Monday, September 26, 2016

Family First




"The Zito Family circa 1930. My father is the youngest on the right.
Those are all his brothers and sisters. My grandparents in the middle."

This has been on my mind a lot lately.
Probably because I am watching The Soprano's again in it's entirety.
But also because in this world we live in, if you're lucky enough to have a family
you better hold on tight.  Family is everything to me, nothing else matters.
I have friends and people I care about but they're not family, family always comes first.
Every decision I make is based on family.  Every move I make can affect my loved ones,
so I do not make moves lightly.  I consider whats best for the family and then take a step forward.
I do have people in my life that are family, but are not blood related.
They have shown loyalty to me and my family and I know I can trust them and they will
be there for me if I need them, I will be there to help them as well.
I have come to learn the hard way the significance of family, by almost losing it more than once.
Family means nothing if it means nothing to you, it's just a word.
But if you can get to the point in your life where you have a significant other, a real partner,
and you have children and brothers and sisters and in-laws and so on, you have got it made.
These people will look out for you and you would die for them.
My family is my life. I have a sincere partner in life that is always thinking about whats best for me,
who wants to help me achieve my goals and who truly loves me. I feel the same for her. Her happiness is much more important than my own.
That in itself is a dream come true.  I have children that love me and look up to me, that can't wait to see me and hug me......that is amazing.  For a junkie like myself, it is absolutely astounding to have so much in one life.  I am truly grateful for my family and the life I live.  In return I try to give my family the life they deserve. I work hard and smart and make sure we are on the right path financially and most importantly, spiritually.  My children will follow in my footsteps in many ways, but they will learn most from me spiritually.  How do I react? How do I treat others?
Thats really what matters most, and of course.....time.
Time is what matters most. Making time for my family, my loved ones.
I can make all the money in the world, but in the end if I spent all my time making money
I can't buy back the time I lost with my family.
I am aware of this now more than ever before.
I share a lot with my fans and friends, I am very open in many ways about myself and my feelings.
But I am also very private. You don't know everything about my decisions, my choices, and my family. You don't need to know these things. I have a very private life and that is the way I like it,
I only share what I feel comfortable sharing with you, and I am certain you understand.
My gut tells me you feel the same way with your family.

At this point in my life, every move matters. I don't have time to waste anymore.
My family comes first, always. Know one knows me like my family, that is the truth.
Every move I make, know that it is always based on family first.
I do not run willy nilly into the night, I am a considerate person. I consider what is the best decision
for my family and then I pray and make my move.
I have lost interest in what others think of me, my only interest is whats best for my family.
I do not pay so much attention to politics or issues. I know right from wrong, and my choices are already made before I make them. They are based on spiritual principles and what is best for family.
Some will say that life is not so cut and dry, but they are wrong. When you have a wife and children and your bond is strong and loyal, the choice is always whats best for the family.

I am truly thankful and grateful today for the absolute blessing of family in my life.
I could have easily lost this life or given it away in bouts of selfishness, but God saved me and gave me another chance at a life worth living. My family comes first, always.

Peace, Love, Zito



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Pleasant....

