This past year I started a blog, finished a new CD, played about 60 concerts, gave several seminars, became a grandfather, made a couple new friends, wrote only two songs I really like, read a few good books and learned how to grow orchids. I have a friend who bought a few houses for nickels on the dollar and invested a million in bargain stocks. My net worth plummeted, if you can call a nosedive off the low board a "plummet". I have another friend who finally got that college degree she's always wanted. My wife keeps suggesting that I go back to school to get one of those framed pieces of paper but I have ADD when it comes to things like tests and practical knowledge. I'm only able to learn useless skills like orchid growing, and unimportant facts such as: a "jiffy" is the time between alternating current power cycles (1/60 or 1/50 of a second). Try to teach me to prepare a business plan or speak French and I fidget uncontrollably until the chair collapses.
I want to write a book next year. It doesn't have to be a long book, just 120 pages or so. It can be heavily illustrated. When I consider the fact that I put off recording most of my best songs for 20 years, it seems unlikely that I'll write a best seller. Money sees me coming and crosses the street. Fame is like a rented tuxedo that I wore one night and spilled salsa on so I can't rent it again. Not that money and fame bring happiness, they just have certain perks that would make my life more convenient. For example I could pay all my bills and get a new pair of glasses in the same decade, or I could stop getting calls from the NSAI in Nashville asking me if I'd like to have my songs evaluated by one of their professionals.
I chose this life, my wife always reminds me. Yeah, I say, but I was too young to have all that responsibility. Someone should have said, "You don't want to be 54 years old selling songs for nine cents apiece do you?" That might've been a wake up call. They should've stopped me before I spent thousands of hours making steel wires vibrate on a wooden box. How was I supposed to know I'd get paid $150 per night to sing for people in 1972 and $150 to sing for more people in 2008? A migrant orange picker gets a raise. A guitar picker gets permission to park near the dumpster.
This year flew by. I covered a lot of miles on the road and most of them also flew by. I should be a duck. Did you know that a duck's quack doesn't echo? I know things like that. Wish I could get paid better for these things I know. Do you need someone to vibrate wire on a wooden box cheap?
We have much to look forward to in the coming year. I'm very interested in what our president elect will do starting January 21. I'd like to see some people on Wall Street go to jail. I'd like to find out why the CEOs of Ford think the solution to Detroit's problems is cars that park themselves. I want Rush Limbaugh to actually talk to God and get his facts straight. I'd like to wake up one morning and see the headline: Blogojevich Spontaneously Combusts. I'd be thrilled to find out that Arne Duncan has read "Outliers" and wants to reform the entire education system in America. I would like to listen to Ozzie Osborne filibuster in the Senate. I'd like to see Kevin Federline get a bigger hat.
Here are some wonderful things I'll miss in 2009. I won't get to see the Mets and Yankees play baseball in those great old parks. There will be no new Paul Newman or Heath Ledger films, no more Freddie Hubbard solos, or Arthur C. Clarke novels. There will be no more enlightened Sunday Mornings with Tim Russert. George Carlin won't make me laugh at the latest culture craze. And, although this one only matters to me, I won't get to do a show at The Arts Scene with my late compadre Robert Hazard.
But there will be a few improvements in 2009. Bush will be gone, and not a moment too soon. We won't see another haughty young blond drinking Zima at the bar. If you go to Starbucks, you can just get coffee and not feel guilty for passing up the CD bin because it will soon be gone. You won't step in Volcano Taco toppings on the sidewalk. You won't see any more bewildered husbands being dragged into Linens 'N Things.
I take my blessings where I find them. I have a loving family and a roof over my head, and these are not given things anymore. I still live a creative life. I don't need an iphone or a Lexus to make me happy. I have a few intelligent, interesting, funny friends who always say the right thing at the right time. I have reasonably good health. I can cook. And it's no small miracle that I'm still here to wish you the best year of your life in 2009.
copyright 2008 craig bickhardt