Maybe I wasn’t really gifted

Posted in Rant, Update From The Road on December 12th, 1999 by The Rev

Howdy From Minneapolis,

Our show in Chicago Saturday was awesome. Los Straitjackets rule. Who could not love this band. Muchos gracias amigos.

I want to request that the Straitjackets play that Celine Dion song that they played on Conan O’Brian. They should release the recording of them playing that song on Conan. It’s “My Heart Will Go On.” I know it sounds campy, but, when Los Straitjackets do it, it’s epic. The Titanic people really missed the boat with this one. Ha Ha.

It was good to see John Battles, Sean and all our friends in Chicago. Thanks to all in the windy city.

I want to get a little out there on ya’ll tonight. I’ve been doing a little thinking. It seems to me that something needs to be said. When someone says something like, “Einstein was born with a gift,” or, “Elvis was a born performer,” it seems to me that it’s just plain wrong. Like they were lucky enough to get these gifts from God while hundreds of children die of starvation.

I don’t think God (or whatever you want to call our creator) would put us here to play out some kind of drama that he/she/whatever knows the outcome of. We’re just here. Our creator gave us an ever-changing planet/universe in which anything can happen. But, out of that, we get freewill. I mean, we have the ability to determine our futures.

“Whoa Reverend,” you may say, “what in the heck are you thinking?” Well, let me tell you why all of this is important. I remember being younger, like a lot of our fans, and how scary it is to face such an uncertain future. I remember wondering just how, in the face of all this adversity, I was going to be able to somehow forge a living for myself. I remember hearing adults describe other kids as gifted. Maybe I wasn’t really gifted. Then, all of a sudden, I was an adult without an idea about what I should be doing. I wanted to play music. I knew that I could make at least a little money by playing music. I’d done that in High School. My grandmother would always call me to tell me when the Post Office was hiring. I was broke and I was scared. So, I wanted to offer a little insight to some of our fans who may be in the same circumstance.

My mother told me that I could accomplish anything in this life as long a I was willing to go through the work and years that it takes. I believed her at first. Then I got too realistic for my own good. But, she was more right than I can relate.

This is almost like a religion to me. I believe that our creator gave each of us this special gift to do anything that we can dream. But, he didn’t give any child any specific “gift.” What he gave all of us is freewill. The freedom to be good or bad. The freedom to, for example, do like I did and ruin my best records by playing one segment at least a hundred times just to learn an almost impossible guitar lick. Well, back then, to me, it seemed like an impossible guitar lick.

Dream big. You can do it! We’re still only able to use about ten percent of our brain power. Assuming that Albert Einstein was mortal (he was), and assuming that he only used ten percent of his brain power, if you could somehow tap fifteen percent of your brainpower, you would be smarter than Einstein. Einstein was not born a genius, he became one.

Work hard. If you ask Tiger Woods how many practice balls he hit before the age of fifteen, well, it would be mind-boggling.

Don’t listen to nay-sayers, they will tell you that you have limited potential. That’s wrong. You have unlimited potential. Nay-sayers like to think that they are being realistic. They like to believe that Einstein was born a genius and you were born with something less. God wouldn’t do that, but, it helps those nay-sayers justify their own failures. Failures that caused them to give up.

Listen and learn. You have to be humble enough to keep learning. You have to be able to weed-out the negative criticism, and learn from your failures. Failure is not something to be feared because it will teach you to succeed.

Don’t fall for shortcuts. It’s all about the ride not the arrival. And, if you can teach yourself to enjoy the battle, then going through the years of hardship isn’t so bad. Those years are part of the price of accomplishment. Your day will come. Hey, earning a thousand dollars doing something you love is more fulfilling than winning a million dollars in the lottery. Don’t go for something for nothing.

Here’s the main thing. Never give up. Keep trying. When it seems like things are not getting any better it’s just a time of incremental growth. Growth that will become evident at a later date.

Don’t give up on your dreams. My mom was right and I would have been better off if I had taken it to heart. I’d be a better musician today, but then again, I’m still working on it.

We’re in Minneapolis tomorrow night. I’ll stay in touch.

