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It doesn’t get much better than this

HEADS UP: Great pains are usually taken to time the music to the reading. There’s just no way to do that in this blog. For this one, I’d suggest grabbing a pair of headphones, strap on a pair of rock n’ roll balls and get comfortable. For maximum efficacy…when playing a song, just stop reading until it’s finished and then proceed to the next…or not. 

Social Distortion played to a sold-out house at the Royal Oak Music Theater, Tuesday night, October 16, 2012 in the year of our Lord.

What a show. Almost missed it. Living right around the corner within walking distance of the venue, a strange kind of isolationist paralysis conspired to sabotage a great night of intense riffage from one of the last great American Guitar Bands. Why? What the hell was going on? Wassup wid dat? How lame can one become. I can literally walk to the gig. By grace, that’s just what the Hurls did. The deal maker was this. While sitting in a comfortable, cozy apartment, right on Lincoln Ave., the musician in me rose up thinking about the rig Mike Ness plays through as the spirit voice of my brother Joe could be heard speaking soul-to-soul. “C’mon Timmy! Don’t be an old man! Snap out of it and get with the program. Trust me on this. Life is short my brother. If you sit home comfortably numb, you’ll regret not going.”

Call me crazy, but hearing Joey speak really was the catalyst and solid rocket fuel needed to get off the launch site of a brown, leather recliner.  OK…now what? Shake off those heavy bands of shame & oppression. After popping 5000 mcg’s of sublingual B12, the inspiration hit to print up this sign on Kodak (extra glossy) paper.

Then, after slamming a cup of coffee, taking a shower and doing the dishes, it was time for a daily reading. Prior to that, some familiar bugaboos were renting space in the ol’ cranium. “You have no money. It’s not prudent. You don’t deserve it. You suck. Grow up. Blah, Blah, Blah” You know…the typical tapes that play in the head of a returned citizen from a hell hole of unredemptive blackness all conspired to thwart a few hours of good clean fun. Why? I dunno…still working on that one…but the reading sure helped.

Echoes of Eternity: October 16

“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” Psalm 91:5

The night seasons, My child, are the seasons of battle. “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” Others before you have endured the assaults of the enemy which came in the darkness. But in Me, darkness and light are both alike—for I am the inner Light which dispels the power of the outer darkness.

When you give ground to fearful thoughts and vain imaginations, you open the floodgates to your adversary. Your only recourse is to flee to Me. In this case, fleeing is fighting. You are no match for his wiles, and you need to stay very close to Me if you would know My victorious power. I will help you, but I will not force you to come to Me. Remember, My child, your pride—your spiritual pride—is being dealt with in these night battles. You are not a hero—just a frightened child whom I love.

So what’s with all the fear? At times, it can be a real ball & chain.

“Flee To Fight” sounded like a better plan

Then grace started replacing unfounded fear and anesthesia with vim & vigor. After putting on a pair of ripped up jeans and a suit coat, the thought to grab a hunk of silver duct tape for the sign took root. OK, keys-check; wallet-check; teeth-check; a couple of Tootsie Rolls-check; lights off-check; porch light on-check; test glucose-check (135…pretty good in my world)…then out the door. There’s something really invigorating about a stroll up the street on a crisp, October Night in Michigan. It’s a favorite time of year. Some memorable thoughts of other shows and nights of rock n’ roll rose up. Having partaken in this ritual hundreds of times, there was still some rust to shake off. Arriving at the venue with high hopes and no ticket, the looming view of a lit up Marquee blazing “Sold Out” only fueled more determination to make this a successful mission.

