Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out is a 1923 composition by Jimmy Cox, popularized by Bessie Smith in 1929, and sung by Otis, Janis, Van the Man, Eric Clapton, and many, many others. Frizz of flkrcomments did a swell banjo version the other day as well as a dobro version! and, so inspired, Bumba and Maybank wanted to join the party/chorus. Click below to hear the song, and by now you should be singing along. The lyrics:

Once I lived the life of a millionaire/Spending my money and I didn’t care/Taking my friends out for a mighty good time/Buying bootleg whiskey, champagne, and wine

Then I began to fall so low/Didn’t have no friends and I had no place to go/It’s mighty strange but there without a doubt/Nobody knows ya when you’re down and out…

When I get back on my feet again/Everybody’s gonna want to be my long lost friend/ It’s kinda strange but there ain’t no doubt/Nobody knows you when you’re down and out

Nobody knows you/When you’re down and out/In your pocket not a penny/ And all those friends you used to have… well, now you haven’t any

If I ever get back on my feet again/Gonna hold on to that dollar till the eagle grins/Yeah, it’s mighty strange/But there ain’t no doubt/Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.

It Don’t Mean A Thing

My thanks to G.A. Miller who posted my recording of Ellington’s It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing, which is the opening song of the CD companion piece to my novel One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles.

Chester – or is it the Phantom? I’m not sure myself – in one of his more philosophical rants, refers to the song on page 179.

The full album is now (hopefully) a playlist on Soundcloud, which you can download and listen to while you’re thumbing (or scrolling) through the pages of One Life and/or The Phantom Speaks. Or you can get a real, actual CD together with the books if you purchase through Bumba Books. Thanks to the great Mr. Miller, who has as sweet a country voice as you’ll find anywhere east of the Ozarks, and a sense of humor weirder than anything south of the Andromeda galaxy.

The Noble Quest

images-1  Jordan Ashford was on an artistic quest. Like a knight of olde, who pauses for a brief while at a river crossing to renew his personal focus and spiritual dedication to the noble quest, Jordan Ashford stopped at  images-6 Starbucks  – to write. It was an artistic quest he had. Jordan scribbled on a tiny napkin:   My life and all the yesterdays of yesterdays Are clouded up All clouded up I cannot see them My mind is spinning Faster than the clouds Faster than the stars Jordan carefully folded the little paper napkin in half and placed it in his math workbook. He slipped his pen into a side pocket of his images-3backpack, and headed out for class. Today was the first day of the spring semester. Salad days for an artist. Trying times for a knight.

George Packard and The Breaking News Story

George Packard had been out of town for nearly a week. Directly upon his return home (actually, a few days passed), George Packard, roving reporter for Bumbastories, set out in search of a Breaking News scoop. George headed for the beach. George’s journalistic instincts were not always the best.

Once again it was unseasonably warm in Los Angeles. George rode his bicycle through the mid-day traffic. The traffic gets worse and worse observed George. It was nearly impassable. But bad traffic is no big news, no scoop, thought George. Likewise, this heat. George hopped a #28 bus to Century City, rode for a while on Pico Blvd., and then opted for the #7 to the beach. It was tough going, it was a very hot day. Over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in February! George had read long ago that an increase in storms and erratic weather would be the first effects of global warming. Bad times ahead, thought George. The people had better re-gain control of the government before it’s too late, thought George. George pedalled on.

George Packard, it must be admitted, was fully cognizant that his search for a Breaking News scoop would not be best served by his long and lazy visits to the beach. Truth be told, George preferred breaking waves to Breaking News.


Songs to help you on your way



A couple of songs to help you on your way. Here’s Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad, an old folk song, probably a hundred years. Woody Guthrie put his words to it in the 1930’s, but the song was not a new one then. Bumba and Maybank have updated the lyrics for your 2015 listening pleasure with corrections for inflation and a nod to the consumer price index, but the message of the song remains true. Have a good day, hang in there, and keep it movin’.

“Keep it movin’, buddy”. That’s what they say. Keep movin’

Keep rollin with the punches,

Go easy on the lunches.

Keep rockin to the rhythm.

And hold the pessimism

Find your inspiration

Waitin at the station

Hop that train

Get on that bus

Don’t look back

And try to stay out of jail.


Here’s another song to help you on your way. This song provides a goal, a destination: Jerusalem, the city of gold, of light. Oh What a Beautiful City, a Negro spiritual, perhaps two hundred years old, remains a beautiful song. There are a lot of ways to play it. I love Sonny Terry’s version the best. Check out Sonny Terry’s Oh What a Beautiful City. Meanwhile you’ll have to settle for Bumba and Maybank as recorded last night.


