The Bobby Rock Newsletter #94 (2-4-23) - A Star is Born!
The Bobby Rock Newsletter #94 (2-4-23) - A Star is Born!
Greetings from home, my friends -
As I’m sure many of you have gathered, I have become a papa since our last newsletter! This has been a trip of epic proportions and, as predicted, it has interfered with our Newsletter publishing schedule. Such may likely continue in the days ahead as I attempt to get a grip on this strange, but beautiful, new reality. But for now, I’m so glad you've joined me here! And thanks in advance for indulging me in this special edition. I wound up reporting and reflecting (in real-time) on this unique and unexpected life-happening a bit more than anticipated. Let’s jump!
In This Issue:
- The Before - Reflections on impending fatherhood, from the hospital room, mere hours before the birth.
- The After - Trying to catch my breath more than one week later, reflecting on the full magnitude and beauty of being a first-time dad, and how everything will change… or not.
- Jeff Beck Tribute - It’s been over three weeks since the maestro passed, but for a full circle-of-life vibe, and as promised, we’ve included that brief Jeff Beck tribute in this issue, as well. (Be sure and scope out the audio/video clips, including a mesmerizing tribute from one of my fave guitar heroes—and long-time friend and bandmate—Brett Garsed.)
Today is the day, friends. The beginning of the beginning, at last. I am currently writing this in a hospital room, with my beloved just five feet away from me, as she is in the early stages of the labor/delivery process. We’re not sure when the kid will pop out. Maybe later today, maybe tomorrow. But things are calm and peaceful in the room, as Kari navigates a smooth cadence of early contractions. Nothing too uncomfortable… so far.
The fluorescents in the room are turned down, but the curtains are open, offering up a stunning LA hillside view this morning. I can hear my son’s heart beating via a monitor hooked up to momma's belly: a steady, strong, shuffling rhythm—one of the greatest sounds I’ve ever heard. It’s like a holy mantra… or a minimalist soundtrack to the momentous event at hand. Nurses glide in and out of the room regularly to check on things. But, so far, we have deliberately opted for no additional inputs: no music, no TV, no Internet… just my girl and I staying present in the moment. And what a moment it is.
+ + + + + + +
I have been hearing my whole life about how having a kid is the single greatest thing that will ever happen to you. And yet, I was sure I was gonna take a pass on it this time around. I was certain it wasn’t in my destiny line. I had too much to do. Did not want the encumbrance of kids and all that’s involved with properly raising the little fuckers. Could not afford the compromising accountability of such an endeavor, and all the ways it would surely bring wreckage to my daily monk-like protocols. Not for me.
In fact, if I’m being honest here, I was not remotely even a “kid” person. I was the guy who—upon seeing a young couple struggling with all of those bags, backpacks, and bottles on the jet bridge with a screaming child in tow—would whisper to a bandmate, “That’s my definition of hell right there, Holmes."
And yet… from that magical moment on June 6th when I found out, to our shock, that my girl was pregnant—boom—my reaction was joy. Pure joy. Satori! A spontaneous moment of enlightenment: as if it hit me all at once, just after I saw those three positive pregnancy tests lined up symmetrically across the wash basin. Yes, of course. Now is the right time for me to embark on this journey, but not a moment earlier. Just as I am, with an old man’s wisdom in a young man’s body.
And while there would be a thousand questions to address from that point forward, I have felt zero anxiety or trepidation about becoming a parent. Uncertainty? Sure. But even that’s been enshrouded in an eye-of-the-hurricane kind of calm… sort of a “we will figure this shit out as we go” mindset. This has been an unwavering conviction. And regarding my two-fold concern about 1) all the work I have ahead of me in my professional life, and 2) my obsession with being an exemplary parent to my little man, I remind myself of two truths: The vast majority of my favorite artists, athletes, and other super-achievers, are parents, and; if a couple of 21-year old kids living in an Arkansas trailer park can figure out how to raise their offspring, my girl and I should be able to pull this off.
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A Bit Later...
Okay, this will probably be my last check-in as a “non-parent.” Shit is getting real around here. We have the room aglow with flameless candles, cocooned with the sound of Monterey Bay surf on the Bose. The contractions have grown unkind. More staff circles in and out, now with a bit more urgency in their gait. Game-time is upon us. Gotta jump…
The After: Ten Days Later
A star is born! And yes, the event of his birth was far more magical than I ever could’ve imagined. What an incredible thing to witness up close and personal! And my girl… what a fucking warrior. 18 hours of labor, with nearly 4 hours of hard pushing. Unreal. And then to see my boy pop on out, and feel that intoxicating surge of the purest, most potent love. Damn. If you are a parent, you know what I’m talking about. If you're not, trust us: it is a peak life experience atop its very own mountain.
