Old Rockers

singer singing on stage beside guitar player and bass player

How to Experience Old Rockers

Ols Rockers is a combination of words, images, and motion. To experience it chronologically, just scroll down the page (as you would read a book.) When you view a video, you are “transported” to another website (YouTube.com). At the conclusion of the video, YouTube tries to keep you on their website by showing you other videos that it thinks might interest you. This can be confusing, but you can continue with Grendel simply by continuing to scroll down the page. Technology … %!!$!**#

Ladie-e-eze and Gennulmunn … this is what you’ve been waiting for since 1966, which was the last time these two lads performed together in public. The world has changed greatly, and these two have changed a bit, but in great ways. Without further adieu, we bring you Old Rockers!

It’s About Time

There’s lost time, overtime, Island time, too much time, Hammer time, crunch time, maritime … the list could go on forever. The Rolling Stones may think that time is on their side, but try telling that to Charlie Watts. In this clip Greg, with a studio assist from Nashville, waxes lyrical about Time, and makes it so special, especially as you look back on it.

Don’t get accustomed to these slick production values. Soon enough we’ll be back to the realities of cell phones a zero budget.

Throat Clearing

Editors have a term for the portion of a story, article, or manuscript, usually at the beginning, that wanders aimlessly before the author gets down to the business of storytelling. They call it “throat clearing.” It’s the speaker tapping the microphone and saying “Is this on? Can you hear me? Test … one, two …” It can go on interminably, or it can be as short as “ahem.”

In this case it goes on for one minute and eleven seconds. Here are the Grendel lads some 50 years later:

And, in case you’d prefer the original, by The Diamonds, here it is, courtesy of the miracle of YouTube.

The Boys Meet on the Field of Dreams

The Boys Meet

Del: We went to a private boys school called Obediah Brown. It was a very elite, expensive school. Greg was there because his father was a big shot attorney and the family had tons of money. I was there because my mom worked at an affiliated girls school that had an affiliation agreement with our school that allowed the children of employees to attend tuition-free.

Greg: Even though we went all through high school, we didn’t know each other well.

Del: That’s because you were in all the honors classes, while I was with the rank and file.

Greg: The first time I remember anything about you was on the first day of baseball practice, freshman year.

Del: Even though we were on the same team, we still didn’t talk much. But then I heard that Greg was learning to play the guitar, which I was, too.

Let’s wrap this by having Frank and Gene take us all out to the ball game.

Grendel … C, Am, F, and G

Greg: We started getting together to practice, almost always at Del’s house. His mother (“Just call me Trudy”) was cool and casual, more a contemporary than a parent. She was always charging around, putting on make-up and getting ready to go out.

Del: That’s probably why your Dad (always Mr. Brewster) called her The Floozie.

Greg: But Trudy had a good name for him, too.

Del: Mr. Rod-up-his-ass.

Greg: Eventually, our noise started forming itself into songs. I think the first song we actually played through was Take Her Out of Pity. Here’s the version done by the Kingston Trio. They claim authorship, although what they really did was to take a traditional tavern song and make the lyrics even more sexist.

Del: You know, someone once accused Leonard Cohen of knowing only three chords. “That’s not true,” Leonard said, “I know five.”


Greg: After a year of practicing we had our first foray into the public. We put on our berets (seriously, we did) and played our first gig at an open mike at the Tete a Tete coffee house. It was absurd … two white kids who went to private school, singing about their roots. And that’s the truth. Looking back we were mud puddles … all surface and no depth. Roots? Don’t make me laugh.

Here are our musical roots:


We kept doing the open mike for almost a year. We’d watch Hootenany, then obsessively learn a new song for the next week. But our little world flipped upside down on February 9, 1964.

It took about a nano-second for us to transition. Goodbye berets, goodbye acoustic guitars … hello electricity. We found a drummer and singer from Cra-a-a-anston who were looking for guitarists. We were still Grendel, but we were now American outposts of the British Invasion!

No Remorse … Our First Original Song

Del: Then, the inevitable happened … we wrote a song. It was mostly mine, but Greg contributed, so we created an official songwriting partnership (Brewster and Watson), just like Lennon and McCartney. We even got Greg’s dad to write up an official agreement.

Greg: And we have stayed true to that agreement to this day, splitting all royalties 50/50.

Del: What’s 50 percent of nuthin’?

Greg: This song would be lost to history except that one of our rival Rhode Island bands, a wannabe Grendel group called the Van Goghs (stupid name!) covered it and turned it into a video that we discovered on YouTube:

Here’s our first song.

Greg: Ladies and gentlemen … No Remorse.

Del: That song still rocks!

Greg: And it’s still moronic. Not only did you steal the opening riff, but the lyrics were all false, just pure adolescent posturing.

Del: I’m hurt …

Greg: Get real … you’re singing about lovin’ and leavin’ them. Had you ever been with a girl?

Del: As in “had sex?” No.

Greg: Not even close. Had you even kissed a girl?

Del: Do cousins count?

Greg: No … I’ll say now what I told you then … you’ve got to stay within your own experience to create good music. Dig deep. Get below that pimply surface.

Del: Dig deep huh?

I Think I’m in Love

Greg: I told him. You’ve got to write the truth. Stay within your own experience, no matter how limited that is, just stay within your own experience. Be honest.

Accept with the Left

Here’s Grendel from the 1966 Obediah Brown yearbook (to see individual images click on slider in middle and move left or right:

Greg: And we were rock stars, at least on our own little stage of garage bands in Rhode Island. We were getting gigs playing fraternity parties at Brown. Plus we already had some bookings for over the summer, a couple of weddings and a regular gig at a little club in Pawtucket.

Del: We planned our work and worked our plan, hit the beach all day, get the perfect tan.

Then nighttime comes, get the guitars out, make a lot of noise, make ’em twist and shout

Greg: All that was left was graduation day. The day before we were rehearsed by the football coach, Umberto “Bertie” Zimino. Tough guy. Kindof talked like a gangstuh, but he did tell us something we never forgot.

“Youse guys gotta remembuh one ting tomorruh. When your name is called, walk toda stage and accept your diploma wid your LEFT HAND and shake wid da RIGHT. Sum dumfuk always messes it up, you’re dat dumfuk, they’ll tink Zimino didn’t do his job and I will track you down and I will make you pay.”

Scared the shit out of us, but we didn’t forget to accept with the left and shake with the right.

Del: That advice has stood me in good stead for all those trips to the podium I’ve made.

Greg: Del and I thought Zimino’s passion was so absurd that the night before graduation we wrote a song about it.

I still live in fear of Zimino showing up at the front door one day, screaming “I told ya to accept widah left!!”

Two Paths

Greg: BUT our plan developed a little glitch about ten minutes after we accepted with the left…

photo of person holding graduation cap and diploma
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Del: After the ceremony, everyone was milling around, shaking hands, and inevitably, there’s that moment when you open up your diploma to admire your name in fancy calligraphy … but mine was blank, with a little note telling me to see the principal, the beloved Mr Stinchfield. I track down Stinchie and learn that it’s school policy not to award diplomas or release transcripts unless a student’s account is completely up-to-date. I was a scholarship student, so tuition was not an issue, but that my mother, good ol’ Mom, had not paid my bursar’s bill, for books, cafeteria, sports equipment, and incidentals for more that two years! Moreover, she’s been aware of the situation for over a year and has done nothing about it.

Greg: You looked like you had seen a ghost when you came back from that meeting.

Del: Money was always tight at our house, but we just lived with it. I hadn’t now how bad the situation was until now. I was hoping the earth would just swallow me whole. Trudd-dd-yy!! No wonder she didn’t come to the graduation.

Greg: Del just drifted off. I tried to get him to stay for the reception, but he was inconsolable. I told my Dad about the situation. He liked Del and understood the situation with his Mom, The Tart. He assured me that something could be worked out. Later, I saw him talking to Mr. Stinchfield. It took a few weeks, but Del eventually got his diploma in the mail.

Del: Looking back with a half century of hindsight. That’s when I first had a hint that our two roads were diverging, although not in a snowy wood, but on a perfect spring day in Providence, RI. Greg’s path through life would be different from mine. We might be best friends. We might be in a band together. We might be making music, but we were on different paths. He always had a safety net, always would. I would spend my life skating on thin ice.

