Today is Bobby Kennedy’s birthday. If he were alive today he would turn 92.
I haven’t been blogging with much vigor lately, largely because world affairs seems to have put me more in listening mode. When I pay attention to the tenor and tone of my “newsfeed”, I hesitate to add to that noise. Especially where political things are concerned, I’ve been wanting my music do the talking. (at least in the public arena).
Bobby Kennedy was one of my heroes in my youth. Like so many idols, I eventually came to learn that he was no saint. But his particular feet of clay I continue to hold in high regard. He became an influential figure for me largely as a result of hearing him speak. Something about seeing our heroes in the flesh really helps seal the deal.
Rolled Up His Sleeves is based on the true story of going with my friend Dennis to see Bobby Kennedy speak at the El Monte Mall. The song pretty much tells the story. About two weeks later my Mom woke me up to come to the television and watch the live feed from the Ambassador Hotel. Over and over I watched (and listened) to the gunshot replays of my newfound icon lying on the floor, head held by a busboy. Impressionable stuff. I was 11 years old at the time.
This makes me want to share this song on his birthday. I’d much rather celebrate his life. If I could, I’d just as soon forget the rest of it.
I do want to mention the part of the song that’s fictionalized. I took liberties in making my friend Dennis a Republican. I thought it made for a better story. In truth, as 6th graders neither one of us were affiliated with any party in particular. I apologize to Dennis for any embarrassment this lie might cause. Please bear in mind that I wrote this song several years ago, before the Republican bar was lowered so extremely to its present standard. I’m not sure I would subject my friend to such cheap artistic liberties today.
Rolled Up His Sleeves was recorded with Tom Prasada-Rao in Richardson Texas. One of the things I love most about the track is that there’s no bass on it. Instead, Tom played the bass part on a low-tuned acoustic twelve string guitar. As I recall, this technique sprung from the mind of drum-master Jagoda while producing a different record. Jagoda also plays drums on this track. The twin slide guitars were later added by my friend Paul Robinson.
So, Happy Birthday Bobby K! In the present climate, with so many of my male heroes falling off their pedestals, I need you now more than ever. You make me wanna roll up my sleeves every day.