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Houston’s Leslie Krafka is proof that it’s never too late to find your true calling. A few short years ago, she attended a songwriting workshop taught by Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines — not to further hone her craft or learn new tricks, but rather, by her own admission, because she thought it would be fun (she’d long been a fan of the duo.) But she came away from that workshop with her very first song and, apparently, an addiction to both writing and performing that by 2010 found her nabbing both Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year honors from the Houston Songwriter’s Association. Not bad at all for a start (especially for such a late one); but Onward, her second album, is where Krafka really arrives. Produced by Maines and Hendrix at the Zone in Dripping Springs, the whole record sounds fantastic, crisp and full (but never cluttered) and impeccably played by such A-list pros as Richard Bowden, Riley Osbourne, Bukka Allen, David Spencer, Rick Richards, and Pat Manske (not to mention Maines on his generous pedal steel and Hendrix on harmonica and harmony vocals). But Krafka, despite being a rookie separated by that formidable bunch by decades of collective experience, holds her own all the way through with conviction to spare. Her voice alone is a real find: sweet but assertive and ribboned with color, it glistens through “Beauty,” swaggers sassily through “Whiskey High,” and settles like a golden-red sunset over the river of pedal steel on “South Texas Fall.” Her songs are real winners, too, full of buoyant melodies that never sag or drag and lyrics that convey both maturity and a young-at-heart spirit that’s playful but never fluffy. Best of all, though, is the way she handles herself on the album’s one cover, “Drunken Poet’s Dream.” Memo to Ray Wylie Hubbard and HayesCarll: hate to tell you this, boys, but while you were sleeping, that woman done stole your song. — RICHARD SKANSE
There’s been a lot of talk in the news about cheating and lying. Why are we so surprised? Cheating and lying have existed since human beings became conscious creatures. I think most lying is done for our own benefit…a lie we tell ourselves. Yes, it deceives others, but we always lie to ourselves first.
So we had Lance Armstrong for two nights of prime time TV talking to the Big O about his cheating. Lying and cheating go hand in hand. We are human. It’s hard to toe the line all the time. We have all broken the rules, written or implied at some point in our life. Blood doping is cheating in cycling, and so is taking 3 bites of left over cheesecake when I’m on a diet. Now, cheating on my diet isn’t Oprah worthy news, but the mentality of it is the same for me as it is for Lance. I can certainly be disappointed in Lance, but do I have the right to reprimand him for what he has done? I’m living in a glass house, right? None of us are better then Lance, nor is he better than us. However, most of us are not in the public eye and been given the public’s trust. Hence, Lance pays a higher price. His cheating is big news----my cheating…not.
It is funny how many people will say they never lie, which of course is a lie. Which now brings us to wobbly subject of the truth---what is the truth? And what is it about the truth that ruffles our ego’s feathers? Mostly, who gets to decide what is true? Now there are facts that are true, but if I say I live in the nicest neighborhood in Houston, that’s my truth. It may not be true for you. So, am I lying?
I also find it interesting that there are people capable of sustaining a lie for years, or even decades. Like Lance, they make sure their outward appearance is exactly what they have carefully cultivated. I know people like this. And the biggest question about a long term lie… is a lie not a lie until it is exposed? For instance, if it had not been discovered that Beyonce lip-synced the National Anthem at the Inauguration, would it still have been cheating or lying?...If she did it but didn’t get caught?
So why do it? I think the right combination of ego, ambition, culture and personal perception can drown out the bells and whistles that go off in our head when diving into the murky waters of lying and cheating. Not everyone who finds themselves with the same motive and opportunity chooses that path. I certainly don’t cheat or lie every time the opportunity is presented to me, but I have now and then. So, why do I do it sometimes, and not all the time, or not at all?
If caught, the penalty fluctuates according to who you are in this world. Unlike Beyonce, when the less popular Ashlee Simpson was busted for lip-syncing on SNL that was virtually the end of her career in pop music. But, millions love Beyonce and will find a way to justify her actions and forgive her. Lance broke a cycling organization’s rules, but Beyonce didn’t break any written rule. She did portray herself as singing when indeed she was not. Is that not deceiving? Does one sin carry more weight then the other? Should Beyonce suffer the same slings and arrows as Lance? What is fair? The answer is nothing is fair, because there are as many scenarios and variables to ones fate once a lie is exposed as there are lies.
I’m past the half century mark and I’m finally figuring out that the fewer secrets I have the better my life is. That when I come to a fork in the road, take it. The right direction is always the one visible by the light of day.
When I start believing my ramblings are jewels it’s time to look out and reassess my overconfidence. I certainly believe there are times when a genuinely intelligent thought or revelation has crossed my mind. But most of the time it’s just everyday connections that keep my brain active and my soul soothed. Your own inner monologue is your souls most comforting and soothing voice. If the communication breaks down between the two, then you’re really in trouble. I have that problem sometimes. That disconnect between the head and the heart. Sometimes there is a war going on for superiority. Who will reign supreme within the walls of this flesh and bone? Will it be my heart or my head? Why these two entities can’t find a peaceful coexistence is beyond me sometimes. This morning I’m thinking back to a trip Jim and I took to LA to visit his dad. It was the mid-80’s. His dad was living in a high rise condo in the downtown area. There’s something about moving your physical self into another latitude, longitude and elevation that makes all the cells in your body feel different. Maybe this is why people go on vacations and suddenly feel free to have fun or be adventurous, or in some cases they feel out of place and lost in unfamiliar geography. I sometimes get a light-headed sensation and a dreamlike quality comes over me when I travel long distances from my home. Add to that the layers of texture my body is processing as my senses absorb this new geography. New sights, smells, sounds will put my brain into overdrive. I suppose lots of little endorphins and what not are all exploding inside the brain, making something either very pleasurable or really awful. I’ve had those moments when my body went into overload, and it stopped being fun and self preservation kicked in—the survival instinct; and my brain said “just find something familiar as soon as possible”. Like the Charles de Gaul airport in Paris. I was too lost in that place. Besides the fact that nothing was in English, I couldn’t seem to navigate my way to the baggage carousel or the taxi stand; it was just too much fuel for my senses. No wonder people wing their way to the nearest McDonalds like some sort of homing pigeon. Something on your radar has to compute, or the sensation that you are too far removed from home can send even the heartiest pioneer into a panic. It’s having memories like this that make me hesitate to take the long trips overseas that would require the inevitable foreign airport experience. This reminds me, it’s time to get my passport renewed.