Fourth grade. My first year at a new school. Girl sitting in front of me in class was wearing a bra. I asked her why. Entire class laughed. She cried. Teacher gave Bubba a spanking.

          As if being the new kid wasn’t hard enough, now I was a troublemaker. My first memory of boobs and things boob related did not end well.

          Everyone, women and men alike, have only two priorities the second they leave their mother's body. Take a breath and find boobs. I have no recollection of that I only know it to be true.

          One year after my first boob or boob related object memory, I had my second experience. A friend of mine who was one year older than me was at my house and so was a neighborhood girl he knew who was one year older than him.

          The three of us were sitting on my trampoline in the back yard and this girl for reasons I do not recall pulled up her shirt. I did not have to ask her why she was wearing a bra. It was big and white and full of boobs. Bras made sense to me now. Boobs were still a mystery but they had my interest.

          Two years would pass before I touched boobs for reasons other than it being suppertime when I was an infant.

          In the seventh grade I had an eighth grade girlfriend. She had boobs and she let me touch them. I was scared. My hand made contact with them the way you would touch a stove to see if it was hot. It was dark so I didn’t actually see boobs uncovered but my education about boobs was expanding.

 

          I began writing this story to explain my willingness to perform BROWN EYED GIRL, WAGON WHEEL, SWEET HOME ALABAMA and FREE BIRD which are the BIG four cover-songs most musicians take great pleasure in bashing and which I have been guilty of as well in the past. I got sidetracked by boobs. Boobs can do that.

          Six Flags over Georgia was where I scored by first victory over boobs and one of the few times in my life I can claim to have come out on top when confronted by boobs.

          “I will show you my boobs for that clown.” the girl said to me and my friends stopping us in our tracks.

          A statement like that is guaranteed to get the attention of any man especially three sixteen year old almost men.

          The stuffed clown I was carrying was aboutfive feet tall. We won it playing a carnival game there at Six Flags.

          It took me less than a millisecond to process her request and make my decision (as if there was a decision to be made). “Sure.” I said.

          Compared to a five feet tall stuffed clown the girls boobs were not that impressive. I did not hold up my end of the bargain and subsequently got called a lot of bad names by the girl and her friends.

          In my defense, I had a little sister at home who was almost three years old and I had already planned to give the clown to her. My little sister enjoyed playing with that clown for many years. Little did she know it was a joy she was almost deprived of if the girl from Six Flags were to have had bigger chips to bargain with that day.

          When people gamble, rarely do they tell you about their losses however they do love to brag when they win. I am no different.

          The Strutting Duck in Auburn, Alabama was a musical Mecca for alt-country and traditional country music. A haven for songwriters and patrons who didn’t quite fit in with the more popular bars downtown. The Duck was located on Wire Rd. out past the veterinary school. It has been gone for a few years now but the music scene centered around that place is what inspired me to move to Auburn from Dawson, Ga. when I was forty-two years old.

          A friend of mine was performing with another guitar player on the back porch of the Duck one afternoon when some attractive college girls were enjoying life and beer to the fullest and getting a little rowdy.

          My friend, who is the most loyal family guy who could possibly exist, leans over to his playing partner and says, “Hey man. Ask that girl to show us her boobs. I am married but I can still look.” No boobs were exposed but I’ll always remember that.

          Before explaining why rarely do I refuse to play cover songs I have one more boob story to tell which is relatable and I also want to be very clear on something so as not be accused of being sexist or objectifying women.

          Yes it is true I am quite fond of boobs. All boobs as a matter of fact. I enjoy boobs as much as Bubba from Forest Gump enjoyed shrimp.

          Respect for women though is far more important to me than boobs. No joke. I learned respect for women from my Daddy.

          I have an ex-wife and quite a few former girlfriends who may want to argue the validity of that declaration with some good supporting evidence but I will not let the shame of my failures prevent me from declaring what I know to be true. We all have made mistakes.

          We were just stepping off the stage at The Strutting Duck to take a break when a group of college girls walked into the bar. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but they were all hot and had ‘rich sorority’ written all over them. It was fairly obvious this probably wasn’t one of their regular haunts.

          Some songwriter friends of mine had driven a long way to do a songwriters in the round with me that night. We were quite full of ourselves and beer when the leader of the pack of hot young women shouts, “I want to hear BROWN EYED GIRL.”

