!!!

But that's what life ultimately is, isn't it? Just a bunch of little snapshots strung together. The big ones are But it's the in - between stuff that really ties it together. They say...and I'm badly paraphrasing.....that while you're planning for the future, or remembering the past, life happens. You could drive yourself crazy trying to decipher the coincidental lines of life. Remember the old poster of the Acid Cat? If you don't, I could never explain it, and if you explanation necessary. Dayglow at its best. Roads. I was on my way to band practice one night in 1974 and stopped into Somerset Farms for a battery. Ran into an old friend who was also in a band......we reconnected.....combined the two bands and had a pretty good run for about five years. I could give you eighty five examples of serendipitous you could give me....but it's still a hoot!!!!

And then there's the snapshots that don't lead to anything earth shattering, but that you just know are special and don't want to end. the aforementioned Christmas Eve snow walk.
Linda and I spent a wonderful day in Central Park this summer. I've never had any special affinity for the park .....having been through it, but never stopping, oh about eight hundred times. But as belated birthday wishes must be honored, in we went. And dangbangit if I didn't have one of the best days of my life. It was a spectacular summer day and NY and Central Park were at their most entertaining. Bands, solo musicians, food carts, mimes....and who doesn't love a mime?.....Oh yeah....everybody hates a mime. Spent some time in Strawberry Fields. A few somber moments across the street at The Dakota. Dinner in Greenwich village. It was ALL good. We were sitting on one of the park benches in Strawberry Fields (really nice job, Yoko) and I remember reminding myself that this was one of those special moments. I didn't want it to end. And if some street folks didn't start brawling amongst themselves we probably would have stayed a while longer. Hey!!!! Give peace a chance, wouldja?

Think about your current job, wife/girlfriend, living situation, car, friends. How'd they come into your life. It's kind of cool unraveling these things we rarely think about. Like the great philosopher Ed Norton once said, "See Ralph...the SMALL details." (I refer you to The Honeymooners where Ralph inherits his "Fortune". Mayhem ensues......... homina...homina....homina.)

I think I use the phrase, "as I get older" a lot these days. But, as I get older, I see these moments more clearly...recognize them. Maybe not as they're happening....but soon. I look around the room. How the heck did I wind up here? Oh yeah...this...and that....and that other thing. What if Paul didn't get on the bus that summer day in Liverpool and run into John? Well, our day in Central Park may have been a little less special. Or would we have even been there? Submitted, for your approval. (Cue Twilight Zone music) We must appreciate what and who we have. A lot of people don't....have. And, as for you..... have a wonderful Christmas and peaceful New Year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

When you come to the fork in the road.....take it.