Now available on ebook

They’re out as ebooks! Both One Life One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles and its sequel The Phantom Speaks The Phantom Speaksare now available as ebooks on Amazon Kindle for $0.99! Of course the novels are still available in hard copy. Get them via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. See The Bumba Books Page (on top). I am trying to sell these books as cheaply as possible so that people will read them. The best price for the hardcopies is direct from Bumbastories where you will also receive a complementary (that’s free!) copy of the author’s own recording of Chester’s Songs, a soundtrack or companion CD to the One Life/Phantom Speaks saga. I used Amazon Kindle’s program to create the ebooks. I am not happy with the Phantom Speaks ebook. As an illustrated book, with drawings by Alexandria Skaltsounis, The Phantom looks much better in hardcopy anyway. Check out your options at Bumba Books.

Lonely Times

There Been Some Lonely Times is a song that I wrote a number of years ago while I was writing the One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles novel.  Somehow the song found its way directly into the book (page 162). Click on the link below to hear the song.

The song is included in my Chester’s Songs CD, which I am releasing forthwith!

It’s a “soundtrack CD”, a “companion piece” to the novel. All the songs on the CD were mentioned in the book and are performed by yours truly, with some noble help from guitarist Preston Maybank.

See Bumba Books for details on how to purchase the books One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles One Life The Phantom Speaksand its sequel The Phantom Speaks. The CD Chester’s Songs will be included in purchases of the hardcopy books.

For ebook version of One Life and ebook version of The Phantom Speaks, check out the links to Amazon Kindle, where they are currently available for 99 cents.

There Been Some Lonely Times is a simple song that only uses two chords. Call it elegant! The song is quoted in the book, so I felt a sort of obligation to record it and make it part of the reading “experience”. As for the other songs on the CD, they are simply songs mentioned in the book,”old-time” songs which I like to play anyway. I hope that the combination of music plus book is a big hit.

In the excerpt that follows, Willie Miles – an alterego to both our phantom hero Chester Knowles, as well as to the “deceased” Tony Santos, AKA the Lone Ranger – introduces himself to a small audience at a downtown Las Vegas nightclub. Willie and the little band then playThere Been Some Lonely Times. If you want to read more, you can buy the book on Amazon, or at any of the other on-line outlets. As I said above, the ebooks of One Life and The Phantom Speaks are just $0.99! And check out Bumba Books.

About the CD soundtrack Chester’s Songs: I did a CD for my first book Up in the Bronx, and the fact that I’ve done it again for One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles is proof that I am crazy. I do these recordings because there are numerous mentions and quotes from popular music in my books. My characters, especially in the One Life and Phantom Speaks books, are particulary musical. So I play some of the songs that are cited in the books. Preston Maybank plays with me on just three song. I’ve played with some dubbing and multiple tracks, but it is simple, old-time music. Hopefully the book-CD combo will be pleasant.

Excerpt from One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles (page 162)


Willie Miles steps to the microphone

“OK, so you want me to try to introduce myself. OK. Then, it’s me, Willie Miles: the Lone Ranger, the next incarnation, the one I had to be. Not everyone gets a second chance, a second chance at life. But I got it. I guess I’m lucky. Some people might get religious, others might get all paranoid, others might just flip out and never come back. Well, I did all of the above. Been there done that. And it looks like I wound up in Las Vegas. I have a friend who’s a psychologist who thinks that being in this band and playing the drums and ignoring the rest of life is a bit schizophrenic. Well, I disagree. I just call it good luck. Brains is better than brawn, my mother used to say. But luck is better than brains any day of the week is what I say. And rich or poor it’s good to have money. What more can I say than that?

(Here Willie introduces Georgia On My Mind which I suppose I should record and put on the CD too. In the book I printed out Hoagy Carmichaels’ lyrics. but I will skip over that section for now)

“Thank you very much,” said Willie soberly. He then walked out from behind the drums, picked up his guitar and arpeggioed a full-sounding, open-stringed sort of E chord, and then an open sort of A chord. He methodically went back and forth between the two chords while the other players gradually joined in. Soon, there was a gospel-type rhythm, and the entire room pulsed with excitement. Willie began with the refrain:

There been some lonely times

There been some lonely times

He told his story:

In the darkness of an alleyway

My life did pass before my eyes.

I saw my last chance slip away

I was shot down and I died

Yeah, there been some lonely times

Yeah, there been some lonely times.

But there’s no sense in complainin’

The river’s chilly and so wide

I spent my whole life in dreamin’

And now there’s no place left to hide

Yes, yes. There been some lonely times

Yes, yes. There been some lonely times


So please don’t ask me no more questions

I ain’t got time to tell no lies

I got a feeling in my heart

Same as the stars up in the skies

Hey, hey. There been some lonely times

Hey, hey. There been some lonely times

So it went. Willie sang lead, and Gene, the bass player, helped with the harmony.