The Journey

Friday Night Clam Bake – #30: Songs and Searching and Sustenance

Hey, Folks.

It’s been a few months since I’ve done a fresh Clam Bake, and since I’ve got one eye on the weather (wretched storms, once again), I thought it best to revive this series. This allows me to scribble short snippets, slap a music video into the narrative, and then run check the local NBC TV affiliate to determine if I need to grab Cleo the Cat and throw our asses in the sub-basement. (Dirt floor, can’t fully stand up, spiders. Yay!) Such is life in Texas during the spring months.

So, here we go…

The first music video doesn’t really have a story to go with it, somewhat negating my opening paragraph. I just like the song. It’s one of those tunes that, whenever it happens to play wherever I happen to be, puts me in a good mood. The lyrics are actually a little dark (as is the video), and I’m not a religious person, so that angle isn’t what speaks to me. It’s just that the words and the musical arrangement and the vocal performance come together in just the right way.



This next song is one that I’ve babbled about several times before, most notably in a post found here, with said post being the result of a visit to the Catedral de Málaga. I’ve liked the song since it first came out many decades ago, but when the lyrics popped in my head whilst I stood in the vast open space of the cathedral, I now associate the song with Spain and travel and opportunities and seizing the day. (I purposely chose a video that is a bit fuzzy, because choices are often that way, blurry and elusive.)




Speaking of choices and regrets and hindsight, the next selection spoke to me strongly upon its release, and it still does. It came out at a time when I was going through a personal situation that bordered on overwhelming, and even though our stories were different, Josh’s vocals gave me a quiet, melancholic peace. It’s often not about the actual words but rather the evocation of emotion. That happens quite nicely here.




Since I just did a piece on Barbra Streisand several posts ago, she’s obviously been on my mind lately. It’s a bit of an understatement to say that she’s had quite a few hits in her career, but when someone is as prolific as she has been, some of the treasures fall through the cracks of time.

This cover of a Laura Nyro song (and if you aren’t aware of Laura, you should be) was initially over my head when first released (I was six, sue me). But it eventually spoke to me, as I struggled with my conservative Oklahoma upbringing, especially the lyric “I was raised on the Good Book Jesus, until I read between the lines”. I had so many questions, yet no one around me wanted to answer them.




Finally, we have another song that I’ve most likely babbled about previously, but I’ll set the scene: In May of 1985, I dropped out of college after my sophomore year, in the midst of a life-direction quandary, complicated by the intense homophobia in Tulsa at that time. I just wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere, I just wasn’t sure of the destination. (During this reflective period, wherein I had to earn a living instead of earn a diploma, I was in dire need of finances, and this is when my part-time job at Quik-Trip became full-time, thus leading to the “What’s Love Got to Do with It” story series that some of you long-time Bonnywood guests may remember.)

Eventually, I met up with what I thought was a kindred soul (he later turned out to be a psychopath, but I’ll tell that story some other time) and we made plans to escape Tulsa and the crushing power of right-wingers who live to destroy difference. We eventually decided that Dallas was the place to be (They have a gay ghetto! Yay!) and we made a preliminary trip there to secure an apartment and whatnot, giddy with excitement.

In January of 1986, the psychopath and I loaded up our meager belongings and headed south, much later in the day than we had planned, because packing up all your crap, regardless of the meager aspect, takes time. Right as we crossed the Red River, the border between Oklahoma and Texas, the clock on the dashboard crossed midnight, clicking the date from January 25 to January 26. It was now officially my 21st birthday. Just then, the following song came on the radio.

It was a perfect moment of hope and possible redemption.



Little did I know that the long remainder of 1986 would prove to be the most demoralizing period in my life, ever. (Another story, another time.) You win some, you lose some, but certain songs will always take you back to a brief moment when all was right, all was good, and you could read between the lines.



