Got To Pay Your Dues


I can do all things through him who strengthens me.                          ~ Phillipians 4:13

It don’t come easy,
You know it don’t come easy.

No, it sure doesn’t.

And it seems like the older I get, the harder it becomes. No matter what the subject, nothing is easy. I thought things were supposed to ease up as you got older, but that doesn’t seem to be proving out, at least as far as I can see.

Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don’t come easy.
You don’t have to shout or leap about,
You can even play them easy.

Yessir. you got to pay your dues, indeed. We all have to, but it’s the spirit in which we do so that counts. We can either carry our burdens cheerfully, or complain about them all the way to the end. I think Glenn Frey said it best when he sang “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.” You just have to keep on keepin’ on.

Forget about the past and all your sorrows,
The future won’t last,
It will soon be over tomorrow.

Ringo Starr – born Richard Starkey – certainly has carried his burdens with a seemingly constant smile on his face. Ringo was always my favorite Beatle. Constantly shoved in the background and often maligned as a poor drummer; I always considered Ringo the “court jester”- and biggest personality – within the group.


I don’t ask for much, I only want trust,
And you know it don’t come easy.
And this love of mine keeps growing all the time,
And you know it just ain’t easy.

Ringo overcame two life-threatening illnesses as a child, putting him behind in school and giving him the appearance of not being the smartest guy (it was said that at age 15 he could still barely read or write), but his open smile and warmhearted approach to life won people over.

Open up your heart, let’s come together,
Use a little love
And we will make it work out better.

“It Don’t Come Easy” was the first hit for Ringo’s post-Beatles, solo career, reaching #4 on the US and UK charts, later followed by #1’s “Photograph” and a great cover of Johnny Burnette’s 1960 hit “You’re Sixteen”. From 1970-73, Ringo actually had more solo success than any of the Beatles, charting seven straight Top 10 singles.

Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don’t come easy.
You don’t have to shout or leap about,
You can even play them easy.

Ringo’s first solo album, Sentimental Journey, filled with covers of old standards like Cole Porter’s “Night And Day”, Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” and Johnny Mercer’s “Dream” was recorded in 1970 as a gift of appreciation to his mother. Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones and the Bee Gee’s Maurice Gibb (among others) contributed arrangements on the record. If you have never heard it, I highly recommend a listen.

His second solo album, Beaucoups of Blues, was a testament to his cowboy influenced roots and produced by some of Nashville’s finest, including Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana (Elvis Presley) and Pete Drake (Lynn Anderson, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich). It was moderately successful, reaching #65 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart

But it was Ringo’s third album, the self-titled Ringo, that truly turned the tide and made him a solo star. With the aforementioned top hits and contributions from all of the other ex-Beatles, as well as greats like Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, Tom Scott, Steve Cropper, Harry Nilsson and The Band’s Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, it was bound to be a huge hit and ultimately went Platinum in sales.

Peace, remember peace is how we make it,
Here within your reach
If you’re big enough to take it.

A few interesting tidbits about Ringo include:

  • In the mid-’80s, Ringo provided the voice for the narrator and Mr. Conductor in the children’s TV series Thomas The Tank Engine.
  • Ringo was naturally left-handed, but played a right-handed drum set. His grandmother helped him become ambidextrous by teaching him how to write with his right hand as a schoolboy.
  • Growing up, Ringo watched at least three American Western movies every week. His childhood hero was Gene Autrey, “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy.”
  • On some Beatles’s tracks, it was Ringo’s idea to cover the tom-toms with dishcloths and blankets to produce the desired sound.
  • Ringo was the oldest Beatle.

I don’t ask for much, I only want your trust,
And you know it don’t come easy.
And this love of mine keeps growing all the time,
And you know it don’t come easy.


Yup, Ringo was always the most unassuming of the Fab Four, though maybe one of the most well-rounded when you throw in his acting and dancing talents. It’s only fitting that Ringo was the last of the ex-Beatles to be inducted into the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (earlier this year). And just as appropriately, the only other living ex-Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney himself, did Ringo’s induction speech.

