Monday, June 22, 2009

Mississippi River Runnin' Backwards

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 )

13 comments:

editor said...

That's 1812.

What the hell were you in the emergency ward for?Stay out of them places!

Saddle Tramp said...

Thanks for taking the first shot Editor ... Tom, you are scaring the HELL out of us, first with the prophecy and then with the hospital nightmare. I am hoping this was an extension of the dream and not otherwise. It beckons a further exegesis. At least we know that you were still ambulatory. A comment if you please . . .
I am hoping you can put our minds at ease . . .
I do not want to think otherwise . . .

saddle tramp
Via: Holt's Truck Stop / Gila Bend, AZ
On The Butterfield Trail

abnermull99 said...

Now, no reason to panic folks. There are plenty of good reasons to be waking up in the emergency ward of a hospital in Tucson... Maybe the hotels were all booked up and he needed a place to spend the night. Or, uh... too many habanero peppers. Or, uh, yeah... I think I should just shut up now.

abnermull99 said...

And why is the infidel Michael Martin no longer listed as a band member on Tom's facebook and myspace pages? Just shows Thad Beckman (who is majorly cool, btw - he played w/Tom in SLC at the house concert).

Let the wild conspiracy theories begin. So far, we've got an incident involving habanero peppers, Michael Martin, and a banjo (don't ask - I just know). Oh, and a nightmare of mescal & a poor man stealing electricity while a truck of migrants pulled through town.

You connect the dots...

Saddle Tramp said...

Abner . . .

Always enjoy your twist on things . .
I did notice ( on myspace ) during my search for clues that
[Some] one is still logging in. I pray this is a good sign. Regarding the absence of said guitarist I assume that the road & schedules contributed to it. Gawd . . . better take the first exit off the Grapevine lest this becomes . . . well you know. I also know the perils of overwork and irregular lifestyles. It's a younger man's game. Your mortality winks at you more & more often. Some stop. Some don't.
Speaking of stopping, I better do just that. You know my verbosity by now. I'm workin' on it. I will trust Tom has his reasons for omitting the details . . His work is enough to sustain us . . . I don't care what side of the bed he sleeps on , I just hope the hell he's okay & staying out of ones in hospitals . . .


saddle tramp
Via: RJ's Travel Center / Traver, CA

abnermull99 said...

OK, I shouldn't do this (really, I shouldn't - it's liable to get me banned for life from all TR events), but here is what happened:

TR: Arrgh! I've been shot!
MM: Yeah, I shot you.
TR: What'd you do that for?
MM: Because you're a bastard. And I'm an infidel. And you ate all the habaneros.
TR: You know this means you're fired?
MM: Yeah, guess I saw that coming. Well, we'd better get you to the hospital.
TR: Yeah. You drive. I'm oozing here.
MM: Sure thing. You're not gonna write a song about this little incident, are you?
TR: Probably will. After the oozing stops...

FallGuy said...

Jesus Russell - don't tease us with those emergency room comments. We need you in this world!

Tom Russell said...

I`m ok, just a small javelina attack in the hotel parking lot...I`m back on my feet. Thanks for the interest.

Tom Russell said...

PS. The show Saturday night in Livermore, CA is open to the public. Call 925 963 4560, it`s at the Bankhead Theatre.

abnermull99 said...

just a small javelina attack in the hotel parking lot...

Hmmm... I liked my version better :-)

Figured it wasn't anything too serious, or you never would have mentioned it in the first place. Kind of like Steve Jobs and his liver transplant.

Saddle Tramp said...

Thanks for the followup Tom and for the good news . Sorry that I missed you at the Bankhead but was already under a load and schedule. Will follow the handy artistdata schedule of your concert dates. Nice feature.

Listening to the 4 hours of archive shows of Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour show on The Spectrum . First show was on the theme " Dreams ". The Louvin Bros. deliver " When I Stop Dreaming ". Dylan relates stories on Ira Louvin who really did get shot . . Shot 4 times by wife number 3. He lived and went on to tour with wife number 4 and went on to outrun warrants for his arrest the hard way in a fatal car crash. Tom Waits comes along with his entree " Innocent When I Dream ".
Now into Dylan's " Numbers " theme & Dudley's " Six Days on The Road " . . .

Looking forward to your # 8

saddle tramp
Via: The Sand Creek Massacre Trail

Cranbrook said...

Yeah, I just listened to the song on the forthcoming record, Tom, and you say 1912. Did you mean to say that, or were you unaware that the New Madrid earthquakes--during which the floor of the Mississippi River shifted, making the river APPEAR to run backwards (it didn't run backwards)--occurred in 1811 and 1812 (you seem to know that these occurrences sparked a fundamentalist, apocalyptic religious revival amongst the credulous folk of the frontier of those days)? Interesting song on an interesting album, can't think of many records that mention Dory Previn, Nina Simone, Indiana, Texarkana, Graham Greene, "Ioway" and so forth in one 60-minute stretch...

propheticfire/ D. gansmann said...
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