Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jean-Francois Bizot

Saturday, December 01, 2007

OFF THE TRUCK 004

For those of you not on the mailing list for the Freeform Radio Google group, here's another installment in the "OFF THE TRUCK SERIES" where my friend and legendary freeformer Bill Ashford lays it out...

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THE MIDNIGHT RIDER

Sitting here doing my show today and listening to Patti Smith sing
"Midnight Rider," I have one of those in the mirror moments when I
wonder why I keep doing this. It's sure not the glamour although I
certainly had my share of that, "living the life I sing about in my
song", as Judy Roderick sang on a long ago out of print album on
Columbia. Quite to the contrary, it's quiet these days. A long time
and space from my start in 1961 in Fayetteville, N.C., trying to sound
like those top 40 "Good Guys" on WMCA, and Cousin' Brucie and Scott
Muni on WABC. What a time, I didn't know a turntable from a toenail.
All I knew is I had to to it. I had to, just not being cut out for a
lifetime in retail management that my dad wanted so much for me to
have. I couldn't. Sorry, Old Man.

I have been quite fortunate, making a king size jump from Fayetteville
to Denver in '68 that people still talk about. It just didn't happen
that way, but it did for me and soon with a handful of scruffy
pioneers, we helped invent something full time that we had been
messing with, at least in my case, since 1966, when we started
inserting Beatles and Stones album cuts into the playlist and playing
Mothers of Invention singles as "golden oldies", til I got busted by
the owner and told to knock it off. That's when the tape went to
Denver and two weeks later, we were on our way, my wife, daughter,
adopted son and our German Sheppard, driving to Alabama with our hair
tucked up under baseball caps, hoping not to get killed. I don't
think the flower on the back of the Volkswagon helped much, but we
made it on the George C. Wallace, Great White way, past the Arkansas
muddy river pirates to Denver. We discovered there that cowboys
didn't much like hippy boys either. Not for a couple of years when
they began to realize that long hair on men was attractive to women
and suddenly they were long haired cowboys.

I lived a life in rock radio I never imagined, running with the
artists, blind eyed high and drunk for days, weeks at a time and
managing to turn out good radio. We were for a while #1 in our key
demo in Denver. We had grabbed the gold ring, but as usual, the
owners grabbed the gold and we were doing a lot of different things to
stay alive and we did until ultimately, our dream was stolen pieces at
a time by business men and copycats who didn't have a clue why we did
what we did. I still know some of them and they still don't know.

Anyway, that's a longer story better told by others. Now I'm an old
man living quietly with my family in the South. I have my souvenirs,
photos with my heroes who were peers at the time, boxes of promo junk
and children who are curiously interested in the old pics they see of
their old man with people they've only read about. I also have a body
riddled by cancer, lung disease and a heart attack. All that gross
abuse was fun, but you WILL pay for it in time, so the drugs we used
to take for fun are just medically necessary.

I get up every morning and come into my home studio and stream to the
world, the music I loved then and the newer music I love now. I
confess to being especially prickish to criticism. If you can't say
something nice, just shut up, don't try to pidgeon hole me. Just like
the old days, I sometimes lean heavy on the blues, or Americana or
whatever and if I'm lucky, it all merges well and I've had a good
day. I have a bad habit of asking what people I respect think of it
and if they find fault, I get pissed. Just tell me it's OK and leave
me alone because after all these years I have discovered this: I do
this because I can't help it and I've always done it not for you, but
for me. I have to be happy with it, and like those holes in one in
golf, that's what keeps me coming back everyday, sick or not, to see
if I can nail another one. I hope so and I do truly hope you like it
too, but in the end, I'll do it one way or the other.

Keep Freeform Rolling,

BILL ASHFORD
(aka "Dump Truck O'Neill")

The Rock Garden

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