Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving on the Bravo

In 1598 Shakespeare wrote "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Henry V." On April 20th of that year Don Juan de Onate reached the Rio Grande near today's El Paso. Twenty of the horses drowned in the water; others "drank until their bellies split." The Spanish had endured a scorching pilgrimmage across the Chihuahuan desert; El Original Camino del Muertos. Onate rode to the edge of the river, made the sign of the cross, and took possession of all lands watered by the Rio Grande. For God and King Phillip of Spain. Onate's horse reared in the air; the conquistador crossed the river with six thousand head of beef, a few fighting bulls, and hundreds of colonists. Famished and thirsty, the folks were ready to party. Don Juan called for a thanksgiving feast; the boys carved up a dozen beeves, threw chilis in a pot and handed around the tortillas and Spanish brandy. A half-bred gypsy sang the songs of Spain, and men wept for their homeland. The first thanksgiving on American ground. This thanksgiving transpired nine years before the pilgrims landed at Jamestown. I prefer our cowboy version here on the banks of the Rio Bravo. Now the tallest equestrian statue in the world stands in front of the El Paso airport. It's Don Juan Onate on a tall Andalusian horse crossing the waters of the Rio Grande. We crossed with him. And so we give thanks. We made it. So far. We crossed the deserts of love and hatred and fear. We swam the rivers and rode the twisters (as Rosalie would say.) We came this far. And "out there" is a new world and we're riding towards it. Always riding towards it. We give thanks for our families, our two sets of twins here and on the way, our music, and the people who come to listen. And for the songs…Forty years ago Bob Dylan was staying in a motel in Kansas City. It was thanksgiving day and someone called to invite him to their house for dinner. "I stayed in the motel," he said. "And wrote 'Just like A Woman.' " Thanks for that, Bob. Thanks for all of it. Time to stuff the turkey with celery and apples, and uncork the Rioja. A toast to Don Juan and Dylan. Jessica, Quinn. Nadine. Ole! Y Amor Y Gracias.


Saddle Tramp said...

TR . . . Yes, the tallest [ bronze ] equestrian statue in the world. Leaving their accent on the land and all the rest. The flavors I love. Sometimes El Camino del Rey and at others El Camino del Diablo. I have travelled both. Thankful to tell the tale. Perspective. Balance. Life. The rewards of pain when it pays off. Thanks. Gratitude for what is largely out of our control. You get the day that shows up. Nothing more. My recent days have been spent walking the halls of Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia on my way to the neuro-surgical ward. Seeing all those tragedies. Children of a lesser God? No! Reminders for us as Cohen
sings " They are leaning out for love . . . ". The call out to us. We need real Thanksgiving. Yes Tom, like you so poetically describe and deliver in this post. It also helps to know of Dylan declining the invitation to Thanksgiving dinner. It can never be the same without family. My Thanksgiving Day plans have been plucked, but the exchange was worth it. My fifth Thanksgiving Day alone on the road coming up. Thoughts of Dylan in a motel room.
Sometimes you just have to close yourself in. One of his best albums was the result of his being holed up in his Minnesota cabin. Thankful he did it. Living in a box can squeeze it out of you. Words wrought out of that cloistered pressure. Only one way to go. On the anvil under the hammer. Something created, something broken.
Much cowboy thanks Tom, to you and yours . . .

Hampton Inn on Druid Hills Road N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia yearning for a caliche road
somehere on the Llano Estacado . . .

Texorama said...

I sent this out, with attribution, as a Thanksgiving message to a few friends. One of them, a serious Dylan geek, writes back: "The composition of "Just Like a Woman" is usually dated Feb.-March of 66, when Dylan was recording Blonde on Blonde. Of course, those dates are almost always based on when the song first turned up, and the notion (mistaken, I suspect) that Dylan is writing songs in the studio--when in fact he is probably just editing them. I wonder, though, where Russell got that from."

Any insights, anybody?

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tom,
Happy Thanksgiving from the Land of the Long White Cloud. Not a day celebrated here, and one that thus always brings a certain melancholia. So very enjoyed your words. Kia kaha.

Saddle Tramp said...

Trail note:

Texorama . . . Urban myth or fact? Source? Perhaps TR could illuminate this or some Google genius or Dylan acolyte might weigh in. As for me, it is enough just to hear it. I bought some reading material for my return flight to L.A. , " American Cowboy's Annual Gift Guide. John Wayne and Rio Bravo on the cover. More times than not the truth sells cheaply. Between all the cowboy and cowgirl glitter and high priced paraphenalia of persona is the:


Tom Russells " Veterans Day Anthology " is the first out of the chute. He stands with some very tall company and I might add is shoulder to shoulder. Truth is truth no matter how you package it. I still prefer and enjoy mine packaged
like this one. Thanks Tom.

" Trying to pick up a little honesty can at times be like trying to pick up fly shit with boxing gloves on ". -ST

With thoughts of Maria, whom I just met, that is driving a big rig to support her three kids . . . And she is Just Like A woman . . .

Waiting to load at Ralph's Grocery Warehouse in Riverside, CA driving straight through to Hyrum, UT for delivery on Thanksgiving Day. Tonight We Ride . . .


Saddle Tramp said...

Just Like These Women

Here's three to draw to:

- Sandra Cisneros AKA Panch [a] Villa whose words I could eat.

- Tish Hinojosa

- Lila Downs of whom I am listening to her new cd
" Shake Away " where you get your Crazy Horse as well.

These three have put the accent on the music I love.

Note: All of the Mt. Rushmore Monument could fit within
the horse's head of the Crazy Horse Monument.

-ST Fernley, Nevada

Sorry Tom, I am loading Sunday in Hilmar heading back out across I-80 going east. So damn close to making it to Visalia.

Feathers to the wind . . .
and I'm gone again