Thursday, August 5, 2021

Too much is never enough




 

So.....lots going on, always.

We are in the middle of a huge record label campaign for our Tito Jackson release "Under Your Spell". It comes out tomorrow August 6th on Gulf Coast Records here in the USA. It's a BIG deal for sure. The Jackson 5 was one of my main musical inspirations when I was just a youngster. We have a video thats hitting today for his single "Love One Another" that is just way over the top. We have pulled out all of the stops on this one for sure. The video features Tito singing and playing guitar with his band and cameos from all of the Jackson family: Marlon, Jackie, Germaine, Janet, Latoya, Kim Kardashian, Chloe Kardashian, Magic Johnson, Chris Tucker, and so many other wonderful people sharing the message to stop the hate and "Love One Another". Who would've thought this is what we would be doing when I was 50 years old? Not me!

During this past year I have had ample time to make changes and work on myself. I assume we all have :) One of the things I noticed was that I had WAY too much shit. Like too many clothes, too many guitars, too many guitar amps, too much of everything. I was hoarding more or less because I could. When I began touring hard with RSB I began a process of buying guitars with my pal Devon Allman. We were always on the road and always getting paid and always wanting something new to show off. We would almost try to outdo each other and see what we could show up with next. Then we would get bored and buy each others guitars. It was fun and exciting. I also began to give guitars away, a lesson I learned from Anders Osborne. He told me we need to keep buying guitars and then give guitars away to people who need them. In return more guitars seem to keep pouring in from all directions. I love to give away gear. People think you are such a wonderful person when you give stuff to other people, but to me I am the one that is gifted the most with the opportunity to see someone happy. The Universe continues to put stuff in my path so long as I give it away. 

Well, with an entire year off, I had a chance to reevaluate my hoarding. Sophie and I counted guitars last March and the number was 57. I had 57 guitars.That is ridiculous. I can barely play one! So I began selling them and trading them and giving them away. I started to get this feeling I was not playing as well as I could and I needed to be learning more and studying and practicing rather than buying and hoarding. There was plenty of time in my life when I was lucky to own ONE guitar. I never stopped playing that one guitar. I held it night and day, it was everything to me. But that feeling had changed. I never knew what guitar to play or which one I liked. I just messed around all the time and never really got anything done. Since I was out of work for most of the year, those guitars I had hoarded came in extremely helpful. I would sell two or three a month and that would help pay the bills. I began letting go of what I did not need and deciding what I could never part with. I played the guitars that meant the most to me and a lot of the time they were not the most expensive. They had a story, they were from Laura or a friend. Maybe one of them was a guitar I used on an album or a tour that I remembered fondly. 

As of yesterday I have 15 guitars. I like almost everyone of them, most I love. I will still buy a new one here or there or mess around, cause that is fun, but I have decided if I don't play it and it does not serve a purpose, it has to go. The same with clothes and shoes and STUFF. This is all part of a pattern that goes back to my childhood. I grew up poor and we never had anything. In the end I realize that none of this stuff matters. It's the music that matters, the love. My family and friends matter and you matter. I will almost certainly continue to enjoy a new guitar now and then, that way I have something to keep giving away to anyone who needs a guitar. The difference is I don't need anything, or not as much as I did a year ago. It's a lesson I have truly enjoyed learning, getting back to basics. I see that maybe I have another 20-30 years on this planet and I don't want to waste my time consuming, I want to give and enjoy. I try to give everyday whenever I can. I don't care if others don't, I don't judge anyone. I save my money for my family to give my children and grandchildren (maybe someday) when I leave this place. I am not chasing anything anymore, I have all that I could ever want or need. I want to expand my music and my growth, but that doesn't require a lot of stuff.

Tomorrow "Under Your Spell" is released by Tito Jackson on Gulf Coast Records. Please order a copy, download digitally or listen to it on a streaming service. It's a wonderful record!

Peace, Love, Zito

Monday, June 7, 2021

VERY THANKFUL

 I get a lot of requests for a new blog and I think the reason I have been so slow is mostly because I am lazy these days :)

Maybe not....I think I got turned off for a minute when I shared some recovery last summer and one fan got mad at me and thought it was political in nature. That made me think you really can't share much anymore without someone being an asshole. But I should not let one asshole ruin it for the rest of us. I am thankful I have folks that want to hear from me. 

