Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Lovin' of the Game

Who's gonna throw that Minstrel boy a coin?
Who's gonna let it roll?
Bob Dylan

The treasure’s not the takin’. It’s the lovin’ of the game. Winter chill hits Columbia Missouri. Rivers soon frozen. Marking the Twain; ten shows in; fifty to go. Blood and Candle Smoke. From sold out show in Boston to midnight run on old interstate 95; here we are on this broke down, rutted highway and three in the morning and worried about making the Letterman show. We make NYC in the afternoon and walk head on into the “controversy.” Letterman tapes two shows on that Thursday, and he tells of the extortion plot against him. Dave handled it a lot better than those boneless politicians with their faux shame. Ratings climbed 50% higher and we began to chart on Amazon. More gigs: Joe's Pub, Turning Point, World CafĂ© with Gene Shay, who says he puts "Blood" into the top 25 of his 11,000 plus record collection. Told me he had dated Nina Simone. Vienna Virginia, XM Radio with Bob Edwards which will air soon; Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Ann Arbor, Fairfield - Iowa…home of the Transcendental Meditation tribe. Blueberry pie and Vedic houses and down the road to Columbia. Then K.C., St Louis and Mt.Olive. There is still an America out there, but it's a house of mirrors. You don’t know what you're actually seeing; or eating. Much illusion. But the bridges and the rivers are still there, carrying coal, and shrimp and broken bottles through the night. Old America still exists inside used book stores and on the faces of Amish women.

People want to know what this life feels like, asking: "don’t you get tired of traveling?" Naw. What baffles me is what OTHER people have to do for a living. Just give me that fruit platter and two bottles of water in the dressing room. A towel and decent hotel. We follow an ancient path of old wagon ruts left by guitar toting muleskinners who carry the word from town to town. An honest trade in a tired land. And I dream back to that old Ed Sullivan theater dressing room where they tape the Letterman show; thinking about that tray of fresh cookies and those wonderful old photos on the wall; people who have shared the dressing room: James Brown, The Beatles, Bob Dylan (with his upside down Gibson guitar - the photo must have been backwards.) It's all worth it, if you can stay inside the song and sing it honestly.
Why do we do it? How? I quote the song lines:

But beside the lookin' for…
The findin's always tame.
There's nothin' drives a gambler,
Like the lovin of the game.
"The Lovin' of the Game"
PatGarvey

Letterman link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIDCYjvj5XU
(Southwest tour coming….and Texas….check www.tomrussell.com)

4 comments:

abnermull99 said...

Jerry Jeff does a nice version of that song... As for what other people have to do for a living, John Hartford covered that pretty well (In Tall Buildings). Been there. Wage slavery. Sucks the life right out of you, it does.

But didn't sombody once say the road it gives and the road it takes away???

guildedsinner said...

Ann Arbor.....it's been ten years since I tuned into WLS (while trucking through Chicago,) to find out what might be on host Jay Marvin's mind. I hear something about someone and someone are "live" in the studio. I thought "This is going to suck....." I hear someone say we'll give Andrew a workout and play "Out In California." Damn.....as the playing starts, I readjust the air seat and become an instant fan.
Oct 9 2009 and the wife and I are making our way on a dark, rain soaked interstate I-94...(this is a bit too much like work!)...but we're determined to get to the Ark and see the show. This will make our fourth show and a vacation adjustment had to be implemented.
The rain had the courtesy to end and the rest of the evening was pretty much routine: One hell of a show!
Tom, I'm unsure exactly how you manage the feat, but you made the tunes sound as fresh as if you hadn't played them five nights in a row. The live performance really brought the new CD to life.
The word "honest" hits the mark....that's the way I want my music. Keep that caravan moving!!!!!

L'bard said...

Hey, Tom, I just discovered you. Heard you on an NPR interview. Two of my favorites are Gene Clark and Townes Van Zant and I am here to tell you that you can rest your boots beside those fellows. You're one of the immortals and a new favorite of mine. Don't know how I missed you along the way. But it's good to know you now. Thanks for the great music.

editor said...

Got my tix for the Alladin Theater when the caravan rolls into Portland this December.