          All of my comrades had made it over to the bar for more beer and I was the last standing on the stage. The girl was three feet from me when she made her request which was immediately met with taunts from the crowd and us serious songwriters all just laughed. I explained to her this was a songwriter’s night and we were not doing covers.

          “I will show you my new boobs if you will play BROWN EYED GIRL.” were the next words to come out of the girl’s mouth.

          One of the guys playing with me that night was leaning on the bar twenty-five feet away when she made that generous offer. I swear to you before the last syllable  of her sentence was completely out of her mouth, he was on stage and half-way through the chorus of BROWN EYED GIRL. Speedy Gonzales the cartoon mouse could not have made it to the stage any quicker even with a head start.

          The girl held up her end of the deal and her shirt for the entire song. Fortunately for my little sister this was not the same girl who offered to show me her boobs for the clown or my little sister would never have gotten a five feet tall stuffed clown from Six Flags.

 

          In South Georgia where I am from I began my professional music career by getting so drunk I was no longer nervous and screaming drinking songs all night. That was fun for a few years and was also a crowd pleaser. As I began improving as a guitar player and a singer I also began getting bold enough to sing the songs I was writing. I learned pretty fast that whenever I would introduce my next song as one I wrote, it would generally signal a mass exodus of the audience to the bar or the bathroom.

          To this day, almost twenty years in now as a working musician, I rarely announce any song as one I wrote before performing it. If I am playing a songwriter’s event or songwriter’s venue the fact goes without saying. In an average bar I will mix my songs in with cover songs and if someone likes the song and asks who wrote it I will acknowledge it was one of mine. That also serves as good litmus test for my music sometimes.

          Performing at venue in South Georgia years ago, where I am no longer welcomed to play any longer, I was having one of those nights an un-famous songwriter dreams of.

          Ten to fifteen people had pulled chairs right up to the stage and were hanging on every word I sang. They were requesting my songs. Obscure covers from some of my heroes they were loving. I had them all in the palm of my hand and could do no wrong.

          In the midst of all that a timid young lady approached me in between songs and politely asked, “Excuse me. I hope I am not bothering you but could you please play BROWN EYED GIRL? It is my girlfriend’s birthday and it would be special and a real big deal for her if you would.” It was easy to tell she was extremely nervous.

          Before I could open my mouth, my fan club around the stage began booing and saying all kind of nasty stuff to her about how nobody wants to hear that and this guy is playing real songs and they went on and on and on.

          Coward does not adequately describe my next action. I sheepishly said, “I am sorry, I don’t know how to play that.” which was a big lie.

          The girl told me thanks anyway and how sorry she was to bother me. Then she walked away looking dejected while the peanut gallery who was supporting me continued to insult her request.

          If the Douche Bag of the Year award were being given away that night I would have nominated myself. Every time I think of that event it makes me sick at my stomach at how inconsiderate of me it was to not honor that girl’s request.

          Three minutes and thirty seconds of effort on my part would have been all it would have taken to make her and her friends have a special night they probably would have talked about for a long time.

          Bob Segar played a couple of cover songs when I went to see him a few years ago. Sturgill Simpson plays some cover songs in his shows and so does Jason Isbell. Elvis sang mostly cover songs in his shows.

          Talent aside, there is one thing I do have in common with all of those people. We all play music because we enjoy it and if you are getting paid to do it you better do everything you can to make your listeners enjoy their time in front of you or you won’t be getting paid for long.

          WAGON WHEEL, BROWNED EYED GIRL, SWEET HOME ALABAMA and FREE BIRD are all spectacular songs I wish I had written. Yes it does get frustrating at times to get a request like that when you are performing your own material. Sometimes people simply don’t realize it is rude. It does present an opportunity to say, “Sure I will be glad to play it for you then I want you to listen to one of mine.” which more often than not will result in a good tip.

 

          I will play any request for you if I know it and you are nice or if you are a woman...just show me your boobs. 

Comments

Ken Faust March 19, 2016 @04:37 pm
Do you know any Kenny Chesney? Just asking.
Michael February 18, 2016 @07:04 pm
Bubba, WELL WRITTEN my friend. Your writing is improving and by that I do NOT mean it was bad to begin with. Michael
Tom Allen February 18, 2016 @04:06 am
Enjoyed your story and thanks for sharing your life's experiences.

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