So....it was quite a weekend. Laura celebrated her birthday with 3 nights of parties, which was really fun. She had a blast and that makes me super happy. We had friends over for the first time since the start of the pandemic yesterday to play dominoes and watch the Blues Music Awards. It was sheer delight to win with a house full of my closest peeps. They all cheered when I won and I was of course over the moon. Laura was just beaming all day. Like I always say, I do not make music to win awards. It's very nice to be recognized, but there is always someone else that is just or more deserving. These contests are based on popularity and I am thankful people like me and my music. I am mostly happy for Laura and my family. They are the real winners of these accolades. They have to deal with me being gone all the time, consumed with the work of booking, selling, writing, and having to share me with the world. 
They miss me, but always support me. I believe winning a prestigious award like the BMA is for my family. They get a chance to share in the pride and know that all of the work we do and the time we spend on this music is worth more than money.

I am most thankful to my band members who work very hard to make the music feel and sound so good. They are the unsung heroes. They have to deal with me and my demanding ways, and for some reason they keep chugging along. Not all of them, but the ones that have stuck around :)  a HUGE thanks to the superstar roster we had on this album!!! I had a long list of people I wanted to perform on this album and most of them said yes and came through in spades. Some passed on the offer and some just never got back to me. It's a process to corral 21 guitar players to turn in guitar parts and vocals for an album on time. Nevertheless, our guests are the best in the biz and they made this album such a treat. 

HUGE THANKS to my friend Charles Berry and his super talented son, Charlie Berry and the Berry family. Charles gave me his blessing to run with this project and Charlie stepped up and really delivered on the opening track "St. Louis Blues". To have Charlie playing with me and both of us playing tribute to his grandfather and to our hometown will go down in the books for me. Thanks to Rip Kastaris for making the album cover so beautiful - it's the icing on the cake for sure.

Finally - this album would be absolutely NOTHING without the timeless music of the KING of Rock n Roll, Chuck Berry!!!!!!  HE is the one that wrote all of these amazing songs and lyrics. HE is the one who played all of these super guitar licks that we are all trying to copy. This album is a TRIBUTE to Chuck Berry - not Mike Zito. I am just the lucky sob that gets to play his songs and work with all of these great folks.

Thanks to all of the fans and friends who voted for me this year. Congratulations to ALL of the nominees who are all SUPER badasses. I voted for Tinsley Ellis! 

I am a VERY lucky man who gets to do what he loves....and drink kickass coffee everyday!


Peace, Love, Zito

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Everyday I have the blues....


 "Everyday, everyday I have the blues.  If you see me worrying woman, it's you I hate to lose."  Poetry from the great B.B. King. 

I turned 50 years old last week, something I am damn proud of.  I was certain I would not live this long.  I made terrible choices and lived life like there was no tomorrow.  I was selfish, self-centered and insecure.  I often dreamed of dying "high" so I would not have to deal with the mess I had made of my life.  But...that never happened. God had a plan. (Insert whatever God you like.)  It may sound a little corny, but it's true.  I was not meant to die at 32 years old, strung out on the streets.  I tried, I just wouldn't die.  I finally sobered up accepting the idea that I would not play music again.  To me, music needed suffering in order to have any substance. Soon I found out sobriety made me a real songwriter, a true artist.  I hadn't really been feeling much before that, I was just drunk and high.  In sobriety I had to deal with my feelings head on. Now I was truly suffering :)  What I mean to say is that after 17 years of recovery and sobriety from drugs and alcohol I realize now more than ever that we are all suffering.  Life is suffering. Our bodies are deteriorating every second of every day that we walk this planet. We can take good care of ourselves, but we are dying nonetheless.  We are all suffering the same - from the rich to the poor - top to the bottom.....no one makes it out alive.  Of course, some suffer immeasurably more due to circumstances of poverty, abuse, mental health, physical health....but everyone is suffering the human experience.  I really do not need to add anymore suffering to this life, it is painful at best.  I get joy from my family, my loved ones, my friends.  I get joy from food, sex, music, art, and so on - like everyone else.  The huge difference that has taken place in my years of sobriety is peace of mind.  My spiritual life has taken hold and now leads the way.  I pray everyday, all day.  My day is one continual prayer of gratitude.  I am thankful for my blessings and I am thankful for my suffering.  It sounds crazy, but when I am thankful for "everything" in my day - including the painful parts, the stress, the drama - I understand it is part of a bigger picture and when I turn it over to trust my spirit and trust in my Higher Power I realize I am not alone.  This isn't happening to "Me" - it's happening to all of us, all of the time.  We are connected and we suffer together.  This moment of time we are sharing is ours.  When you consider how long this planet has been here, how long humans have existed and how long they will continue to exist - our time here is minute.  It is nothing.....but it is ours.  That is why we believe the world revolves around us, because we are here right now.  Those that came before us felt the same way and those that will be here after we are long gone.....will feel the same way as well.  This is our time.  Our time to suffer, our time to be thankful.  Life will end and everyone we know will die.  But we are here right now together and that is incredible.  We can cover this experience with drugs and alcohol and hate and anger or we can be open to the experience and live again like there is no tomorrow.  My life now is one continual prayer of gratitude.  My spirit is leading the way and I am along for the ride.

