Steam boat whistles blowin' underwater
Everything's backwards and upside down
Baby Moses in the bulrushes
Paddling sideways to higher ground…
People, let me tell you, there was an earthquake down South in 1912, and they say the Mississippi river ran backwards. The world turned upside down for a few days and all creation was a children's nursery rhyme. One of the darker kind. The Land of the Razz-Ma-Tazz! Folks began to come apart. Fuller Brush men hanging in trees; insurance executives run out of town on rails. Tarred and feathered. Blow Gabriel Blow. They say Brother Levon went out of his head out on farm road #34. To quote Levon: "Man come down here tellin' me he got a mule for sale, and I realize it's a dead mule….and the man, he dead too, and then I woke up and wished I didn’t wake up cause outside my porch come the water and comin' fast and I'm knowin' I gotta hoof it for higher ground….'cept there ain't none. Only God be on the higher ground. So I lay down and wept. And that's when things gone real real bad."
Hell, I have no idea what this song is about. I only write 'em. Some sort of hillbilly Armageddon gone modern. But I woke up in the emergency ward in Tucson the other night and this song suddenly made complete sense. The world had turned upside down, and in the room next to me was a three hundred pound killer from the county jail who was chained to his bed; two cops watching him like hungry crows. The killer wore an orange prison jumpsuit and had a huge bald head and horn rimmed glasses. He looked like Rod Steiger in "The Pawnbroker." As I passed his room I thought I heard a nurse say: "…Oh, God, something's wrong. It's running backwards!"
(Song # 7 in a series of sketches on the songs off the coming record: "Blood and Candlesmoke." This song is now released and streaming from www.myspace.com/russelltom )