Monthly Archives: March 2010

When Waka Flocka Flame’s Lyrics Are Stuck In Your Head and Suicide Isn’t An Option

There are many things that I would deem worse than getting bullsh*t-ass music lyrics stuck in my head, but it is a malady that I constantly deal with. It happens to everyone who actually listens to the radio for at least 10 minutes during the day. There is also one complicating factor in sh*tty songness: The worse songs are the easiest to learn. Hence this post’s title. I can guarantee that there is someone out there at this very moment singing along to “O Let’s Do it” that wants to do nothing more than shoving a wooden stake in Mr. Flocka Flame’s black, talentless heart.

Me, myself, personally, I know way too many Gucci Mane lyrics than I’m comfortable with. Sadly I have to admit to knowing his entire verse from Mario’s “Breakup” and what’s worse I know most of his first verse from “Lemonade”. It’s so bad I don’t bother changing the dial anymore because the same song or an equally horrible one is going to play on another station in a few minutes anyway. Why fight it?

Things have gotten so bad with sh*tty lyrics I now catch myself repeating the ad libs of rappers who should have stayed in Job Corps. Yes, your friendly neighborhood Agent of M.E. has made the trap say “Aye” before.

*Hanging Head*

I feel sorry for my mother.

Nonsensical/bullsh*t-ass lyrics have plagued music from the time words were first recorded over tracks. At first I assumed it was just rap and r & b but I can guarantee there is a dude somewhere in a pick up truck who just caught himself singing along to “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”. He is hanging his head and he also feels sorry for his mother.

There is only one real solution to this and that’s to stop listening to music. Now that’s not really and option, is it?

Tune in next time for “How It Shoot If It’s Plastic?” or “I Learned Everything I Know About Women From Raekwon the Chef”

Sorry Harry, I Think I’m Gonna Put You Down

Bobby Womack – Harry Hippie

“Everybody claims that they want the best things

outta life (ha) but not everyone, not everyone

wanna get through the toils and the strife”

 

This is my first post in a long time so I hope this is a good one. The titles of this post as well as the lyrics in the header are from a 1972 Bobby Womack song “Harry Hippie”. Penned by composer Jimmy Ford, “Harry Hippie” was an ode to Womack’s older brother Harry, a bassist by profession, but a “free-spirit” by choice. As youth Bobby and Harry Womack were in a band called the Valentinos, but according to Bobby Womack Harry “didn’t want the pressure” of being a successful musician or anything else for that matter. Harry Womack lived a life that allowed him to follow his chosen path of being carefree, but he ultimately met his end after being shot by a jealous girlfriend.

I know a Harry. Harry is a friend of mine whom I’ve known since I was five. We met on a school bus in Barton, South Carolina and we have been friends every since. Harry was a year older than me and was a classmate of my older brother.

Fast forward to high school and Harry had become a member of a group of men, who to this day form the core group of people that I call my friends. Like all group of teenagers we shared all of our thoughts and issues with each other. All except Harry who was always there laughing and cracking jokes, but never revealing anything about himself. Harry never once showed any emotion other than happiness or being jovial. Good or bad the band just kept playing on with Harry.

In 1998 Harry and few members of our crew graduated from high school and we all kind of lost touch with Harry. He spent that summer in Philly and went away to college in New England that fall. He didn’t return to school the next year and shortly after this is when we all began to stories about Harry and none of these stories had good endings. Always murky, we would get brief details from people who knew people. These people never said anything good about Harry. It is during this time that Harry would have run-ins with local law enforcement for various transgressions, some were very serious.

Not long after this Harry would return to college. This time he attended an in-state university in the upper-portion of South Carolina. This was the same university that my best friend, his future wife, and several other people from our area attended. Through my best friend I began hear that Harry had “changed”. Now devoutly religious, I was told that Harry was not the same Harry that we grew up with. This was ironic because when a man finds his faith he usually betters himself but unfortunately this wasn’t the case.

Harry’s change was confirmed again later that winter when during the holidays Harry paid my brother and I a visit while we were home for Christmas. We talked for about 20 minutes but there was obviously something wrong. He looked like Harry, but there was no way in hell that was the Harry that we grew up with. The change was noticed by my brother and me, as well as our father who said something about it briefly.

That following semester my best friend had a few classes with Harry and described Harry’s behavior as erratic. He began talking aloud during lectures and holding side conversations with classmates. Before the end of the semester my friend told me that Harry withdrew from school and was last seen getting into a taxi cab. Any news or sighting from Harry at this point only got worse. When these encounters were described by those who saw Harry, his mental and physical state could only be described as deteriorating.

 I wouldn’t see Harry again until the fall of 2005. I was working for a law firm in Charleston and I had a delivery to make. Normally I would have hopped in the car and made the delivery, but by late October in South Carolina we only have a few more days before the weather starts to get weird. (75 degrees one day and 55 the next.) I rolled up my sleeves G. W. Bush style and started walking towards my destination. I make it about one block and see an emaciated brother who seemed familiar. I then realized that it was Harry.

I call out his name and he keeps walking for a few steps then he turned and recognized me. He smiled and called me by one of my many nicknames “Murray”. We great each other doing the patented black man’s half hug-half handshake. I realized that Harry was homeless. He looked like hell and there’s not a nicer way to say it. We talked for about 15 minutes and between our conversation and the glassy look in his eyes I knew that Harry was having issues that went well beyond being homeless. I gave him my phone number but unfortunately I wouldn’t see or hear form Harry for another year.