Life is joyful when I am thankful.  Everyday I have the blues, and I am loving every minute of It.

Happy Thanksgiving - Peace, Love, Zito

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Inside Job

 It's been a minute, but I have been quiet for a reason.

I decided to take a break from socializing so much on social media.  With all of the craziness surrounding the Pandemic and the craziness with Social Injustice and political division......I just stopped. I needed a reset. I look but I do not comment. It's kind of like going to the candy store but making no purchases. Every time I had the urge to comment….

I asked myself: Does this help? Is it important that I get involved? 

Turns out the answer is a big NO. It's not important at all. I am not important and neither is my opinion on anything. It's been a wonderful lesson that has brought me much peace. It is not that I do not care or I do not have feelings about certain subjects, it's that if I keep them to myself I feel much better.  I cannot make anyone change, only I can change. Another reason I have not written my Blog for a minute is that the last few entries brought about folks thinking I was writing with political motivation, which is simply not true.The last entry I had a man tell me I was a Narcissist and that he would begin unfollowing me. I believe because my entry might have been taken politically, not spiritually. Again, I realize now I cannot make everyone happy. Whats interesting is that my writings about spirituality might make someone believe I am imposing my political belief on them.....that is interesting. It means to me that their particular political belief is possibly infringed by spiritual principles? 

Which brings a good point. If Spiritual Principles of living life on Earth rub me the wrong way...I am the problem. I have the problem. Spiritual Principles should not make me angry. For the record - I do NOT believe anyone person's political beliefs define their Spiritual beliefs. I would assume, for the most part, almost everyone wants the same things out of life: Happiness. We might have different views of how that is achieved but at the end of the day we want to be happy, free and left alone to raise our children and love our families.  Living a Spiritual life is an "inside job". It takes time and constant commitment to do the right thing. Sometimes I need time to reflect on my actions and words to decide what I can do without. Like writing a good song - I trim the fat. What is necessary to tell the story and what is not. I have to say I am feeling better than ever. I do not watch news very much - just enough to know whats shaking and I tend to my day. I highly suggest you try for yourself. Take a break from the social medias and take a walk, read a book, meditate, play some games with your family. It is so much better - at least for me it is.

Of course - I will be sharing this post on Social Media - so thats a bit hypocritical - but I think you understand. Moderation is best.

Thats really all I have right now. Please be safe and healthy and wear a mask.

Peace, Love, Zito

Thursday, July 2, 2020

I believe














"Statue of Belief"

I believe

What a seriously powerful statement.

Belief: an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

I was given many beliefs when I was born. They were not my own beliefs,
they were thrust upon me by my family, my community, my religion, my time in history.
Thats the way things were and I accepted them like a good boy.
Some of those beliefs have stood the test of time, many have not.
My conditioning (and yours as well) becomes a form of mental illness.
I did not experience much of life early on and apply the results of that experience
to decide what I believed. I believed what I was told and taught and applied my belief
to my experiences before they took place. We all have done this....it's human nature.

In fact, I was certain up to the age of 33 that I had little choice in my belief or thought process
at all. Thoughts appeared from fear and conditioning and I reacted before anything happened.
Some of us were lucky enough to have woke up years before, or maybe had very caring parents
or siblings that told them not to believe everything they were told.....but a lot of us did not.

I was under the impression that God was not of my understanding but of someone else's.
Someone that came before me and they told me what to believe and how to believe and
what not to believe. None of that belief was based on my own personal experience at all.

I use God as the ultimate example. If I went along with a belief in the total and finite God
of all things based on nothing more than people told me thats what I was supposed to believe....
then I probably went along for a lot less as well.

When I began sobriety and recovery in 2003, I was told I would need to change one thing.....
everything.

That process has led me down a path of personal experience and personal belief that has changed
my life forever in the most profound way a man can live. I have made my own mind over the past 16 years, something I had never done before. I have made my mind and found that I was wrong, so I changed my mind. As I have walked this narrow path, I have refined my belief over and over.
I think I know something and I realize I was wrong....or I might be wrong, so I then reassess and make new changes.  I came to the belief long ago that I do not know anything.
The less I believe I "know" the more open my mind is and I am willing to change my mind.
These days I don't know much and I could not be more happy.