I listen to a lot of podcasts.
I enjoy conversation and learning, since I am not so educated.
I spend a lot of time on the road, or on a plane and I love to listen and learn.
"Stuff you should know" is my absolute favorite and "WTF" with Marc Maron is the top
of the list as well. They are both a little different in format but equally fun and interesting.
Marc Maron's show is an interview show with guests. Mostly comedians, but musicians, actors, directors, and even President Obama have been on his show.
"Stuff you should know" is exactly as you would think, it is two guys telling you about something,
whatever the topic is - "Snakes" or "How the Civil War worked" or "what is head trauma?"
It is really anything topic wise, but always fun as they are entertaining.
My point is, I have time on my hands when I am traveling and I need distraction.
We all do from time to time. I watch shows on Netflix and HBO NOW, I listen to music and I
read books, listen to audiobooks and podcasts.  It's not that I do not enjoy traveling, I do, but my
mind wanders so easily and gets caught up in madness if I don't keep it in check.
I have learned from my OCD that I need to find a preoccupation for my mind, or it will find one for me. The obsessions my mind chooses are not the kind I would choose for myself.
My mind immediately goes into "resentment" mode and I think of all the things people have said to me that was wrong or rude or whatever and what I should've said back to them....sound familiar?
Then I go through the entire process of forgiving them all over again and realizing they probably didn't mean it the way I took it.....UGH. Wasted energy and for no reason whatsoever, other than I am mentally ill. Oh yeah, I'm mentally ill.....thats right. It is a constant cycle that has certainly gotten better over time. but it is still annoying and frustrating at times. Thats why I have found that being regimented and strict with myself while I am on the road works best for me and my illness.
I go straight to bed after the shows, no hanging out until 6am anymore. I get up early and eat breakfast and pray and stretch. All of these things are very important to my sanity.
I need to stay focused, at the same time I need distractions when I have free time.  When I am having a day off I watch tv shows, go for a walk, go to a movie. When I am driving or flying, I listen to podcasts and audiobooks. I also am quite the nerd I must say. I constantly watch videos on guitar effects pedals and demos. I love that shit.
I also try to feed my mind with positive, light hearted content.
If it's heavy, it better be spiritual in nature, not political or angry.
Thats why listening to podcasts is easy and gives me something to think about. I learn about medical procedures, history, how the body works.....tons of useless information that helps me relax and enjoy my time alone. I try to treat myself with care and consideration, that way I will treat you the same. If I am tired and I have not prayed or eaten well or lazy then I will not be in a good mood for the day. I will be grouchy and mopey and treat others that way. Life is hard, but much harder when I am not prepared and ready for the day. I am still openminded but I am not dazed and confused and resentful. Recently I listened to WTF with Marc Maron and he had Rob Reiner on the show. Rob Reiner is a very famous actor, producer, director and son of Carl Reiner. He has seen it all and has had quite a life. His words of wisdom to Marc was "Life is long and Life is short, seems like we could all try and be pleasant. Why go through life not pleasant?"  I absolutely agree. It takes more energy to be an asshole, and it comes back on you ten fold.  Today I will continue to try and be pleasant.
Peace, Love, Zito

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Just Pray

Sorry it's been a minute since I have written my blog.
It has been a very busy summer and a lot of moving, when I get a minute
I make sure I pray and read my books.  I'm home now enjoying a much needed
break with my family. Of course thats when I have time to look back and think about
the world around me.
I know things seem a little crazy right now, a lot crazy.
I am always saddened by the killing in our streets. I understand the frustration of people
who have been abused and treated like second class citizens. I can't imagine the strength
it takes to patrol our neighborhoods and cities.
The political world is set afire with so much propaganda and misleading information on
24 hour news channels, it is difficult to make sense of it all.
I am not writing a blog to tell you who to vote for, to side with Black Lives Matter or Law Enforcement, to tell you to give up your guns or my take on immigration.
I am writing to share my feelings in these crazy times.
Things do seem "crazy" right now, but they are not nearly as crazy as they have been in the past.
Nothing changes, if nothing changes, and change is painful and it's a process.
History is one of my favorite subjects and it shows us that the greatest changes that took place
were painful.
The media would have us believe that it is the end of the world, but it is not, not even close.
The media helps to divide us, separate us from each other, thats how they appeal to us.
They sell us based on very broad strokes. Smokers over here, non-smokers over there.
If anyone is at fault today, it is the 24 hour media empire. It is misleading and shameful.
When I watch the news in the morning, it looks dim outside, dreary and scary and awful.
But when I leave the house and go out into the world, it looks beautiful.
I see people at the grocery store and the gas station and they smile and they're happy.
I see black people and white people enjoying music together, enjoying themselves.
People are people and we are all exactly the same.
We want to live in peace and be safe. We want our families to have food and shelter and we
don't want any trouble. Anyone who does not want these things, that want madness, war, killing....
they are mentally ill. They might sight religion as they're reason to kill, but they are suffering gross
mental illness. "No one in their right mind" would do such things unless provoked to do so.
I am not naive to the world. I understand that people want power and they want to take other people over and they want to rule, I understand, but most people do not.
Just keep that in mind every time you see a news story about Muslims killing people,
or Police killing people.......whatever the label that the news puts on a group of people, that does not include EVERYONE in that group.  In fact, it is very FEW of those people.
Again, they want to divide us into groups, but we are just people, Human Beings.
It does not matter what religion we belong to, what profession we are, what color we are, or where
we come from....we are all exactly the same.

