I became a helpless, hopeless idealist back in the 1960s. Don’t know why exactly, but it must’ve been something in the air? Ironically, I still suffer from this same condition today. Okay, so someone never bothered to turn on the lights in my daffy little brain. Much of this idealism and optimism was attributable to my friendship with John P. Franzen (1953-1995).
The first day I met John was in Mid-August of 1965. I was cutting through Bencrest Circle (in North Dallas) to head for Gooch Elementary School (a new school I would attend that fall) to throw the football around on the playground. I got diverted when running into John, who was watering the grass on the front median of his family home. John was a peculiar sort of fellow (listen to A Most Peculiar Man by Simon & Garfunkel), but he liked music, so we hit it off pretty good.
We spent countless hours jamming around on guitars, listening to records, and working up competent cover versions of many of the popular songs of the day. The music coming out in the 1960s was of the highest caliber, so we both embraced it full-heartedly and dedicated ourselves to memorizing every riff, every chord progression, or every lyric that came our way.
At some point we began to write our own original compositions. John wrote on guitar and piano, while I wrote only on guitar. Sometime I would like to expand more on John’s biography, but I thought, for today at least, I’d prefer you to simply hear some of his moving music. It speaks for itself and will teach you everything you desire to know about this gifted musician and artist.
SLEEP SONG Music and Lyrics by John P. Franzen
When you were asleep, I was kissing your forehead. You gave a frown, so I kissed you again. You started waking, and put your arms ’round my waist. Just making sure I was there, then you drifted away. Then you drifted away.
When I awoke, I found out I’d been dreaming. Some of my bedclothes were still on the floor. I looked around, realized you were leaving me. I saw the back of your dress, as you slipped through the door. As you slipped through the door.
When I return, I will kiss your eyes open. Take off my clothes, and lie by your side. Then I will wait ’til the Sandman has done with you. And as you sleepily rise, you’ll find I’ll be there. You will find I’ll be there.
Dum dum de dum dum de dum dum de dum….fade
An interpretation of lyrics puts the balladeer having a stirring dream about his lover in the 1st verse. He doesn’t realize it’s a dream until the 2nd verse, when waking up in a bit of a fit of despair and disillusionment, it dawns on him his girlfriend is actually leaving him. You can interpret Verse 3 in different ways, but I see it as a pipedream where the author (John Franzen) deludes himself into believing it all works out happily ever after. This is but another dream within a dream (the way I see it).
The Jug Music and Lyrics by John P. Franzen and John G. Kays
Out in the back near the old grey shack, there’s moonshine still, the high-grade corn in the boss’s field helps me fix the jug in the harvest time.
The brand aint known ‘cept the folks ’round here with devils in their souls and holes in their shoes, the work is hard but the money’s no good, so it’s sweat or die.
And when you’re older you will lay that old jug ‘cross your shoulder, and travel down the road a while. It’s just that queasy feeling, of wakin’ up on the bathroom ceiling, and wonderin’ when you’ve ever been that drunk before.
The booze killed Ed dropped him dead on the road, he died in a hole in his Sunday best. The freight train leaves when the whistle blows for my jug and me.
The Jug was co-written by me and John, and was recorded in August of 1975 in South Austin. The story takes place in the 1930s and tells a tale of bootleggers who make their own booze to get by in a rural agrarian environment, that doesn’t provide these poor people with enough to live on. The anti-hero of the song, Ed, in the end, is consumed by the moonshine booze, which poisons him from tipping the jug too much.
*The premiere of an Internet single – A Side Sleep Song – B Side The Jug
*a web site created by Julie Jackson (John’s sister) has some nice photos of John from throughout his life.
*Thanks to Joe Franzen (John’s brother) for the mixing and mastering of this interesting artifact I’m calling an internet single. Enjoy and send me a comment about the songs!