Jon Patton / Blog

Flippin' Pennies

Change is what I receive back from the clerk at the Mapco. Change is what I put into a basket on the nightstand. Change is when the clouds remove the sun and bring the rain. Change is Domino’s over Papa John’s. Change is inevitable, they say. “Roll with the changes”. “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Ah, now we’re getting there…a little dramatic, but more my speed.

Change is not really something that should “happen” to us. Change is getting up off our asses. Change is moving forward, not taking a rest. Change is forcing the issue. I’m guilty of proverbially napping. Change from the sidelines is inevitable in two ways: watching the world pass by and, at some point, noticing it’s different; and using dollar bills instead of a debit card.

Change takes looking at the best parts and making them better. Change takes pulling the weeds. Change takes spirit, passion, and nerve. Change takes trying aaaand failing. Knocked down, getting’ back up. Sam Cooke’s haunting “A Change is Gonna Come” symbolizes an entire movement of change. A social change. A world change. (And I could listen to it over and over again. Some great covers of it, too.) I can only make changes in me. Do we really change the world? Well, probably not me. But I can set an example. For my kids. For my friends. For my social network. (jk!)

Change for change’s sake? Hell, no. That’s restless and bored (Bob Seger reference, too, I believe). I’m talking about having the balls to be the change I want to see in myself. Today.

This post brought to you by the World According to Jon.

What a mother..

Being a mother is, well, just that; a mother. And it’s a mother of a task, from Day One. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know what it is to be a mother, but in raising one boy by myself, I have had to play the role on occasion as best I could. But, there’s the rub. No one, especially not a man (duh), can replace a kid’s mother. We may not feel that way as adults, because we jumble it all up in complex relationships, but when a kid is still a kid, and still has some measure of innocence, he needs his momma when he needs his momma.

In every case, when a kid lived in our home as a foster child (our being me and Ellie, many moons ago), no matter what they had experienced; they wanted to go home to momma. You could see it, feel it, and hear it, in their eyes, hearts, and souls. Doesn’t mean they’ll never love anyone else (even as their mom) the same or even more, it just means that the physical, intrinsic bond is a fact. And because we are humans who think, reason, and mash-up our hearts, minds, and souls, I think that sometimes we forget the natural bonds between mother and child as we put our own spin on who we are and where we came from. And maybe it’s that inexplicable bond that confuses us if the relationship goes south.

Mothers get called every name in the book. Crazy. Bitch. They indulge too much, or don’t invest enough. Good momma. Bad momma. All because most are willing to do what it takes for their babies. For life.

So, here’s to all the Moms who have braved the pregnancy, childbirth, and rearing. It’s a hell of a load to pull. It doesn’t take much to fuck up and send your grown kids to the "talking couch". Here’s to not giving up. And here’s to all of us adults who love their moms through whatever we want to blame them for. And here’s to those who have lost their moms, because that’s a big one. And here’s to my one kid who lost his mom, but had enough in him to allow me sometimes to hold him, and that be enough. And here’s to my other kid whose mom is my wife, and who are both alike. So alike.

And here’s to my mom, who, all in all, did right by me. I’m thankful for that.

A Fervent Road

The George Jones funeral tore me up. The love and respect emanating from all of the participants was simply beautiful. Vince Gill fighting through tears and heartache to perform “Go Rest High on that Mountain with Patty Loveless. Alan Jackson removing his hat. Charlie Daniels’ perfect summation. What a wonderful story of love, darkness, generosity, redemption, and, importantly, a man who made the most of his undeniable gift, his voice. As Bob Schieffer commented, George Jones was a “country song”.

The word “balance”, as in finding “balance” in my life, started spinning in my head in my early thirties. That would be about right, as that’s the age when many of us decide that we should to get better at juggling careers, family, social life, dreams. Setting priorities. Settling down. Becoming responsible.

I worked on that for a while, believing this was a way to happiness. Not so much, truthfully. Balance takes the edge off. It becomes about compromise; muting passion on all fronts to achieve peace in surroundings. In the end, though, this road leads to turmoil inside. That slow death by mediocrity.

For me, now, it’s all about choice. Narrowing down the things I’m most passionate about, and attacking those parts of my life with vigor, love, verve. There’s plenty of energy. Most of us never realize the expanse of potential we all have inside of us. So, fuck balance. That’s giving up. Bring on the ups and downs that go with travelling the fervent road. Top down. Radio loud.