Well, here the story of my state; it looked like I won’t graduate.

Mr. Brewster had my back, but it’s a loan that I’ll pay back

Don’t know how I’ll get the dough but I sure don’t like this taste of crow.

It seems it all comes down to bucks, I guess it’s fair, but I think it sucks.

Del: Once in a while something small brings a very big emotion flooding back in a rush. This song never fails:

It’s summahtime-summahtime-sum-sum-summahtime … suddenly, it’s a spring day in 1957. The last bell is lingering. School’s out for summer, school’s out forever. The hiccups of graduation day, how to pay back Mr. Brewster, my flaky mother are suddenly in the rearview mirror. No test, no college applications, no shitty job. There was the band, the Beatles, the beach, and unfathomed adventures awaiting us. We had enough band jobs lined up that we didn’t need to indenture ourselves to humiliating jobs. It was fun-fun-fun, and no one’s daddy was taking our T-bird away.

Greg: It was many decades later that Del and I turned our musical attentions to this summer of unfettered emancipation and came up with this song. We filmed it on a September weekend in Vermont:

Hi Neighbor … the next cold Gansett’s on me

Something Good

Del: Have you ever had that feeling that something happened to you during the day that would change your life forever? It happened to Greg about two weeks after we graduated from high school.

She’s kind of quiet, not too shy …

We had a third Musketeer!

Casserole Blues


The summer was magic. Days at the beach with Cassandra, then nights playing in clubs. Grendel became a semi-big deal, for Rhode Island, that is. Greg always brought a beat-up guitar, and we’d go back and forth with music ideas. We’d talk endlessly about what we’d handle our sure-to-be success, a success that would be both artistic and commercial. Cassandra tried to keep us grounded, but we were so brimming with the over-confidence of youth. Fame and fortune would inevitably be ours! In had to be.

Then something happened that only confirmed our arrogance!

I’m going to fry your bacon …

The teenyboppers loved it!

One Never Knows

Del: Greg wasn’t just into something good, he was into something fantastic. The three of us hung out every day. She must have read us The Little Prince a dozen times. I started dreaming in French, I mean en Francais. That set the theme of the summer. Greg and I were les petits princes. And Cassandra became our rose.

Who could blame Greg for falling in love? Unfortunately, who could blame me, either?

One day at the beach Cassandra finished up her twelfth reading, and I reached over and grabbed the beater guitar that Greg always brought with him, and said “I’ve written a song …”

A flight of migrant birds were flying towards the sun.

That became our summer catch phrase. One never knows …

Gloria … is there mor-i-a?


Writing that Little Prince song, One Never Knows, I see know was a thinly-veiled attempt to worm my way into Cassandra’s Heart, but Greg came back THE VERY NEXT DAY with his own Little Prince song called Six Separate Planets about the asteroids that the Little Prince visits on his way to earth. Drat! Foiled again!

But then, in the spirit of One Never Knows, something very unexpected happened to me. Let me take a step back to explain.

My Mom, Trudy, was 17 when she had me. My dad was 18, but he wasn’t around long. I know his name, and I’ve seen a few pictures, but he’s never been part of my life. It’s always been me and Trudy.

It’s always been up to her to support us and that, I know, has been a grind. Her biggest break was getting a job as an administrative assistant (secretary) at a private girls school that had free tuition benefit for kids of employees. That school had a reciprocal agreement with Obediah Brown, which is how I happened to be there.

It’s was a long slog for Trudy, but with me graduating, the end was in sight, so I can’t blame her for wanting to bust loose and making up for some of the fun she missed over the last 18 years. Shit, she’s only 35, and she’s been chained to me for more than half that. I love her. She loves me. But she needs … she deserves, a new life.

Back in those days in Providence anyway Wednesday nights were Ladies Nights, meaning no cover charge and half-priced drinks. Mom and her best friend, Gloria, always took full advantage. What happened next, however, was totally unexpected.

Gloria, is there more of ya to explor-i-a?

Now and Again

Greg: Where does the time go? Doesn’t seem that long ago that Cassandra, Del, and I were sitting on Scarborough Beach, and yet when I look in the mirror a lot of water has passed over the dam. Or is it … “passed under the bridge?” I can’t even keep my cliches straight these days.

Jumping ahead a few decades, one of the things I can say for certain is that meeting Cassandra was not only something good, but something forever.

A Man Goes on a Journey …

Del: They say … don’t ask me who the hell “they” are … there are only two stories in life. 1. A man (I know, not appropriate language these days, but I’m not “they”) goes on a journey, 2. A stranger comes to town. I know who I am. Maybe that was the case for my Old Man, too, wherever he is.

Right after Labor Day, the answer became crystal clear to me … I was the one who goes on a journey. It was time for me to go. Clear as my windshield after going through the car wash.

Here’s how I remember it:

Greg: And, poof! There he was … gone … Del … my classmate … my bandmate … my best friend. I was devastated. The plan … over. College starting next week. Leaving home. Moving into a dorm. No Del. Band over. Cassandra back to high school. What the fuck happened?

I tried to put me in his shoes. No place to live? I knew he was envious of what Cassandra and I had found, but hadn’t we always gone out of our way to include him in everything? Could it have been painful for him to see our happiness? Yeah, he owed money to my Dad, but that shouldn’t have been a big deal, not to my Dad, anyway.

The worst part … I felt like Del was moving on without me. He was pursuing a dream. He was going for it. I was being a sheep and just doing what was expected of me. I had never in my life been so depressed.

And here’s how I turned it into song:

Rolling in Dough

Del: Now we’re able to laugh about it, but there was nothing to laugh about then. I felt certain that it was time for me to leave, but there was nothing else certain about my life.

I didn’t know where I would live, where my next meal would come from. Looking back I see a mixed-up kid whose emotions were all over the map. I was scared shitless, but utterly confident that I was doing the right thing. Not surprisingly my music from that period was at both ends of the spectrum.

This is where my head was:


The previous episodes have covered a highly-concentrated, but surprisingly broad spectrum of experiences. Between them our young heroes have fallen in love, experience success on a statewide level, honed their musical craft, become sexually active, gone to the beach (a lot), and made some life-altering decisions. To recap …

Start spreading the news …

Now, the journey begins.

A Sad Refrain

Greg: And, poof! There he was … gone … Del … my classmate … my bandmate … my best friend. I was devastated. The plan … over. College starting next week. Leaving home. Moving into a dorm. No Del. Band over. Cassandra back to high school. What the fuck happened?

I tried to put me in his shoes. No place to live? I knew he was envious of what Cassandra and I had found, but hadn’t we always gone out of our way to include him in everything? Could it have been painful for him to see our happiness? Yeah, he owed money to my Dad, but that shouldn’t have been a big deal, not to my Dad, anyway.

The worst part … I felt like Del was moving on without me. He was pursuing a dream. He was going for it. I was being a sheep and just doing what was expected of me. I had never in my life been so depressed.

Here’s how Del felt about the same moment:


Del: Now we’re able to laugh about it, but there was nothing to laugh about then. I felt certain that it was time for me to leave, but there was nothing else certain about my life.

I didn’t know where I would live, where my next meal would come from. Looking back I see a mixed-up kid whose emotions were all over the map. I was scared shitless, but utterly confident that I was doing the right thing. To read my letters home you’d think I was having the time of my life.

“Hey, things are so happening here. Got a job working backbar at Max’s Kansas City. Meeting famous people nearly every night. Just the other day I was shooting the shit about the music biz with Lou Reed. I’m writing some great stuff! And the women here. I tell ya, New York has more pretty women than Carter Has Little Liver pills … gotta keep this short. Hugs to Cassandra!”

Del, in letter to Greg and Cassandra

But … the reality was an entirely different story. I’m living in a rented room in a sleazy building, eating crap food, working a shit job that pays next to nothing. You can hear it in the music I was doing …

Six Separate Planets

Greg: That first semester at college seemed to last forever. Cassandra was bugging me to teach her the guitar, and she picked it up pretty quickly. Then she wanted me to teach her Six Separate Planets which was another Little Prince song I had written the previous summer, although we had never played it in Grendel. It suited my mood of the moment pretty well, because I felt like I was on my own lonely planet at the moment. Next, after the New Year, she decided to make her professional debut at the Tuesday at the same club where Grendel was born, the Tete a Tete, rebranded as the Carnaby Cafe following the British Invasion.

