LOCAL VIEW –Chameleon Blues–

Yesterday I shared one of the last songs I wrote as a bachelor. This is another, and might have actually been my last. I like it, because it holds the springtime recklessness that is bound to wind you up in all sorts of trouble, such as marriage, but at that time I was convinced I’d never marry, as I was far too old. (37).

Three good stories are involved with the creation of this song. As I’m in the mood to dwell on the past, I hope you’ll forgive me for sharing them.

Back then I was deeply involved in attempting to help my Dad out of a black depression, and not having much luck, for he had lots of valid reasons and was much smarter than I in all ways but hope. He drank heavily and could blast the dickens out of any hope I had, before it was half-way out of my mouth. I refused to give up, but found him a bit of a downer, so I sought relief in a church choir, where I could sing of hope at the top of my lungs without getting blasted for it.

Consequently I found myself associating with two extremely different sorts of people. Someone noticed my pick-up truck pass in one direction with a good-old-boy friend of my father, who was a notorious drunkard and rake, and not long afterwards my pick-up truck passed in the other direction holding a wonderful, elderly lady-of-the-church. That person told me, “You’re nothing but a chameleon.”

I blew a gasket, but quietly and on paper, by writing the following song. I was sick and tired of being misunderstood for having hope.

One person I was misunderstood-by was my elder sister, who was convinced I was a fool to have hope in my father, and deeply concerned that I couldn’t handle his alcoholic abuse. To reassure her that there was a better side to my life I sent her a daily letter for five days, describing my interactions with church ladies and church gentlemen (who were the customers of my landscaping business) and including this song. My sister was so sure my letters would hold nothing but the deranged neurosis of a little brother getting driven mad by an alcoholic Dad that she sent them all back unopened in a manila envelope, with a sisterly note advising me that I was nuts. I blew a second gasket, telephoned her, and told her I would not talk to her for six months, and then we could decide if I had been nuts or not. (I talked to her before the six months passed, to invite her to my wedding.)

It turned out to be a good thing I got that mail back, for I think it was my only copy of the song, and by chance I had an opportunity to perform it before several hundred people a week later. Being a bachelor,  I could just take off when I was fed up, and wound up visiting friends at a gathering of followers of Meher Baba in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. They had a “talent show”, and I felt strangely compelled to sign up and sing my song, and had the unique experience (in my life) of being a “hit.” By the end several hundred people were clapping and singing the final line of each verse.

As I hitchhiked back to New Hampshire (an insane experience which convinced me to never hitchhike again) I was thinking to myself that maybe I was going to be a successful artist after all,  but much to my surprise I went on a blind date and discovered my destiny was to be a successful father, which in my opinion is a far greater thing.

In any case, after that long introduction, here is the song:

       CHAMELEON BLUES

Sometimes I cut my long hair short.
Then some girls call me, “Handsome”,
But soon that hair grows long and then
I look like Charlie Manson.
This superficial stuff don’t fool
The upstairs, big Number-One,
But some folk ’round here call me,
“The Chameleon.”

They also call me “Two Faced”,
But the truth is, I’ve got more,
For I’m friendly with the rich folk
And I’m friendly with the poor.
I’ve heard that God’s in everyone
So I try to love every one.
So I don’t deserve the nickname of
“The Chameleon”.

I love the holy rollers
And the bitter atheist
For every hand has got a palm
Even when it makes a fist.
I try to love my enemies
Even when they scare me with a gun,
So I don’t deserve this nickname of
“The Chameleon”.

Variety’s my spice of life;
It don’t make me a liar:
Weekdays I love my rock and roll;
Sundays I love the choir!
No two snowflakes are alike;
All snowflakes melt beneath the Mighty Sun,
So I don’t deserve this nickname of
“The Chameleon.”

Some people are afraid to change.
They won’t try nothing new.
I don’t know why they are so shy.
There’s lots and lots of things to do
And we all like folk creative,
So we shouldn’t sneer or shun,
For growth involves more changes…
And life involves more changes…
And love involves more changes than
A Chameleon.

To conclude I confess I get hit by this springtime recklessness every year, but my wife has always done a good job of tempering my wildness, until this year. This year she is as bad as, if not worse than than, I am.

Therefore there may be an abrupt end to postings on this blog-site for a while. Not that I intend to stop posting, but at times one is so busy doing new things they have no time to describe it.

 

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