25 replies »

  1. Oh yes, certain songs will take you back. Sorry to hear about your crap-infested time of it. Good to know that you came out of it with your sense of humour and the lovely empathy that you show. I have had crap-fest years, too. I learned to wear my crap raincoat and put the hood up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words, Lynette. And I’m right there with you on the crap raincoat. You have to build a barrier that only lets in what you can handle, even if it’s not the prettiest outfit you can wear… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have songs that have memories attached too. Plus random songs pop into my head and demand attention.

    I dont remember your 21st birthday, but I remember my lil bro’s 15th birthday, 2 days later… Those of us around back then all remember THAT day.

    Gotta love Simple Minds! And INXS… Michael, so sexy! Such good music. RIP!

    The others are new to me. Thanks for sharing them! I hope this storm passes you by! And all future storms too…weather & life. We’ve been through enough fire.
    Be safe! Sending hugs!💌💌


    • Now see, I don’t think I know about Lil Bro. (And if you’ve shares details about such since I had the good fortune of joining your blog, please forgive my memory lapse.) I sense some “not good” there, and my heart goes out.

      And yes, we’ve had enough fire. But in a backhanded way, the fires have toughened our skins and made us stronger. Hugs right back at ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Every single one of those videos is coming up unavailable for me right now. 2020, you seriously suck. I shall have to take solace in the fact there are gay ghettos, which by definition must be nicer than their straight counterparts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, dang. I was really curious to see which of the songs struck home with you. Modern technology can be extremely primitive and annoying at times.

      And yes, gay ghettos do have a certain flair, but it’s still sad that some people still have to seek out safe havens instead of feeling comfortable wherever they happen to be…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Brian for this post. I appreciated the bridging between the songs and how you touched on some experiences in life. You are a survivor. I especially enjoyed and reread the last paragraph – it was like a voiceover from Netflix movie. Perhaps you should be working as a screenwriter? Certainly you have some life experiences to draw from. Here’s a challenge for you to mull over – research an online writing course, even better an online screenwriting course. To write alone or in tandem with another writer – imagine six months now and you finishing the last page of your own script. Why not say yes!! – David

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, David. The screenwriting angle is something I’ve fiddled with for many years, and I even took a course in such during one of my on again/off again dabblings with college classes. (Sadly, the instructor was all about “marketing” and not about “imagination”, so I wasn’t particularly impressed.) If you’ll excuse the boast, I can do dialogue, if nothing else, so there’s still a bit of hope.

      But I really like your reference to “life experience”. It’s a key point, to me. One can be a terrific writer at the age of 20, but I really don’t think any serious writer reaches true fruition until those life experiences give force to scribbled words, and that takes time…


  5. Sorry your kindred spirit was psycho, but at least you got away from Tulsa and then from him. I’ve always loved Simple Minds–New Gold Dream is still one of the best albums of all time:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I managed to escape both the psycho AND Tulsa, so there’s hope for any budding gaylings who are still trapped in the situation. It’s hard, but it’s doable.

      And yes, Simple Minds rawks. I wore out my coveted cassette tapes of “New Gold Dream” and “Once Upon a Time”, much to the annoyance of my neighbors… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great song for your birthday, even if the year proved disappointing. Still, it’s the disappointments that teach us the most, yeah?
    Speaking of which, you’ve teased us with this psychopath for so long. I don’t mean to push you into something you’re not willing to share, but honestly Brian. Are you going to or not? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you are correct, I have teased far too many times about The Psycho. (After all, it was a pivotal point in my life that still resonates.) I’m sure you will not be surprised to learn that I have a spreadsheet on the matter. He will figure prominently in Volume 2 of my memoirs, if I ever get around to writing them, in a tome tentatively titled “One Nine Eight Six”. And actually, he was just the tip of the iceberg in that year…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Sarah! At least I’m assuming this is Sarah (despite the screen name of “Anonymous” on the comment) as “smzang” clicked Like on this post just before this comment appeared. I hope you’re doing well. I tried poking around to see if if you have a current blog (using the avatar link from the Like), but I only found two blogs that appear to be partially/mostly shut down. I do hope that we get to talk more soon.

      If this is not Sarah, my apologies for the misdirected ramble, but would you mind letting me know who you are? Thanks!


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