The twisted soul who writes and sings the songs. Lead vocals, acoustic guitar.
A.B. Clyde - My Life and Times
I was born in Perry County, Indiana –July 27th, 1877—in a small town—not far from Abe Lincoln’s childhood home. My grandpa Clayton used to tell me stories of how he hung out with Lincoln when he was a boy—but he kissed him off because—as granddaddy put it—“Abe was too damn serious”.
I took some accordion lessons and decided to move to New York City in 1907—to try my hand at songwriting in Tin Pan Alley. I teamed up with a young tunesmith named Irving Berlin. He was a singing waiter at the time—and he had this song about immigrants coming to America—the song lyric featured a dad and a daughter named Beth. In the chorus--as they were pulling into the New York harbor, the dad shouted out—“God Beth—It’s America.” I said ”Irving—ya got a nice little song here but I want to make a slight change. Instead of Beth--let’s use the word-- Bless. Also—let’s dump the word-- It’s—let’s call the song “God Bless America”—we'll sell more sheet music that way.” I then changed the melody to my liking. He protested—put up his usual fight-- but I won out and that was the first decent song we wrote together.
We lasted about a year as a songwriting team—we wrote some OK songs. One that I’m kind of proud of is “White Christmas.” Again—mostly my doing. Initially he had the lyric about a girl with very red lipstick—that this guy in the song wanted to kiss. Irving had the line—“I’m dreaming of a Red Kiss, Miss.” I told him to change red to “White” and “Kiss Miss” to “Christmas.” Plus—again--I wrote 90% of the melody. He didn’t write shit—yet he wanted half credit. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was on to bigger and better things -- I left Berlin and went solo.
In the spring of ‘09 I had written a song called “The Great Ant Colony of 1956.” The theme was about a futuristic ant colony—and it was a love song about two good looking ants falling in love and talking the rest of the colony into killing the queen and replacing her with them—as the new king and queen. It was a huge success— sold a million sheet music copies and I made about $500.00 off the royalties—which in those years went a long way. I was able to keep myself well fed, in stylish clothes—and I was always able to score some decent catnip to get high as hell on.
I tried to capitalize and exploit my success with the ant song genre. I had some minor hits with songs like “Anti Up” (a dance song) and “She’s My Sugar In The Hole”—but after awhile my whole career went south on me. From 1925 to 1942 I was a broken man. I couldn’t sell a damn song and everyone told me I looked like crap. What’s wrong with a chest toupee and a bottled tan? Gimme a break! I struggled—I took a job as an elevator operator—and I was great at it! Still—they fired me for wearing my elevator uniform on my days off--and missing too many floors. I was getting high on the job—I’ll admit it and damn if I didn’t have trouble with the 9th floor. I always used to skip it. To this day I don’t know why. I had no problem with the other floors.
In 1938—out of nowhere—I talked the girl I was dating at the time—Kate Smith—into singing “God Bless America.” It was a big hit and the green backs started to roll in. In 1942 Bing Crosby had a smash with “White Christmas”-- so I was knee deep in $100.00 bills. The money from these royalties lasted me awhile—but then I went back to my old ways and couldn’t stay away from the catnip. The stuff I was using was pure and uncut. I got it from a veterinarian friend of mine.
I would smoke the shit and if I happened to be high out in public I would rub against strangers’ legs—men and women. I got arrested a number of times and couldn’t find work.
For a period of 60 years—1951 to 2011—I’ve been keeping a low (real low) profile. I recently turned 134—can you believe it? One Hundred and Thirty Four years old. Again—I could easily pass for 120—no problem. Get with it America, 134 is the new 124. All those missing years were spent living on the curb and in half way houses-- perfecting my craft of songwriting. No more “White Christmas” and “God Bless America”—uh uh. From now on I’m writing songs with emotional content—stuff that will last a lifetime. I’ve also formed a wonderful band—nice people with good facial features and ambition. They have no age prejudice. The Kitty Litters are terrific musicians and don’t make fun of me just because I’m a bit up there in years.
And so my friends—I present you with “Smokin” Catnip”—a precious work of art—that will teach everyone the true meaning of existence. You’ll all be better people for buying this. Listen to the lyrics and learn the secret of life.
Until We Meet Again,