Remember the song “Psycho”? It was written by Leon Payne, an incredibly good songwriter who wrote many top hits for country singers. He was known as the blind country balladeer, partly because he was blind and partly because he was a country balladeer. The song was actually inspired by a particular incident.
In 1966, a man named Charles Whitman strangled his mother to death, stabbed his wife, and then headed to the top of the University of Texas library tower and opened fire on an unsuspecting crowd, using his Marine Corps sniper rifle, killing sixteen people. Whitman was gunned down by police.
Apparently Whitman complained for a long time about headaches and strange feelings, and an autopsy later revealed he had a brain tumor. On the day he purchased his rifle, Whitman also bought a can of Spam.
The version of “Psycho” that inspired Elvis Costello’s version was recorded by Jack Kittel, although George Jones (yes, that George Jones) and Eddie Noack both recorded it previously. In the remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho, the song was recorded by Teddy Thompson.
Now, about getting smaller (I have derailed again. I tend to do that, and some readers think I’ve gotten weird, if not psycho, as well. I ask them to assure the newbies that they may continue reading without losing any more grip on reality than they are willing to lose). I moved from a big place to a small place, and in that process I parted, sometimes happily, sometimes with tears, with things that have been held precious for generations from many childhoods. Many things belonged to my wife Jennifer who got her wings on September 25, 2011. No one wanted the things she had held dear, and I did not have room for them. Some things were donated, but others, like an old clay pot, are now landfill and giving back to the earth. My possessions are fewer, my struggle for money is less important than breaking the shackles of dependence on material things, and my life is simpler. In a world of belonging and longing, I have gotten smaller. Getting smaller is not age-reliant, but it is one of the benefits of getting older, and I will say that getting smaller can make you feel bigger. Ridding yourself of Stuff is cathartic. When you tell that to someone attached to their stuff, they may indeed think you’re psycho.
Anyone paying attention to the Charles Whitman story would have quickly seen that someone buying both a gun and spam had issues, but isn't a lot of material stuff a little like spam? No one really likes it or knows what it is, but everyone has had it at one time or another.
So, what part did “Psycho” play in this piece? Really, none. As I said, I derailed myself, but I’m sure it made things more interesting than 500 words on landfill, and there is nothing like adding a bit of information to my esoteric ramblings on life.
There’s more on Spam on the shores of Rambling Harbor. I hope you’ll join me there.