I do know one thing for certain: 99% of all human beings living on this planet want the exact
same thing in life. They want peace, love and the pursuit of happiness.
So, anytime I see someone spouting off about something I readily disagree with, I stop and remind myself that this is just a human being like myself. They have the right to these conditions as well.
Maybe they're wrong in how they are going about it, maybe I am wrong in how I am perceiving
what they say or do.....but one thing is certain - they want
PEACE, LOVE AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.

The faster I can see anyone I disagree with as an ally and a human being like myself,
the easier it is for me to have empathy and be open minded.
My mind being open is what is important, not others minds.
I am selfish. I wish happiness and freedom to experience life for all, but I mostly want it for myself.
So I do the work to keep my mind open for me, not for you.

My beliefs today are not much different than yesterday but a lot different from 16 years ago.
My sincere belief today is that I do not know much.
I don't gather my beliefs from the news, social media, or hearsay.
I gather my beliefs from personal experience and my experience changes everyday.
I cannot make choices today based on yesterdays belief.

This does NOT mean I don't believe what I am told. I trust people and for the most part I trust the world around me.  I am a decent member of society.
I know right from wrong and take living in a community very serious.


Today, I will try to be open minded and realize that we are human and somewhat mentally ill
from conditioning. If I stay in the belief that I do not know much, I will learn something new everyday.

Peace, Love, Zito


Monday, June 1, 2020

A painful process

I have been a witness to change first hand.
The type of change that is enduring and lasts a lifetime.
It's not easy and it hurts along the way, but it is possible and most certainly
necessary when you're dealing with life or death circumstances.
When I got clean and sober I was told I needed to change one thing......everything.
I thought they were being funny, but it turns out they were not.
Changing everything means assuming the possibility that everything you have believed
in up until this very moment is a lie, it is not true. Because everything you believed in before
this moment has lead you to this moment, and this moment is in dire need of change.

It came down to asking myself this kind of questioning:

Is the sky blue? or is "blue" just the name another man gave for that color and we all agreed
to call that shade of color "blue"....this is the truth. In fact, most people do not see the same color,
but we have all been "taught" that this is the color we shall call this shade so we can communicate with each other.
That means that everything I know was decided by another man long ago and has been readily accepted as the only way and is taught to every boy and girl from thence forward.
It's called "conditioning".
If this was true of one color, it must be true of everything I have ever known.
Applying this logic to God, Love, Wealth, Freedom, Marriage, Parenthood, Racism, Sexism,
drugs, alcohol....would mean that in order for one thing to begin to change, I would need to be willing to change everything.
Sounds daunting and overwhelming, but the next thing they told me was this only had to happen
one day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time.
Rome was not built in one day. All that was necessary for change was the willingness to do so,
that in itself was change. I didn't need to create new words for the color spectrum, the ones in place were fine and thats a worthless cause. But I absolutely could not put alcohol or drugs into my body again and I had to change people, places and things that were related to my drinking and using immediately.
I needed to try and change my mind. When my mind thought of something, I had a reaction.
It was the same reaction for 33 years of life. I had never developed an alternate reaction.
The idea was the next time I thought about using drugs or drinking alcohol, instead of reacting and immediately doing so, I should stop and say the serenity prayer. If I said the prayer long enough and enough times in a row the thought to use or drink would most likely go away....for the time being.
The thought to use or drink would come back again and again and each time I would need to try this new practice over and over and over and over. It would be wonderful to think that God was creating a miracle to end my using and drinking by prayer.....but in actuality, I was changing my mind.
I was creating a new behavior. Eventually after months of putting this new practice to work, the desire to use or drink began to slow down and eventually it was removed from my mind.
I had no idea this was ever possible.
I was of the belief that what entered my mind was out of my control and I was also not responsible
for my reaction. I always thought I was broken, doomed.
But with this new powerful tool, I could most certainly conquer anything that came into my mind
that I wanted rid of, and so it began.

Not all things changed so easily, some continue to linger on after 16 plus years of sobriety.
What I have found over the years is that some of the behavior I wanted to change was so deep
rooted to a thought process I was not able to detect. I have character defects and flaws that are
connected almost to birth. I have childhood traumas, sexual abuse, religious nightmares, and mental illness that causes anxiety, obsession and compulsion and sometimes depression.

