Well the devil rides a cubist horse
The devil he's got angles
But God is an expressionist
He's got the devil strangled……
When Pablo Picasso died I was working the lumber camp bars of Prince George, British Columbia. We had a rock and roll cover band called "Fathead" (when we worked country bars we were known as "The Mule Train." Skid Row's Finest Band!) I played piano for "Fathead" and we sang Rolling Stones and Kinks songs whilst the off duty lumberjacks tried to kill each other. I recall one guy knocking out another guy and then, when the ambulance was taking the poor bastard away, the protagonist who'd kicked him chased the sirens down the street, on foot, and opened the back door of the ambulance and climbed in and started clobbering the guy again. Just another winter's evening in a mill town. Rage and rock n roll. Catharsis. Boredom. Oblivion.
So, the night Picasso died the news came over the TV in the funky little broken down motel where we were living. At the very moment when Picasso's face flashed across the screen, five drunken Indian gals in the next room began to howl and keen and cry. For Picasso, I guess. Oh, the wonders of the primitive universe! There was must have been a deep, mystical link between what and who Picasso was and these drunken Native women in a frozen lumber town. (Picasso once said: "My mother wanted me to study medicine and become a famous surgeon. But I studied art and became Picasso!")
From Prince George we traveled to Prince Rupert, as the violence and drinking escalated. A desk clerk in a fleabag hotel in "Apache Pass" shoved a gun barrel against my face one night and slurred: "How you like it now, white boy? How's your blue-eyed boy now, Mr. Death?" Later I realized he was quoting E.E. Cummings.
Cummings? Picasso? Well that's the way it was. I was amused and interested in these little violent, character-building vignettes, because I had been educated as a Criminologist. Got my Masters degree, but never told anyone in the music biz. But in those honkytonks and skid row hotels I was experiencing the real subject matter - up close and very personal, without having to hang out with the boring and soulless academic tribe. And so, dear reader, the song "Criminology" carries on where "East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam" was headed….basically cataloguing the many times I've had a gun pointed at me with mal intent or bad love. Oh, there were a few other instances….but time and rhyme got the best of me. I've done my criminology homework in the backstreet hotel rooms and skid row bars…pursuing Dylan Thomas' Adventures in the Skin Trade. Your reporter, signing off,from the outskirts of Juarez. The final frontier.
(This is song blog #4 in a row of 12 off the coming album: "Blood and Candle Smoke")