She did a nice job with the song, even though she was nervous. As soon as she finished, a voice from the back called out, “Play Soldier Boy.”

Greg: We swiveled around to see who made the request, and there’s Del standing in full dress uniform! To call us shocked is an understatement. Was this some kind of joke? We assumed Del was in New York, finding his way in the music world. We hadn’t heard much from him in the last few months. Just a few really upbeat letters.

Here’s the evening through the gauze of memory:

The Last Weekend

Greg: The stories came flooding out. While we thought Del was in New York, paying his musical dues, he was in basic training. Now he had a three-day pass before he had to report to Fayetteville, North Carolina pending assignment. “Fayette-nam” joked Del. No one laughed.

Del: I came clean on the fact that life had spiraled downward much faster than I ever anticipated. Despite the humiliation of it all, Greg and Cassandra were as rapt and attentive as I had been last summer (Man! … was it just last summer?) listening to Cassandra reading from Le Petit Prince.

We laughed, we cried, we sang, we toasted, we promised, we swore … we did it again. We packed half a lifetime into those three days. If something happened to me in Vietnam, hey … at least I had lived more than half a lifetime.

Believing Cassandra

Del: On Saturday night, the Brewsters put on a big, celebratory dinner for me. I was wearing borrowed civvies of Greg’s. His two sisters were there, Cassandra, and his mother and father. His mother pulled out all the stops on dinners, and Mr. Brewster was the expansive host. He even let Cassandra and Greg’s younger sister, both still in high school, have a glass of wine.

We made a round of toasts. When Cassandra’s turn came she said “Three years. It’s not that long. Greg will be a Junior in college and I’ll be a Sophomore. Del will come home and we’ll start a new band.”

“The $64,000 question is, what will be the name of the new band?” asked Greg.

“‘Grendel,’ silly boy” said Cassandra. “We’ll take Rhode Island by storm, then take off to New York and do the same.”

“First, we’ve gotta kick Lou Reed’s ass,” said Greg.

“One thing,” I said, “It shouldn’t take me three whole years to win this war.”

It was Mr. Brewster’s turn. “I’m believing Cassandra,” he said, raising his glass.

That set the tone for the rest of the weekend. We’d pass each other in the hallways, raise our arms and shout “I BELIEVE!” We’d pour a cup of coffee and … “I BELIEVE!” Even Mrs. Brewster was believing that weekend.

Only took me about 40 years to write a song about it, but eventually I did. Here it is performed by a band that call themselves The Spawn of Grendel:

Del: On Sunday morning of the Last Weekend I got up early, even though we had been up late. I went into the kitchen to make coffee. Cassandra was already there. She beat me to the punch.

We were futzing around, and she grabbed my hand. I knew this was the moment, but for what …?

“I …” I stammered, ready to profess my love. She held up her other hand to stop me. “Me, too,” she said. Then, she drew me closer and kissed me quickly. “I’ll see you in my dreams.”

“Greg’s my best friend,” I said.

“You won’t be cheating,” she said. “I’ll be Pamela, you’ll be Johnny. Sweet dreams.” And she kissed me again … maybe a second longer. The entire encounter was less than a minute, and that minute kept me going for … so many years.

Keep Your Powder Dry

Greg: We dropped off Del at the bus station for his trip to Fayette-nam. We all cried, not knowing when, or even if, we’d be together again. Cassandra said “It’s going to be ok. We’re going to get through this. We’ll be together again.”

I said “I’m believing Cassandra” and put my hand on her shoulder. Del put his hand on mine and said “I’m believing Cassandra.” Then he turned to board the bus.

Afterwards, we were drained.

That night I tried writing Del a letter. I intended that it be honest and sincere, but it quickly deteriorated into the realm of male banter. I knew it was a cliche, but I signed off with keep your powder dry.

Del: The next three weeks were an advanced course in tedium, interrupted only by letters from Greg and Cassandra and nightly dreams of Pamela. An air of fatalism hovered over Fayette-nam, and it didn’t disappoint us. We finally got our marching orders, and our unit was getting an expense-paid excursion to Southeast Asia!

Suite Dreams: Pamela & Johnny

Del: The life in Fayette-nam was an intensive exercise in tedium. There was nothing for unit to do while awaiting orders. Occasionally we’d be put through bullshit drills, but mostly it was boring, waiting for the ax to fall.

I read a few books, borrowed a guitar to play, made believe I was writing new music, and spending endless hours reliving events of The Last Weekend, especially the brief interaction with Cassandra on Sunday morning. Did she know I was going to say “I love you,” and did she stop me because she loved me, too. Or, did she stop me so that she wouldn’t have to say that she didn’t feel the same way. Or, was she just giving a scared, lonely boy a piece of driftwood to cling to.

And what did she mean when she said “I’ll see you in my dreams,” and came up with the personae of Pamela and Johnny? I didn’t know, and in some ways I didn’t want to know. That left me free to enjoy my own fantasies.

Welcome to my dreams!

The marching orders came eventually. We were headed to Saigon. After the weeks of waiting, news that we were shipping out came as a relief. They shipped to Camp Pendleton in California for a couple more weeks of waiting around, then … we’re off to the war!

The 20-foot Snake

Greg: You watch the news. You hear the body counts. Suddenly, everything took on a new dimension. Reality … I guess it’s called. Del didn’t write a lot, but he did tell us he was wounded in a training accident. I wasn’t until many years later when we heard more of the story. Mostly he sounded pretty miserable and depressed. Once in a while he would send a reel-to-reel tape of a song.

Greg: I thought a lot about the discrepancies in life. I was building up more and more rage about the folly of this war in Vietnam, but I’m doing it from the safety and comfort of a college dorm room where my biggest worry was whether or not I would wake up in time for my econ class.

I hated the war, but I didn’t hate the soldiers. I did hate the fact that most of them were there, because they didn’t have the privileges that I enjoyed with my student deferment. And, honestly, if the deferment went away, I would (admittedly with Daddy’s help) probably find a doctor who would send a letter saying I had flat feet, or something equally flimsy.

This led me more broadly to thinking about human migration. The Brewster family was so proud that they were among the travelers on the Mayflower, but were they brave pioneers for setting off to live in foreign lands. Or, were they kicked out? Were they the losers who lacked the privilege and resources to stay in the homeland?

I haven’t really come up with the answer to that one yet. Once thing was crystal clear … I was the one who stayed, and Del was the one who had to go.

In one of my classes I learned that there are two basic stories in the world: a man sets off on a journey or a stranger comes to town. Which one was which?

I was definitely feeling queasy in my easy chair.

Songs from Vietnam


I got out of the hospital in Saigon and was temporarily assigned to the office of the quartermaster. Our job, collectively to make sure equipment, materials and systems were available and functioning for missions. This was good, because I was safely out of harm’s way, but it filled me with survivor’s guilt.


As time went by, and the Vietnam War dragged on, I became increasingly uneasy. My anger at the U.S. Government grew sharply, while at the same time I felt embarrassed by the fact that I was ensconced in an ivory tower of privilege. The people fighting this idiotic war were uneducated, underprivileged, black or Hispanic. And while I felt some level of sympathy, it was nowhere near enough for to give up the comfort of my student deferment. I ranted, I marched, and I wrote letters to Del, mostly about music stuff.

Del: I treasured Greg’s and Cassandra’s letters, but my response weren’t very inspired. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them about life in Vietnam. It toggled between excruciatingly boring and terrifying. Like most everyone here, I got as high as I could as often as I could. My unit was out in the field, and getting shredded. I went through basic with those guys. If we were taught one thing, it was to have each other’s backs. I wasn’t doing my part.

Greg: I was a hypocrite, and proud of it. I ached for Del, but at the same time thought he was an idiot for his decisions. He could be drinking beer, smoking dope, making music and having sex like all the rest of us. Fucking, stubborn idiot!

Del: Life was getting pretty damn confusing.

Then things got worse!