Ringo keeps on keepin’ on; touring and singing both his, and his fellow Beatle’s songs, and “It Don’t Come Easy” will always remain among my favorites.

Listen to the original here:

McCartney’s induction speech for Ringo at the R&RHOF:



The Rocky Mount Sermon Opera


And seeing the multitudes, He went up onto a mountain; and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him. And He opened His mouth and taught them. -Matthew 5:1-2

It was the greatest sermon of all time. To put it in rock-n-roll terms; kind of like the Beatles last concert. On January 30, 1969, the boys from Liverpool decided to perform an impromptu concert on the rooftop of the Apple studios in London. It was to be their last public performance. Some say one of their best. And soon thereafter, the Beatles were no more. They played only 5 songs.


So, if Jesus were around today, and he was preaching His last sermon as a concert, what might that sound like? I’m not George Martin, but I’ll give it my best shot. Here’s what I’m guessing His 5 songs might be:

Matthew 5:3-12

These verses – known as the Beatitudes – are all about our need to be of a certain type of character in order to be blessed and happy in our lives. Some of these characteristics include meekness, humility, love and compassion. And there is no one better at sharing the love and compassion better than the Reverend Al Green. Something to get the crowd going, grooving and on their feet.

Happiness is when you really feel good about somebody
Nothing wrong with being in love with someone, yeah
Oh, baby, love and happiness (love and happiness)

You be good to me
And I’ll be good to you
And we’ll be together
We’ll see each other
Walk away with victory, hey

 Matthew 5:13-16

These verses dealt with our value as God’s people and disciples of Jesus, and the concepts of being Salt and Light. That we are truly to be “the salt of the earth” and a “light unto the world”. These passages compliment and complete Jesus’ picture of who we should be, even as I’m sure he knew we never really would be. Like any good Father though, he wanted His children to be the best that they could be.

To be, as Van Morrison said, someone exactly like you.

I’ve been searching a long time
For someone exactly like you
I’ve been traveling all around the world
Waiting for you to come through.

I’ve been traveling a hard road
Looking for someone exactly like you
I’ve been carryin’ my heavy load
Waiting for the light to come
Shining through.

Matthew 5:17-48

This – the longest section of the Sermon – is where Jesus compares the Old Covenants and Laws with the new teachings about salvation through belief in Him. Some people think this was  in contradiction to the Old Testament, but really it’s a fulfillment of those teachings through the body of Christ.

Yes He says, you’ve got to make a choice and decide. Stick with the old or embrace the new. And I think what He really was asking was: Are you gonna go my way?

I was born long ago
I am the chosen, I’m the one
I have come to save the day
And I won’t leave until I’m done

So that’s why you’ve got to try
You got to breath and have some fun
Though I’m not paid, I play this game
And I won’t stop until I’m done

But what I really want to know is
Are you gonna go my way ?

And I got to got to know

Matthew 6:1-18

By now the crowd is jumping and Jesus gets a little fired up Himself. In Matthew 6, He’s calling us all out for our deceitfulness, our materialism, our black hearts and good deeds done only for appearances sake. He urges us to look not to  look only for gains in this world, but to focus more on the rewards to come in Heaven. And it’s clear that the Man in Black knew exactly was He was talking about.

The wealthiest person
Is a pauper at times
Compared to the man
With a satisfied mind

When my life has ended
And my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones
I’ll leave there’s no doubt

But one thing’s for certain
When it comes my time
I’ll leave this old world
With a satisfied mind

Matthew 7:1-29

The final chapter of the Sermon is a stern warning on two topics; judging others and believing in false prophets. Again, like any good Father, He wants to give us this final bit of advice before sending us out into the night, on our own, to muddle our way through this life.

The crescendo has peaked and the concert is winding down…c’mon people now, get together.

Good night everyone; Jesus has left the building.

Love is but a song to sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now