Affixing the wad of duct tape to the back of the sign and sticking it on a parking meter right across the street from the theater seemed like a logistical move. In full view of the line snaking around the whole block, I could prop my rock n’ roll ravaged arm on the parking meter and hold one finger in the air. For the uninitiated, that means “One Ticket Needed” . Only rookies will work the line and stick out like sore thumbs while conducting themselves like ravaged savages looking for a rock to smoke. Not the Hurls. Make em’ come to you while maintaining a panoramic vista of the whole scene is the way to do it. Sure enough, within a half hour, some guy came up and unloaded a ticket at face value for $25.00. There was only one concert in my whole life  where a breach of the security perimeter failed. That was a Tom Petty show at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco in the mid 70’s on his first major American Tour. The residual trauma of not making it into the gig that night remains a wound in need of healing. Now with ticket in hand, a batting average of .995 remained intact.
Praise God for a good score. That’s the story of my life.
After securing a wristband and entering the lobby, a sense of gratitude settled in. Just 10 days shy of two years ago, I was released from the soul-crushing clutches of the MDOC. If someone had told me that in just under two years, I’d be living in Royal Oak and getting to take in a Social D concert within walking distance of the crib…in spite of a bus load of hope & faith, this might have been too much to expect. A standing position right at the edge of the first rise of a 3 tier, general admission show was obtained next to a friendly guy. While suffering through one of the worst opening acts ever experienced (One must take the good with the bad. Their music sucked, was atonal and sucked. Did I mention they sucked? Not only that, but the frontman of the band had zero stage presence and personality. At one point between songs he quipped; “Hey! I took a tour of Detroit today and it looked all bombed out so I’m surprised to see you here”. That’s no way to endear yourself to a new town kid. What a dick) a few folks were texted announcing entry into the gig. More like 40. Call it immature, call it stupid…I don’t care. Joy is to be shared…not consumed. At 57 years old, it felt like being 15 years old again at the State Fairgrounds seeing the MC5 in 1969.
It was righteous.
About 20 or so responded with text messages along the lines of; Go for it! Kick Out Those Jams Hurley!”  Two in particular stood out. I’d like to share them with you. One text was from my good pal Sari who I met through the Prison Creative Arts Project after being released from the slammer. She’s a great kid who opened up her heart as I began to fellowship with PCAP. I really love her…in a fatherly kind of way. The excitement in her return text along the lines of; “Have a lot of fun! Social Distortion live is the best! I can’t  wait to hear all about the show!”…was quite evident. Sari gets it. She has great taste in music and has worked with hundreds of “returning citizens” from prison…most of whom don’t make it. She’s been in my corner from Day One and I in hers. We both knew no one was prison bound on this night.  Another heartwarming text came from my soul sister MB in Holland who said her fiance’ Duce was “green with envy”. There’s a story behind that one we’ll touch on later. As Mike “Eliot” Ness introduced the next song, resplendent in suspenders and a fedora, he connected with the audience by quipping; “It’s great to be in Detroit…especially after being in Cincinnati last night. Anything from there is an upgrade. No…really. Detroit is a great rock n’ roll town and I see a lot of criminals out there”  

My man…that’s the way you do it.

At this point in the show, things started warming up.

I’ve not danced like last night in years. It was invigorating to sweat & jam with a sold out crowd of maniacal fans. There was a real, sho-nuff mosh pit going with dozens of folks…some my age…crowd surfing to the front where bouncers would grab them gently and return them to the pit. If that’s your thang, cool metro…but for me it’s always about the music. With a front row, first riser, stage left, unobstructed view of the band at roughly 45′, I was content to soak in every note of Mike Ness’s rig and occasionally watch the crowd surf some bodies…when they were girls.

Speaking of rigs, this is the set up Mike Ness uses to get the job done.

I just burst into tears thinking about how much fun Joey would have had at this gig. The first thing he’d do would be to ingratiate himself into the fabric of the staff, find his way backstage and schmooze with the band. Then he’d lead me to the edge of the stage and school this big brother on the make, brand, age and purpose of virtually every piece of equipment on the stage.