Some asshole sitting behind a desk in the Pentagon thought it would be a good idea for the next of kin for every deceased soldier to receive a sincere, handwritten letter from someone who personally knew the deceased. Try telling a platoon leader in the bush that he’s got to write three condolence letters before going on patrol!

But, as with all “mandatories,” compliance was required, so who’s actually going to churn out these letters … what’s the name of that new kid in the quartermaster’s office ….?

Absolutely Nothing

Del: I wasn’t the only one assigned to the personal letters, officially deemed “Condolence Notes, or “CNs”, to the next-of-kin for deceased soldiers. Three others– Homer, Jay, and Rocco– were similarly honored. We became fast friends, bonded by beer, black humor, and deep resentment of the U.S. Government. By this time (we’re talking 1969) you couldn’t find anyone on the ground who actually supported the U.S. war effort. We mostly did as we were told and tried to help each other to survive. Each day we’d get a list of names, addresses, and next of kin for the dearly departed. We’d divvy them up and write the letters during lulls in our regular jobs.

One night, totally wasted on pot and beer, we deemed ourselves “the Con Men.” We’d fall into hysterical laughter relating our literary fabrications of the day.

Greg: We heard less and less from Del, and when we did get a letter, it was bizarre and disjointed, flowery stuff about courage and duty and honor and profane pokes at Asshole-in-Chief William Westmoreland and Richard Fucking Nixon. It was hard to make sense of it.

Del: Believe it or not I was now in the final year of my service obligation. So were my fellow Con Men. Time flies when you’re having fun. Rocco was officially a short timer with only ninety days of active duty left. We spent all our spare time drinking, smoking dope, and commiserating with each other. I wasn’t sure, but I think Rocco was using cocaine and heroin, although he never talked about it.

Greg: Not a word about what he was doing over there, Not a word about his plans when he came back. An occasional comment, or a song fragment on a reel-to-reel tape. Once he did an entire version of The End by the Doors. He sounded very stoned.

Del: We talked mostly about how we could fuck things up for the Government. In our jobs at the office of the Quartermaster we had the power to create chaos with just a subtle manipulation on a procurement order. A slight slip of the pen could reroute a shipment of munitions bound for Da Nang to a Naval Base in the Philippines. We talked about subversion a lot, but we never acted, knowing that in the end the ones who would suffer would be the grunts in the field, not the assholes responsible for us being there.

Greg: Even though I was a Junior I had to think about taking the LSATs and where to apply for law school. I kinda wanted to be somewhere other than Providence, but my Dad lobbied for Brown, where he went, plus there was Cassandra to consider … what would be best for her?

Del: Then the bottom fell out of my life. I woke up to the sound of sobbing. It was Homer. “Hey, what’s up, man?”

“Rocco’s dead,” he said. “Fucking overdose. 82 fucking days to go, and he’s fucking dead, man.”

I had to write his Consolation Note. At least this one was truthful and sincere. Six weeks later I wrote another letter for one of my fellow Con Men. Jay blew his brains out with his service revolver. More guys than you knew were doing that. I was with him that evening. We were drinking and laughing. I wake up in the morning. He’s dead.

Homer seemed shaky but stable, but with the way he was drinking my guess was that there would be issues down the road. For practice I wrote my own condolence letter.

Dear Mrs. Watson … It is my privilege and honor to tell you that your son, Wendell, was my most dear friend. Although it saddens me greatly to know that he is gone, I can tell you honestly that he died with a great sense of pride and duty. Wendell was a loyal and patriotic American. In fact, when he was fatally wounded, he was in the act of rescuing a fellow soldier from certain death. It’s a cruel twist of fate that Wendell died as a hero.

Del’s self-penned CR

Greg: The last few letters from Del were rambling and incoherent, but made frequent reference to The Plan. We assumed that was Cassandra’s plan from The Last Weekend when we’d reunite after 3 years and reform Grendel. You know, I was ready for a little rock ‘n roll!

Del: I came up with a new plan. … one to help me survive.

End of Part 3

What is the New Plan?

Does Del make it safely out of Vietnam? Does he return to Providence to re-boot Grendel? Does Greg stray from the Proven Path to become a rock ‘n roller? Does he marry Cassandra? Or, does something entirely unexpected happen? Follow our plucky lads to the conclusion of Grendel: The Four-Chord Opera

Coming up soon on silverbackdigest.com …

Part 4 of Grendel: The Four-Chord Opera

Part IV

I’m Invisible


Del: The Plan went like clockwork. 2 hours before leaving Saigon for the airport where I would return to the States and my discharge from the Marines I completed the paperwork that would seal my fate. I put the paperwork in the mail that would inform the US Navy of my untimely demise. I had done this, literally, hundreds of times in the last two years. I knew the drill.

Simultaneously, I sent identical paperwork for one William Carter Mann, who had the misfortune of being blown to bits by a landmine during the Tet Offensive. In reality Corporal Mann was killed by friendly fire, but no one back home needed to know that, and I wanted to hang onto his military ID, social security card, and other forms of personal identification. I even penned the “Compassion Note” from his field commander, praising his heroism in his final hours.

Within 72 hours, Wendell Watson would be honorably discharged from the United States Marines, while it would be more than a week until the paperwork about my death would be fully processed. By the time the next of kin were notified I would have fully disappeared. Poof. I was invisible!

Poof! Watch me disappear.

Del: I did think about the impact of my decision on the people I loved, and I considered sending them some kind of message, but that, in turn, would lead to more messages. If this ruse was going to work, I had to give it total commitment.

Doin’ My Part

Del: I felt bad about the effect that my deception would have on the people I loved, but I also knew that this was a completely irreversible decision. Once I was gone, I was gone. There was no turning back. Good-bye Wendell Watson, hello Billy Mann. It was like committing suicide, but without the blood.

And I felt great about it!

Back in ‘Nam, I got ahold of The Whole Earth Catalogue, and it became the road map for my new life. I hitchhiked to San Francisco. Haight-Asbury, Man, with flowers in my hair! Finding a place to crash was no problem, although people were suspicious of my short hair.

The entire world was buzzing. Between new places, new faces, and new ideas, things were impossibly alive, especially compared to where I had just been. I felt so free. I started hearing about how things were even wilder up north. I met a girl who was heading off to a commune in Mendocino County. It was way off in the sticks, but … what the hell, let’s go. We hitched up, and it was kind of squalid, but it was nice being out in the country. After a couple of weeks I heard about another place further north, in a promised land called The Emerald Triangle. I decided to check it out. Tried to write a song about it. Never finished it. Too stoned.

[Doin’ My Part]

Greg: I was in my dorm room when someone told me I had a phone call. It was my Dad, telling me in no uncertain terms to come home. Mom and Cassandra, both red-eyed, were already there. No one had to say anything. There was a copy of The Providence Journal with a small article that a “local man” had died in combat.

Greg: Three days later there was another call from Dad. The same drill … come home, now! I found him sitting at the kitchen table with a small pile of dollar bills. “$2411,” he said, “exactly the amount that I paid to Obediah Brown to pay off his school bill.” He could see my befuddlement. “Plain envelope, no return address, no note, postmark FPO San Diego.” Dad could see my befuddled look. He was step ahead of me. “I’ve got some contacts in the American Red Cross. Sometimes they can help in these situations.”

“What are you thinking?

“That something’s not right here.”

But the Red Cross really turned up nothing. Cause of death, reported in the Journal simply as “in combat” was likely friendly fire or what the military sometimes reported as “collateral damage.” From the perspective of the Marines everything looked in order. We did call Del’s mother Trudy address in Florida, and we reached out to her, but she said she had received a consolation visit from an officer in full dress uniform who also delivered an official notification of death.

Had she received his personal effects? Yes, she had his dog tags and Military ID and a few personal items and a small amount of money. Yes, she was distraught, but in the course of the conversation admitted she had not sent or received a letter from Del for more than two years. “He made some stupid decisions,” was her final sign-off.



San Francisco had run its course for me. I was sick of squatting in abandoned buildings, watching people come and go, and dealing with the hardcore druggies and the hangers-on. I still wanted to be lost, but I thought I could do it in a less chaotic and healthier way. Joni Mitchell telling us to get back to the garden sounded pretty good to me.

