Don Walser - Just Me and My Old Guitar - Just Released

Produced by Mark Rubin (Bad Livers, Atomic Duo) and mixed and mastered by Gurf Morlix, this is the only recording of Don just by himself, singing his songs and telling the true life stories of the times and characters that made up his lyrics.

In 2004, Don's hands started to cramp and go numb on his gigs and it became apparent that they were soon going to gave up on him completely to where could no long even strum his guitar. So, with a intern pal (Jake Zuckerman) we set up a field recording session in his living room with a handful of microphones and a now obsolete recording format and just let the tape roll. Don lived inside of his songs and they became real to him every time he sang them, and we felt it was important to document the man and his stories in as natural and unvarnished a manner. The pain of his singular Gospel composition the "Crucifixion," the youthful joy in knocking over "Pappy's Simmon's Privy," and the heart breaking recounting of his early life with his bride Patricia ("Times Were Never Easy,') so painful a memory he couldn't get through a take without breaking down and crying.

For many years, these tapes sat in a box under my bed. It took a long time for me to even bring myself to listen to them. A few record labels contacted me about releasing it, but the contracts I was offered were jokes; I give them Don's music and they take his publishing rights all for releasing a CD. Don't think the big guy would have swung at that pitch, so back under the bed they went.

But with the urging of his friends and family, especially long time admirer Gurf Morlix, we are pleased to share that day with you all. Simply intended to be anything but a little souvenir to his fans and a peek into the life of the "Pavarotti of the Plains," and "God's Own Yodeler." We hope you will find as much joy in listening as we did that day sipping lemonade in his front room in South Austin.

Photo courtesy Al Walser. Cover design Jeff Brosch.


The Objectives of Objectivism

I'm not normally pointing out political opinion blogs, the world of culture and the cultural arts are my usual balliwick, but this recent essay really struck a chord with me.

Stranger still it was penned by Michael Gerson, a former GW Bush speechwriter and senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who's conservative bonafides are iron-clad and not the guy I'd be apt to agree with. But here he is, distilling for me just what it was about Ayn Rand's philosophies that troubled me so. I couldn't put a finger on it, but Objectivism and the fast-paced trend to resurrect it, just seemed plain wrong. But when debated on the point, and you'd be surprised how many normally sensible people have fallen into the Galt cult, I would get flustered and inarticulate. I literally couldn't believe anyone would support such an obviously selfish and self loathing philosophy.

Hooray however for Mr. Gerson, who has so simply and plainly encapsulated the crux of my distress. In this opinion peice for the Washington Post, he likens Rand's fantasies of the worthy elite as boring as and and as predictable as a petulant teenager's adolescence. He further summarizes Objectivism's "principles," in his words, "on the back of a napkin."

He notes:
"Reason is everything. Religion is a fraud. Selfishness is a virtue. Altruism is a crime against human excellence. Self-sacrifice is weakness. Weakness is contemptible.

“The Objectivist ethics, in essence,” said Rand, “hold that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself.”

Gerson is, like myself, bewildered at the promotion of Rand's ideas especially given her hatred of the Everyman (the little guy that Reagan claimed to champion,) and of the religious, who she thought were idiots.

He concludes:
"Conservatives have been generally suspicious of all ideologies, preferring long practice and moral tradition to Utopian schemes of left or right. And Rand is nothing if not Utopian. In “Atlas Shrugged,” she refers to her libertarian valley of the blessed as Atlantis.

It is an attractive place, which does not exist, and those who seek it drown."

I'll drink to that.