Yours truly,
Jim “Reverend Horton” Heath

The “Harrison Ford Effect”

Posted in Rant, Update From The Road on December 12th, 1999 by The Rev

Howdy To All,

I have a lot to talk about, as usual. But, I left my laptop in a hotel and I just got it back. Thank you oh mighty one. Change is one of the only absolutes in this life (the other is a vodka). People change. Circumstances change. Our world constantly changes. That’s life.

It’s not always easy. Things are different for me now than they were just a couple of years ago. One thing that is a little difficult for me now is this — more people that I know or meet have this perception that I’m successful. That’s O.K. I can’t complain. In some ways, I feel successful. But, I felt successful back when I had different players and we just played in Texas and Oklahoma. Anyway, the problem is that I meet a lot of people who, though they are nice as pie, eventually each one of them gets around to something they want. They want to be my drummer. They want to open up for us. They want a job, or they want me to find them a job. They want to video tape the show. They want to get their bands demo CD to someone at my label. They want them and ten friends on the guest list. They want to borrow a guitar until they get theirs out of hock.

I really try to do my best to help as many people as I can, and, I’m happy to do so. And, I will continue to do so. That’s part of life. And, that goes with my job. But, every person? I mean, I talk to a lot of people. About ninety-five percent of everyone I talk to now eventually gets around to asking me to do something for them within about thirty seconds of the beginning of our conversation. The other five percent usually wait one minute. Ha Ha. But, that’s just the way it is and I’m O.K. with it. I don’t think that I could handle fame very well. I mean, someone like Harrison Ford can’t really go out and hang out with his buddies without causing a big stir. I can go anywhere and nobody looks at me twice. If someone does recognize me, I’m flattered, and, I usually make a new friend. Really, about the only time that I have to deal with the “Harrison Ford Effect” is when I go to see a band. I used to love to go see bands play. I still do. But, now I have to deal with something. I can’t listen to live bands because I’m spending all of my time listening to some guy “talk” about his band. If I have to go to the bathroom, there’s some other guy who will follow me in there, talking about his band the whole time, thinking that by talking my ear off, I probably won’t notice him looking down to get a peek at Mr. Friendly. I’ve had people follow me into the bathroom with video cameras too. Sometimes, I don’t mind the video people, because, as long as they have that damn video camera on, they won’t stop to ask me if they can be my roadie. But, seriously, this is part of any band’s policy — no video cameras allowed, no audio recorders allowed and photographers must have permission from the band.

Right before I left for this tour I received a bootleg video of Reverend Horton Heat. It was manufactured in Italy where video copying is legal. It was from a show we did in Houston back when Taz was in the band. I remember the gig. The photo on front was done at the same time in Houston. I remember how nice the photographer guy was. He told us it was just for his local fanzine. I remember the guy with the video camera at the gig. We told him it was O.K. and he assured us that the tape he was making was just for his personal use. YEAH RIGHT! Now it’s twenty bucks on E-Bay. A bootleg CD of a show we did in Florida came out just in time to circumvent sales of our new (at the time) CD. It was manufactured in Italy as well. I know, I know. The Grateful Dead let anyone tape them and distribute it to their friends. In fact, they encouraged this behavior. But, The Grateful Dead have been rich guys since the sixties.

Just about every show we do, there is someone who wants to video the show. And, they all say the same thing. They say, “This video is just for my personal enjoyment, I would never try to sell it or give it to anyone.” That’s what Tommy Lee and Pamela said. Those guys who video taped us in Houston have probably made more money than Jimbo did on that whole weeks worth of gigs. When you know, like I do, all of the struggles that Jimbo has had to put up with to be where he is today, and, some little thieves with video cameras made a lot more money than he did on that Houston gig, it makes me mad. Don’t screw with Jimbo or you’re going to make me mad.

Seriously, what really bugs me about these video/audio recordists is that they want something for nothing. Even if it is for their own personal use it’s them getting something for nothing. Hey, would you walk up to me and say, “Give me a free, one-of-a-kind video or else you’re a jerk!” Well, now that I think about it, people will try that too! And it’s funny how when we tell people that they can’t video us, they all act like I’ve changed into some kind of asshole rock star who’s too big for my britches. But, in reality, it’s them who’ve changed. They used to just let me hang around and be myself. Now, they have a video camera on me the whole time. Not just the gig either. Even in the bathroom! Is it that hard for people to see that at some point, this video/audio thing can become an invasion of my privacy?