Guitars-1976 Goldtop Les Paul Deluxes (Custom Shop Seymour Duncan P90 pickups), Gibson 1939 J-35 acoustic guitar, 1940 Martin D-18 acoustic guitar. Amps-1967 Fender Bassman amps (modified by Fred Taccone and/or Billy Zoom), Marshall 4×10 reissue cabinets with Greenback speakers. Effects-This is really cool. The only effect utilized is a Boss SD-1 Overdrive pedal
This classic set-up provides for a warm & rich harmonic assault that’s very pleasing to the ear.
Half way through their set, Social D began to feed off the energy of a Detroit audience in the throes of foaming rabidity. They started really cooking with Crisco when playing this jam. The Royal Oak Music Theater was now cackling with high energy from a crowd now clearly feeding their energy into the band. It was great. Social Distortion knew they were playing to a Detroit crowd longing to be satiated with a dose of that Rama Lama. The audience was slightly on the grey side of follicles with more than a smattering of hot rocker chicks. Pure Michigan.  Playing Detroit is legendary in the annals of Rock N’ Roll. All the big bands know it. Hell, it was a gig at the Grande’ in 1968 that gave legs to the WHO. Prior to that show, they were about to pull the plug before discovering what we were born and raised with. Detroit rocks harder than any city on the planet. That the R N R Hall of Shame was built in Cleveland remains the highest form of blasphemy. Father did not dig or authorize that move. As a result of that sin and transgression against the Natural Order Of Things, we’re now we’re forced to choose between two clowns running for POTUS.
OK…I digressed…again
This remains my fav all-time Social Distortion song and goes out to Marybeth & Duce…two friends from Holland who just got engaged. Both have experienced the cold, harsh, reality of life not lived on life’s terms. Having come full circle…by grace, my prayer is for the warmth of God’s love to permeate their entire married life. No more Cold Feelings In The Night.

I really love that acoustic version, but this is the electric one delivered with power last night.

When they ripped into that jam, these Irish eyes welled with tears of joy while considering this Scripture. (Yeah, that’s the way this brain really works these days) Joel 2:25-27 from the Message succinctly describes what was experienced when Mike Ness busted into the lead at the 1:24 mark of “Cold Feelings”. Last night, I lived that lead and busted into a virtuoso air guitar performance that surprised the hell out of the Detroit rocker babes who’d naturally gravitated to my table.

“I’ll make up for the years of the locust,
    the great locust devastation—
Locusts savage, locusts deadly,
    fierce locusts, locusts of doom,
That great locust invasion
    I sent your way.
You’ll eat your fill of good food.
    You’ll be full of praises to your God,
The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder.
    Never again will my people be despised.
You’ll know without question
    that I’m in the thick of life with Israel,
That I’m your God, yes, your God,
    the one and only real God.
Never again will my people be despised”.

O’ yes my friend. We’re talking ’bout Rock N’ Roll the way the good Lord intended it to be by “The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder” What a great line of interpreted scripture. No wonder some of my fundamentalist buds feel safe wrapped in a blanket dichotomy of man made “spiritual/secular” division. All music is spiritual. You just have to discern the spirits from the Holy Spirit. Der. Anyway… what a great lead! It rocked me back on my heels. The only response was to throw a few windmill air chords to the band. Suffice to say…The house was rockin’!


 It might help to understand that Mike Ness nearly died in his active addiction to heroin and alcohol. Now with years of being clean & sober under his belt, he played like a man who’s been redeemed from the pit of hell. When introducing this next song, he spoke of a Viet Nam vet named Charlie who “helped me in my early recovery”. He dedicated this rare gem to the memory of Charlie who has passed on. It was killer. So this goes out to all those who’ve helped me in my recovery. I never heard this song before last night. Enjoy this first encore song

On a street corner in Pittsburgh, PA
There’s a tough Irish boy with no dreams
But to be King for one day
And he’s schooled by the older ones
With lessons and the conduct of the streets
He’s got a mean right cross 
And a devastating left hook

He likes to drink and he likes to fight 
He likes poppin’ pills and Du-Wop 
and the boulevard on a Saturday night 
And he’s going nowhere fast
you know he’s happy just staying alive 
But you can always count on Charlie 
To be there if you needed him

In a courtroom on a December’s day
The judge said look here son 
If you wanna play 
You’re gonna have to pay
See these rules that you live by 
Don’t exist in a civilized world. 
So I offer you prison, or Vietnam. 

