Podcast #11 – “The Renegade Side”

My parents tried to raise me well and to give me eyes to see
That the only things worth fighting for are the ones that don’t come for free
They stood by me in the darkness
And they filled me with their pride
But did they know they were teaching me
To walk on the renegade side?

My father was different.  He never had buddies over to drink beer and watch sports on TV.  He was a member of no clubs.  He didn’t even fit in at parties.  I don’t know if it was his upbringing, a brother who was run over in the driveway, a sister who committed suicide, a father who died and left all his money to relatives in Pittsburgh rather than my dad’s mother, but my father was stunted, and angry about it.

Oh, he had a wild sense of humor.  But he took no shit.  And tolerated no bullshit.  Every night he’d come home and tell us the way it REALLY was.  To this day when somebody tells me something fantastical I become my father, there MUST be more to the story.  That nobody who suddenly has the great job…who is he related to, what’s the connection in the past?  You see, as much as you try to deny it, you’re your parents’ child.  Little did he know, but my dad was teaching me to walk on the renegade side.

He got away with it because he was the best real estate appraiser in the state of Connecticut.  I know, I know, that’s not usually a high class job.  But in the sixties they had redevelopment.  And lawyers hired my dad to assess the value of properties.  He only got a flat fee, but they got a third of the increase between what the government offered and the referee adjudged.  Believe me, when my father turned a $78,000 partial taking into a two plus million dollar condemnation he became a state hero.  To the plaintiffs’ attorneys anyway.  I once overheard an assistant attorney general state that if Connecticut had been smart, they would have paid Moe Lefsetz a million dollars to go away in 1965.

Being so valued, doing his job in such a superlative way, my father got away with murder.  Every night, oftentimes during dinner, the phone would ring with attorneys uptight about court and my father would INSULT THEM!  He’d say "Listen to me you fucking idiot, just FOLLOW THE SCRIPT!"  The one he’d sent to them the day before.

By time he was through, my father drove a Mercedes-Benz.  Owned a house in Vermont.  And traveled the world.  He made the income of a doctor.  Not bad for someone who came from nothing, who started off by owning a liquor store.  He did it his way.  On the renegade side.

My love of music came from my parents too.  My father picked my mother up hitchhiking on the way back from Tanglewood.  (They could never tell us not to hitchhike!)  Although untrained, my dad liked to pick out tunes on the hundred year old Steinway he purchased at an auction and his violin.  And my mother played the show tunes in the living room.  "With A Little Bit Of Luck" infected me.  It made me a music fan.

I couldn’t play Wendy Waldman’s "The Renegade Side" on this week’s podcast because it’s not owned by Warner Brothers.  The quiet tunes you hear on the show might have you scratching your head, wondering what this diatribe is about.  But that might be because you’re looking at music through the lens of today, not decades back, when music was personal expression, of truth, of frustration with the bullshit way things are.

Used to be a line in the sand.  You were either with us or against us.  You either got the music, or you were a nerd.  What I hate is the rewriting of history.  Like the AM Top Forty from the seventies meant anything.  Yes, we knew these tracks, we couldn’t escape them, our cars didn’t have FM yet.  But at home we only listened to FM.  It was our club.  "Rolling Stone" was our bible.  We were members of a secret society.  Whose prophets were musicians.  Their music was our guiding light.

I haven’t given up.  I haven’t sold out.  I tried once, by going to law school, but that was complete bullshit.  I didn’t want to be a member of conventional society.  A lying, cheating, scumbag ripping people off to get ahead.  I was born to walk on the renegade side.

And the reason I write this is, I believe you feel the same way.  You can’t understand the world we live in now.  With corporate crime and rampant religion controverting truth.  Where self-interest rules.  I’m just a constant warning to take the other direction.  And to let you know that you’re not alone, I’m with you.

I fucked up the lyrics on the podcast.  Sometimes mic anxiety will do that to you.

But what I wanted to quote was the following lines, from "The Renegade Side"

To every person out there tonight who feels like he don’t belong
Who was born with dreams that feel so right
In a world that seems so wrong
There’s a million more who felt like you
‘Til they finally realized
Sometimes the only chance you’ve got
Is out on the renegade side

Used to be the music business was run by renegades, not corporate fucks slaves to the bottom line.  The music they released touched our souls, with its beauty and truth.  Know that the problem isn’t you, but them.

Some were born to carry
Some were born to ride
I always knew that I was born
To walk on the renegade side

You can listen or download the podcast from Rhino’s site

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OR, click on the link below, and if you’ve got a podcast-ready version of iTunes installed on your computer the program will launch and you can subscribe on the page that results (hang on a second for the process to complete).


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