But, you find out eventually who you’re real friends are. I am happy that I’ve got a few good friends who never want anything like that from me. Sure, they need help every now and then like anyone does. And, I’m still happy to help them in any way I can. But, these are all close friends who know me well enough to see just how many people ask me to enable them. I think that if you asked my close friends about me they would all say that I’m far from the rock star thinkabee that some jerky people will say I’ve become. Still, I’m am grateful for my problems. If you look at some of the other problems that people have in this world, it’s easy for anyone to see that I’m lucky.

One more thing about friends. They’re not as important as family.

O.K., we played in Champagne, IL, Lincoln, NE, and Kansas City, MO since I lost, and retrieved, my computer. It’s been fun so far. I’m still getting used to my White Falcon guitar, but, I’m making headway.

I have not been able to do as many meet and greets as I’d have liked. Sheerly aggressive people sometimes ruin it for everybody. I love those nice people who wait around to talk even though I can’t talk to them because I’m too occupied listening to the most aggressive jerk in the club. Because of those nice people, sometimes I have to get mean. And, I can get mean if I have to. We’re in Lawrence, KS tonight. The Bottleneck. This was one of our first places we played north of Oklahoma. We still love it. It one of the must-play places for bands traveling across the country. Thanks to Brett for the gigs. Oh yeah, last night I ran into Roger Nabor at our gig in KC. Actually, he was one of the promoters. Roger is a person who has done so much for blues, rock-a-billy and American roots music. He runs a club called The Grand Emporium in Kansas City. It’s a place that has done well by promoting musical artists who, at various points in time, have had a hard time finding gigs in a lot of places. Let’s face it, the Blues doesn’t have a lot of venues, but, The Emporium has been a constant for years. Thanks to Roger for the gigs he gave us. And thanks to Roger for helping keep the blues alive. Well, that’s it for now.

Thanks to all of our wonderful fans who’ve made this tour enjoyable.

Until Whenever,
Jim “The Reverend Horton” Heath

Lrom the land of cheese

Posted in Rant, Update From The Road on December 10th, 1999 by The Rev

Howdy Cats and Kittens from the land of cheese,

I was trying to remember the last time we played in Madison. It’s been a while, but, we’re glad to be back.

Last night we had a good gig at The Bottleneck in Lawrence. Actually, it was a really great gig. That was one our first stops back when we tried to tour America’s Midwest for the first time.

The crowd last night kept requesting slow songs. That’s unusual. They kept yelling for “Loaded Gun” and “In Your Wildest Dreams.”

I think that shows some depth of the people in Lawrence. But, it has always been a great music town.

Anyway, we played two slow songs back to back last night and it worked. In case you fine fans don’t know this, putting two slow songs back to back in the set can be a show killer. So, thanks to our fun-fans in Lawrence. Thanks for the gig.

This slow song idea is something that reminds me of how, before we got on Time Bomb, our record labels would be so bold as to make decisions about “which song is going to work best” without talking to me.

Jimbo, Scott, and I are up there playing these songs every night, and, believe me, when a song is or is not working, we know it. We know which ones are going to have to be sneaked into the set. We know which ones are kicking butt. We know that new songs, as a rule, don’t get quite the amount of applause as they do once they’re more familiar to our fans. But, honestly, label guys don’t usually care about any of that stuff. They’ve got their computerized, lip-synching, made for TV boy-bands. They’ve got their teen-girl singers who they can mold and shape into the superstar divas of the next…well, summer. All it takes is one song. The title of the label guys who have the power to sign artists is A&R. For example, someone may say, “Who’s your A&R guy?” It stands for artists and repertoire. Repertoire means song list in the music biz. But, none of these guys really care about any artist’s repertoire of songs. They just care about one song. They hear one song that they know that they can force-feed to radio via label ads they place with the stations. When the song is a hit, then the artist has some power to renegotiate their deal. So, they renegotiate the deal for their second album. But, they forget that the A&R guys are looking for one song, not an album. So, they release their new album and it stiffs because the label guy has already found his one song from that artist and the label doesn’t want to risk the ad money this time. Since the label is not making as much on this deal as they would on a sweeter deal with some teen-age girl fresh out of Junior High School, it just makes more business sense to continue to find “that one song.” It rips off the public because they rarely get to hear artists who actually have a repertoire. Repertoire used to be an important evaluation when signing artists. It no longer seems to be with the big labels. They just need one song. They should change the title of that job to A&S for “artist and song.” I’ve got to change topics before I make myself sick.

