The WOO Chronicles: On Retirement, Ruin, Relocation and Recovery

It’s pretty much a cliche now, but I’m gonna say it anyway:

2020 has been some kind of year.

Nobody saw it coming. And the fact that 2021 is less than a month away does not by any means free us from its grip. We’re mired in 2020. Getting it to let us go will take more than a little effort from more than a few people, many of whom aren’t particularly interested in carrying their share of the load.

Nobody is above the fray. Nobody. I thought I was for the longest, but clearly I was in denial. All I had to do was take a little inventory to realize what a tough year this has been. Consider:

  • A pandemic not taken seriously enough at first, leading to the severe (and nearly fatal) illness of a close friend and mentor. (Luckily, he has recovered. It only took him eight-plus months.)
  • A retirement that, while ultimately executed, went nowhere near as planned.
  • The death of a man at the hands of police, causing social upheaval and cultural revolution on a scale not seen in years. Said revolution brought a level of scrutiny onto my profession that actually had me thanking my personal god that I no longer had to go out and do the job.
  • Rioting from said upheaval leading to the senseless death of my first commander (whom I deeply revered), as he was trying to protect a pawn shop while it was being looted.
  • People on both sides of the political spectrum revealing their true selves to the point where it was deemed necessary to cut ties with many of them, including a former work partner I considered a brother and a close member of my family.
  • The equally senseless death of a 29-year-old man I trained to take my place, shot in the head as he responded to a call to help two people being held hostage in their own home.
  • Delivering one of the eulogies for that young man at his funeral, a task I was both honored to do and spiritually crushed by.
  • Relocating to a new city, primarily to take advantage of a music scene that no longer exists and will not for some time.
  • A metric ton of trauma not anticipated and relentlessly denied, even as I sunk into a mental place that made productivity all but impossible.

What does any of this have to do with Bernie Worrell, you ask?


I accepted the commission from the Worrell Estate bound and determined to plow through all the outside interference and keep my eyes on the prize. If I was gonna be stuck at home with everyone else, then it should be easy to make things happen and get everything finished in the time allotted.

Except it hasn’t worked out quite that way. The process has been a brick wall I ran into headfirst.

Still, there is hope.

I’ve talked to people. I’ve made new friends and solidified other relationships. I’ve settled in to my new home. The need to be productive continues to gain strength and momentum. The writing bug has bitten me hard. Finally. I’m typing like crazy again.

The Big Binder of Bernie has been reorganized. Notes are being transcribed and reviewed. More chats are being scheduled. The train is back on track, as it were, and I’m moving forward again.

The Holidays are upon us, but that doesn’t matter all that much in my office. The wheels are turning, and neither Santa nor the Baby New Year can stop them. The light at the end of the tunnel no longer looks like an oncoming freight train.

We’re gonna be OK.

Outside, things haven’t completely righted themselves by longshot. But there is hope on multiple levels. Understanding, leadership, medication … they’re all beginning to surface. It will take awhile before things seem “normal” again. And things will still look a helluva lot different.

But inside, things are realigning to the point where I can move forward. And that’s saying something.


You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at

One comment

  1. Ced – 2020 has certainly had it’s share of potholes and setbacks…you have accomplished a lot and should congratulate yourself on making a life changing move in the middle of the chaos. And most importantly, you have your health…enjoy the upcoming holidays and thanks for all the entertainment throughout the year!

    Liked by 1 person

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