Just pray. I pray everyday and more than once. I mostly pray to be safe and to get along with those around me.  I try and see that people are not so different from me, but mostly the same.
I cannot change things in far off places so much, I have very little influence in the big world.
But I do have influence in the world around me.
I try not to argue my beliefs to those who believe differently, that usually does not help.
I try and understand why they believe this way, they must have a reason.
Again, when I consider that someone is just like me and wants to be safe and happy, I must consider
why they believe differently if they want to achieve the same result.
If we would all take time to try and understand one another and communicate with those around us, the world around will become a better place.  It sure sounds campy and corny, but what else can we do?  If you are my friend and you believe so deeply about an issue that is exactly opposite of what I believe yet we continue to be friends, then we have more IN common that we do not.
So I try and understand your side, your belief is of interest to me. I may not want to argue with you, but I would like to know why you feel that way, because I am not always right.
My opinion is not 100% correct and I try and be open minded and understanding.
It's not easy, but it can be done if we are practicing spiritual principles.

Life is good and the world is changing and it is not all bad, not at all.
It is amazing this world we live in and I am excited to be alive.
When people say what kind of world are we leaving our children, I can only believe that is
a much better world than the one we were born in, by far.
Anyone that wants everything to be the same forever is unrealistic.
Mathematics shows us in the Chaos Theory that things will always change and only stay the
same for short periods of time.  When things are great for one group of people, they are not always great for other groups of people, and over time that changes hands and thats the way it needs to be.
Life is perspective.  Let's stop bitching and try and be thankful and grateful.
I don't know everything, but I know we can be good to those around us.
It does not take much energy to be happy and share a smile or a kind word.
I try and see life with child's eyes, in wonderment and amazement.
I don't have time to fight for everything I believe in, so instead I will try and compromise.
Compromise will allow me more time to be happy and enjoy my blessings.

Just pray. It is that simple. When things are getting tough, when the I am not feeling 100%,
just pray. Turn off the news, turn off Facebook and social media, give it a break.
Don't believe every meme you read, every headline you read or news story you see...not at face value.
Do some research. If it sounds too cray to believe, it is probably not all true.
Let's be good to each other and whenever we need help, just pray.
You don't have to be religious or even believe in God to pray.
Just be calm for a minute and consider love and hope and peace.

It's a beautiful day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tulsa Tribute

Sometimes I need to let things sink in a bit.
I don't always acknowledge my feelings for a while, and then it hits me.
The city of Tulsa, Ok has lost two of it's musical sons recently and it is very sad.
Steve Pryor and Stan Reed have both left this existence for the good life, and weeks apart. from each other.  I don't know everyones history as I would like to, but I can tell you that they were brothers
in music.  For those of you not from Tulsa, you must know that it is a tight-knit musical community
that is very diverse in style and unique in approach.  The "Tulsa Sound" is what Eric Clapton came looking for in the 1970's and what made JJ Cale's songs so famous.
Laid back and loose with a polyrhythmic backbeat, simple chords that intertwine country and blues.
The Tulsa Sound is true Americana.
I have always had a fascination with Tulsa and it's music.

Steve Pryor became my friend after 24 years of being a fan of his music and guitar playing.
In 1991 I was in Peaches Record store in south St. Louis eagerly looking for new blues rock music.
When I walked in they were playing some new rock and I went straight to the Blues section
to find something I didn't have. Ten minutes later or so I heard this song come rocking over the
store's in house sound system, and then this voice, the most gravel soulful voice I had heard.
"Starin' a hole in my floor, thinking bout you!"
I walked fast to the counter and asked what they were playing and the guy said it was the new
Steve Pryor Band cd that just came out.  I bought it immediately and ran to my shitty car
to put it in the cd player and crank it up.  I drove all around south St. Louis that day for hours just listening to that album over and over. His voice was so drenched in pain in suffering and the songs
were so good. His guitar playing was spot on, tone was killer and he played from the heart.....
I was hooked. I found a new hero that day in 1991.
I saw Steve Pryor on MTV a few times with videos for the new album.
I told everyone about Steve Pryor, played that cd at the music store I worked at everyday for years.
I know every word on that album and every lick on the guitar.
I kept looking for him to come to St. Louis to play a concert, but he never did.
I kept looking for another album to come out, but I never found another.
Years went by, when I was playing my own music and beginning to tour in the midwest.
I met a man who was the President of the Tulsa Blues Society and I asked him if he had ever
heard of Steve Pryor, he said of course and that Steve still lived in Tulsa. But Steve had been
dealt a rough hand with drugs and alcohol and he had a very bad auto accident.
The album I bought was on a major record label and he was going to really make a big career
but life got the best of the deal and it just didn't work out as planned.
He told me that Steve was still playing around town in Tulsa and making his own music.