All of our shows are going great on this trip, but, I’m looking forward to tomorrow night in Chicago. I heard that Lounge Axe is closing their current location. That was our first gig in Chicago. I’ve got faith that they’ll be able to get it going somewhere even better. Thanks for the gig.

This time in Chi-town, we’re playing Cabaret’ Metro. We always have fun there.

Well, I’ve got to go for now.

Thanks to our fans, you are so happenin’!
Jim “Rev. Horton” Heath

From Columbia, MO

Posted in Update From The Road on December 3rd, 1999 by The Rev

Hey To All,

Today, I’m in Columbia, MO. Last nights gig in Carbondale was a lot of fun, but, that’s the usual for a bunch of good time guys like us. I got to see Los Straitjackets last night, and, they were even better than their albums that I love so dearly. I think this is the best guitar band in the whole darn world. Whenever that we have an opening act of this caliber, and they’re nice enough to thank little old me for the gig, well it just makes me feel great. These guys are not just a novelty act. This is serious music with a not-so-serious stage act. They wear those colorful Mexican wrestling masks. They have the coolest choreographed guitar moves. They play very cleanly. Thanks to Los Straitjackets for doing this tour. So, anyway, here I am back in Columbia. I’ll never forget the gig here when Missouri State Troopers were there at the end of our show to confiscate our equipment. It seems someone sued us and someone else seemed to never receive the summons. We have a new song called “Sue Jack Daniel’s.” It kinda of makes fun of the stupid stuff people do when they’re drunk. And pokes fun at the lowest form of life in our society-those people who sue other people and corporations for a living. If you get lung cancer from smoking cigarettes for 20 years, it’s no one’s fault but your own. If you want to use your votes or private work to limit or abolish cigarettes, more power to you. But, looking at something like this like it’s the lottery is just as criminal as anything that Philip Morris has done. People act like the cigarette companies were there to light they’re every cigarette, forcing them to enjoy it. C’mon! Well, it looks like I’m rambling again. So, as long as I’m going, let’s keep it coming! I’m having a problem with the way that we have been looking at drunk driving. For one thing, what politician is going to go against MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)? Not one. This is a political football that will be carried by politicians for years to come. Anyway, here’s the problem. Thanks to organizations like MADD, our politicians keep lowering the legal alcohol verses blood percentages that are acceptable for driving a motor vehicle. Now it is to the point that a hardworking, law-abiding citizen cannot have one beer on his way home from work in their car. But, more importantly, it has focused too much attention on drunk driving at the expense of over more important issues. Aggressive driving is making our roads more and more dangerous guy weaves in and out of lanes on the freeway driving 90 miles and hour. He’s talking on his cell phone, he’s cutting people off, if someone honks their horn, he flips them off. What does he care? He’s not drunk. If the cops do pull him over, then he gets some kind of $100 ticket that he knows with a little extra cash, some attorney can keep it off his record so his insurance rates don’t go up. So we live in a society that let’s assholes like him slip through the cracks. Yet, if I stop off and have two beers on my way home from work, then no matter how safely and legally that I drive, I’m breaking the law. Here’s another thing. Yes, I do know that driving while under the influence may slow your reaction time. Yes, I know there are documented cases of drunk drivers wrecking and killing. But, what MADD and those football carrying politicians won’t tell you is this-if you evaluate the driving records of the most offensive drunk drivers, you will find that they all have long lists of tickets that are unrelated to drinking. Speeding, running red lights and the most dangerous driving infractions will all be there. They can drive around every day risking the lives of law-abiding citizens without any real fear of punishment. Unfortunately, in our society today, those serious infractions are not punished near as harshly as DUI (in Texas it’s called DWI Driving while intoxicated). Where I live in Dallas, aggressive driving and road rage are everyday experiences for those who have to commute to work via automobile or bus. I think that it is time to punish speeding, road rage, and any kind of aggressive driving. It’s long past the time for our politicians to drop this MADD political football and focus on what is causing death on the highway-aggressive driving. It’s also time to give back a several tenths of a percentage points of the legal blood/alcohol levels for the operation of motor vehicles. Two more beers is not going to turn me into the asshole driver who is the real menace to our safety. It’s kind of like MADD has no where left to go except down. Where will it end? Will it end when you can’t even get a drivers license if you have ever had a sip of wine? With all due respect to MADD, if you were to examine the driving records of those drivers who killed the family or children of MADD mothers, you would more than likely find that they had many aggressive driving offenses other than DUI. If these drivers had been removed from the road before that fateful drunk driving incident, maybe those lives could have been saved. In that respect, there is room for the criticism that MADD may be doing their cause more harm than good. Legally forcing me to have a half of a beer as opposed to three beers is not getting these dangerous, aggressive drivers off of the road. Anyway, here I am in Columbia, MO. Stephen (our guitar tech), Chris (our merch. guy), and I went to Kip’s Big Boy. I haven’t been to one of those for years. I thought that the Big Boy was rock-a-billy because of his black pompadour. Chris thought that he was ska because of his checkered pants. The White Falcon worked better last night. I’m really enjoying the change. It’s really not that different of a sound from my Gretsch “Nashville.” A little fuller. Not quite as biting on the high end. O.K. this is three days in a row after months of nothing. I’m talking about the tour updates. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep you nice fans a little better informed on what’s going on. I’m hoping to have Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers (and the producer of our new album titled “Spend A Night In The Box”) do an hour and a half chat on our website. He’s a very smart and interesting guy. I think our fans will really like interacting with Paul. Stay tuned. Oh yeah, I probably have mentioned this, but, we have a vinyl 7-inch single that’s out on my new little label Fun-Guy Records. The A-side is “King” and the B-side is “The Girl In Blue.”Fun-Guy Records has no plans of releasing any other artist besides Reverend Horton Heat. And if I did, I’d already know which bands I’d do singles/CDs on. So, please don’t send demos. I’m not a label guy. I’m in a band that has enough struggles of our own. I don’t have time to listen to demos. If I change my mind I’ll let you know. In the meantime, keep rocking. Time to go.

