George Jones and Ben Franklin Sing the Blues | June 2017

My Sirius radio preset channels are a rather eclectic lot: I have the 60’s, Willie’s Roadhouse, Jimmy Buffet, the Metropolitan Opera, College Sports, Fox Business News and newly added to the lineup, the Beatles channel. I wish they had a history or book channel; something like Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, only without the random profanity that makes me cringe every time someone spews a most vulgar, and most unnecessary, spate of vulgarisms.

But today I’m thinking of my one channel dedicated to the country music genre. As I was scrolling through the channels last week trying to find something to soothe the frazzled noggin, I came across George Jones singing, “The Bartender’s Blues.”   Here are a few lyrics (penned by James Taylor!) for all the working people out there:

“Well, I’m just a bartender

And I don’t like my work

But I don’t mind the money at all”

Ha! Isn’t that a great line?   I always quote it when people complain to me about their jobs. Have you ever noticed how many people complain about the job they have, and then fall into desperate panic if they lose said job? I understand, it’s human nature to grouse.   Remember the Israelites in the wilderness? They longed for the good old days of slavery in Egypt because there, at least, they “had all the cucumbers, melons, onions, leeks and garlic [they wanted].”   Really? Leeks?

But to today’s point, and to why a Financial Advisor would be referencing George Jones, I must turn to Ben (“Ben” sounds better than “Benjamin” when paired with a Nashville old-school artist) Franklin, alias Poor Richard of Almanac fame.   “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Ben and George, George and Ben, separated by a pair of centuries, had a lot in common. They were ‘accomplished’ womanizers and purveyors of strong drink, but that’s neither a topic we wish to examine today, nor attributes we wish to encourage.   Really, I mean it: stop that!   If for no other reason (and there are plenty) it will make your finances a mess to travel that “Lost Highway.”

So where I am going with this you ask? Well, in the first place some of you expressed a distinct lack of whimsy in my columns recently, and complained of too much politics and too little of my “free association” trains of thought.   As Grandma said, “Be careful what you ask for.”

George Jones sings on:

“I’ve seen lots of sad faces

And lots of bad cases

Of folks with their backs to the wall”

I think Ben Franklin was thinking of these same types of “sad faces with their backs to the wall” when he was encouraging people to spend frugally and save vigorously.   If we are not already, we need to start that lifestyle today to avoid ending up in a George Jones’ song in retirement.

“Now the smoke fills the air

Of this honky tonk bar

And I’m thinkin’ ‘bout where I’d rather be

But I burned all my bridges

And I sunk all my ships

And I’m stranded at the edge of the sea”

Now that verse right there is about the saddest word picture I ever did hear. So be a Ben Franklin devotee, and not someone stuck in a sad old tune: build some bridges, save some pennies and dollars too, keep your boat in fine trim and set your sights upon the horizon. Then sing your own song.