20 Years later, I still had that cd I bought. I often asked folks I met from Tulsa if they knew Steve and if so, how he was doing and was he still making music. I was with a good friend in Austin one day
and when I was reminded he was from Tulsa I asked about Steve Pryor, had he heard of him before. He go so excited and told me he was a huge Steve Pryor fan, in fact he pulled out a bunch of cd's that were in his car and we started playing them. Steve had many other albums out he released on his own through the years and some bootleg recordings. We really bonded that day listening to Steve and his great music.  My friend told me that Steve had just recently gotten on Facebook and I should hit him up.  So I did.  I sent him a short message telling him how influential his album was for me back in 1991, how his guitar playing and songwriting really inspired me and that I hoped to meet him one day
and maybe play some music together.  About 2 weeks later I got a message back from Steve and he said simply "Thank You". That was more than enough for me.
Then about a week later I got another message from Steve "Holy shit, I don't think I realized who
this message was from, but your Mike Zito. Man I love your music, your guitar playing. Wow, thanks for reaching out to me man. We need to write some songs and play together"
I was floored, talk about dreams coming true, just very cool for me.
Steve and I began writing each other messages about songs and music and becoming friends.
I did not play much in Tulsa these past 10 years, but I was determined to get there on a tour soon
so I could meet Steve face to face and play some music with him.

So......I am walking through the airport in Dallas, Tx. summer 2015.
I see a man looking at me as he walks by and the guy doubles back and stops me.
"Are you Mike Zito?"  I said yes I am, and he introduces himself as Alan.
He is a guitarist and a Blues music lover and he knows me and my music.
We start talking and he says he does this music series in Tulsa, Ok and that he would love to have
me come and play. I got real excited and asked him "Do you know Steve Pryor?"
He says yes of course, very well. I asked if Steve will be at this show and he said he could make that happen.  So a few months later, Samantha Fish and myself pack up to head to Tulsa for a one night event. I land in Tulsa and walk outside to look for my ride and Steve Pryor is waiting for me.
He runs up and gives me a big hug, smiles, and grabs my bag - "Let's go" he says.
I was blown away.
I said "where are we going man?"  - he says "You're coming to play on my new album right now."
I said "What about the gig?" He says " The gig is fine, you'll be fine, but you've got to play on my new record man."
We jumped in his car and drive across town to Stan Reed's house.
Stan comes to the door and welcomes me with a smile that s unforgettable.
He gives me a warm hug and says "Brother, your home. Come in"
When I walked into Stan's house, I see that he has the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions on his wall in big
picture frames - they take up the entire front room wall. I was in awe.
He says "Man, I'm not in the program, but I think everyone should live by these principles."
I knew I was home.
I met Bonnie that day, and she was as sweet as could be.
We hurried into the studio and I ended up cutting tracks for about 6 tunes on Steve's new album.
Stan gave me a shirt to wear and we ran to the gig just in time to start playing.
It was a whirlwind to say the least.
I played with some of the best musicians in Tulsa, and on the planet for that matter.
But, I did not play with Steve Pryor. He had left early not feeling good, I never got to say goodbye.

Now I had made a connection in Tulsa and became friends with the guys on the scene, I was bound
and determined to get back to Tulsa and do a show with Steve Pryor.
We stayed in touch regularly always checking on each other.
In March of this year we put a show together with "Mike Zito and Steve Pryor"
Steve rocked the house. His voice and guitar playing sounded exactly like the album I listened to
1000 times over the past 25 years.
Stan was Steve's bass player, and sounded so great.
Stan had this giving heart. He gave himself to the music, it was apparent.
He was right there with Steve while they played together, hand in hand.
Steve got up with me and my band and played a handful of tunes and we jammed and cut heads,
and it was beautiful man, just beautiful. Like it was meant to be.
I was so happy. Steve Pryor was my friend. He was healthy and doing well and we were playing music together.
Stan reed was there just smiling and pouring love onto the whole scene.
Tulsa had accepted me and I was full of musical ideas.

Steve sent a few messages in April about some guitars and some amps.
We talked about gear and guitar stuff a lot.
He told me his new albums about finished and ready to come out, and  I played on it.
I was so excited to hear the new music and to be a part of it.

