Happy Birthday, Jerry Lee!

Today is Jerry Lee Lewis’ 84th birthday. I feel so honored to have seen him perform twice! Here’s my favorite of his songs, which happens to be his first big hit. Enjoy this rendition of “Crazy Arms,” from a 1990 concert in Athens, Greece.

On This Day in 1977 …

Elvis Aaron Presley passed away at the age of 42. He’s now been gone for as long as he lived.

Visiting Elvis’ homes in Tupelo and Memphis was an enlightening experience for me. I came to understand the man a great deal better than I had from just reading about him. I can’t really articulate it any better than this:

Imagine that you were so poor that your family recipes include ways to cook opossum (I have the cookbook …). Imagine that you only ever had oversized denim pants to wear and resented it. Then, imagine that you had more money than you’d imagined possible because of the gift of your voice … and that you could buy anything you wanted. That you’d never have to wear blue jeans again unless it was for a movie role (he didn’t). Imagine that all you wanted was to buy your mother a beautiful house so that she didn’t have to live in a shotgun shack with no running water or electricity (he did). Imagine that you could afford anything you wanted, without question.

Now, imagine that you wanted to help others who weren’t as financially privileged.

That high-level look at who Elvis was explained so much to me … including his quiet philanthropy. He gave a great deal of money to organizations that helped others, and didn’t want acknowledgment for it. He saw it as paying back the many people who helped his family when they had nothing.

Elvis was a great believer in the message of this song. I can think of no better tribute than to share it today.

Sample Saturday: “Music, Mayhem, and Bad Decisions” … with Bonus Track

M&M frt Verson 1I was listening to Billy Idol in the car this week, for the first time in ages. That’s how I decided to share this sample. The man identified in the text as Jim Beaton/Jimmy Paris is now deceased … and this all happened a very long time ago.


Theatre of Sheep had played their set and I was hanging around in my “primo” position at the front of the stage. I’m 5’1” in my stocking feet, and I hate not being able to see the band. Anyway, I was standing there minding my own business and watching the roadies set up for Billy Idol’s band. Someone bumped into me from behind, and I turned around.

“Excuse me,” he said as I looked up at him, and I do mean up. Jim was 6’5” tall. He was also one of the hottest looking guys I’d ever seen, with his Black Irish coloring (fair skin, thick-lashed blue eyes and a shock of dark hair) and a pouty mouth “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I responded.

“I’m Jim.”

“Sharon.”

We shook hands, I swear to God.

“You live around here, Sharon?”

“On the other side of the bridge.”

“Yeah, I just moved back here from San Francisco.”

He may as well have come from Mars. San Francisco was impossibly far away and exotic to me.

Jim took off his black leather jacket, revealing tattooed arms; one of them had a nasty scar that I would later learn had come from a knife fight.

We chatted about this and that. I know that I told him about working with The Van Goghs and that I had a day job. He was the same age as me, 18, but a couple of months younger. He was studying welding and metal work in the Job Corps. He seemed nice enough.

Once Billy Idol started playing, it was too loud to talk. I really liked his sound, and hated the fact that I’d have to cut out early to meet my friend. I snagged one of guitarist Steve Stephens’ used picks from the stage; one edge was deeply ridged from sliding it up hot strings. (I eventually drilled it and hung it from an ear wire so that I could wear it.) I lost track of where Jim had gone; I later learned that he’d been thrown out of the show.

Anyway, when I came out of the Pine Street to meet my friend, Jim saw me.

“Hey,” he said, pressing a slip of paper into my hand. “Call me.”

He kissed my cheek and I got into the car.

“Who was that,” my friend asked.

I unfolded the piece of paper, on which was scrawled a name and a phone number.

“Jim Beaton, apparently.”


Want your own copy of Music, Mayhem, and Bad Decisions? Here are the book blurb and purchasing links.

During her teenage years, award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart dreamed of working in the music business. She lived that dream for seven years, beginning at age 18.

Unfortunately, she learned that dreams can turn quickly to nightmares. Sharon found herself in a world of not only of music, but also one of domestic violence when she got involved with an undereducated youth she met during a concert. In this book, Sharon tells the unvarnished truth about experiences for which her sheltered upbringing left her unprepared.

Originally published as You Had to Be There: Three Years of Mayhem and Bad Decisions in the Portland Music Scene, Sharon has updated her memoir with new information about those early days.

AbeBooks

Alibris

Amazon (click through to be taken automatically to the site for your country)

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

Better World Books

Blackwells (UK)

Bokus (Sweden)

Book Depository

Chapters Indigo (Canada)

FNAC (France)

IndieBound

Kobobooks (also available for 2400 Super Points if you are part of the program)

Mondadori (Italy)

The Ripped Bodice (paperback only)

Scribd

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WalMart

State of the Author: Hot Hot Hot!

I returned from our mini writers’ retreat at the Olympic Village in Squaw Valley, Calif., to a heat wave. No joke. I went from weather in the 50s to weather in the 100s in one fell swoop.

We got a lot done, though, during that retreat. We had plot breakthroughs, outlining sessions, laughter, a lot of good food, and great companionship. Having great author pals like Dover Whitecliff and T.E. MacArthur makes a huge difference; we support one another through the difficulties.

While it’s true that I had a much-needed plot breakthrough on Second Chance in the Vieux Carré, I also had a “side hustle” come through in the form of a formatting gig. Having something else to focus on for the immediate future often jars the stuck spots loose when it comes to writing. The timing couldn’t be better.

In the meanwhile, here’s a bonus track to get your toes tapping: “Hot Hot Hot” by Buster Poindexter (aka David Johansen, formerly of the New York Dolls).