October 17 2020

Hooker With a Purple Heart

Somewhere there’s a hooker with a purple heart and she knows that all the rhymes I sang are true and the stories I have told and there’s a fellow named Bill up in New Rochelle says to say hello and remember what he told you so many years ago..

MJM

These Lyrics came up on my Facebook “memories” today. I originally posted them Oct. 17, 2012. Lyrics from a song I had vowed never to forget.

I found the song on YouTube this morning and was able to sing along to every verse.

Michael J Martin was a friend of mine. I met him originally through my father at the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial not long after I had gotten out of the Army.

Michael told my dad more than once how much he appreciated my family.

“They know every word to every one of my songs.”

Michael J. Martin

He once dedicated his song “Red, White, and Blue” to us. I used to tell people he wrote it specifically about my family. In truth that wasn’t the case. But it fits.

Both of my Grandfathers fought in WWII, J.D.”Bud” Monroe, my mom’s dad was in the European Theatre. Ray Mack Watson, my fathers father was battered in the Pacific. My dad was a “River Rat” in the Vietnam War. I served in the United States Army. Looking Back, I am thankful I was serving in a time of peace.

My Dad bought every Michael J Martin album more than once. The first ones I saw were on cassette tape. Michael would sell them at his shows out of the back of an old brown van.  They were played so many times that the ribbon would wear out.

My dad often jokes with me and little brother that he wants “Hooker With a Purple Heart” played at his funeral. Mom doesn’t find the humor in it, but I intend to follow through with this wish.

Dad bought CDs and they would get so much use they would begin to scratch and skip. Later, my little brother and my cousin Andy attempted to upload the music on the computer.

Now, all I have is what is available on YouTube, and one album on my iTunes “Take Me A Ride On the Moon.” It isn’t his best album, but it is Michael J Martin.

Michael J Martin was a real American hero. He was a warrior. He was an advocate of veterans from all eras inspiring them to “keep the faith.”

In 1987 , Michael marched from the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas to the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C. in support of veterans rights. Along with him on this 1600 mile trek was Tim “Doc” Holiday a decorated three tour Navy Corpsman in Vietnam. Many other veterans, some on crutches and even in wheel chairs would soon join this march. They chanted along the way things like , “don’t tell me not to care, that’s our brother over there” and “bring our brothers home.

By the time the march reached the black granite memorial that was constructed to honor their fallen brothers, their number was over 300 strong. The chanting had stopped. Nothing but silence could be heard as one by one each man went up to the memorial on his own terms to pay respects to the ones that they had lost.

“This is the home of our Fallen brothers. We will go one by one with dignity to the Wall.”

Michael J Martin

Michael Martin was not a protester. He just wanted to find his peace and to help other veterans find theirs.

“We understand the reality of war, and it ain’t John Wayne and Sylvester Stallone”

Michael J Martin

The world lost Tim “Doc” Holiday to cancer in 2000. My father along with many other combat veterans attended his funeral services in Abilene Texas.

Michael J Martin gave my dad Tim Holiday’s hat, telling him that he was the only one with a head big enough to wear it. The hat didn’t fit, earning my dad the nickname “Fat Head.”

Michael and Tim performed all over the country. Their songs like “Johnny Comes Marching Home” and “Time To Lay It Down” were anthems that helped so many vets heal from their wounds not only physically but spiritually that they received while in combat.

I remember my own father as a Vietnam Vet receiving his emotional healing. When I was a child, Dad had vivid nightmares and bottled up anger. He had been in a war that was not supported nor understood by the American people. Dad felt guilt and shame as he had come home from a war that so many others did not. Somewhere on the way home the soldiers on the plane were advised to change into civilian clothes in an effort to minimize the reaction from the protesters they would be sure to meet.  He’d  done his duty, just like his father did. I will always be proud of him for serving this Great Nation and he will always be my own personal hero.

I was able to assist in constructing a memorial to the fallen Vietnam Veterans in West Texas. This journey was a great ride and the payback of seeing my father able to “Lay Down” the pain at that wall, through helping other veterans has been and will always be a high point in my life.