You know Charlie, he’s kinda crazy 
He just stood there looked at me,
looked at the judge, straight in the eyes 
Said I’d love to fight your honor 
And you know I’ve got nothing to lose
So send me off to war, I don’t mind.He spent two years 
Learning weapons of death
And a year in the jungle 
Like an animal where’s it kill or be killed
And the right amount of heroin 
Really seems to quiet the bombs
Back in Pittsburgh, things are rather calm

Now Charlie, he is my friend
Taught me how to hold my head up
Told me soon that I’d be a man
Says that Agent Orange is calling 
And the doctors have done all they can
Well Charlie, I’m gonna miss you 
after you’re gone
Well Charlie, I’m gonna miss you 
after you’re gone
Well Charlie, I’m gonna miss you 
after you’re gone

By this point in the show, there was only one jam left to play. You guessed it.


What a great night of blazing guitars cutting through a fall night. Pure Michigan. That gig  was so good, I now feel motivated to upgrade the ol’ tent. Being 30 lbs overweight and smoking is no longer acceptable. While dancing, I could feel the shitflab shaking around my mid-section.

That’s not very Rock N’ Roll.

The smokes and fat have to go.

Hold me to it.

God bless your hearts, kick out the jams and have a great week.

O’ yeah…this was the next to last encore song. It’s a new one




  1. Tim Hurley says:

    Reblogged this on hurlco and commented:

    Dedicated to Joe

  2. Rick says:

    First off, another might fine riff of thoughts, emotions, links, soul sharing and testimony. The music, although cool as hell, was enhanced by your words and not the other way around. Keep ’em coming. Also, I believe you wrote in an earlier blog or on FB that you’ve been complimented, but some said your blog postings are too long. If I’m correct in that, then I will formerly disagree with those followers that said such things. If I am wrong, and you were NOT asked to shorten up your posts, then I stand corrected.

    I wish you peace and comfort as you go through the rest of the day, thinking about your younger bro’. He loves you and of course wants you to be happy.

    When brothers agree, no fortress is so strong as their common life. ~Antisthenes

    • Tim Hurley says:

      Thanks for the feedback Rick. Yeah…we now live in a twitter & tweet society. Everybody is struggling to make it. Prose is passe’ as is gratification delay. That’s a given. While very open to constructive critique on writing technique (or lack thereof), I can’t/won’t change my style to accommodate a fast 7 second hit at the end of a crack-stem mentality. Especially when it comes to life, loss, love and music. KOTJ.

  3. Al says:

    Another fine piece, Tim. Your love for your brother and the music you both shared is indeed something very special. I’m sure you were right about Joey being there with you, he, like our Heavenly Father, always is.

    It was surprising to see that view of the Royal Oak Theater on my phone last night. To see the words “The Hurls got in” showed the exuberance you had in your quest to see the show and to feel the music make your heart beat at the level only hard pounding rock and roll can do. I had visions of a much younger Tim beaming from ear to ear because he had just scored some MC5 tickets.

    I was particularly drawn to the video After You’re Gone/Company C. I’m sure you understand why. I got what I was expecting and more. A punch in the stomach coupled with a genuine empathy with Charlie. Sometimes one has to do what they can to make the noise of the bombs go away. Other times, it seems they never will. It’s those times that we need to turn to our Lord and Savior for the help that only He can give us.

    Thanks again for another testimony to brotherly love, music and God.

    • Tim Hurley says:

      It was like all that and more Al. Very grateful for those who choose recovery, hold on for dear life and work their asses off to maintain it. Had Mike Ness chosen otherwise, he’d long be gone as another rock n’ roll statistic. He did mention playing Michigan for the 1st time in 1981…”But I can’t really remember that gig.”

      It was at the Pontiac Phoenix Center. Being 21 years younger, it was a blast. Joe warned me not to enter the mosh pit. But noooo, big brother would not listen and my ass got slammed hard. The only reason I can remember that show is because of being clean & sober at the time. Good Times. Pure Michigan.
      Pure Joe
      God…the pain of his loss is palpable tonight.
      Be kind and gentle with yourself Al…you’re more than worth it and Father is pleased with you.

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