Thank you to all of our wonderful fans,
Jim “Rev. Horton” Heat

From Carbondale

Posted in Update From The Road on December 2nd, 1999 by The Rev

Howdy from Carbondale,

Well, we did our first show of this tour last night in Springfield, MO. I have to admit that I was a little rusty. But, I’ll get it back. I always do. I’m going with my Gretsch White Falcon instead of my Nashville model. It’s going to take a little getting used to, but, I need the change. I was thinking of getting back to my ’53 Gibson ES-175. But, though it is a great studio guitar, those old P-90 pickups are a little too noisy and feedbackish in a lot of situations. Anyway, the White Falcon sounded good even though it’s going to take me a few gigs to get in the pocket with it. The new songs that we played last night seemed to go over pretty well. All in all it was a good gig for some really fun people in Springfield. Thanks to everyone there. Tonight is Carbondale. Some old friends of mine in a band called Billygoat used to play up here what seemed like all the time. Howdy Mike and Kim, I’m here in Carbondale thinking about y’all.That’s about it for today. Oh yeah, I didn’t get to see Los Straitjackets last night, but, I talked briefly to their drummer Jimmy. He used to play with a group called Webb Wilder. We did a lot of fun shows with Webb. He was great and he always had the best musicians. Anyway, Jimmy reminded me of a gig Webb Wilder did in Dallas at the Prophet Bar. Russell Hobbs, the owner of the Prophet Bar and the guy who named me Reverend Horton Heat, decided to set the band up on the back roof. It had a terrible lean forward that made the bands feel like they were about to fall off. I knew it was a gig in hell for Webb. I was hired to set up my PA and be the soundman. Where the PA was, the sound bounced off numerous buildings with a rather loud slap-back. At one point, Webb looked down at me and said, “Mr. soundman, please turn up that building right over there.” Once we did a gig with Webb down in Houston at Fitzgerald’s. After sound check, a couple of guys entertained us with some great, though somewhat shocking stories about Tanya Tucker. They were from Nashville, so they had the inside stories on a lot to Country stars. I can’t tell you these stories on the web, but, let me just say that Tanya is/was a wild woman. Well, that’s it for now. I’m going to get the final master of our album on Friday. I’ll let y’all know how it sounds.

Until Whenever,