Wednesday, September 28, 2011


"If you could see me now.
The one who said that he would rather roam
the one who said he'd rather be alone
if you could only see me now."

I always get myself on stage with a guitar in hand and the faces of the audience dimly lit and my mind goes completely blank. What key is that song in? How do I form a D chord? It's not stage fright as much as lack of practice. When you go 15 months between performances, there isn't much chance to get used to being thrust from a freezing van in a strange town, dirty clothes, looming transmission problems, no job, no money, starving, onto a stage of Dick's Jamboree with Leroy and the Boys as a backup band and lots of white haired Canadian heads in front of you. Baffled expressions. They've never seen a man with this much hair wearing a cowboy hat.

"Good evening," I say. "My name is Oggy."
polite applause
"Thank you."
deadly silence.

I want the experience and yet I am surprised every time the applause stops and everyone expects me to perform. They have no idea and nor do they care that my very presence on the stage has been an insane performance. No, they want an encore and that's when my mind goes blank. I know songs? What are the lyrics? The chords? Christ, why am on this stage with a guitar? Do these people know I live in a 1969 van with a woodstove? Do they care I'm trying to save the arctic wolf?

That's when Merle Haggard comes to the rescue. All you need to know to get off an running is one chord. D. And one line: "We don't smoke Marijuana in Muskogee..."
That's my do or die "emergency song". And by the end of that line the audience was mine and I remembered what the hell I was doing. After the set I was signing autographs. "I absolutely loved your voice." which wasn't hard to believe after listening to the performers I followed who had Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride turning over in their graves.

I again cursed the lack of film crew that would enable me to really put on the Oggy show with bellbottoms and wolf slide show. I even wrote an alternate version of "Bangladesh" by George Harrison that would be perfect as a spoof song for these jamborees.
"Arctic wolf. arctic wolf
the climate is changing and his world will go poof
we're killing him for no reason our crime is a sin
don't let apple and hannah montana win!"

But no, I have to stick with real songs and have everyone shake my hand. The point is to get thrown out of the jamboree. That's what makes good drama but none of if would be on camera since I've asked a person politely to hold the camera for me and it's the first thing that would get dropped when I call everyone a wolf killer.
It's hopeless and I'm going to work at Jiffy Lube.
"How may I help you? Oil change? We've got a special on transmission flushes this week...synthetic oil? No problem."
I'll post those videos and watch my readership drop to zero. We get what we deserve.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.