“I’ve lived most of my life with extreme tension and pain in my body due to the lack of a hip socket on my left side,” says singer-songwriter Happy Ron Hill. “Sitting up would make my body stiff, which would make feeling the rhythm in my body very difficult, and doing fine motor coordination like playing guitar and singing was hard. I was fortunate enough to play music in a more comedic style that worked, given my situation, but I didn’t really have the connection to my body to sing in a more conventional way.”
"If You're Bored in San Diego"
...by "Happy" Ron Hill
Multiple surgeries beginning as a child did little to alleviate his problem. Until this year. “When I met my hip doctor, he said that I had one of the worst hips he’d ever seen. They degenerated to the point where I could no longer walk, and they finally recommended surgery...so I had my hips replaced, and I’m no longer disabled! It’s transformed my life.”
Hill says that, post-surgery, his entire musical persona has changed. “I was amazed at how much more connected to my body I am, and how much more I’m able to focus on my music. I’m so much more centered and able to sit and concentrate better. It has totally changed my relationship with music from a struggle to a joy.”
Although his gravelly voice often sounds like Tom Waits nursing a hangover, Happy Ron specializes in upbeat, introspective, and often humorous songs, including local-centric sing-alongs like “If You’re Bored in San Diego” (to which the audience shouts back, “It’s your fault!”). His hip surgery has allowed him to be more productive than previously, including new live musical collaborations with standup bassist Paul Tillery and writing songs with Daniel Friedberg, aka Freebo, from Bonnie Raitt’s band.
He may have given up the handicapped parking plate, but Happy Ron has one more reason to be happy. “I have a new girlfriend! So odd to finally find the right woman at 52. It makes me wonder how I made it this long without her.
“When I was in the hospital, I kept hearing my song ‘Keep Moving Forward’ in my head. It was an old song that I never quite finished or played out, [although] I played it for everyone in the hospital.”
That song is now completed, and you can hear it when Hill appears on Monday, November 14, at Lestat’s.