The next winter I would begin to see Harry on a day to day basis. Still homeless, Harry was now living in a shelter in Charleston.  He would spend his days in the public library-something many of Charleston’s homeless do. When I would go check on Harry I begin to understand how low Harry had sunk. Each day he would look more and more unkempt. He would ramble about things odd things such being married and serving in the military and being wounded in combat. None of these things had ever happened to Harry, he was seriously out of his mind. A few days later I again went to visit Harry at the library and he was reading a book about schizophrenia. That made things so much clearer to me.

“He’s like a bottle in the water

Harry just floats through life

Walks around all day long singin’ this song

Whoa, whoa, whoa, ohhh yeah.”

 

During the following spring I tried to urge Harry to get help, but I started to think he didn’t want any. Any suggestion of pulling himself up was only met with him smiling and talking about working at temp agencies. It seemed as if everything was right in Harry’s world. No worries.  Our conversations started to get more frustrating for me because I found myself trying to reach out to a man who needed my help, but I wasn’t always sure that he wanted it. He came by my job one day and I hooked him up with some lunch. When he was leaving I asked “Harry, what are you doing for the rest of the day?”

He looked at me with a snarky smirk and replied “Sleepin’. Chillin’.” As if I was an idiot for asking a simple question. I remember one of my assistants overhearing his comments and giving me an “Is he serious?” look. In all of his dire circumstances Harry maintained a carefree lifestyle even though he was barely getting by.

“Harry Hippie, lies asleep in the shade,

life don’t bug him cause he

thinks he’s got it made.

He never worry about nothin’ in particular

Oooh he might even sell free press on Sunset”

 

I couldn’t help but to wonder if Harry was hustling me, but I held to the steadfast belief that I was doing right by Harry. He needed me. I decided to ask Harry if he wanted to go home with me on Easter weekend so that he could see his family and just get the hell out of Charleston for a while. (Honestly, I was hoping that he would stay at home with his family.) He agrees and we headed home on Good Friday. When we got home I asked Harry if he wanted me to take him to his family’s house. He had no intentions of going there. Instead he requested that he be dropped off at Hardees. My friends and I knew that if he went to the Hardees (please remember this is a very small town) no good was going to come to Harry that night. He would actually spend the night in my best friend’s car in the cold. The next night my brother and me actually took him to his uncle’s house where he stayed until the next day when he went to his sister’s place.

When I headed back to Charleston that weekend I prayed that Harry would find peace with his family. I had several phone conversations with his sister the following week telling me how he was doing. A week later I get a call from my office’s receptionist telling me that I have a guest. When I walked in the lobby of my job’s suite I see Harry standing there grinning.

“I’d like to help a man when he’s down

but I can’t help ya Harry

if you wanna sleep on the ground

Sorry Harry, you’re just too much weight

to carry around”

 

I hid my anger for the time being and I took a walk with Harry and he began to expound on why he was back. Harry told me that he loved his family, but couldn’t hack it in the environment that was our home town. He wanted to be free to come and go as he pleased. Do what he wanted to do. Just like his namesake from the Bobby Womack classic. Harry, felt how pissed I was at him and what he had done, so he made himself scarce for a few weeks. The next time I saw him he was in worse shape than he had been that previous winter. He was still sleeping where he could and it was taking a toll on him, but I realized something that I had neglected to think about before: this was his choice! There wasn’t a single thing that I could do for Harry if Harry didn’t want it done. I had to let go and pray that Harry will get his act together and try to get back on his feet.

That summer began badly for Harry. Harry would be arrested several times by the Charleston Police Department for various infractions. Since I was in communication with his sister I would call or drop e-mails letting her know how Harry was doing. Since I had not seen Harry for a while I called and told her and she informed me that Harry was locked up. After he was arrested one night Harry got into a scuffle with an officer and was sentenced to a year in the Charleston County Jail.

Harry’s probation officer from a prior incarceration suggested that Harry receive a psychological evaluation while he was in custody. He was sent to a facility in Columbia for a few months and began receiving help and medicine that would place him on the right path. After his release Harry looked me up and I could tell that much of the Harry I grew up with had returned. This was the most lucid I had seen him since the night he visited my brother and me when we first sensed something was wrong.

In the years after this Harry still made missteps in life but he was holding down a spot in a shelter and getting counseling. He comes to me one day telling me he wanted to go home. I helped him out with bus fare and he returned to his family. During this time with his family Harry seemed to grow and more pieces of the old Harry emerged. Attempts were made for Harry to obtain disability benefits via the state but before anything could be solidified Harry would appear back in Charleston. I was informed of this when his sister called and told me that he caught a ride and left a note while they were at church. I guess Harry wanted to be free.

“He’s like a bottle in the water

Harry just floats through life

Walks around all day long singin’ this song

Whoa, whoa, whoa, ohhh yeah.”

 

I still see Harry every so often and I still look out for him when I can, but it’s a frustrating proposition trying to help a grown man who may or may not want your help. I took some time for me to figure out that I can’t fight Harry’s demons for him. I’ll gladly lend an assist but the bulk of the battle is Harry’s and not mine. Walking away and taking a step back from situation and a person that you have emotional ties with. I’m glad to say that Harry now has a full time job and seems to be headed in the right direction. He is still doing what he wants to do, but he is making progress. That’s all I could have hoped for when I put Harry down.

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