Thursday, May 25, 2017

'I thought of you...'

Act I

Yep, I'm still here.

Won't get into it, other than to say I've had a setback. Same train, different track. Started in November. Had six procedures since February, one set for early June, just finished physical therapy. Five percent better, they say. We'll see.

So much has changed. Had to resign from the old newspaper, my professional home since 1998 until the disability. Couldn't do it, physically.

It's gone away, moved to Nashville, in a way. It's OK. At least it ain't L.A.

They say this town'll waste your time; guess they're right... (but it ain't wastin' mine).

Back to "Good Time Charlie" in a minute.

The older sister I never had stayed. I like that. It's in good hands with her.

Act II

So, the blog. I can't promise when I'll be back. You understand, though, I know.

Buddy Donnie started this one. Emailed. Praying. Ducks in here every day, he says, just to check.

Got another note from two former Halls residents. Get well soon, they say.

And then, as evening arrived, thunder, wind, rain, ongoing migraine, a death, and Danny O'Keefe.

The past 10 days have been, well, a place I don't plan going to when I go. Really, the past six months have been hell, but that's not why we're here, you and I. Forgive the word, please.

Six p.m. Sitting, as usual, in the dark, eating dinner. Brother from Different Mother Ross Southerland calls.

"Sonny's dead." Sonny West. Worked for, friends with, king Elvis the Presley. You know my connection there. If not, look it up or ask sometime, if you wish.


I start thinking. Go back to the gospel. Scratch out a one-take, heartfelt but hoarse, two minutes of "Sweet Beulah Land." (I couldn't remember all the words to "The Lighthouse." Didn't want a lead sheet. Sang from the soul.)

Time passes.

Can't listen to music except in short spurts on "good" days. I shared songs from "So Long Harry Truman" today. If you're of a certain age, you know Danny O'Keefe. You might think one-hit wonder. "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues." 1972. You maybe know, too, that he wrote "The Road," a hit for Jackson Browne.


"So Long Harry Truman." The album. Atlantic/Warner, 1975. Awesome.

Wayne Bledsoe, Halls native, Powell resident, Knoxville's daily super scribe music man, put me onto it in August 2013. My marriage was missing. (It's OK. Best for us both.)

Certain lyrics resonate.

Still listen to two songs sometimes. Not looking back. Navigating now, forward.

Call it new, call it different...

Tonight, I let the record spin and spin.

And, somewhere approaching 11, I hear it. First time in almost four years.

Yes, and when I heard the news
I had no songs, I could not sing, I could not stain the bluu-u-es.
But, somehow, Rainbow Girl
I thought of you.  
Somehow, Rainbow Girl, I thought of you...

Wayne knows Danny. He knew the backstory. Whole other thing. Think "Lola." Or "Jody."

I had brought my lens to the looking glass and didn't know. Which is the point, really.

My Rainbow Girl is/are two women. Both met in this century. One's here at last on the ground. Other's in midair. Neither are clowns. Don't send any in... (Sorry, Sondheim.)

It's rained for four days. Nausea and joint pain and atypical migraines mixed with real ones and other rocks have been murder. Sonny's death wasn't good. Roger Moore's passing was poignant but poison. That set the stage.


But, somehow, Rainbow Girl, I thought of you. Them.

Neither were romances. That wasn't the script. But both mean much. Friendship. If you have five real ones, block off blessed on your bucket list.

If you have more, you're a walking Mega Millions check.

I'm all but broke, monetarily. But, a way always arrives. Did last night, in fact.

I have daily chronic pain. I can't go far from my cool, blackout-curtained room. That's the way it's been for three years and some change. I've gotten by with a little help from my -- family (and friends -- some of them. Those precious, precious pearls.)

But, somehow, rainbow girls, I thought of you.

Act IV

Now? I'm no longer blue.

Today, anyway, that's totally true.

(And you know I mean it if I throw in an adverb.)

Jake Mabe is continuing to struggle with surgically-related disabling nerve damage. He hopes to return with regularity in mid-June. He welcomes thoughts, prayers, cards, letters, and emails to He thanks his Facebook friends and Twitter followers for their indulgence. He can be found sometimes at Knox TN Today on Tuesdays here.

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