Sunday, September 14, 2008

Down Where the Drunkards Roll

There are moments in your life when you turn a corner and stagger into a back alley; into your past. Backed up against the rear exit of a burlesque joint and a junkie's got a knife at your throat. Haven't I been here before? Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes it ain't a dream. We were on the road a few weeks ago in New England. We pulled up to a gig in one of those states above New York. On the waterfront. It said "Riverfront CafĂ©." This was supposed to be a place I've played before. I realized the agent had made a bad mistake. The place I played a few years ago was: "The Riverfront Bar and Grill." (I'm using pseudonyms here for protection.) She'd misread the phone book. Big difference. The other place was up in a better part of town. I knew we might be in troubled country from the twelve Harley Davidson's parked out front. Reminded me of the time I boarded a "People's Express" airline in Oakland and Sonny Barger and twenty Hells Angels got on board in full colors, carrying briefcases. (Adios, baby, we're goin' to Cuba to kick some ass.) Now back to this bar…I opened the door and saw the twenty bikers, and didn't figure any of 'em were my fans, and then I turned and saw the big Monitor Lizard flicking his tongue at me in a glass tank with a sign that said: "He doesn't Play Well with Other People. Watch Your fingers!" Later on I'd watch the owner, tough gent who owned a carnival, feed the lizard with clam strips. Like watching a pirate with a hook feed sharks. We were no longer in Greenwich Village, baby, nor Kansas. But the owner was nice enough, and I got over my dread, and he told me long war story about Link Wray doing his last gig on earth in this bar, and how they carried Link up on stage, and he exploded in a furious two hour set of rock and blues, then collapsed and they carried him out and away. Perfect. Link Wray. A beat Indian rocker in dark glasses.
We made it through OK, but it was close. I asked a biker if everything was all right, and he said "No." It was the most meaningful "No" I'd ever heard. Definitive. To the point.
Lew Welch, the beat poet, would have liked the quiet fury and weight of that rendering: "No!" Welch was walking through a winery one day, taking a tour, and someone's kid almost fell into a wine vat, and the tour guide, who was muttering a boring speech, suddenly woke up and screamed: "Whose kid is that?!" Lew Welch vowed that his poetry would always carry the emotional impact of: "Whose kid is that?!"
Some nights you have to be prepared for that old trap door to open up and you're dropped down a long tunnel, into your hellish musical origins: skid row bars, bikers, hookers, con men, drunk Mohawks, carny's and the like. Dues. Perspective. The minstrel trade can be a humbling experience. Good for the soul. Down where the drunkard's roll. TR
"See the boys out walking, the boys they look so fine, dressed up in green velvet, they're silver buckles shine. Soon they'll be bleary eyed, under a keg of wine…down where the drunkards roll." (Richard Thompson)


Saddle Tramp said...

TR . . . Jim Thompson is the one to take along with you for sure. After all, he is on the best terms with the devil. He proclaimed that he was damned and proud of it. Another definitive " NO" :

" You eat first and talk business later the watches and rings sloped out on the kitchen table by the chipped coffee mugs. She named a price and not another. Mary could say no quicker than any woman I ever knew and none of them ever meant yes. She kept the money in a cookie jar but nobody ever thought of that. Her cold gray eyes would have seen the thought and maybe something goes wrong on the next lay ". Mary was Salt Chunk Mary the fence in Jack Black's " You Can't Win ".

Tom . . . Obviously I share in your love of quotes. Perhaps the best way to go overall. A few more later. I am holding up in Melrose, MN waiting to get unloaded. Reading " Portions From A Wine- Stained Notebook " and Bukowski's " Should We Burn Uncle Sam's Ass? ". It offers some heavy thoughts regarding joining the cause [ or not ]. Back to scratch again. What the hell.

Coming into Denver, Colorado ( carnival sounds still lingering ) I came up behind a van with Colorado plates that said " CITIZEN " on Them. Bumper stickers were plastered all over the back. Deportation Squad, ICE , Sheriffs Dept. , etc. , etc. On the side was a magnetic sign which read CONCEAL CARRY , SELF DEFENSE.


" Stop bothering me with your pathetic politics . . . I'd rather go to the whorehouse " Otto Dix

" A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government " Edward Abbey

" Unfasten the right word - a sickle a barb and a piece of cake " William S. Burroughs

" The world we have made as a result of the thinking we have done this far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking " Albert Einstein

Time for a change? I don't know. I just show up and hope to hear a song that helps get me on down the road a little further while jotting down Odysseusian notes as I go. It's good to have you on the road Tom. I never started with a plan and that still has not changed. I like the way you travel and maybe some day our trails will cross. With a 8 year stint in West Texas I know where all the bones are buried regarding the " illegal " situation. Hermanos with switched identities , exploitation cut both ways , a Cuban ex- Batista enforcer via New York City with 45 at his side working those infamous Cuban exiles later employed by a very connected and staunch Republican. Enough for now. Fucking politics. That's why I had to get out. Art is harder though. You chose the more difficult path. Good travellin' Tom. Always a fan.


editor said...

ST, you brighten my day.

Saddle Tramp said...

Editor, et al . . . I truly hope so as I would never wish to hold a dim view of your comments. I also hope that Tom does not hold one regarding mine. Tom and yourself are probably already aware of the DVD " Down The Tracks - The Music That Influenced Bob Dylan. " I just lucked into it at Borders in Modesto where I am holding up. Every once in a while you can find a diamond in a goat's ass. I found two. Tod Brown's " Freaks " as well. Again, the almost non existent music section yielded nothing. Probably less than ten facings for country, bluegrass and folk combined. Hope Shout Factory holds on! The current economy and all. Firesign Theatre came on board as well.

" Down The Tracks . . . " rings true for me. Hope it does for others. You get it where you can. The roots with the dirt
still on them. Like you pull up Tom. The real. Like it or not.

How many angles to Dylan? I would answer. How many
angles to truth . . . countless.


P.S Editor , I used to run 97 from Biggs Jct. to Weed,
CA. on occasion. Looked at running 20 across on a
Eugene delivery once but ran 84 to 5. Who knows.

editor said...

ST — If you ever take HWY 20 over Santiam Pass, look me up in Sisters. I edit the local paper. We have a good independent book store and a good used book store. I'll buy you a cup of coffee.

Saddle Tramp said...

Editor . . .

First a thanks to our host and apologies if I am stepping on his forum or adding to his dread. Editor , I will up the ante and buy your lunch or dinner If you will put up with me [sic]. No straight line from Sisters as you know. Weather a factor. Thanks for the offer.I will try.


It is Tod " Browning " not Brown who did " Freaks. "
Sorry. I need an editor.


editor said...