And we are grateful beyond words. Our son is healthy and thriving and doing all the things a newborn should be doing. We know such is not always the case, especially with "geriatric pregnancies." (Yes, that is still the antiquated terminology used to define the pregnancy of any woman over 35!)
In the best of ways, really, this has been the slowest moving, most dense ten days of my life in recent memory. I went six full days without even opening my laptop (which, believe me, is unprecedented). It has been an around-the-clock proposition looking after this little man, with my girl, and also with some early help from family and a few shifts from our wonderful postpartum doulas. Still, even with the help, sleep has been at a premium… just as I’ve always heard it would be over the first number of weeks of an infant’s life. And listen, I fancy myself a specialist on managing sleep deprivation. But this is different: Much less physically draining than my usual—where I play a show, go for a run and/or hit the weights after, then grab an hour or two of sleep before heading to the airport to repeat it all over again in the next city. This, my friends, is an unrelenting, moment-by-moment, day-by-day blur of feedings, burpings, changings, comfortings, launderings, swaddlings, and holdings, all while trying to maintain some sense of personal care and solid nutrition for momma and me. But you simply do what has to be done in any moment and don’t question it. Every parent, I would imagine, knows what this level of selflessness is about.
Logistics aside, it’s also been an exceedingly emotional time for me. I get choked up over my little man at least once a day. Perhaps it’s a deeper sense of wonder, sentiment, and appreciation that accompanies my older age. Perhaps it's a taste of resolution to the profound pain of loss I’ve endured through these past three decades (more on that in a moment). Maybe both. But I’m already telling my boy that he has a “sensitive” papa. Hopefully, I won’t embarrass him too much in the years ahead!
The kid is already stockpiling shelves of
books like this.
Can you guess which one
Auntie Lita gave him?
On the bigger picture, just over one week in, I feel like I am living between two worlds: the life I had before—which I fully intend to attack and engage with at least as much fervor as I ever have—and a completely new life now, where I am a hands-on father to this little guy, which is clearly the most important job I will ever have. How will these two worlds coexist? I can’t say for sure just yet, but it seems that they will merge together, as one offers new levels of depth and dimension to the other.
After all, I’m pretty sure being a great father is largely about letting your kid observe how you actually are in the world—what you get up and do every day, and how you do it—without having to lecture or philosophize about it too much. I know that’s what made my dad such a great father: he simply lived an exemplary life. So now, everything I do will be run through the filter of, Would I feel good about my son seeing his father engaging in the world in such a way? Or... Is this some half-ass, no-accountability-to-anyone type shit that I might’ve done as a childless bohemian?
With this in mind, I find it even more paramount that I excel at all I do—more than ever before. Not that my kid will care so much about how great of a drummer or writer I am, or any of my other “worldly" accomplishments. But I think being a model of excellence goes a long way. I believe my boy seeing the work ethic, the hours, the struggle, the perseverance, and even how I respond to all of those inevitable mistakes and missteps with (hopefully) complete ownership of each one, will all be of greater benefit to him than me bending his ear about it in some theoretical sense.
And even more importantly, letting him see the everyday “being" stuff: being kind to people and animals, being highly-affectionate and respectful to his incredible momma, being a loyal friend, being generous with money to folks in need and causes we believe in, being forever curious (and always learning), being consistent with training hard and taking care of your body, being mindful about the sanctity of the moment and all the random, simple things we often miss in everyday life… and, of course, being truly present with him when we’re hanging, as that godforsaken iPhone remains tucked out-of-sight as much as possible.
I’m sure I will drop the ball plenty on many of these aspirations. But if I can get back on track quickly, I would imagine that, too, would be a valuable thing for my boy to observe.
Of course, this is all brand new to me, so I have little authority to talk about parenting. However, I do think this notion of “Your life will change forever” is an interesting one. Will it really? Sure, on an existential level, no doubt. In how I might prioritize time, resources, career decisions, and other life choices moving forward, absolutely. However, if all that I was doing before remains important to me—as I have to believe it will—then I must continue to stay diligent and authentic with it all as best I can… lest my son’s papa lose touch with the very Life Force that helped to bring him into the world!
