Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fischer
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Rich man blues

Wick's World


“I woke up this morning, both my cars were gone.

I stumbled past my swimming pool, threw my drink across the lawn.

I got the blues. I got those rich man blues.”

I first heard this catchy little tune on Duluth’s KUMD radio station. I really don’t know if the song was called “Rich Man Blues.” I have no idea who wrote and/or performed the song, or if I even have the words to the chorus correct. What I do remember is that my buddy and I sang this version sometime in the mid-70s while we were building my log cabin in the northern woods of Minnesota. We adopted “Rich Man Blues” as our mantra because it spoke of everything we were not. We also loved to sing the Lamont Cranston version of “Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens”, most likely due to our self-imposed isolation.

Back then, I was neither rich nor wanted to be. Following my discharge from the U.S. Army, I went to live in New York City, the most populated city in America. Before a year was up, I left the country once again and traveled throughout Europe and the Mid-East. I added a couple more years of college to my resume before I made my move to one of the least populated areas in the country: rural Aitkin County, Minnesota.

I guess I was seeking some peace and quiet when my wife and I had made the decision to live off the grid. Pink Floyd sang about becoming “just another brick in the wall.” My stint in the Army Airborne Infantry required discipline and following a rigid set of rules. In hindsight, I realized the rigid training I endured to become a ‘strack trooper’ was the catalyst that made me want to tune in, turn on and drop out of the established order. I never again would I have allowance for a boss man. Yeah, right. How’d that work out, Wick?

By 1975, the last remnants of the 60s were dying a slow death. Free love, make peace, not war and most of the signs of antidisestablishmentarianism that caused Scandinavian Lutheran school girls to ‘go bad’ no longer ruled the day. Note: I finally used what was once called the longest word in Webster’s dictionary!

So that is how I found myself deep in the woods of Northern Minnesota singing the “The Rich Man Blues.” This is not to be confused with C. W. Stoneking’s version of “Rich Man Blues” written and released in 2015. My buddy and I would greet each log-carving day singing our 1975 song about the guy we never wanted to be. I most certainly had found I was at the ideal place for avoiding wealth. There was very little money to be made living off the grid with no electricity or telephone service. Today I can live anywhere and run as many businesses as I want; doing it all from my hand-held smart phone.

Following the log cabin days, I eventually became just another brick in the wall. I also discovered somewhere along the way that a wealthy life style is not necessarily a bad situation to find one’s self in. I believe the song “Rich Man Blues” was simply explaining that everyone can get the blues, no matter the state of their wealth.

My wife and I (mostly her) have made several wise financial choices while travelling down the road of life. I was the guy following my retirement day as one who didn’t know how to start a computer. Soon, however, I was on the road to becoming a tech-savvy business man.

As I get older, I find myself having fun making money by having money. The key is to make the right investments. I have found that the greater the risk, the larger the bounty. I have always been a risk-taker. That’s why I loved jumping out of airplanes even if one was equipped with perfectly adequate landing gear. That’s why I loved rappelling down waterfalls even though there was a perfectly good set of stairs that led to the bottom. And that’s why I love making a bit of money, coin by coin. Wealth isn’t so bad because the fun is in the journey getting there: bit by bit.


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