I had a sad, perplexing, happy, reflective week a few weeks back. Get this. My friend, and bandmate, died. 55. My aunt died. 96. My new nephew was born. 0. And I spent a little time in Central Park's Strawberry Fields. (Nice job, Yoko.) One week!!! Dang!!!
Y'know I always thought I'd opt for the no funeral/ cremation thing. But there's something a funeral. Especially the way we Catholics do it. Fallen or otherwise. It's not really for the guy in the box, is it? When you get in your car after the post funeral/cemetary/lunch /celebration to drive home, at some point you do the big exhale. You know...the same one you do at the end of a relationship, job, exam, close call. It's our body's way of saying goodbye, wrap it up, adios.
When I was around twenty one or so I got a pretty hard dumping from my girlfriend. I was ripped up. ....... calling and pleading my case. Of course, I realize now.....if you want to really push someone that. We're funny creatures. But in the middle of my depression I took a walk down the street and spent a good chunk of the afternoon sitting in the local dugout. Ballfields...great places for clarity. And I was still close enough to reflect on glorious summer afternoons when I "owned" that field. I went home....called the girlfriend....told her I got it...wished her luck....good bye. Big exhale. She called me two days later. (Uh....sorry babe....too late.) So, I think, on my final exhale..... I want the works. Big wake, replete with posters, pictures, guitars, video, music music music and Catholic high mass. Full choir accompanied by a huge pipe organ. (Back off, Freud.) The burial thing I'm still a little leery of. Too many Twilight Zones. Remember the one....I think it was one of the later Twilight Zones... where the inmate at a prison makes a deal with the coffin maker to allow him to be buried with the next body that goes out...then the coffin maker will come dig him up and off he goes? A few weeks later the bell tolls signifying a death in the prison. That night our boy sneaks into the coffin with the fresh corpse and is buried the next day. After a while he starts getting worried, pulls the sheet back on his roommate and....... AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!'s the coffin maker!!!!!!! Oops! Creeps me out, man.
My aunt was ready to die. She'd suffered with arthritis for years and lost her son a couple of years ago. My friend Steve had cancer, along with other things, and even though he was never awake the couple of times I went to see him, I'd heard he'd had enough, also. I left him the latest Rolling Stone. My new nephew, Michael....was he ready to be born? I think he was. I think we're in charge of that. (I refer you to earlier blogs) But I have to think this post demise celebration through some more. Guess I'd better let somebody know.
Life really is a gift, isn't it? So many paths that can be taken. Choice. TOO MANY!!!!! It really takes me a long time to catch on. To so many things. That's why I think I've been allowed to hang around this long. And so many close calls. But...I'm getting it....slowly. And I think the idea good to each other. I can't seem to get away from that. Affect people. Think of how many people you've affected....on purpose or otherwise. I can think of three couples who've met on band jobs I've played. They had kids....and so on. I was giving this guy a guitar lesson many years ago and noticed he played like a drummer. We had a chat. Last I checked he was playing drums with a show band in Vegas. It's not E Street but, hey! I gave a guy from my old hometown a ride home one Christmas Eve when I saw him broken down on the side of the road. Something anyone'd do, right? I see him about once every five years and he still mentions that. With enthusiasm. Like it or not, we're affecting lives. I can't wait to see how it all ties together.
So what have I learned? Slowly? Be kind. And good pitching will always beat good hitting. Peace.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Sat, Nov. 17th , Ted Lyons will be appearing at "Christie's", Rt 31 in Glen Gardner, NJ (3 mi. north of rt 78). 6pm - 9..... performing folk, 60's, motown, originals, British Invasion.. .yadda...yadda...!!!!!!

..........And back at "Christie's again on Fri, Nov 23rd. Fun! Fun! Fun!(And only six months till Memorial Day !!!!)

(Karaoke and DJ to follow....10pm - 1)

And listen in Thurs. mornings on WDVR FM 6am - 9, 89.7 and 91.9. Streams at

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What...ya gotta better theory?

