Archive for February, 2018

Alabama Blue

February 28, 2018

Never said she was married
I didn’t see a ring
When Blue started barking
I picked up my things
Found myself staring
At a mighty big knife
Blue bit his ankle
And we ran for our life

Time to move along now
Alabama Blue
This no-good town
Ain’t fit for me and you
They’ll be pretty girls for me
And some new smells for you
Time to move along now
Alabama Blue

Honeys kept me busy
I was cuttin’ a rug
Honkytonk hero
Happy hittin’ a jug
Seven hundred dollars
Is a mighty big bill
Me and Blue skedaddled
Made it over the hill

Time to move along now
Alabama Blue
This no-good town
Ain’t fit for me and you
They’ll be pretty girls for me
And some new smells for you
Time to move along now
Alabama Blue

Never meant no trouble
Don’t wanna hurt no one
I’m not a bad feller
But I do love my fun
Never met nobody
Better than Blue
The finest amigo
That a man ever knew

Time to move along now
Alabama Blue
This no-good town
Ain’t fit for me and you
They’ll be pretty girls for me
And some new smells for you
Time to move along now
Alabama Blue

by Richard W. Bray

Los ladrones que mandan

February 25, 2018

But, scarce observed, the knowing and the bold
Fall in the gen’ral massacre of gold;
Wide-wasting pest! that rages unconfin’d,
And crowds with crimes the records of mankind
For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws,
For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws;

Samuel Johnson, The Tenth Satire of Juvenal, Imitated

The rich everyday exhort a part of their daily allowance from the poor
not only by private fraud but by public law

Thomas More, Utopia

Los ladrones que mandan

The thieves who always win
Extracting every dollar
From misery and sin

When tyrants, kings and pirates
Lay the land to waste
Los ladrones que mandan
Will always get their taste

Tax you, fine you, frame you
Guilty any way you plea
Los ladrones que mandan
Lock you up for living free

Ain’t no way to ever reckon
How much they really stole
Los ladrones que mandan
Crush you body, crush your soul

by Richard W. Bray

Hollow

February 23, 2018

The factories are empty
And cities waste away
Leaders sell us out for cash
And tell us all to pray

The churches are deserted
The schools are falling down
We got abandoned buildings
People sleeping on the ground

We got hurt and hate and war
We got pills that waste your soul
They serve us bombs and bullets
We’re just trying to get whole

They hollowed out our country
And left an empty shell
They got thirty bits of silver
I hope they spend it well

by Richard W. Bray

I can’t paddle your canoe

February 17, 2018

As one goes through life one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.
Katherine Hepburn

Life keeps
Coming at you
And you wonder
What to do
You know
I wanna help
And I’m always
Here for you
But I can’t paddle
Your canoe

I can sit
And I can listen
Till morning’s
Wet with dew
I can even talk
If you want
My point of view
But I can’t paddle
Your canoe

I can love you
I can feed you
Hold your hand
And tie your shoe
I hope you
Always know
I got a million
Hugs for you
But I can’t paddle
Your canoe

by Richard W. Bray

Busybody

February 15, 2018

Tell me everything about you
Everything you ever did
Every thought you ever had
Since you were a kid

I need to comprehend you
Right down to the core
I need to write your story
And tally up your score

Hero, goddess, superstar
Scoundrel, lowlife, sinner
I live to differentiate
The loser from the winner

I’ll tell you what you’re all about
Reduce you to a label
Find the moral of your life
And tell the world your fable

by Richard W. Bray

Don’t let nobody tell ya

February 12, 2018

People looking at you
Cuz they wanna see themself
Listening to advice
Is gonna ruin your mental health

Don’t let nobody tell ya
Who you’re sposed to be
Try to please the people
And you’ll never be free

Ain’t no one alive
To tell ya what you’re all about
Listening to advice
Is gonna turn you inside out

Don’t let nobody tell ya
Who you’re sposed to be
Try to please the people
And you’ll never be free

You’re the only person
Inside you from the start
You’re the only one
Who knows what’s living in your heart

Don’t let nobody tell ya
Who you’re sposed to be
Try to please the people
And you’ll never be free

by Richard W. Bray

The Melody Lingers

February 8, 2018

I cannot unhurt you
I can only walk away
I hope we find tomorrow
What we cannot give today

Everything I am
And all I’ll ever be
Connects to who you are
Connects to you and me

Bleeding in the twilight
Of a special melody
The tune that hurts and heals
Is the love you gave to me

by Richard W. Bray

sweet and pure

February 6, 2018

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
Billy Preston

There ain’t a woman who can see
All the love inside of me

Stupid two-bit loser town
Bitches try to bring me down

I need a woman sweet and pure
I’ll find my truth inside of her

I spend my cash and act a clown
Bitches try to bring me down

A million things that I could be
If only she believed in me

I could drink until I drown
Bitches try to bring me down

by Richard W. Bray

Judgement Machines

February 4, 2018

From natural selection’s point of view, the whole point of perception is to process information that has relevance to the organism’s Darwinian interests — that is, to its chances of getting its genes spread. And organisms register this relevance by assigning positive or negative values to the perceived information. We are designed to judge things and to encode those judgements in feeling.

Robert Wright, Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment

Like any paradigm, evolutionary psychology is an extreme oversimplification of our multifarious existence. Even if we accept the premise that human beings are shaped by evolutionary pressure, which I do, it does not automatically follow that everything we are is the direct result of “natural selection.” Many mutations and alterations in our genes are merely coincidental.

If, for example, a parrot with an efficient nutshell-crushing beak happens also to be blue, its descendants are likely to be blue despite the fact that their blueness does not foster their success like that marvelous beak does.

Human beings are not “designed” by evolution; we’re the product of happenstance. And nobody can say for certain what the “whole point of perception” is. But you needn’t be a natural selection determinist to appreciate Wright’s picture of human consciousness.

The Difference Between Berry and Toadstool

Wright is certainly correct to say that human beings automatically assign “positive or negative values” to “perceived information.” Every thought we have is wrapped inside a feeling. These feelings often had the benefit of keeping our Hunting Fathers alive long enough to pass along their DNA. That’s how we got here.

Determining the difference between berry and toadstool, lamb and lion, or friend and foe is an essential survival skill. Our ancestors survived and prospered thanks to the happy associations they made with the delicious berries that sustained them and the painful associations they made with frightening beasts that killed their friends and relatives.

The Old, Old Tale of Narcicussus

It’s natural for human beings to constantly analyze and reevaluate the world we live in. And, as social organisms, we evaluate ourselves in relation to others. That’s why we’re forever recalibrating our opinions of one another.

How we feel about others is a function of how they make us feel about ourselves. The world is our mirror, as W.H. Auden notes:

A friend is the old, old tale of narcissus.

Severing how we feel about others from how we feel about ourselves is not possible  we don’t exist in a vacuum. But we can examine our natural tendency to “judge things and to encode those judgement in feeling.”

Jesus commands: “Judge not.” But judgement-free perception simply isn’t possible. What we can do is listen to our thoughts and examine the feelings that ignite them.

Avoiding Misery and Masochism

Don’t squander your precious time on Earth trying to figure out who deserves to be happy. There’s always going to be people you can point to as undeserving of the gifts life has bestowed upon them. Should it really be your task in life to figure out who’s to bless and who’s to blame? By fixating on the unfairness of it all, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of misery and masochism.

I’m not suggesting that we should accept the world the way it is. On the contrary, fighting injustice and trying to make the world a better place is one of the best ways to find meaning in this crazy old world.

 

by Richard W. Bray