Worked for Possum. Just look at the tributes.

An Unexpected Rain ( A 70's visit)

I’m one of those that has a soundtrack for every piece of my life. Hearing songs in random places often takes me elsewhere, to another time, another experience, an untouchable moment. I rarely listen to music from my youth as a pointed exercise, but that’s the beauty of the digital age. While mixtapes were such a labor of love, playlists are the love without the labor. This weekend, a full day of flooding downpours gave rise to revisiting some music that shaped my life, playing DJ for a couple of hours. The music of the 1970’s was glorious. Big guitars. 6 minute songs. Lots of saxophone. Or Eric Clapton. I knew about disco from Saturday Night Fever, but the Stones’ “Miss You” from Some Girls was as close as I got to having it on my turntable. Springsteen describing his Jersey Shore and his streets of NYC like a West Side Story rock opera. Lou Reed’s guttural shove at me, making me want to smoke dope, try heroin, and know sweet Jane. The Ramones. 2-minute blitzes tearing up those same streets of NYC (and my head). The Dolls and David Jo. Southside Johnny. Then there was LA. Jackson Browne talked to me. David Lindley’s guitar felt like the sounds I made in my sleep; dreams churning through the teenage boy conundrum of self-doubt and cockwalk. Warren Zevon, Tom Waits. Indescribable genius. Linda Rondstadt. Poco. Fleetwood Mac. Geez. Nashville. The Neil Young, Eric Andersen, and Dylan Nashville. My folks were Southerners. I was comfortable with the toned down notch. I felt it, even though I was growing up in suburban MD. I have always considered myself raised as a good southern boy, which meant Gregg and Duane also spoke to me. Duane wrenched the blues from me. I bought a Stratocaster and played for months to the Anthology record. Ronnie Van Zandt and three guitars. Molly Hatchet and the Outlaws. Lowell George. The Whiskey Hollow Band played sets from these bands in 1978 with unrelenting grit and sweat at Charlie’s West Side in Annapolis. We’d pick up a pint of Wild Turkey and a six-pack of Bud tall boys at Fishpaw’s (Liquor and Bait!), chug it between four of us on the 15 minute ride, pay our cover, order a pitcher, and wait for liftoff. Good times. I didn’t listen to Led Zep, AC/DC, and Aerosmith when I was locked away in my room with my record player. I love those bands now, but they didn’t connect then. Kansas, Styx, Foreigner. Heard ‘em on the team bus and the locker room. I do remember sitting at a friend’s house, three of us, with brand new copies of Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks”, and Patti Smith’s “Horses”, listening to them over and over again. And talking about them. What did they mean? Why do they make me feel so angry? How can one person put so many fucking unrelated words together and make sense? Reminds me, Mark Hennen disappeared from our lives after high school. After all of those conversations, deep and meaningful. Shared. Never heard from him again. None of us. Huh. Weird. Okay, last story related to this playlist: The first time I ever significantly altered my mind (Colt 45 and Red Grape Malt Duck, haha!), I pulled in the driveway (uh, yeah, I drove), to Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat”. And the DJ followed it up with Frampton’s “Baby, I Love your Way”. Hmmm. I sat a long time in the driveway with the engine running. It was winter, and I was mesmerized. And changed. Forever, I suppose.


Blogging and East Nashville

Blogging... As I've gotten older, trying to be a little less self-centered, I've also tried to be a better listener. Then, along comes "the blog". The perfect opportunity to speak: unencumbered, unchallenged, and uninterrupted. Perfect. Then again, posting an occasional blog might keep the I-I-I's and You-You-You's from showing up so much in my songwriting! A chance to capture the small snapshots of this world I try to observe in song, especially the episodes for which I am only that observer, not so much a participant. Let me know how that's working for me! Living in East Nashville is like living in a sno-globe imagined in my many nights of restlessness 6 or 7 years ago; aching for a place full of "my kind", knowing I did not fit into the very surroundings I'd created. A small world where knowing the "right thing to say" was more important than speaking the truth itself. (sigh) So thank you East Nashville: every sidewalk, every bungalow or victorian, every merchant-owned shop, every parent that walks their kid to school, every musician, artist, teacher, weenie cooker, coffee brewer, landlord, contractor, dog...every mixed racial couple, every same-sex partnership, every tattooed body part, every attorney, CPA, and cop that make up this too cool conglomerate. East Nashville, you are a microcosm of a world imagined for me. And I'm so very happy to be here. Peace, jon