Patty Hearst & Bill Walton Revisited

by Fred Gardner

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I just read Bill Walton's book "Back From the Dead" —one of the 50 greatest autobiographies of our time! Coincidentally, Patricia Hearst Shaw's French bulldog just won best of breed at the Westminster Dog Show in New York! Patty Hearst & Bill Walton, two survivors, for sure...

In the '70s I recorded a song that I stopped singing long ago because I sensed that Walton wanted to erase the memory of his radical years, in which some tension had flared between him and his beloved coach at UCLA, John Wooden. "Back From the Dead" is so honest and revealing that I changed my mind.

Nobody bats a thousand, not even our greatest teachers and mentors. Nobody's perfect. Bill Walton personifies a beautiful kind of courage. (Alfred Adler called it "Social Interest.") His ideal is to be part of a team —a band, a group with a purpose— that is striving for perfection... In earlier years he was held back from volubility by a stutter. Now he is a highly expressive broadcaster, a fount of insight about the game and info about the players and their backgrounds.

—FG 2/22/17

lyrics

Patty Hearst & Bill Walton made a striking pair
she was only five foot two, he had that much long red hair

He studied at UCLA with Wooden you know
he was following Alcindor, Wicks, Allen, Farmer and Rowe

And they be heavy brothers, reading Malcolm X
If you're supposed to be the white Kareem where do you go next?

Big Red, you were a boy and a half
I ain't gonna laugh at that man anymore

Patty got engaged to a liberal and a snob
even with all that money getting married was a good girl's job

But a fire burned within her a desire to be free
and one night she left him, she called him a class enemy

Tanya! You were a girl and a half
I ain't gonna laugh at the woman anymore

Drafted up to Portland Bill got hurt in that first year:
Before I take more cortisone I'll give up my whole damn career

He said athletes are workers, they treat us like cattle
I will not play the owners game, it just ain't my battle at this time

And Patty was in trouble, too, running from the law
she'd become an armed robber but what's more she gave daddy what for

How she made him list his assets, how she made him show his face!
Their house became a tsouris trap, just like their San Simeon place

Oh Tanya, you were a girl and a half
No I ain't gonna laugh at that poor woman anymore

So Bill the civil servant's son was finally makin' bread
heard a comrade needed some, most likely said Yeah, go ahead

I bet he wrote that check out to Jack or Micki Scott
I bet he knew who it was for although I bet he swears he does not

Big Red, you got that nice soft touch
you don't say too much to the FBI

There's other show-biz radicals, such as Tom and Jane
Joan Baez, Julian Bond, Warren Beatty, Shirley McLaine

But Patty Hearst and Bill Walton ran away with my heart
I'll think of them as together, although they may be far apart.

credits

released February 26, 2017
Producer: Phil Crescenzo
Robbie Macdonald —banjo
Bob Jampol —bass, harmonica
Hart McNee —soprano sax, baritone sax, flute
Danny Heller —drums
Carole Mayedo —violin
Gary Kupper —piano
Dan Goldensohn —acoustic guitar
Paul Robinson, Jeff Hamrin —electric guitar
Lloyd Kamins —electric piano
Woody Simmons —mandolin, engineering

Love Shortage was made in the off hours at John Altmann Recording, San Francisco, summer of .

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Fred Gardner Alameda, California

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