So, I went exploring and “discovered” Emerald.

Crazy hippies living in these handmade house built mostly from salvaged or stolen materials So, I went. And I loved it. Lots of misfits and outlaws … my kind of people! I built myself a shack, shat in a bucket, and never felt so free. Money was scarce, but dope was plentiful and you could pick up spare change by being a nail banger in town.

Best of all, I was able to move on from Pamela, who held me together during those years in ‘Nam. I never even thought of her as Cassandra any longer, so thank you Pamela, and thank you Cassandra.

Those early days at Emerald were just SO MUCH FUN!

We were Robin Hood and his Merry Men and their Old Ladies, as we referred to them. It was non-stop summer camp. We taught ourselves (and each other) building, gardening, parenting … you name it. There was a sense of discovery and re-birth. We took the peace and love thing very seriously. Emerald gave so many of us the place and the community to often missing from the United States of Amerika. And we were pretty self-contained, and I don’t remember feeling deprived of anything. All that would change a few years down the line, but the first six or seven years were pure magic.

Open tuning … a way for a shitty guitarist to sound slightly less shitty.

I did think of Greg and Cassandra and my Mom occasionally, but not in a longing kind of way. I wished I could tell them about my new life and ‘Sythia and Jerusalem, but I settled for the occasional, unmarked, unsigned missive.

As for my new family, I couldn’t believe my luck! ‘Sythia seemed to have ancient wisdom deep in her soul. I don’t want to make a list of adjectives to describe her. She was a mother and a goddess and a healer. She was wish, fierce, and playful. I gave myself to her completely, and have not regretted it for a minute.

Ironically, I think I felt about ‘Sythia about the same as Greg did about Cassandra. Years later, when we got together as old guys, there was a song that reminded me of our shared love:

Here’s, via YouTube, the version that inspired Greg:

My Birthday

Del: My twenties were a blur. I loved the early years at Emerald. Everything seemed fresh and new. We were as far as you could get away from The Man and The Establishment. I loved learning how to garden, and how to build crazy-ass houses. I love being the music guy in the commune, and I loved being a Dad, and I loved that Sythia enabled me to put Cassandra in the rear view mirror. I thought of Greg fondly and often, because I still played all the old Grendel tunes. Every few months, whenever I heard that someone was traveling somewhere, I’d stick something in an envelope, usually something having to do with music, and ask them to drop it in a mailbox when they reached their destination. I never included a note or anything that could be traced to me personally.

I started Jeroo on guitar when he was six. I think his first song was On My Birthday.


My twenties were a blur. In Law School they spend the first two years trying to bury you with so much work that the last thing in the world you want to be is a lawyer. The third year is all about specialization and getting a job, which in my case was going to be with my Dad’s firm. Since losing Del, I’d lost any inclination to stray far from the proven path. Then Cassandra got pregnant with Wendy. I’d try pulling out the guitar every once in a while, but that would just make me think of Del, and Grendel, subjects that made me sad.

After Wendy came the twins in short order, Vera and Chuck. We moved several times, but wherever we were, sooner or later I’d get the plain envelope with no return address, no note, always a different postmark. The contents varied– an article clipped from a magazine, a record, a picture. The only common theme is that there was always a music connection. I’d share them with Cassandra who’d give me the same quizzical look. Whenever I told my Dad, he’d say “I’m telling you … the boy’s not dead.”

Then, on my 30th birthday I get a phone call. A young boy’s voice asks if I am Greg Brewster, and when I confirm it, he starts strumming an acoustic guitar and says “After ‘Happy Birthday to you’ and ‘You Say It’s Your Birthday’ this is the world’s third most beloved birthday song'” :

The world’s third most favorite birthday song

Del: For Greg’s 30th birthday I called him and had Jeroo my birthday. I wish to hell I could have been there to see the look on his face!

Greg: It was a good song! These days, Del sings it to me on his cell.

White Crosses


My Dad passed away just a few years after he retired, always believing that Del was somehow still alive. I became a lot more convinced as well when several days after his passing, I received another mystery package, this one contained a cassette tape with the following song:

No one had shared the attic experience other than Del and Cassandra. So many questions …

Remembering The Last Weekend
This video arrived a week after my Dad passed away.

I Think I’m in Love (Tried Girls)


Jeroo started getting really good on the guitar. By 14 or so he had surpassed my ability to teach him anything. Remember … even though I was The Music Guy at Emerald, I had retired from rock ‘n roll at 18! From a musical development perspective, I was pretty stunted, although I did know an impressive number of songs.

Jeroo got some of his friends interested in starting a band. I helped them. Wow, was that fun! When they started getting serious about getting their music heard, however, I was at a loss as too how to help them. The days of music labels and disc jockeys and top 10s had passed. Everything seemed to be happening on the Internet, and I didn’t speak that language. When the band decided on a name, however, they paid me, their mentor, the ultimate compliment by deciding they would be … (dramatic pause) … The Spawn of Grendel.

I shouldn’t have let them do, but I was so damn flattered. What were the chances that anyone would ever make the connection:


My life had finally taken a different path. After paying my legal dues at Daddy’s law practice, I threw my hat into different arena, running for political office. Before I knew it I was a rising star in the small world of Rhode Island politics! Who’da thunk?

Life was chaotic, but great. The kids … there were now three … were now ensconced adolescents. Cassandra was a full-time Mom, but also a powerhouse in community events and my campaign manager.


On a very different note, Emerald’s time had passed. The hippie culture of the late 60s had given way to a much harder edged world where the mellow playfulness of marijuana gave way to the exposed nerves of cocaine and methamphetamine. We tried turning the other cheek, but guns were starting to enter the picture, and law enforcement was becoming much more evident. We were concerned for Jeroo, too, but going to public high school and playing in the band were keeping him out of harm’s way.

The band was getting really good. They were playing outside gigs– school dances, battle of the bands, but they were definitely spreading their wings!

‘Sythia and I came to the same conclusion … it was time for me to become invisible again.


One day I’m going past Wendy’s–she’s now 15– bedroom, and I hear something that strikes a chord, a very weird resonance. All three kids are gathered around her computer staring at her monitor, which is showing bizarre images to an oddly familiar tune. What the fuck? I screamed downstairs “Cassandra, get up here … fast!”

The new version of I Think I’m in Love looked and sounded bizarre … but oddly familiar, too.

I got Wendy to play it again, and again, and again. It was very disorienting. There was a lot of distortion and special effects, but I recognized the song as through a long forgotten dream. “What’s the name of the song?” I asked. “Tried Girls,” said Wendy. “And who’s the group?”

“The Spawn,” she replied. “The Spawn of Grendel.”

Cassandra and I … were … gobsmacked.

I was so excited that I stayed up until 1 a.m., well past my bedtime, to try to learn more. This was the early days of the Internet, before Google, so doing research online was pretty cumbersome, but I was able to learn a few things, notably that the name of the group performing the song was Spawn of Grendel. GRENDEL! Another link. This was beyond believable. I found a few pictures of the band–typical young punks. The song was credited to someone named Jerusalem Mann.

There were some people at work who I knew would be able to find out more. Because of my political office I had some high level contacts in the state police, and this is one time I didn’t hesitate to abuse my power. I gave them what I knew and asked that they look into it further.

A few days later, my assistant came back to me with some additional information, but not much. The song, now titled “I Tried Girls” was very popular, however that was defined in those days. There were some written interviews about the group in music magazines and on various websites, but there was very little tangible information. Interviews with the group inconclusive and contradictory. The state police had been able to find out that Jerusalem Mann did have a driver’s license, no criminal record, and a permanent address in a town called Comptche, California. And one more tidbit. The address listed is for a commune named Emerald, and that part of California is known to be a hotbed of the underground marijuana business.

You Just Don’t Get It


The next night at the dinner table I’m explaining to the kids why it was so exciting for me and their mother to hear the song by The Spawn of Grendel on the Internet. “Grendel was a band for a little over two years, but they were really important years, when you start changing from a kid into an adult.”

I spewed on for a few minutes, about Del and I first getting together, and C-Am-F and G, and how I stayed up until 2 am doing Internet research on The Spawn of Grendel, and The Little Prince, and …

brown wooden love is lover decor
Photo by Shamia Casiano on Pexels.com

I looked out on glazed expressions of “He’s having a ‘Dad’ moment.” Finally, Wendy did her patented eyeball roll. “It’s just a song,” she said.

