For some reason I am feeling an urge to share some summations as a New Year threatens. I had some goals for 2018, some of which I met, though I regretfully fell short of being able to overthrow the narcissistic sociopath who has abased our nation so. The pen is NOT mightier than the sword. No, that’s just poetic hyperbole, spoken by those who are afraid to do with swords what swords do.
In any event…2018:
I released my record, “Settling Scores Vol. II” It was my fourth with my producer/mentor Gurf Morlix, and my seventh with GatorBone Records. And if you are one of those anachronisms who still exchanges money for art, rather than just snatching it off the buffet table and eating it on the street, you can find it on my website, and on I-Tunes.
I self-published a little book of ‘dirty’ poems called “Bad Poetry.” I did it under the name Lindsay Grant. Not because I am ashamed of the vulgarity and revelation, but because I don’t want Terry Gross to find it were someone tell her she needed to check-out Grant Peeples’ stuff. (Available on website; but also at Amazon, if your curiosity prefers a degree of anonymity.)
Mezcalita Press published my book of about 100 poems called “My Advice to Pilgrims.” Thank you, Nathan Brown. Of all the work I have ever done, this is by far the most important for me in defining my ‘system.’ (I refrain from using the word ‘philosophy.’) This book: it is me…opened---if you are interested in going down that rabbit hole. (See web site. yadayadayada.)
I produced a month-long exhibition called “The Art of Resistance,” in which over 40 artists from around the country shared their work at the 621 Gallery in Tallahassee. It was nice seeing so much artistic courage gathered under one umbrella in the windstorm before the election. (Thanks to those who contributed to the GoFundMe to make this happen.)
I made my first European Tour, thanks to Holland’s Bert Pijpers, and Continental Records. For the record: everybody I met was concerned about what has become of the country that rescued the world from the ruin of nationalism in the 1940s. When they speak of America the look on their faces is the same look you have on your face when you talk about your niece with the substance abuse issues.
The best of all things I did was that I traveled to Korea with my father, a Purple Heart veteran of that war, which took as many US lives as Vietnam---but in 1/10th the time. We were there with a group of about 50 other vets, including the guy that triaged Dad when he was wounded. In case you were wondering, a LOT of those old guys who took bullets were verbosely disgusted by our child-president.
I have an extraordinary girlfriend, Ruthi, who loves me. And a little dog, Roadie, who would run right past Bruce Springsteen to get to my lap. I live comfortably in a little pink house in Tallahassee’s Midtown. I am in strong health. I will be 62 years old this year, and I still have both my parents.
In this regard, I live in the compartmentalized paradox of: “My life is really wonderful, and the planet is in horrible peril.”
My art remains more an expression of thought, than of feeling. And I still hear it call me to the canvass, as-it-were, every morning. These are mornings that still remain my own, to explore as I see fit, to unravel where I find the knot with my name on it. I am, in the words of Joseph Campbell, “following my bliss.” Which, please note, has absolutely ZERO to do with “living the dream.” No, that’s what Yankees are doing when they move to The Villages in Florida to play golf and live off the interest and dividends. This is not that. You may do a Google search: Joseph Campbell Following Your Bliss. But do it at your own risk. Because to follow your bliss requires that you enter a dark forest where no man has trod before. It is not to be confused with a day at the beach. And yet it is the full flavor of a mouth-full of being who you are. And that can be…bitter-sweet. Such is the taste on the tip of my tongue.
In 2019 I will still proclaim to be a ‘full-time musician,’ but this is objectively untrue. I’ll continue to rent-out the aforementioned little pink house to AirB&B, (yes, I pack-up my shit and leave). I’ll drive Uber, and do a considerable amount of land-clearing/chain-sawing work to supplement my existence. Because the music work has gotten harder to get. Maybe it’s just the Times. Or that I’m aging-out and starting to suck a little. But I have sensed more than once that I am not wanted on a particular stage because I am perceived as…confrontational, provocateurial and divisive. Which is probably a fair assessment. When I’m on my game.
In any event. I do have some goals for 2019. Please stay tuned. If you are so inclined. And may health and happiness be with you across the next twelve months.
Grant is very pleased to be invited to be an artist of The Stetson Kennedy Songwriter Residency Program, sponsored by the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, Jacksonville Songwriters Residency, and St. Johns Co. Parks & Rec. This historic songwriter residency program takes place at Beluthahatchee Park. Songwriters will experience Beluthahatchee for 1-2 weeks. Invitees include professional songwriters with ties to environmental, civil rights and/or activist topics.
Grant made the jump across the big pond for a short Netherlands tour in October, with a gig at the Ramblin Roots Festival in Utrect NL as the centerpiece of the tour. He also had shows at the LUX in Nijmegen and Café de Amer in Amen. Special thanks to Bert Pijper of Continental Road Services for booking the tour, Anita Luchies of Undercover Radio for awesome tour managing, and Addy Nijenboer for constant support. Grant liked it so much that he is going back in January!
