Whenever I come across an obituary of a country music singer, I read it. If you have artistic leanings you can learn a lot from the lives of country musicians. But only from the Old School guys – there’s little to learn from the new guys who do ads for motor oil companies or have a line of perfume at Fred Meyer’s that smells like horse piss. Veterans like Johnny Cash never sold us a line because they were too busy walking one. They had something to teach us.
Reading about a recently-departed Old School legend, I gained the following invaluable nuggets of insight:
* If you’re driving and have a half-empty bottle of vodka on the passenger seat, don’t try to change the cassette in the stereo. Stereos are dangerous and will get you every time. (Insight: always maintain total focus on the primary task at hand)
* Don’t try to open theme parks. (Stick to what you’re good at).
* Don’t keep a manager who also sells cocaine. (Again, your manager should stick to what he/she’s good at and leave drug sales to the professionals).
* Marriage is like baseball. After the third-strike, just go back to the dugout and try to figure out what’s wrong with your swing.
* If you’re on the 83rd take of a song (or story or poem), stop and try again later when you’re sober.
* Rehab is for quitters. (Never give up).
* If you’re shooting a handgun at a car, make sure your friend isn’t in it. (Cars are replaceable, but friends are few and precious).
* Robert Atkins, author of the all-protein diet, died at age 71. Our recently-departed Old School country star made it to 81. (Hard living beats protein for artists who want that extra bit of longevity).
* Responsible adults pay their debts. Smart adults flee to another the state. The latter have much more fun.