Then without a clue, he was gone.
Steve was killed on his motorcycle a few weeks later.
He ran a stop sign going fast through a neighborhood and a car slammed into him.
May 6th, 2016.

I was floored.
I couldn't believe it happened.
I got several messages from my friends in Tulsa, they confirmed the sad news.
Steve was gone.
Steve was wild and free and did his own thing until the day he died.

Now, just weeks after the passing of Steve, Stand Reed has departed our world as well.
I do not know the details of Stan's passing, but I know he is also gone.

My heart goes out to the city of Tulsa.
These two men were big parts of the music scene and will be missed terribly.
It is hard to believe, but it is true.

I cannot believe I had the chance to spend one day with the both of them, recording music
and having fun like 3 kids in a a candy store.
I am thankful to God for the opportunity to have met them both and called them friends.

Peace, Love, Zito




Thursday, April 28, 2016

Letting go and letting God

I assume we've all heard that before - Let go and let God.

It works, whether you believe in a God or not, it works.
Fear is what creates doubt, uncertainty, misunderstanding, and failure.
Unfortunately, I see it all around me all the time.
I am no stranger to fear myself, I am not perfect, but I have a program and prayer
and it all slowly goes away.
I forget that most people do not have a program or maybe not have a deep enough belief in
the Universe spiritually that everything will be alright, it all works out, always.
Time is in the imagination, we are only here for a brief moment and this time is gone.
The past is forever in memory and the future is never promised,
we only have right here, right now....and why waste that on fear and misunderstanding?
It is always best to let it go, whatever it is that is eating at us and plaguing us.
We should try to be happy and peaceful as much as possible.
If you drew your last breathe in the next moment......would you want your last thought to be
fear and resentment?  Even if it doesn't really matter, wouldn't you choose to go out on a high note?
Fear, resentment, anger, frustration, all poison our bodies and create sickness and ill health.
Positive energy and thoughts, love and forgiveness, tolerance and understanding
create peace and serenity which brings about health and harmony in the body.
It is amazing to me that people will spend so much time and energy and concern over the food they consume and very little thought or care of what they put into their minds.
If you believe in anything, you believe in some kind of power greater than yourself.
That power has it's own will. The will of the universe, the multiverse, the will of everything.
When we accept we are "a part" of this will, we can align with it and forge forward in abundance.
When we believe that we are "apart", we hit the wall. We go against the grain and try and work our way up stream, never getting anywhere.  Belief that there is a will greater than our own gives the strength to let go and let God.  We can only do so much, after that, it's not up to us anymore.
Again, time will elude to pass us by and it will all move forward.......why worry?
It's going to work out whether we like it or not.

Today I try my best to not live in fear, to recognize my thought process and correct it when it
is off track. I have tolerance for those around me and understand that they are sick people as well,
and they may not have a program to help them with their sickness.
The will of God is good and is most certainly the easier, softer way.

Peace, Love, Zito

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sincere Gratitude

Yesterday I experienced sincere gratitude.
I took part in a wonderful community event that involved recovery.
People came together to fight for drug addicts and help bring awareness to a town
that is suffering an epidemic. This program brought in speakers, State Representatives and families
to share their stories, hope and strength.  I was honored to take part in this event.
I was able to share my own personal story or drug addiction along with playing some of my
songs of recovery. After a nice dinner, my band played for the community in celebration.
It was a wonderful day and it made me feel so good to be giving back after all of those years of taking.  We're always told that it feels good to give it away, to help and to do service work, but I don't think we ever quite get it until we do the action. The people were very gracious and thanked me for my time, but I thanked them in return.  It's something I learned a long time ago in recovery.....
You can't keep it if you don't give it away.
It would be great to think that even one person might have heard something I said yesterday and it would maybe help them, but chances are they did not. The most important thing is that I heard what I had to say and it reminds me of who I am, I am an addict.  When I help others, I am truly helping myself.  It is a selfish program for selfish people and it works if you work it.
The more I give, the more I receive.
Music brings people together and I think that is so important to me.
I have music in my life that I love so much, that is such a part of who I am.
I have very special memories and life events and there are songs and music that are the
soundtrack to those special moments, we all do......
But to have my own music be that soundtrack to others lives, for people to tell me that this is
their favorite song or how it changed their life, it is incredibly humbling.
I am very, very thankful today to be in recovery and to have an amazing wife and family.
I can't believe that I get to play music for a living and hopefully bring happiness to others.
It is a dream come true and I am eternally grateful.