“But it’s a song with a lot of meaning,” I protested. The background sound was her playing me like a fiddle. “You don’t even know what the song is about,” I blurted out without considering how I was going to introduce the subject of masturbation at the family dinner table.

“Oh yes I do!” She shot back. “It’s about how love is love is love. And you can’t love someone else unless you love yourself first. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, where your parents come from, what church you go to, or sex you choose to be. LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE, and you just don’t get it.”

She got up abruptly, turned, and stalked out of the room, leaving a lot of awkward silence in her wake.

“Homework time,” said Cassandra calmly. Vera and Chuck took their plates to the kitchen. After a few moments of staring at each other across the table, she added “She’s got a point.”

Eventually, I turned Wendy’s tongue-lashing into a song written from her perspective:

This is Wendy’s Gender Bender

Super Sleuth


It was dumb of me to let the kids use the Grendel name for their band, but I was just so damn flattered. Things were changing at Emerald, but not in a good way. The drug of choice was changing from marijuana to methamphetamine. Not my thing. That meant the culture was changing, too. Peace and love were changing to fear and paranoia. There we stories of heavily-armed meth labs in the redwoods. The cops were getting more aggressive. Helicopters started doing aerial surveillance. So far, my Billy Mann credentials had held up, but I knew that wouldn’t last forever.


“You’re going to California to check things out,” said Cassandra. When she had that tone in her voice, there was no protesting, not that I wanted to. Our research on The Spawn and I Tried Girls, as they had re-titled I Think I’m in Love, had turned up little, other than the composition was attribute to “Jerusalem Mann.” The band had lots of coverage online, but surprisingly little personal information.


I called a band meeting, and explained how we were all outlaws … outsiders, and that we needed to keep it that way. No need for anyone to know anything more. They all nodded. They understood. They’re commune kids. They get it. I told them I had to split, but that I loved them.


I flew into San Francisco, headed north on Route 101, then flubbed around with the local police, trying to find our more about Jerusalem Mann, The Spawn, or this commune called Emerald. I got next to nothing. People on the commune kept pretty much to themselves. Jerusalem Mann graduated from the local high school, but had no criminal record. I thought I’d visit Emerald.

“Don’t waste your time,” the police chief said. “They’ll have you pegged as a narc before you even open the door of your rental car. They won’t tell you anything … but they may shoot you.”

I showed up at a gig for The Spawn in Berkeley. I finagled my way backstage to meet Jerusalem Mann. He was polite, but evasive. I tried to soften him up by telling him that Del and I were old friends who played in a band named Grendel. “He wrote the song that you recorded as Tried Girls,” I ventured, trying not to sound accusatory.

“I wrote that song,” was all he said, deadpan. “My name is on the copyright. I don’t know anyone named Del Watson.” The kid was good.

And “grendel?” Where did that come from? “We made it up. It’s a code word for a guy who thinks he’s god’s gift to women, but who’s really a dork.”


Sythia and I agonized over where to go next. Then, we hit on it. We packed our things, settled our accounts, and said our good-bye. We told our communards we were going to Idaho, but our true destination was Vermont.


I came back from my California trip empty-handed, but not discouraged. Those commune kids were … resolved. I knew I had gotten close enough to Del to sense his presence. Wendell Watson just didn’t want to be found.


We were already in Vermont by the time Jeroo let us know that he had met Greg:

Here’s the story of my state as I migrate from the 7-0-7 to the 8-0-2.

Mud Season Romance


We arrived in Vermont. It was Fall, a totally different feeling than the Fall at Emerald. In California this would be harvest time for the marijuana crop. We’d all be gathered in a big room, wearing our plastic gloves, clipping buds, separating seeds, and packaging up the weed. It would be tedious, excpt everyone would be high, so there were frequent outbursts of hilarity. In Vermont it was very quiet, time to get the woodshed filled.

‘Sythia has a cousin, Nell, in the town of Upper Granville, about in the middle of the state. It’s a tiny hamlet on a dirt crossroads in the middle of nowhere, and we loved it. They said we could stay with them until we got our feet under us. Nell’s husband Eric is a chimney sweep and at this time of year he’s busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger (that’s how people talk in Vermont), so I offered to help him. He asks if I’m afraid of heights. I say “No,” and by the end of the next day I’m hired as an assistant sweep.


I didn’t feel like my trip was a waste, because I felt more strongly than ever that “that boy’s alive.” I was re-elected as Attorney General of Rhode Island. The next big decision point would be in three years about whether I wanted to make a run for Governor, or even go to Washington. Pretty good for a kid that once wrote Casserole Blues.


I heard from Jeroo about Greg’s visit about an hour after he left the club. I was really touched that he would care enough to fly to California looking for me after all these years. I wanted so badly to be in touch, but after so many years, so much water under the bridge, and with his being a public figure, there was just too much at stake. I figure with all the shit I’ve pulled– identity theft, falsifying military records, fraud, tax evasion, driving without a license–getting caught would result in me being locked up and them throwing away the key.

Things fell into place quickly for us. Eric and I swept the chimneys at the home, estate really, for a guy who he referred to as Doc Millionaire. In shooting the shit with the guy, he mentioned that he was looking for a property manager for his spread. Part of the deal was that he had a carriage house where the manager could live. ‘Sythia and I checked it out. After our hippie house in Emerald. this looked like the Taj Mahal. Deal!


Kids, work, politics, relationship … Cassandra was even busier! I look back on those years and wonder “How did we ever do all that?” Every few months I’d check in on The Spawn of Grendel’s website. Judging from their tour schedule, they were moving up in the music world, but they never scored another hit as popular as I Tried Girls.

And every few months a package would show up …

Del: A couple of years went by in a flash. I was cleaning chimneys, playing gigs, fixing instruments, buying and selling equipment, and giving lessons. Cassandra was now assistant manager at the local co-op. And it turned Doc Millionaire was an incredibly appreciative and generous guy. Vermont felt like home. And like every jerkoff who finds a new home, I started bragging about in my music by writing Vermont-oriented songs. One thing I noticed is by the end of February, everybody is crazed for spring. By the end of March, Spring still hasn’t come and weird stuff starts happening. This lead to what I regard as my Green Mountain magnum opus. Other people refer to it as “the song that never ends.”

Mud Season Romance … my Vermont epic masterpiece

He’s Alive


A couple of years flew by. No word from Del other than the every-few-months, plain, brown envelopes. I loosely followed the career of The Spawn of Grendel only, but I couldn’t glean any clues about Del.


I was The King of Vermont, or so I thought. I had a steady job, a good woman, a great place to live. Billy Mann (as in Manfred) the One-Mann Band was booked pretty regularly at clubs, farmer’s markets, house parties, and wherever I could get paid under-the-table. Plus, with the new technology that had developed, I could record my own CDs and sell them at my gigs for $15.


I had left The Proven Path for A Slightly Different Proven Path as Rhode Island’s Attorney General. I had a staff, an office in the State House, and a political future that held all kinds of options (none of which really interested me.) The three kids were ensconced at Obediah Brown, and Cassandra seemed to be Chair of every frickin’ committee in town. Everything was great, except I felt I was missing some essential spark in my life.


You meet the nicest people at your local farmer’s market


Life turns on a dime, and when you’re least expecting it … WHAM, upside the head. Monday morning in September, office coffee pot. Howyadoin’? Didja see the Patriots game? Whadja do this weekend? A colleague said, “We had a great weekend in Vermont. Really beautiful. We went to a farmer’s market and they had this musician who reminded me of you.”

“Why, because I’m old?”

“I dunno, but I bought you his CD. It looked amateurishly produced. Mud Season Romance by Billy Mann (as in Manfred) the One-Mann Band. Among the titles was I Think I’m in Love, attributed to the songwriting team of (Watson/Brewster).”

I listened in the car on my way home. The humor, the voice … I burst into the kitchen, and hugged and kissed her. Then I handed her the CD.

He’s alive!

