Monday, April 7, 2008

Hurricane Season

Flew to Fort Worth for Bass Hall, and then down to Charlotte, and finally Myrtle Beach and up the beach to Southport, South Carolina. Swamp land and ocean. Dozen miniature golf courses and crab shacks. Played an ancient theater in Southport and ate fresh fish stuffed with crab. Then a six hour drive back up to Charlotte through swamp land bible belt. Eerie. Nothing moves on Sunday, til the folks come out of church in these small towns - and then they drive out to the highway to the nearest fast food place and have breakfast. Beautiful for spacious skies and grey waves of amber coffee. Towns now seem to exist on the edge of Walmart parking lots, instead of the opposite. Fear on the installment plan. Celine country. Pie in the sky. Baptist, Methodist. What have you. God doesn't seem to be bring people joy round here - except for the blacks.
Fundamentalist Black churches filled with praise, shouting and music. Soul. Laughter.
Charlotte was an oasis. Good crowd at the "Evening Muse" - hip crowd. When we'd left El Paso, the taxes were coming due; the water pump was out and they we're about to tear up our kitchen. I hope they find Don Juan Onate's sword underneath the house when they dig up the plumbing. The Carolinas are a long way from the desert. The rental car has Sirius Radio installed, so we've been listening to Outlaw Country. Some occasional Buck Owens and Merle and Lefty, and the echos of old passion and blood and guts in the grooves. You can request some of our songs on Sirius and XM using the links below. Digital seems to at least offer a platter of
music you might dig for an hour or so before you become dazed from counting the Waffle Houses.
"When Adam ate the apple, Eve tried to hide the core....they ran naked, fearful, wasted...and one thing more....they were as naked as the coat Hank Williams wore." New TR song. Your reporter in the swamps. Heading for the Capitol.

Links to requests on Sirius and XM:


Saddle Tramp said...

Tom . . . nice allusion to " Nudie " in your new song. Hope you get it on disc soon. It whetted my appetite. Speaking of appetites, it is quite a menu that you wake up to everyday. Also, Hank's coat in the basement could lead to:
The Basement Tapes Series
" Zapata's eyes down in the basement . . . dark and cool "
A raw boned song that puts you right there.
Good to see that you are still finding the juice out there. It is however starting to scare the hell out of me. (America) . . . wounded heart for sure Tom.
" Miles and miles and miles of . . . more miles". -ST

Eliasstep said...

Last time I was a special guest blogger, I wrote about my sister and the choice ways (blatant abuse) of exposing (forcing) music on me through mix tapes. I enjoyed writing the blog and recently went to a Tom Russell concert and figured I would share. And to be honest, I’m struggling with the frequency Molly has been posting lately. Quite frankly, I’m not sure this recent Comcast cable dilemma and the new fish will pan out in terms of any new material for Molly to blog about… I mean 9 posts in March, what the fuck? If Molly keeps up this pace, we’re right on track for Molly trying to write 6 posts a day in the month of December to meet some arbitrary goal she set out doing for the year… But who is counting and enough about Molly. This blog is about Tom Russell, you bastards…

Tom Russell sings songs about love, heartache, floods, prisons, drunks, fighting roosters, cowboys, Indians, the Rio Grande, trains, drinking, hard work, horses, oppression, traveling, loneliness, heroes, antiheros, death, immigrants, whore houses, posses, outcasts, war, and searching for meaning and existence.

Now that I think about it, Tom and I have very similar things we choose to write about. My previous blog had underlying themes similar to Tom Russell’s songs. Like Tom Russell, I write about oppression and hardships. I guess I appeal to everyday people who long for freedom and equality. People who see and deal with injustices on a daily basis. Whether it’s enjoying the simple pleasures of having a choice to what tape you are going to listen to one day (out of two years) while riding in your sister’s car or feeling the pains of honest Americans being laid off of work after years of labor in a steel mill in Tom’s song “U.S. Steel.” I think everyone sees the link between the two. Right?

I started listening to Tom Russell when I was 12. My dad learned about Tom Russell through my uncle, or “Bill from Sioux City”, as Tom Russell knows him due to over 14 concerts and a train tour with him. Along with The Eagles, The Beatles, Nanci Griffith, and Jimmy Buffett, my dad regularly played Tom Russell’s CDs while riding in the car and around the house. As a little kid I really didn’t get a choice in what we listened to …(surprise surprise)…

Later in life, I found out that other kids really didn’t listen to this kind of music. As a kid, I NEVER owned or listened to a sing-a-long Disney tape that’s main purpose was to teach me to share, wash my hands, or count! I left the car/basement singing about wanting to “get high with a little help from my friends” and pondering why you would need a “waterbed filled up with Elmer’s glue”. That’s just ridiculous… That being said, I can also tell you that there is no fucking way my kid is going to be listening to any Lion King/Mufasa sing-a-long shit. If/when I have a kid, his or hers first record is going to be The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. That’s that. …Noticing a theme when it comes to my family, control, and music?

