Hello folks! I am very excited to announce the release of a new CD, “Inishfree – A Tribute to The Enchanted Way”, that includes a song I’ve written for Ireland. This recording is a compilation of songs written and sung by American singer-songwriters who lead Inishfree Irish Musical Tours (except for track #1.) The name Inishfree comes from the William Butler Yeats’ poem, The Isle of Innisfree. The tours began in 2005 when U.S. songwriter, Johnsmith, and the late Irishman, Tom Pigott, teamed up to create Enchanted Way Tours. Tom’s favorite song was On Ragland Road, where the phrase, Enchanted Way, originated. We all owe a big thanks to our comrade, Tom Pigott, may he rest in peace. I am honored to continue to lead tours each year to Ireland as part of the Inishfree company.
If you would like to buy a copy of the CD, please contact [email protected], and they will take care of getting one to you. The price is $10 plus $2 shipping, and the CDs are available now. I know you will enjoy this special compilation and I hope you enjoy my contribution of Sean McCarthy. I’ll be headed to Ireland soon for two tours this year, both sold out – but have also already starting planning next summer’s tour. For more information on that, check out my Ireland tour page.
I love New Orleans… it’s one of the great cities of the world, in my opinion. The food is good, the music is great and there is an energy and excitement there that is palpable. It’s the only city I know of where the cab drivers know who is cooking where, and the coolest places to have a drink, or listen to music or to just hang out. By the way, low fat cooking there is when they only use one stick of butter. I have the Jones for Mr. B’s barbeque shrimp constantly.
In the early 90′s, I was there shooting a pilot for a TV show… we got to spend over 4 weeks there… to tell you the truth, Mary and I weren’t really too anxious to get home.
It was kind of an exciting time for me.. the pilot was my first foray back into the world of acting after taking an almost 2 year sabbatical. I guess, I should explain that… I had done a TV series called CopRock that I really loved and I realized how much I missed the music in my life. My son, John, had just left home for college and I didn’t have anyone to play music with… so, I turned down all acting work for almost two years, and since I didn’t know where the folk music community was, I went to Nashville and managed to get a record deal. Harold Shedd signed me to the Mercury Nashville label… ha ha, I should point out that he signed 4 of us new artists at the same time… Shania Twain, Toby Keith… Billy Ray Cyrus and me. As you know, they all went on to Country Music stardom and I went back to acting… and eventually found my brothers and sisters at the Kerrville Folk Festival.
Anyway, while I was in New Orleans, my Murcury Nashville record had just been released and I was soooo proud and full of myself… I had a cassette of my album and people could actually listen to it on the radio. Not that people were, mind you, but they COULD. A fellow cast member in the TV show we were doing was originally from New Orleans and his parents still lived there, and they loaned him their car for him to drive around while he was in town. We used to go out and sit in his car and put my tape in the player and I could pretend that we, along with gazillions of others, were listening on the radio. Pretty heady stuff!!
Well, one night he parked it in, I suppose, not the best section of The Quarter and when we came out the next morning the thieves had broken the windows of his car and had ransacked it and had taken everything. Well… not everything… they had left my cassette. Even the damn thieves are critics!! I can just see them now… taking my cassette out of the tape deck… looking at it….”Hmmm, Ronny Cox…. I don’t think so!!”
Anyway, I got a song out of the whole deal. I wrote this song with two of my favorite guys…. Tony Haselden and Jimmy Stewart…
I love words… imagine that, a songwriter who loves words. Having grown up in New Mexico I’ve also had a life-long admiration of the Navajo culture, and I found a Navajo word that just knocks me out. The word is hozh’q… I know, I know… it looks like a cat stepped on a computer. It is pronounced (phonetically) hoe-shk with the accent on the first syllable.
Hozh’q, is in many ways a road map of how we should live our lives… you see, in the Navajo culture, wealth and possessions mean nothing. They don’t care how much “stuff” you got, what matters is how you live your life… a fully conscious and participatory life. What matters is how many times you’ve kissed your granddaughter… how many times you’ve stayed up all night to watch the sun rise.. or spent the day watching cloud formations, or saw a coyote in the wild… embracing every moment of life.. taking everything in. So often… days, weeks, or even months go by and we just slide by with them and we miss out on so much!!! Hozh’q reminds us not to do that.
When I was writing this song with my dear friend Wendy Waldman, we decided to put a spoken section in the middle of the song. They’re just ideas I had that I thought would enrich my life. And I would love it if people hearing the song were moved by them, but then I realized something even better, perhaps. The listener could substitute the things which would mean something in his of her life.
As always… I’m including a stream of the song… if you’ll just click below, you can hear it.