All of this conditioning was handed down generation by generation.
Until it got to me. I was the faded copy of a copy that was hardly recognizable anymore.
All of these experiences that created this way of thinking was not mine, but given to me by
my parents who got it from their parents and so on and so on......
I did not personally have any of these experiences at all, I just had the by product information
that was passed onto me.
I was so faded, I either had to change and have my own experiences or fade away.

I began my own experience in life 16 years ago and I continue today.
My beliefs are my beliefs and they change constantly based on my own personal experience.
The truth is what I seek, but it is hidden many times by years and lifetimes of untruth.
Just when I think I know it all, I am reminded I do not know anything.
I must always be ready to change everything. Tradition is overrated and not based in reality.
It is not what it used to be, it is what it is today, and the world changes around me constantly.

I learned that my bad behavior that continued to show up over the years was tied to a cycle that
I was repeating over and over and expecting a different result.
Once painful enough, I began the steps over again and worked on the behavior to change yet again.

Everything in this life is a cycle.
We do not move forward until a cycle is broken.
Most often we are not aware that the cycle is of our own doing, we blame others.
But the only fault I am responsible for is my own, I always play a role and my role
will need to change if change is the desired outcome.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Change is painful and heartbreaking, but necessary.
We can do it the hard way or the easier, softer way.

Let's pray for change today.
Why do we continue to repeat these painful cycles in our own lives and in the life
of our communities and our world around us?
What role do I play and what can I do to change.
When I accept my role, I begin to give myself a break......
when I give myself a break, I give everyone a break.

The only reason something continues to happen over and over again
is because something has not changed.

Peace, Love, Zito



Saturday, April 11, 2020

Happy Easter Pandemic

Well......I have had a lot of requests for writing my blog,
and you would think with everything going on I would have a LOT to write about.
But, I have just kind been doing what everyone has been doing....quietly freaking out :)
Seriously, I usually find something to base my entry on here: a spiritual principle, an ethical Idea,
etc.....but I have just been trying to get through each day and not go crazy.

Of course there is always an upside. I left for Europe on March 4th to do 30 dates
with my band. Today would have been our last show of the tour in Sheffield, UK.
It's hard to even imagine now that I would have been gone from my home and family for all
of that time, but I do it a lot and I am used to the routine. The routine of living on the road
most of the time and get short reprieves at home with my loved ones.
The upside is that I have spent the past 4 weeks at my house with my family.
We have not had this much time together.....ever.
I came home on Sunday March 15th - approximately 4 weeks ago tomorrow.
I spent the first two weeks in self quarantine in my backyard studio apartment. I was never sick
but we were in Germany and around enough people that coming home the CDC told us we needed to do the quarantine. We made the most of the isolation by writing 10 new songs and recording them with my band members who were also each in quarantine at their homes. This was a challenge.
Each musician recorded their parts separately and sent them to me via Dropbox where I put them all together and mixed the music. In the end we made a free download recording and in return
our Gofundme Campaign helped pay the band and myself for losing 3 months work.
WOW - we are still humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude.

So - I have been sincerely fortunate with this time and I do not take it lightly.
We pray everyday for those that are sick and suffering as this virus is very real and the threat
is as well. I try not to argue much on social media, but I get tired of the conspiracy bullshit.
I'll try harder today.....progress, not perfection :)

Another very strong upside to this downtime has been my recovery.
Meetings have all taken to Zoom and I have been enjoying meetings almost everyday
the past 4 weeks. When I am on the road I rarely get to enjoy a meeting as we are always on the go.
If I am home for 10 days between tours, I might get to go to one or two.
But with all of this time on our hands, we are meeting everyday and it's been really wonderful.
I am hopeful that most of us will have time to reflect and be grateful for this amazing life we have been given.
We have meals on the patio outside. We watch the birds in the yard every morning.
Playing games with the girls, walking the dogs and exercising has become daily events now.
I have to be honest....I could get use to this.
It will be hard to climb into the van again and leave for weeks on end when this is all over.
I will do it because that is what I do. I miss playing loud guitar and sweating with everyone
at the club. I miss the band and all of the "van talk" on the road.
But....I think I will not take for granted the things I cherish so much.

I am a little all over the place here...but thats where I am at......all over the place.
I hope I see you soon and we enjoy some time and music together.
For now I will continue to share online and enjoy my family.
PLEASE hang in there and stay home. I know it seems crazy and it's tough financially
but we will all get through this time and come out stronger than before.

God bless and Happy Easter!

Peace, Love, Zito