Do you believe in reincarnation? I do............. I think. How are we possibly supposed to get the hang of this life thing in twenty...fifty.....eighty years? I believe in a higher power and an order to the universe. And I believe we've had a hand in deciding our place within that universe. (And yes, I also believe in long wet kisses) It's a comforting theory and would explain a lot of the misery associated with the planet. Lessons. Do better next time. And let's face it. No one REALLY knows. As I've mentioned before, eight years in St. Mary's Grammar school knocked any religion out of me. The nuns never talked much about love or embracing/celebrating life. They did talk about the penalties if you missed a Sunday mass or told a lie or....snuck into the bathroom. I remember asking one of my teachers ,"If God knows I'm gonna be a mass murderer and thus condemned to hell, why create me?" They never had a good answer except the all encompassing, "Well, it's a mystery." Yeah...I got that much.
I think Jesus, the actual guy who walked on the planet lo those many years ago, had it right. I don't presume to know who he was.... beyond a good hearted man. Son of God? Prophet? Wizard? You decide. But at one point he says to his followers, "Look, you idiots....(I'm paraphrasing)..... if you get nothing else....GET THIS!!!!!!!!!!!! Love your neighbor as yourself." Could you imagine the world if we just did that? One rule. My first grade catechism was seventy five pages of rules. C'MON!!!!!!! The genocide that's been committed over the centuries in the name of God is mind boggling. I think the big man's gotta be a little miffed. Murder/religion.......never got it. I think we're all in for a big surprise. And a good chuckle.
Forgiveness, I think, is important. If nothing else, resentments physically eats away at you. You may be holding a lot of anger for an old boss, girlfriend, teacher, coach...........but they no longer care and the only one it's affecting is you. So knock it off. I know. Easier said than done. I have a few folks in my past that I thought I'd forgiven but every now and then the old feelings resurface. But I'm trying. And I think that's the secret. Keep trying. 'Cause it's all gonna come out in the "wash." We already have all the answers. We know what to do to have good jobs and security. We know how to lose weight. We innately know how to be wonderful human beings. But we don't. Well....a lot of us don't. That's why I'm grateful to still be around. And considering a lot of the situations I put myself in as a youth...I shouldn't be. Grateful Dead concerts and all. But everything happens just the way it's supposed to and....... I'm a slow learner.
I was always impressed by people who knew what they wanted and went after it in a practical way. The owner/manager of a club where I used to play was shooting the breeze with me during a break one night and told me how he knew he wanted to own a club so he took business and finance courses in college and....voila! My mind was boggled. I mean, I always knew I wanted to be a musician but I wish I had gone about it in a more....uh....mature way. I don't feel like I even started to "get it" until around age forty. Better late than never?
Did you ever see that Saturday Night Live cartoon starring the Man of the hour? It's rerun every Christmas and it's right on the mark. We have Jesus walking through Anytown, USA and he sees televangelist Pat Robertson on a TV in a store window. He's impressed 'cause Pat is saying all the right things. Jesus hightails it down to the studio and excitedly tries to get on stage but Pat just keeps talking and elbowing Him out of the way, not missing a beat. The hilarity is that the audio is real and the animation is made to fit. Jesus is bummed and has the same outcome when he runs into Jerry Falwell and Robert Schuller. Lots of zealous religious talk but they just can't recognize Jesus. So the Savior hits the streets again and stops outside a grammar school. The front door is open and there's a commotion inside. As it starts to snow he realizes he's watching the Christmas story.......His Christmas story...... being played out by the Peanuts gang. His face brightens up as Linus delivers a soliloquy about the true meaning of Christmas. Well at the end Jesus just turns to the camera with a big grin on his face and breaks into the Snoopy dance accompanied by the Peanut's soundtrack. You know the tune.
It seems like I always see this cartoon at the right time. Maybe post Christmas party gig, or after a get together with old friends/family. Or just after watching "A Christmas Carol. " (The Alistair Sim version, of course.) How many times do you hear during the Christmas season,"If only we could hang onto this feeling all year.......there'd be peace everywhere......." What're you, nuts? There wouldn't be peace anywhere!!!! But the secret is...there can be peace in your world. Why not? Who's gonna stop you? Do the Snoopy dance anytime you want. Now get off my couch and go home.

ps. Umm.......... I could be wrong about everything.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What am I rebelling against?.......... Whaddaya got?

I don't own a motorcycle. I never have, and probably never will. Why? Because I'm pretty sure I'd kill myself. If I didn't do something stupid on my own...I can always depend on a deer to jump out or of you. Motorists sometimes don't realize the size, weight and speed of a bike coming down the highway somehing ....not too bright. I've been on both sides of that equation and the guy on the bike always gets the worst of it.

I was a junior in high school when a car pulled out from a stop sign and side swiped a friend of mine. His foot went through the guy's headlight and and a whole lot of ouch ensued. The worst part was he was the keyboard player in my high school band and we had a gig that weekend. Try playing "Light My Fire" with no keys. It ain't happenin'! Well, he made it. Cast and all. And did pretty well with the sympathy thing.

I was around twenty three...twenty four......when local boy Bobby Lella lost control of his bike after going over a railroad track and went airborne head first into a tree. Gone. I didn't know him too well. He was a little older. But he hung out at the local pub and the older guys were becoming less the older guys and just...the guys. Being in the local band always expedited the breaking down of barriers. Still.... it just seemed .....unfair.

Somehow I learned to "ride." Another friend had a bike and we'd ride out to this old construction site near a local college. Lots of hills and dips and...surprises. I was trying to climb this stubborn hill one day, gunned it, froze and went flying off the ridge on the other side. Came to on the ground with no shoe, no helmet and the bike on top of me. And... get this.... no injuries. My shoe was mangled and the helmet was scraped up and my buddies were scared s.....less. But no real harm. It was as if a message had been sent...and received. I'd contine to ride anytime anyone was foolish enough to let me get on their bike.
My friend Tom....gone but not forgotten.....would let me tool around on his Harley Sportster when he came around. That thing had a ton of giddyap. My nephew'd always let me take out his Kawasaki anytime I dropped over. Ah... a ride through the hills of Hunterdon County. Peaceful.
Probably the most interesting motorcycle experience I ever had was on the back seat of an Electra Glide out to Denver, Colo. Bob (not the earlier Bob) and his friend were heading out to watch Evel Kneivel jump the Snake River Canyon in Utah. Remember that scam? Well, I had a girlfriend? Ex girlfriend? Soon to be? Denver, and a car with a frozen transmission, so I hopped aboard. It was October and it rained from Jersey to St Louis. I did a lot of the driving and it was a hoot. But I've never been so cold or wet in my life. And man, did the sun feel warm and did the Coors taste smooth when we finally crossed the Colorado border.( Those were the days when you could only get Coors west of the Mississippi.) The flight home seemed like pure luxury. Oh...uh.... it didn't work out with the girl. That band thing again.

