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The Heckler

July 16, 2021

Years ago, I used to play guitar in nightclubs, steakhouses and like venues. I was paid well to entertain but my real job of course was to sell drinks in the lounge. Every entertainer knows the same ugly truth. However, I didn’t let it take me down. Things normally went very smoothly: There was always the bevy of groupies in the front row and most of the audience was at least respectful if not fully engaged in my music. However, rarely every now and then there was the heckler.

I started out entertaining with a friend of mine, Ray Allopena. When we both lived in Woodland Hills, California, there was this neighborhood bar called the Loading Zone and we were the weekend entertainment there for quite awhile. Like any place of its ilk, it was often full of drunks and loudmouths. Early in the game, I learned how to deal with these folks. When drunkenness became heckling, I would just stop mid-note in what I was singing and launch into this special song I wrote for just such occasions:

One For The Road

© 1974 Allen E. Rizzi

 V1        “R” is for this raunchy place

            That I found myself in tonight….

V2        “O” is for that old man

            Who’s passed out on the floor….

 V3        “A” is for that asshole

            Who just came in the door….

 V4        “D” is for that dismal air

            That I know just ain’t right….

 Ch.      So barkeep…. Up another

            And pour one for the road.

 Coda   So barkeep…. Up another

            And pour one for the road.

This song was written solely for one reason; when things got really, really bad while playing in bars back then (The Loading Zone 1974), I would whip this tune out rather than just screaming “shut up!” No commercial value here whatsoever, but it did bring calm to the bars back then.

This ploy was always effective, often sending the embarrassed offender out the door. I kept this little gem and used it later in my career only when the occasion arose, which was thankfully infrequently. When I had graduated to playing respectful venues, my reputation often preceded me. If the rare heckler appeared, I needed only to stop my song for an instant; they knew what was coming and usually quit on the spot. Things immediately returned to normal. I was left alone to have fun, sing my music and of course sell those damned drinks!

As I plan to return to public entertainment, I am keeping this one polished up and ready – Just for insurance.

You can find the lyrics to all of my 1970’s songs here: Three A.M. – The Complete 1970s Song Lyrics

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From → America, History, Humor, Music

  1. What a perfect way to handle the situation!


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