However, getting drunk and screwing or developing alter-egos and taking acid trips was child’s play when it came to Tom Russell. There was no singer that I feared more growing up than Tom. As a 12 year old, you just can’t shake songs about roosters pecking each other to death as their owners bet their livelihood to save the family farm. I’d say songs about Japanese internment camps were a little much as well.

Needless to say, Tom was a little advanced for me when I was 12. I guess I really wasn’t able to relate in terms of different life experiences. At that point, the only flood I’d experienced was in our basement when the water heater broke. The biggest thing I had ever searched for was my Hulk Hogan action figure that my brother took from me. I only related bourbon whisky to my grandmother who drank it before dinner while we watched the 6 o’clock news. Now that I think about it, the last example is kind of random and a little awkward…

Jump 12 years ahead… Tom puts on a great show and is as intense as ever. To be honest, I’m still fearful and easily the youngest person in the audience. At times, I feel like I’m sitting in class listening to an American history lecture or getting my Masters in Folk Music. Tales of dinner with Johnny Cash and drinking in NYC apartments channeling Bob Dylan were great. He played a lot of new stuff but closed with a good old song about cockfighting and taunts the audience saying he’s not doing to “play no stinking rooster song”…

Anyway, Tom has been posting to his blog more than Molly has, and if you are interested in getting a brief glimpse into Tom’s mind, I highly recommend it. You could also read the account below, where I tried to channel the man himself. The concert review written with a Tom Russell style…

We rode into Charlotte after 50 miles of rain soaked asphalt. The grey colored clouds linger heavy like the cheap speed and Cognac we enjoyed the night before. We find the dive where our fate awaits and decide to eat across the street at Boudreaux’s. A Louisiana kitchen that time forgot about. Billy, our waiter, moves slow bringing us beer and fried alligator before our meal of crab cake croissant sandwiches. People say gator is like salmon in how it takes on the flavor of what is cooked with. I disagree, Billy is a bastard. I think of the salmon fisherman up in Alaska and the time I spent up there. We tip our hats and leave singing Ava Maria, or at least the parts we knew.

We get to the show early, as dad doesn’t like to sit far back. I wait as dad grabs more beer. It’s cold in here. The cold reminds me of the winter of 93. It was cold back then. I wish I brought my Columbia fleece vest that’s out in the car. That would warm me like the warmth of her love before she headed down the Rio Grande like so many before. A man dressed in black sings his heart out and I’m reminded of Amsterdam and the Dutchman. As the show goes on it gets warmer in the dive. I sit back and think about how crazy I was for thinking the vest was a good idea. I’m glad it’s in the car, where it should be. That would have been way too warm. Way too warm. Intermission. (Intermission.) That’s a fragment, but I don’t give a damn, you bastards…
We get up and make our way over to the man in black. I’m amazed at the fearlessness that dad approaches him. Wait… Typical, now he’s explaining who he and his brother are. I don’t think he understands. I’m relieved. Wow he’s signing my poster. We talk about the poster. It’s old. Old like 12 years of time rubbed dark and raw. I mutter that I’ve been a fan since I was young. Tom repeats what I say. I don’t know where this is going. I’m confused. I’m going to go sit down. Wow that was close… He could have killed me.

Another set and an encore. I leave amazed and satisfied, like I just had eggs over a t-bone steak. We saddle up and try to figure out the way back to the highway. We make a couple of wrong turns and end up in a bad part of town. Real bad. (another fragment, you think I give a shit) I don’t think this part of town would appreciate the American craftsmanship that went into my fleece vest. I’m going to take it off. Wow, next time, I’m just not going to bring this fucking fleece. It’s been so much trouble. Dad lock the doors. This isn’t good. Why do all the stores have bars on them? I mean French-Canadian Racketeers and rednecks from down south I could have anticipated and fought. But 12:00 on the other side of the tracks, the tracks the Japanese laid down, is not good. Oh thank God, a sign for the highway. Let’s stock up on more cheap speed and coffee. Tomorrow we will go to work, but tonight… tonight we ride…tonight we ride…
Posted by Molly at 8:44 PM 0 comments