I've played at a lot of motorcycle rallies...outlaw and otherwise. Always a hoot! And always full of surprises. As long as "Born To Be Wild" is on the's a party. I remember one rally I played in southern Jersey. We were a little late and as we were pulling in the guy watchin the gate proclaimed, "Hey, the band's here...we don't have to kill 'em." Thank you.

Remember the opening credits to "Easy Rider" when Fonda and Hopper are cruisin' down the highway and "Born to Follow" is playing and America's passing by and we were passing puberty and.......other things? Freedom. That's what the motorcycle is. Be it cross country or down to the corner grocery for a quart of milk. Freedom. Girls like guys on bikes. They won't always admit it. That danger factor. Girls like guys with guitars. I found that out when I was twelve.' bout a guitar strapped to a bike. Hmmmmm. I didn't say I'd NEVER own a bike. Whoa...what's that coming at me....look' mid life crisis!!!!!!! safe. In the words of James Dean, "The life you save could be mine."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Ted Lyons

Appearing Fri, May 18th, 7pm - 8 at the "Fri Nite Concert Series", Main St. Somerville, NJ (on the courthouse steps) Antique cars, vendors and music! music! music!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Arc Coffehouse last week

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

C'mon In!! I'm right heah!

(Puttin' the "pub" in public radio)

Does your life need a soundtrack? Well, mine does. This IS a movie we’re in…..isn’t it? Every Thursday morning at “The Roadhouse” I provide that soundtrack. It’s always there, anyway. Sometimes we just can’t hear it. In a nutshell, The Beatles paved the way for the British Invasion while Greenwich Village, San Francisco and L.A laid out the road signs. And I'd like to share my "skewed" perspective with you on Thurs mornings from 6am - 9 on 89.7 and 91.9 FM. And if you're not in NJ or Pa, try our online stream at Just think about it. I'll bet there’s been a song for every major…and minor….event in your life. Remember the first time you got your heart broken and “Walk Away Renee” came on the radio? OUCH!! I’ll bet “Truckin’ “ made it into the play list for your first road trip. And if all the new singer/songwriters aren’t guiding you to work…..well….that’s where I come in. I also don’t mind telling you all about it …..(whatever “it” may be)….., always keeping towards the lighter side. If this sounds like a cool way to start your Thursday…….come on in…..and bring a friend. Peace.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Stop the world....I wanna get off....sometimes.

