As I don’t have a heap of money – and it’s been a while – a limited number has constituted the recipients of my Christmas gifts this year. Therefore, I feel obliged at this time to do something modest to express my appreciation for what you’ve done for me this year. No telling how many years now I’ve been producing this on the cheap.
So many of you have helped me out by reading what I write, even though there are lots of times you don’t agree, and I’m grateful to the few, the proud, who rank me as better than the last words I typed because the quality of my words is highly erratic.
I appreciate those of you who have read my books. Three of them came out in 2016. I expect another novel to be ready sometime in the spring, and maybe, just maybe, at some point, all the people who have read one and liked it, will read another and like it, and so on, and it will all coalesce or, more likely, congeal into a towering mass of Jell-O known as a fan base.
Always optimistic, I am.
Each winter, sometime during the holidays, most of the time after Christmas in the past but, really, whenever I get around to it, and when I’m in a mood to sit down in front of the TV, while a crummy ballgame is going on, and play songs on my guitar. Songs that strike my fancy come to mind, often dependent on my mood. When I’m in the mood to compile these, it’s typically sort of a period of melancholia into which I have drifted.
This helps me come out of it, so, in a way, I’m just being selfish, too. I hope, by some miracle, you can find some comfort in these words.
Last night I dreamed / That you came to our house / To take an old book from the shelf / If you’ll open the shutters / I’ll tear down the boards / ‘Cause I drove every nail by myself.
“Shutters and Boards,” Audie Murphy and Scott Turner
Ain’t it strange / How people change / And almost overnight / Who once was a country girl / Is now a socialite.
“The Old Side of Town,” Tom T. Hall
When the earthly race is over / And the curtain ‘round him falls / We’ll carry him home to victory / On the Wabash Cannonball.
“Wabash Cannonball,” William Kindt
Ain’t never been nobody’s idol / But at least I got a title / And I take a lot of pride in what I am.
“I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am,” Merle Haggard
I raised a lot of cain back in my younger days / While Mama used to pray my crops would fail.
“I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” Merle Haggard
I keep saying o’er and ‘oer / I don’t love you anymore / Trouble is / I don’t love you any less.”
“I Don’t Love You Anymore,” Bill Anderson
The silence of a falling star / Lights up a purple sky / And as I wonder where you are / I’m so lonesome I could cry.
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” Hank Williams
I’m gonna tuck my worries underneath my arms / And scat right back to my pappy’s farm.
“Honky Tonk Blues,” Hank Williams
I wondered so aimless / Life filled with sin / I wouldn’t let my dear Savior in / Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night / Praise the Lord / I saw the light.
“I Saw the Light,” Hank Williams
Eyes to laugh and lips to cry / Legs to walk and thoughts to fly / Restless soul to classify / All born to grow and grown to die.
“Rex’s Blues,” Townes Van Zandt
It wasn’t me that started that old crazy war / But I was bound to go and do my patriotic chore / And God knows that I ain’t the man I used to be / But Ruby / I still need some company.
“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” Mel Tillis
Grew up in Houston down on Wayside Drive / Son of a car hop in some all-night dive / Dad drove a stock car to an early death / All I remember is a drunk man’s breath.
“Ain’t Living Long Like This,” Rodney Crowell
Life gets complicated / When you get past eighteen / But the Class of ’57 had its dreams.
“The Class of ’57,” Don and Harold Reid
Sleeping under a table at a roadside park / A man could wake up dead / But it sure seems warmer than it did / Sleeping in our king-sized bed.
“Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” Glenn Martin and Dave Kirby
I was just a lad / Barely twenty-two / Neither good nor bad / Just a kid like you / But now I’m lost / Too late to pray / Lord, I paid the cost / Of the lost highway.
“Lost Highway,” Leon Payne
Sometimes I go for a walk / Look at the moon / Strum my guitar / And sing out of tune / Honey, you’re the reason I can’t sleep at night.
“You’re the Reason,” Bobby Edwards
So excuse me for looking / Like my world just ended / And excuse me for looking / Like I just lost my best friend / And excuse me for living / And being forgiving / So just go on if you want to be free.
“The Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning,” Gary P. Nunn and Donna Farar
“Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitude,” Jimmy Buffett
‘Cause everybody’s got to have somebody to look down on / Who they can feel better than any time they please / Someone doin’ somethin’ dirty decent folks can frown on / If you can’t find nobody else / Just help yourself to me.
“Jesus Was a Capricorn,” Kris Kristofferson
Them that don’t know him won’t like him / And them that do sometimes won’t know how to take him / He ain’t wrong, he’s just different / But his pride won’t let him do things that make you think he’s right.
“Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Ed Bruce and Patsy Bruce
And, tucked way down at the bottom, after a discerning number of you have given up, a few of mine. Click on the titles if you’d like to see videos of me performing them:
When the sun comes up on that bright morn / In the quiet that follows every storm / When the demons have all passed away / We’ll celebrate your independence day.
Some folks love to smoke cigarettes / Live in a trailer, drive a red Corvette / Give back half as much as they get / Couldn’t find theirselves in a mirror.
When football came around / I couldn’t wait to see it end / When it was all over / I couldn’t wait to play again / In practice, Roscoe beat my brains in every single day / You know, I guess it had to be that way, Lord, Lord.
Now I’ve learned / My lessons well / There’s a price to pay / For those who insist to rebel / A man works hard / And tries to mend / All the cracks and dents of having / Facebook friends.
I know I’ve only been there once / But I want back real soon / Where I can enjoy that gentle breeze / Beneath that Georgia moon.
He’s kinda cute / His life’s a mess / Sells his weed / Keeps the best / Hair bunched up in a ponytail / Stares at himself in the mirror.
I don’t know where I am / And I don’t know where I’m going / And I reckon it’s best not to say / What factories are left here are mainly hiring Mexicans / I reckon that they’ll work without much pay.
I reckon I could do this all day. I reckon I have chipped away about half of it.
I hope, against all my expectations, the coming year is better than the last, which, once I think about it, ain’t asking much.
If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Cowboys Come Home, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)
I’ve written five novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.
Crazy of Natural Causes is on Amazon sale all December for $.99.
The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.
My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.
I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.
I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.
I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.
I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.
I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.
Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).