All week Cassandra and I were giddy with excitement. We had proof that Del was alive. We couldn’t wait for Friday night when we’d take off for Vermont. We found a bed & breakfast near the Farmer’s Market where Billy Mann (as in Manfred) the One-Mann Band was listed as the featured performer each Saturday. It opened at 9 a.m.

Just Like I Know


We arrived at the Farmer’s market right when it opened at 10 am, but we hung out at the edges so that we didn’t run into Del prematurely. I really hadn’t thought through how we should present ourselves. It was a beautiful late September day, but the Green Mountains were showing splashes of color. This was the next-to-last market of the season.

A nudge from Cassandra. She was looking towards a gazebo at the other end of the market. A lone figure was setting up the microphone and doing the eternal roadie thing of tapping the mike, droning “test, one, two,” adjusting the volume, then repeating the drill. Even at a hundred yards, he was unmistakable. We hadn’t seen him in thirty years.

He began by calling for all kids to come to the stage, and he played a few funny songs just for them. Then he asked if there was anyone in the crowd who had a birthday and he performed what I’m guessing was the same song sung over the phone to me by the mystery kid on my thirtieth. Then, he launched into one that involved the audience. People from the crowd were invited to sing verses and singalong with the chorus. He kept it going for at least 15 minutes. Then he said he’d be back after a short break.

“What are you going to do?” asked Cassandra.

“I still don’t know. Wait until he finishes his gig, I guess.” Right before he started his second set I said “I bet he opens with Just Like I Know. As soon as I heard the opening chords, I knew the time had come.

Just like I know …


After the song finished, we hugged and we both cried. I came down from the gazebo, back to Cassandra, who was crying, too. “What did he say?” she asked.

Two words … “it’s over … it’s over … it’s over.”


I worked my way through that second set pretty fast. I brought them back to the carriage house to meet ‘Sythia, who knew all about the famous Greg and Cassandra. I spilled everything. For all I knew, as an Attorney General might have a legal or ethical obligation to turn me over to authorities, but Greg assured me that the bonds of friendship superceded the authority of the state. I knew that the jig was up in terms of my identity, but for now, it was just so good to see them both!

We talked through the rest of the day and well into the evening. I confided my fears of losing my freedom owing to my past indiscretions, but Greg just held up his hand and said “Let me look into a few things.”

Pseudocide, It Ain’t No Crime


Cassandra and I trekked back to Vermont the next weekend. Cassandra and I had thrown ourselves into research and had learned a lot. I told them:

“What you’ve done has a legal name … pseudocide, like suicide, but with your identity, not your body. You see it mostly in insurance frauds, or when someone wants to avoid financial obligations like child support, or to get out of toxic relationships or to avoid going to jail for a crime they’ve committed.”


My relationship with the Marines was definitely toxic.


He barely reacted to the next thing I told, except to say softly “Will you please repeat that?”

Pseudocide ain’t no crime. It’s always the “why” about pseudocide that’s illegal. And I can find nothing about what you’ve done that’s illegal or provable in court. There are no victims.


We celebrated all day. In the afternoon I called my Mom, The Tart, Trudi, now working on her fourth husband and living in a community called The Villages in Florida. She was pleased to hear from me, but not shocked. I asked why. “Oh I heard from Gloria years ago that this was all a ruse for you to drop out of society. I knew I’d hear from you when you wanted to be discovered. No girl’s going to keep a secret like that from a friend.”

At least there was one thing that Gloria still kept secret.

Pseudocide Ain’t No Crime (What Greg Said)

Del, I have good news for you

No longer should you sing the blues

The Navy doesn’t give a damn

About the little scam you ran

Killing your identity itself is no calamity

Cause pseudocide it ain’t no crime

No hard time or need to hide

Cause pseudocide it ain’t no crime

No pseudocide it ain’t no crime

Pseudocide Ain’t No Crime (What Del Heard)

I’ve got some news to share with you

about identity.

You may have lied about who died

You think you won’t be free.

You sold some weed, you paid no tax,

You took a dead man’s name.

But while you lied, your Pseudocide

Ain’t Crime that’s plain to see.

There’s no insurance fraud, no embezzled funds,

no body found, no smoking gun.

No foul, no damage done.

There’s no such crime as theft of time.

My friend … your battle’s won.

Greg Brewster Contemplation


When Cassandra and I were in our 20s, we bought a small, remote cabin in the woods of Maine. We go there every summer for boating, fishing, swimming, but most importantly, to consider what’s really important in life.

Wanna Rush to be Dead

Autobiograffiti, The Finish Line


So what happened after Greg found out that pseudicide ain’t no crime? Quite simply … EVERYONE LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER!


There were definitely some loose ends, but there were surprisingly few problems.


Greg was fucking amazing! He contacted the US Navy (because the Marines are part of the Navy) to clear up the paperwork discrepancy, and he kept saying there was no foul because there was no crime. The Navy didn’t put up much protest. A paperwork snafu didn’t do anything for them … made them look like idiots. Wendell Watson had been honorably discharged. William Mann was killed in action. Who cared if Wendell Watson got a California Driver’s License in William Mann’s name?


The problems melted away. Billy Mann was free to become Del Watson.


Except, Billy Mann was who I was in Vermont, so I stayed Billy Mann. With Greg and Cassandra I remained Del … no problem! Now, we get together a few times a year. A coupla times in Vermont and a coupla times in Rhode Island. We’ve gone vacation together. We even went on a river cruise! Cassandra and ‘Sythia are like sisters.


Once in a while we pull out the guitars …


… pregnant pause. (picks up guitar) Come to Papa:



Th-th-th-th … that’s all, folks.


First Gig

Stephen Morris

We played an open mike at The Tête-a-Tête. It’s a coffee house for the beatnik set

The guys all smoked and the girls were hairy. We were Peter and Paul, minus Mary

Greg and I were shaking in our boots as we showed our our Americana roots.

Here’s a story ’bout a man named Jed just a poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed,

then one day he was shooting for some food and out from the ground came a’bubblin’ crude. (riff)

There’s hold-up in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights. There’s a traffic jam in Harlem, that’s backed up to Jackson Heights. Car 54 … where are you?

The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was lost, if not for the courage of the fearless crew

the Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost (riff)

Greg and I were shaking in our boots as we showed off our Americana roots.

We looked like twerps, we didn’t give a bleep. The truth is our roots didn’t run very deep.

Accept with the Left

Stephen Morris

I want to thank my Mama
I want to thank my Pa
I want to thank the little people
For making me a star.
I believe in God and country
I hope you’re suitably impressed
That I remember as I reach the stage
To accept with the left.

I want to thank the Mayor
For giving me the key.
I want to thank the members
Of the whole academy.
And to the faceless voters,
On the Internet.
I will remember as I reach the stage
To accept with the left.

Oscar, Tony, Pulitzer Prize
My future never seemed so bright.
But on my mind as I walk down the aisle
I remind myself to shake with the right

I’ve prepared a couple comments
That I hope you’ll like,
But there is no other option,
I’m the one who has the mike.
For the moment please indulge me
Be like monkeys in a cage
‘Cuz my message is short and sweet …
Life is but a stage.

I thank you all for coming,
but it’s time for me to go.
Rest assured another player
Will continue with the show.
What it really all comes down to,
Yeah, the litmus test
Will you remember when you reach the stage
To accept with the left?

Oscar, Tony, Pulitzer Prize
They all seem to come my way.
Nobel, Clio, and People’s Choice
This dog’s really having his day.

I want to thank my Mama
I want to thank my PA
And my friends up in the cheap seats
You know exactly who you are.
I will share with you my mantra
Then I’ll quickly turn the page
It’s “Play loud! Play fast!
Then get the hell off the stage!”
 (repeat, add spoken, thank ya very much, drive safely)

Ain’t No Cure …

Stephen Morris

Mom’s best friend Gloria’s another party girl.

They go out every Wednesday night and give the bars a whirl.

They came back home, it wasn’t late about 11:30

Mom was loud and boisterous, they both were talking dirty. (riff)

Mom wanted a nightcap, but Gloria simply said

“You’ve had enough already, girl, I’m putting you to bed.

Kiss your little boy good-night, thank me in your prayers.

Tonight is ancient history, I’m taking you upstairs. (riff)

I went back to practicing, trying to get it right.