Technology is out of control. There.......I said it!!!!! Not that I don't enjoy a good chunk of it.....but......RELAX!!!!!! Do we need ipods that can hold 10,0000 tunes? How 'bout 100....200? I like music. A lot. I've been a musician since I was thirteen.....twelve? But I just don't need to carry music around and have it in my head 24/7. If I want to listen to music I know where to find it. It's around. Not far at all. All kinds. And I'm aware that it might be me. That I'm the nut. I've never owned good audio equipment. Over the years I've somehow acquired a stereo system, a couple of cd players and a fair amount of albums, tapes and cds. But I've always used these things as a means to an end. Usually to learn a song. That's why my records are beat to hell, a lot of my cassettes are tape snapped, cds skip and all my old cassette players have busted rewind buttons. You try to learn the bass part to "Revival." That's a lot of rewindin', man.
I bring this same mind set to instruments. I have friends who keep their guitars in "shrines". Rarely let them leave the case, let alone the house.....and don't you even THINK about touching it. Hey....c'mon it's a guitar!!!!! What would Robert Johnson say? Strum that bad boy!!!! I have a Martin D 28 that was a gift from a friend many years ago. I love that guitar. It's hanging on the wall right behind me. But it's been present at many a fireside jam, river party, porch party, house party, gig, in the back of my car, on my bike..........and it's got a few scars to show for it. I change the strings, wipe her down and back on the wall she goes. I give an occasional guitar/bass lesson and I always tell students to leave the instrument out...close at hand. When you sit down in front of the tube, pick it up and strum some chords. While waiting for the computer to warm up run some scales. As James Brown once said, "Owwww!!!!!, it'll do you no harm!" (Hey, did somebody forget to bury the "Godfather of Soul"or what? He's touring more now than he did when he was alive). I remember once reading about Paul McCartney tossing his famous Hofner bass to a curious reporter....and thinking nothing of it. The guy almost had a heart attack, but he WAS asking about it. See...Paul understands. Now, don't take this as a lack of respect. It's just that I see instruments, especially mine, as old friends, not icons. One night in 1976 I was playing at a club called "Dodd's" in West Orange, NJ. I used my Fender Precision bass to deflect a flying beer bottle. Carried that ding around till one night the guitar was stolen from the back seat of my car......along with a hand made guitar strap that I loved. I've always kept an eye open for that strap.
But, as usual, I digress. I'm just saying, could we slow down......a little? Y'know.... the old smell the roses/coffee thing. Hey......R & D guys........we don't need faster, bigger, smaller, brighter, darker, sleeker, more intelligent.....right, do we? As the old joke goes, "Patience...jackass." And having said all that, I too, am guilty of "wanting it now." I got a new computer last year and this mamma jamma can do anything short of fixing dinner. Sometimes I float around on it just to see what's in there. Way more than I need. I don't need 75 games. How 'bout ten. I don't need four or five ways to play music or open pictures. How' 'bout......ONE!!!! I'm just not that bright.
But I discovered that my computer has a program to make cd labels, inserts etc. Now you've got my interest. Great for the home studio guy. But as I'm going through it I'm thinking, "Yeah, well this is good but if it could only do that........ Hey, it's not my fault I can't do both sides of the insert, it's my computer's." See, like the good bleeding heart liberal that I am, I refuse to take responsibility. There, I feel better.
So I guess the moral is, choose your poison. We all need something from this steamrolling technology. Someone wants 10,000 tunes in an ipod the size of a for it. Someone wants a cell phone that can take a picture and immediately be sent to grandma's e - for it. I want this. You want that. As my grandfather would say,"That's what makes a horse race." But doesn't it seem like things are getting exponentially faster? I just had a birthday so maybe it's the age thing.....but....I don't think so. Let's be careful. I refer you to "2001 A Space Odessey's" Hal. You remember Hal......that nutty, rapscallion of a computer? "You're not going anywhere, Dave. Sit down and shut up, before I RIP YOUR HEART OUT!!!!"......or something like that. We're getting there. The little paper clip icon knocks on my computer screen everytime I try to do something that can't be done and gives me that, "Hey idiot" look. Oh yeah, I can just imagine him and the little dog and tiny Einstein all back there having a good laugh.
Now, I like water. I love and need water. We all do. But I don't feel compelled to carry it around. We don't live in the Kalahari. Water is available. Close. I'll bet you could walk to a water source. You won't shrivel up. STOP!!!!!! So upgrade to the latest version of XP and put all your instruments in a vault. Plug your brain directly into the nearest music source and I heard it might rain so run.......RUN....... to the nearest grocery store for milk, eggs, and ....water. Must.........have...........water. Ahhh.... again... I feel better.
Solo Gig - Fri, Apr 27, at the Arc of Hunterdon County, 7 - 9pm
Annandale, NJ
Check out my archived blogs....if you dare..
and listen in Thurs morns 6 - 9am on

Friday, January 19, 2007

....could happen.......

So this frog into the First National Bank, down on Hialeah, and enters the loan officer's office. Mr Paddywack looks at the frog and inquires how his bank can be of assistance. The frog explains that he's considering some modifications to his lily pad, possibly a sun deck or aboretum, and would like Mr Paddywack's help in obtaining a loan. Paddywack explains that he's never dealt with a frog in this matter, but if some collateral can be offered possibly they can do business. The frog says," Well I don't really have any about this?" He produces some kind of coin or amulet and hands it to Mr Paddywack. Paddywack looks it over and says, Come with me." They go into the bank managers office and Mr Paddywack explains the situation. He then hands the coin over and says," This is what the frog offered as collateral so I thought you should see it. I have no idea what it is." The bank manager looks at the chachki...rolls it over in his hand and suddenly jumps up and exclaims, Why, it's a knick knack Paddywack, give the frog a loan!!!"
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