I live in the San Fernando Valley in California… Sherman Oaks. Basically one of the ordinary suburbs of Los Angeles. One day I was in my yard doing some chores and I noticed a lady on the sidewalk in front of my house. She must’ve been in her mid-eighties and she was very primly dressed… little hat, white gloves, pocketbook over her wrist, lace collar on her ancient dress. She was standing near a sign and would occasionally peer down the street. I’m pretty sure she thought she was standing at a bus stop. The top of the sign she was clinging to was obscured by leaves and branches from a nearby tree, but I happen to know the sign says…. “No Standing Here”. She was becoming more and more agitated as the morning traffic trickled by, so I walked out to the fence and asked if I could be of help. She turned to me and smiled and said…”Yes, young man…. (I love it when they call ME young man)… yes… is this where I catch the bus to Baltimore?” I think she thought Baltimore was just a couple of stops down the road. I really didn’t have a clue as to how to deal with her… as I was about to ask if I could perhaps take her somewhere of call someone… a younger woman approached us and said… “Mama… I’ve been looking all over for you”. The younger woman apologized if her mother had bothered me… I assured her that she had not and asked if I could do anything… She said, “No… now come on Mama, let’s go home.
I can pinpoint the day I wanted to become an actor… not the actual date, mind you, or the year… but the day. We were living in Roswell, New Mexico… (yeah, Roswell, New Mexico in the 40′s..((aliens))… my dad was actually working at Walker Air Force Base at the time, which might explain more about me than you know… but that’s another story). Anyway, back to acting… when I was a kid I loved Westerns and every Saturday afternoon, if I could scrape together a dime I could go see Gene or Roy or Johnny Mack Brown… or Hopalong. The day in question I went to see a movie called The Treasure of Sierra Madre…. so different from the other movies I had seen. When it got to be dark and I still hadn’t come, my parents finally thought to look in the theater for me… and there I was, sitting mesmerized. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be an actor. Now, you’d think I would’ve become a fan of Humphrey Bogart or Tim Holt or Walter Huston… but for some reason I became a fan of John Huston and from then on immersed myself in every movie he had anything to do with… either as a writer or director or actor. Late in his life, I actually got to meet him and become friends and to play poker with him. John loved poker… he thought you could learn more about the character of a man by playing poker with him than any other way. He loved everything about it, the rituals, the banter … he was a gracious loser and a generous winner.
This was the final year of John’s life.. he was on oxygen and we would go over to his house in the afternoon and play poker for a couple of hours and then he would have a meal brought in for us and we’d eat and shoot the bull and then play for another hour or so, until he got tired. We had some of the most wonderful conversations of my life. For some reason John and I were always drawn to each other… he was the most vital and engaged and engaging man I had ever known. He would ask everyone…. “What do you want?”…. and he wanted an answer, not some wisecrack like younger women or faster horses… he wanted to know! Now, this is a man who was dying… so at some point, someone asked John what he wanted… and he said what I think was a profound thing…. “To be interested”. Not interesting, but interested and it reminded me that when my mom was dying she lost interest long before she died.
When John died… and we all knew he was dying… it hit me like a ton of bricks… it hit me in a way I wasn’t prepared for. My own father and I had had a stormy relationship and he had died before we had really patched things up between us… and everybody realized before I did that John was a sort of surrogate father figure for me. I mourned for John for almost a year and it allowed me to get in touch with the feelings for my own father.
The very night John died was an amazing thing and one which eventually I felt compelled to write a song about. John loved songs of the Mexican Revolution… so at the wake they were playing the corridos. John was in his bedroom with Maracella by his side… drifting in and out of consciousness. At one point he opened his eyes and said to Maracella… “Do we have enough rifles?”…. she said, “Yes John, we have plenty of rifles.” He drifted off…. after a few minutes, he stirred again… “Do we have enough bullets?” “Yes, John,we have lots of bullets.” He drifted off… Finally he opened his eyes and found Maracella’s hand and held it up and said…. “Then give ‘em Hell.” And he died.
When I was writing the song with Don Schlitz, I wanted to put a few bars of a corrido at the beginning of the song… but then I remembered an old Mexican folk song about a village that was so poor they only had one burro for the whole town and when the burro died they gave it a funeral… so I decided to put that song at the beginning… knowing John would love being associated with a funeral song for a Jackass!!!
*** NOTE….. I have put two versions of the song on here… the first one is the full band overproduced version, but it has “El Burro” on at the beginning… the 2nd one (my favorite) is a simpler version, which I like better…. if you click on either, or both of the titles, below, you can listen to the songs.
Ah… the life of a folksinger.. I don’t act much any more, but occasionally something comes along that appeals to me. Recently, I was sent a script for a “big” Hollywood movie… big name director, lot’s of major actors… well written, and the role they were interested in me for was perfect, an important but small role… would only work for four days. I met with them and they offered me the job. We checked their shooting schedule and it fell perfectly into my schedule and did not conflict with any of my gigs. Wardrobe fittings were arranged… (my character is an extremely wealthy guy and I’m kinda hard to fit, so…) they had a tailor come in and they arranged to have my shirts for the role custom made. Holy crap… I’m gonna look like a million bucks!!
Now… cut to the chase… yesterday I got a frantic call from my manager saying they had changed the shooting schedule and that now the days I’m scheduled to work on the movie happen to fall when I’m performing at Kerrville and in Houston. They’re saying I have to cancel my gigs… I refuse… their solution is to offer me more money… I refuse… they heatedly ask: “How much are they paying you?” I say, “I’ve probably got more money in my pocket.” …… I’m back to being a folksinger.
I have a whole bunch of stories… of random thoughts… of likes… dislikes and general opinions of the world. My aim is to write about any and all of them and perhaps even include a song occasionally. I hope they’re as interesting to you as they are important to me.