State Line Revelation
I was driving back to Oklahoma City last night from a show in Kansas City.
It was about three in the morning and I had a screw up with my toll ticket
The details are too long (and embarrassing) to go into but….well: I had TWO tickets.
And I gave the toll attendent the wrong one.
It threw both her and her machine for a bit of a loop.
And then I had to explain that I had just driven up that way
the day before to play a show.
And that I was now driving back.
“Oh,” she said. “What kind of music do you play?”
I hate this question
And I get asked it all the time.
And I bet I’ve given twenty variations of:
folk/Americana/roots/progressive/alt-country etc etc etc
And of course NONE of my answers have ever really explained ANYTHING
But there, last night, on the Oklahoma-Kansas line I just suddenly spurted out:
“Red Dirt Music”
“Oh, cool.” she said, totally satisfied with the answer.
She gave me my change and I drove on...with a big smile on my face.
ON OUR ARRIVAL IN SOUTH KOREA:
So, as we are getting off the plane in Seoul, a young Korean woman with her two year old daughter comes up to Dad and asks him: “Did you fight in the war?” Dad told her he had. “I just wanted my daughter to meet you,” she said. “So that when she grows up she will be able to tell her own child that she had met one of the men who had fought to save our country.”
Yea. That. Two minutes off the plane.
I’m going to Korea today. I’ll be back in a week. I will be with my father, who fought there, was wounded, and received the Purple Heart.
The entire ethos of my childhood memory banks are watered by the stories my father told me about his experience there, being a soldier, being a part of a team of men charged with putting their life on the line for their country. Dad was in college at the University of Florida when the war broke out. He was a smart kid, had gone to college when he was just 17. But when somebody in the SAE house told him that war had broken out in Korea, he asked: “Where is that.” Less than a year later, Lieutenant Lindsay Grant Peeples was in Korea. He was 21 years old.
I remember the story of the doctor who asked permission from my father to put his hand in his mouth after he was wounded, my father’s puzzlement about the question, and then the doctor saying: “I had to ask; I know you are from the south.” My father’s reply was, “You can put your damn foot in my mouth if you can get that shrapnel out of my neck.” The doctor…was black. I remember the stories of the men from Harlan County, who got my father to write letters for them to their girlfriends back home because…they couldn’t really write. I remember the love my father had for the Koreans who were assigned to his unit, and his telling me of the gratitude they had to the Americans for fighting for them. I remember the story about the time my father had been to Tokyo on leave, and bought a Butter Finger candy bar (a rare item) and stuck it in his coat pocket, and how a month later he was standing in the freezing Korean winter on some hill, shivering, and had his hands in stuffed in his pockets, where he felt the candy bar, and how he just pulled it out and ate it, without taking his gloves off to remove the wrapper. “I ate it paper and all,” he said, “though I might have spit out a little cardboard.” I remember the story about a truck load of Australians passing my father’s unit on some road as they marched along in the mud. One of the Aussie’s had on this straw hat, and as the truck passed my father said, “Hey, I like your hat, Aussie.” And how in an instant the Aussie swept the hat off his head and handed it to my father and said, “It’s for you, mate.” I remember the story about this guy from Kentucky who asked Dad in a foxhole one night what he thought was the best car. Dad said he didn’t really know. And the guy showed him a magazine photo of a blue Chevrolet, and said: “I’m buying me one of these when I get home.” They guy…didn’t make it home. The year my father did make it home…he bought a blue Chevrolet. And I remember the story my father told me about coming home after the truce, and how when he got to Seattle he was in his military uniform, with his medals and badges on his breast, and how some guy in a hotel lobby (I think that’s where it was) casually said to him in passing. “Hey, hero,” and how my father had to be pulled off the guy before he hurt him. But the most poignant memory of all is about what he found when he got home: people were going to dances, hunting and fishing, partying, going to football games and movies. They were so removed from the horror that he had just experienced. It was like they had no idea that over 50,000 Americans had just died on the Korean peninsula. Or, worse…didn’t care.
Those are only a few of the memories, and as I look back on what I have just typed out, I am struck by something: though my father told me stories of battle and death, of mortars and grenades, of hand to hand combat, these are not the stories that really informed my upbringing. Stories teach. At least good ones do. And I was taught by stories of human drama and compassion that he so carefully related to me.
Anyhow, I’ll be posting most this coming week about the trip. Not really sure what to expect. I guess we are just walking into this thing open ended. Like he did. Sixty-six years ago.
Footnote: Flying with us on the plane will be Boogie Howard, the medic who triaged Dad when he was wounded.