Gloria came back and said “Your Mom’s out like a light.

It’s time to go to bed now, and I should do the same.

But I just had a funny thought … you wanna play a game? (riff)

I’ll play the teacher, my role is to instruct,

You can play the horny boy who wants his cherry plucked.

(F) Then her hand was on my knee, one thing led to another.

She put her finger to her lips “Just don’t tell your mother.” (riff)

(refrain) Gloria, is there more-of-ya to explore-i-a?

You’re not the girl next door-i-a … Gloria. (riff)

Gloria was twice my age, she was 36.

and just like my Mama she was looking for some kicks.

As she left, she told me “there’s more where that came from,

but just remember what I said, just don’t tell your Mom.”

If you breathe a word of this you’ll have to run for cover.

I’ll be a woman scorned, so don’t tell your mother.

(F) Then her hand was on my knee, one thing led to another.

She put her finger to her lips “Just don’t tell your mother.” (riff)

My lips are sealed, though I’d like to spread the news.

I think I found the cure for the summertime blues.

(refrain) Gloria, is there more-of-ya to explore-i-a?

You’re not the girl next stori-i-a! End of stor-i-a!. (riff)

caption: “And don’t tell your buddy Greg, either.”


Greg Morrison

Now and again my mind rattles loose

And my eyes see nothing but rain

Now and again my friends bring good news

And the smiles return to my face

When I’m up high I sing out old country songs

Til night comes and lays with the sun

When I’m low down I need my sweet Cassandra to hold me

Now and again

Sometimes I fear we just might not make it

And yesterday’s dreams slip away

Now and again we get through the madness

And live to love another day

When I’m up high I sing out old country songs

Til night comes and lays with the sun

When I’m low down I need my sweet Cassandra to hold me

Now and again, now and again

Autobiograffiti, end of Part 1

Well in my golden years I thought I’d pen an ode

to the mysteries of my area code.

So here’s the story of my state. Sit back, let me pontificate.

I’ll tell you what this boy’s been through from the 4-0-1 to the 8-0-2.

4-0-1 is The Ocean State, where the skiing sucks, but the clams are great.

Surrounding Narragansett Boy, you can walk it in a single day.

I cut my teeth at Obediah Brown, in Providence, yeah THAT’S MY TOWN.

It’s a private school, some would call it “prep.” And I was there on scholarship.

But before I left, I was a star. I played four chords on my guitar,

and here they are!


My best friend Greg played the same four chords. We could see ourselves before adoring hordes.
We had a plan but it was not to be. Predictable was not our destiny.

Greg’s way through life was the proven path, while mine was God’s chaotic wrath.

I left to make my dreams come true. I’d find my fortune in the 2-1-2.

Those Who Stay and Those Who Go

Greg Morrison

Felt queasy in my easy chair

About those who left and those who stayed

About dire deaths and deep despair

Of innocence lost in the fray

Make sure you write least once a week

To assuage the guilt of us who stayed

Wrapped up in life mundane and bleak

We oft forgot to check the mail

The welcome home was short not sweet

So many fought the will to live

While we in shame looked at our feet

And I for one won’t soon forgive


WENDY’S LGBTQ REFRAIN (Wendy’s Gender Bender)

Greg Morrison

So dad I also wrote a song

To clue you in how my world goes round

Stop droning ‘bout sexuality

I’ve been doing it since I was thirteen

So dad let’s get down to brass tacks

Hope you don’t take a heart attack

Yea love is love is love is love

Guess it’s time for me to take off the gloves

So here we go now one two three

Let’s play a little game, called Identity

“L” is for the load of crap

You guys lay upon my lesbian lap

Oh, “G”, are you surprised I’m gay

Wait’ll you see my next cool play

To “B” or not to “B” ain’t trendy

Been riding that bi-cycle since I was twenty

My life’s been so “T”ransgendering

Am I a girl or a boy ascending?

All these “Q”uestions must seem so “Queer”

Bet you want to dash right out of here

But before you flee I’d just like to say

I’m changing my name from Wendy to They

Autobiograffiti … from the 7-0-7 to the 8-0-2

Here’s the story of my state. I hope you will appreciate.

We’d done our time in the 7-0-7. It started out as a hippie heaven.

Banging nails and high on weed, but they gave way to guns and speed.

But we knew what we had to do. We packed our bags for the 8-0-2.

We feinted left to Idaho, but who we tricked? Well, I dunno.

With no regrets we headed East, a different life, to say the least.

Green hills, dirt roads, and background-free, protecting my identity.

Just Like I Know

Stephen Morris

I hear all the guitars

played by all of the rock and roll stars,

and I sing all of the words

just like I know what they mean.

I wanna hold your hand

Please allow me to introduce myself

They say just what I feel,

making all my problems seem so real,

catchy phrases that just seem to

catch the meaning of life.

I want to hold your hand

Please allow me to introduce myself

(repeat intro)

So I play my guitar,

and make believe I’m a rock ‘n roll star.

Now I sing all of the words

Just like I know what they mean.


Hold my hand, hold my hand

So I play my guitar,

and make believe I’m a rock ‘n roll star.

Now I write all of the words

Just like I know what they mean.

Pseudocide Ain’t No Crime (What Greg Said)

Greg Morrison

Del, I have good news for you

No longer should you sing the blues

The Navy doesn’t give a damn

About the little scam you ran

Killing your identity itself is no calamity

Cause pseudocide it ain’t no crime

No hard time or need to hide

Cause pseudocide it ain’t no crime

No pseudocide it ain’t no crime

Pseudocide Ain’t No Crime (What Del Heard)

Stephen Morris

I’ve got some news to share with you

about identity.

You may have lied about who died

You think you won’t be free.

You sold some weed, you paid no tax,

You took a dead man’s name.

But while you lied, your Pseudocide

Ain’t Crime that’s plain to see.

There’s no insurance fraud, no embezzled funds,

no body found, no smoking gun.

No foul, no damage done.

There’s no such crime as theft of time.

My friend … your battle’s won.


Greg Morrison

I passed away in my sleep last night

Heard it was the best way to go

But haven’t met a dead man yet

Who really gave it any thought though

So busy with my new surroundings

Chatting up a few celebrities

Looky there it’s Van Gogh and Voltaire

And I think they just winked at me

Now I guess I led the good life

Or so that’s what they all said

My lord the way they laid it on

You’d wanna rush to be dead, my lord,

You’d wanna rush to be dead

Recently saw my sad reflection

Nearly put me in an early grave

Upon further reflection

Who needs mirrors anyway

It’s really not so bad here

On the other side of the mirror

Peekin’ through the looking glass

Suppose I coulda’ been sincerer

Now I guess I led the good life

Or so that’s what they all said

My lord the way they laid it on

You’d wanna rush to be dead, my lord,

You’d wanna rush to be dead

Autobiograffiti- Toodleloo

Stephen Morris

So here’s the story of my state as best I can articulate.

I’ve told you what this boy’s been through from the 4-0-1 to the 8-0-2.

I’m still here, too old to die die young.

And I feel like the story has just begun.

Greg and I are back together

admittedly survived some stormy weather.

Did some things right and some things wrong,

along the way we wrote some decent songs.

The kids are fully grown and doing fine,

from here I can the finish line.

We’re both matched up with ones so fair,

they darn our socks and comb our hair.

We’ll not really, but you can’t attack

guys who’ve joined the ranks of Silverbacks.

We snort and growl and beat our chests,

don’t scare no one, although we try our best.

Time has passed, my work is done,

still connected to the 4-0-1.

They’ll bury me in 8-0-2, just not quite yet

my time ain’t through.

I hope you have enjoyed the show,

but now it’s time for me to go.

Loud and fast, that’s what I do.

Get off the stage now … toddleloo.

Copyright ©2022 Stephen Morris & Greg Morrison

Part 2 of Old Rockers: The Musical Journey of Grendel is now Published!

Does Del find fame and fortune in The Big Apple? Does Greg wander astray from The Proven Path? Are you believing Cassandra? These are the questions answered in Part 3. See it, experience in on the Old Rockers, Part 2 tab on the home page of SilverbackDigest.com.


Copyright ©2022 Stephen Morris & Greg Morrison

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