Visit the Permain Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial online : http://veteransmemorial.us/

Michael J Martin was originally from Dallas Texas. Often he would call home,  Ropesville, Texas, a small farming town outside of Lubbock. He used to tell me stories of his “Uncle Billy” there. He often wrote and sang about him in his songs.

I am not sure why he never got his big break in music. He attempted several times to go to Nashville to write and record. To me, his music is some of the best there is. He should have had Gold records all over the place. His songs are personal tales told from his warrior spirit. Michael had a wonderful voice and well-orchestrated music. Many of these songs were written in remembrance of those brothers he lost over there and the ones still missing in Southeast Asia.

Michael J Martin served 12 months in combat in Vietnam. He was a pointman with the 11th Infantry Americal Division. 1968-69. He was awarded Silver and Bronze Stars, The Purple Heart, and The Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

Martin would spend the rest of life, to better the lives of his brothers through his music. He picked up a code in the military of Leave No One Behind. He and Tim Holiday’s mission in the LAST PATROL was to advocate for veteran’s affairs.

Sadly Michael passed in December of 2016. I still miss my friend.

There are 57,939 names on the wall in Washington D.C. A place I hope to visit some day to pay my own respects to these men and women who never made it home and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country the United States of America.

There are over 2000 of those names that are still listed as missing. Perhaps someday we as Americans can find what happened and where these soldiers are. I will continue to support the efforts of the LAST PATROL as long as I am able.

Until they all come home.

Pancho.

September 26 2020

Falling and Flying

Growing up in a record store in Ft Worth, Texas owned by his jazz drumming father was just the beginning for a singer- songwriter and actor Stephen Bruton.

Stephen’s father, Sumter Bruton was a highly regarded jazz musician from New Jersey. He would often tell Stephen, “If you are going to listen to music, listen to the best music.”

In my own personal reflection, this statement by Bruton’s father is a reminder of what my own Dad is always telling me.

As long as you are dreaming, dream big

Jerry Wayne “Fathead” Watson

Bruton would spend his teen years recording tracks in a makeshift home studio with musician T- Bone Burnett. He and pals like Lubbock musician Delbert McClinton would pick bluegrass by day and then soak up those soul grinding blues rifts by night on the “other side of town”.

The local clubs in Ft Worth at that time were highlighting guys like Freddie King . King’s power house voice along with a distinct guitar style soon inspired many musicians.

Stephen would soon set his sails East to Woodstock. By chance , while on his way to a gig in Manhattan he’d run into old friend Kris Kristofferson. He was offered the guitar gig in the rising stars band , launching two decades of roadwork with Kris.

Stephen would also tour with Bonnie Raitt, Christine McVie, and others.

As a studio artist, He would record with Raitt, Delbert McClinton, the Wallflowers, Ray Wiley Hubbard and too many more to list.

Stephen Bruton was inducted into the Texas Heritage song writers Hall of Fame.

Through Bruton’s long association with Kris Kristofferson, he took up acting. Appearing in films “A star is born”, “Heaven’s Gate”, and “Miss Congeniality”. He appeared alongside Kris in the movie “Convoy”. Stephen would appear on TV in a mini series titled “Amerika” and on the series, “Matlock.”

Stephen Bruton co-wrote many of the songs from the soundtrack of the movie “Crazy Heart”. He consulted Jeff Bridges and was a guitar teacher to him on the set.

Sadly , Stephen Bruton lost his battle to cancer shortly after the movie was made. “Crazy Heart”, was dedicated to this Ft Worth artists life and influential music.

My little brother turned me onto the song “Fallin’ & Flyin’ ” , not long after I sobered up. I believe the song paints a perfect picture of the insanity my life had become because of my addictions.

It’s funny how fallin’ feels like flyin’
For a little while
Funny how fallin’ feels like flyin’
For a little while

Song by Colin Farrell and Jeff Brides
Songwriters:Gary Nicholson / Stephen Bruton