And we wouldn’t want that to happen.
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The Karmic Circle Closes
The night we brought our little man home from the hospital...
As some of you may recall, I was all set to be a father 30 years ago back in ’93. It was another case of the unexpected, but my girl at the time, Sherri, and I were set to welcome our little boy on a September due date. But then, some horrible shit happened and, in a moment, they were both gone forever.
I did my best to recover and carry on… at least as much as one can ever recover from something like that. And, in honor of Sherri, our unborn son, and the magnitude of the whole thing, I have finally written about it all, in excruciating detail, in my next memoir. But for now, just know this:
The day we found out Sherri was pregnant was January 25, 1993.
The day Kari and I brought our son home from the hospital was January 25, 2023: exactly, to the day, thirty years later.
Coincidence or Destiny?
I think it would be difficult to make a case for the former.
I meant to publish this tribute several weeks ago, a few days after the passing of “the main man." But life has happened, so here we are. The circle of life continues...
Remembering Jeff Beck
On 1-10-23, we said goodbye to Jeff Beck, an absolute master of his instrument who resides on a short list of players who could truly be considered the guitar hero’s guitar hero. His storied career spanned more than six decades, and his extensive discography and itinerary of live performances occupy their own sacred space in Guitar Heaven. Plus, the guy could really play, always delivering from that coveted intersection of deep musicality, chops, innovation, and perhaps most impactful, a searing emotionality that always hit you in the solar plexus.
My first exposure to Jeff Beck was via his classic solo effort, Blow By Blow which, honestly, probably caught me at an age where I wasn’t quite ready to fully appreciate what he did. But by the time I got to Wired, his next release, I was all in. That record would become a personal fave, with Narada Michael Walden thrashing the drums under Beck’s incessant wailing. And then it was all about There and Back, with Simon Phillips. Yes, Jeff Beck always worked with the best drummers… hell, the best musicians, and his solo records, in particular, are an impressive nod to this (although, his many other collaborations run an impressive and diverse gamut, as well). And let’s not forget: Jeff Beck helped to create, and remained at the forefront of, a new style of music we call fusion… or jazz-rock… or instrumental rock. For this, I will always be grateful.
I had a chance to meet Beck on one occasion. I was touring through Canada on a drum clinic tour back in the mid-90s and, on a day off, some friends took me to the Santana/Jeff Beck show. It was slammin’, of course, and after the set, we went backstage. My boy introduced me to Jeff, we shook hands. then I told him how much of a fan I was. He was very gracious. And then my friend said, “Bobby’s a vegetarian, as well!”
He lit up for a second.
“Look at this guy,” he said to a group of us, jerking a thumb in my direction. “Ya see how healthy he is? You can be super-fit on a vegetarian diet!”
It was a light-hearted moment, to be sure. But it was a memorable one, because you got the feeling this was one cool guy—a feeling never guaranteed when meeting those you most admire.
Jeff Beck never stopped creating and never seemed to stagnate. He left us quite a body of work, the likes of which I would not even attempt to memorialize with anything less than 12 to 15 tracks. Instead, I’ll leave you with a couple tidbits here:
Just click on any image below and you will magically find yourself on our duplicate archive page, where all vids are embedded in the Newsletter for easing viewing.
Classic Beck, throwing it down on one of his most beloved tunes, “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers," in more recent years (with Vinnie Caliuata on drums). Notice that he doesn’t use a pick! I believe he started doing this “fingerpicking" vibe exclusively in the 80s. This is a huge part of his unique sound, of course...
Here’s a random audio track from his Guitar Shop record (with Terry Bozzio on drums). Again, a complete coin-flip of a choice, but I always loved the nod here to his heavy blues influence, all while managing to seamlessly and spontaneously throw so many other influences into the blender:
And finally, we gotta go out with a poignant tribute to Beck, compliments of one of my faves, Brett Garsed—my longtime bro, bandmate, and collaborator. Here, it appears that Brett had just heard the news of Beck’s passing, picked up his axe, hit the vid record button, then opened up a vein and let his blood spill out. Damn! What I love about his version of Beck’s “Diamond Dust” is that it is, at once, pure Garsed in sound, style, and feel, yet profoundly emotional and concise, like Beck often was. And I also like how Brett chose to use a slide on this one… not because Beck used one, but because, perhaps, he could better hint at the signature nuances of Beck’s slide-like articulations (which he often employed via his whammy bar). This is really fucking killer:
Thanks again, everybody. Connect next week!
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