Friendly Advice on Just About Anything from the Hill Country’s Happiest Songwriter

By Al Barlow

(LSM Aug/Sept 2010/vol. 3 – Issue 5)

Dear Al,
I need your help concerning a sensitive issue. I have numerous family members who visit me often. I know it is easy to love our fair city with its beautiful rivers and live music, but these friends and family members never want to leave. They even bring their animals. You may have encountered this type of situation, being that you live here also. How do you get rid of these hanger-ons and freeloaders? Please help me as another weekend is approaching!
Do Not Disturb, New Braunfels, TX

Dear Do Not Disturb,
Because we live in such a magnificent spot in New Braunfels, this issue is bound to arise from time to time. Many people have never heard the old axiom, “Fish and visitors smell in three days.” Years ago, I recorded a song entitled “Buddy,” that is on my Adventures of Al Barlow CD. May I suggest that you play “Buddy” to your “hanger-ons” and see if they, hopefully, see the light — and move along. That just might do the trick!

Dear Al,
My wife never wants to go out to live music anymore like we used to. Usually if I make her go, she has a good time, but she never wants to leave the house. What can I do? I miss live music!
— Johnson, Houston, TX

Hi Johnson,
You can’t make anyone do something they don’t want to do, but you can certainly encourage them. Surprise her with tickets to see one of her favorite musicians at a small, intimate place (like Anderson Fair, in Houston). Take her for a nice dinner before the concert, and treat her like a lady. I’ll bet she’ll jump at the next chance she gets to go listen to some live music. God bless you, and all you fine folks who support live music!

Dear Al,
Three months ago, right after his 45th birthday, my husband — let’s call him “Fred” — started hitting the gym at least three days a week. He also announced one night at the dinner table that he was going to be doing one of those no-carbs diets, and much to my amazement, he’s stuck with it. Al, this is a man who as far as I know (and I’ve known him close to 20 years) had never dieted before in his life, and the last time he got any regular exercise, he was probably still in high school. Now I know all of this might sound good and that I should be happy for him, but here’s the rest of the story. My best friend swears that my Fred is having an affair. At first I thought she was nuts — he’s my sweetie and I love him but even after going on his fitness kick, he’s still no Tom Selleck. And yet … just the other day, I’ve heard him singing that “I’m Too Sexy” song in the bathroom. He denies it but I even caught him blasting the stupid song on his iPod last weekend when he went out for a jog. Oh, and get this: Mr. I’m Too Sexy hasn’t made one romantic gesture toward me since our Olive Garden date the week after last Valentine’s week. (We’ve never gone out on actual Valentine’s Day, because he says it’s too crowded). So, what do you think? Is “Fred” cheating on me? Or does he just have deplorable taste in music?
— “Wilma,” San Antonio, TX

Dear Wilma,
It sounds like “Fred” is just going through some kind of weird phase. I agree that his taste in music sucks, but hey, he’s just proud of himself for sticking to this health kick. If I were you, I’d encourage him (in a way that only a woman can) and make sure he gets additional exercise. Keep him thoroughly exhausted, and you’ll never worry about him cheating. Best of luck to you both.

Dear Al,
Is it true that the best way to man’s heart is through his stomach? I want to invite a special guy over, but I don’t know what to cook for him. Any ideas?
— Kacey, Groom, TX

Dear Kacey,
It’s true! The best way to a man’s heart is, indeed, through his stomach. Before I was married, my future wife made me a German Chocolate Cake for my birthday. It was the best cake I had ever eaten in my life. I asked her to marry me the very next day, and we’ve been married now for 35 years. Just last year I discovered that the cake she “made” was actually made by her SISTER! What a startling revelation!

Kacey, find out what the young man’s favorite dessert is, and make it for him. Whatever it is, I’m sure he’ll appreciate the thought, and he will enjoy the dessert. Just make sure you don’t get your big sister or your mother to make it for him. He may find out the truth way down the road, which could have serious implications.

Dear Al,
I love your musical abilities and how you weave your humor into your songs. Who were your influences for this blend?
— Love, Rachel

Thanks, Rachel!
My influences in music go way back to early childhood. My mother and father took me to church every Sunday, and I simply HAD to sing! My daddy wrote funny little “ditties,” and I began emulating him when I was but a wee child. Guess I still try. 

Dear Al Barlow,
My parents busted me drinking with my friends one time and they are insisting I’m an alcoholic. I am only 18 and shouldn’t have been doing it, but how do I get them to lighten up?
— Ben, Corpus Christi, TX

Hi Ben,
You know you shouldn’t be drinking beer at your age. Getting busted for it by your parents may well have been the best way this thing could have played out. But you’ve admitted to having made a mistake (and hopefully won’t do it again). Plus, you’ll be 21 before you know it and can then make these kind of decisions on your own. I would encourage your parents to refrain from labeling you an “alcoholic,” especially if this is, indeed, a one-time thing. Tell my buddies in the Coastal Bend howdy for me!

Dear Al,
My husband works all day with rude people that he has to be nice to, then he comes home in a grouchy mood to me and our children. Any advice on how I can convince him to lighten up or quit his job without starting a big ol’ fight?
— Jennifer, Marble Falls, TX

Dear Jennifer,
It sounds like your old man is bringing his job home with him. It’s certainly not your fault, or your kids’ fault, that he’s had to encounter rude and hateful people at work. And it’s not necessarily his fault, either. The bottom line is that there are lots of hateful, unhappy, miserable people out there, and if we allow it to, that negativity can rub off on us. You may simply need to remind him that you and the kids love him and are on his side. Sometimes, it’s just nice to be reminded who the good guys are.

Dear Al,
So, since you are a contributing writer now for Lone Star Music Magazine, are your columns focusing only on music in New Braunfels, since we never see you anywhere else except Terlingua anymore?
— Uncle Rudy

Dear Rudy,
My column focuses on anything that an inquiring mind would want to know about, period. Since we ARE a music magazine, based in the beautiful Lone Star State, I welcome any and all questions about our unique and legendary music — from anywhere in Texas! Although I live in New Braunfels, my interest in Lone Star music takes me throughout the state. Most recently I put on a music festival together in Port Aransas that kicked butt! And Rudy, if you only see me in Terlingua, then you just ain’t getting out much these days! However, I do look forward to seeing you in Terlingua the third weekend in October for the 16th Annual Terlingua Music Bash!