RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Wednesday, November 12

100 VINYLZ: #82 - Black Berries 7” by The Isley Brothers

(1969, T-Neck Records)
My wife is a trained herbalologist, doing mad plant science, the corner of the kitchen all crazed up apothecary style with bottles and jars and ointments and bubbling jars of fermented this or that. She is always talking about communicating with plants, which I can respect but haven't really experienced too often at all. But a few summers ago, I started noticing blackberry bushes flowering like crazy. Like everywhere I looked, there they were, and I'm sure they've always been there; I just had never been drawn to them before. This started intense blackberry harvesting on my part, which is hard because the deers and wildlife always snatch them up in the wild as soon as they get ripe. But we had a giant clump of blackberry bush grow in the middle of a yucca plant on the edge of our front yard near the ditch, with sporadic country road traffic, usually just neighbors, but that kept wildlife off the bush. I was getting about a quart of fresh blackberries a day at one point in season, which was great. Then the state came along and chopped the whole thing down, yucca plant and all.
We used to have local VDOT workers cut this road, and they were cool. They'd park their tractors in our side field and would even mow that field for me for not messing with their shit. It was all good. But I guess they started subbing it out and it was just Mexicanos who cut the road, and chopped up all my shit. I called the local office to talk to the manager dude, who we'd talked to before about a shrub conflict with an old bitch bus driver lady as well, who felt we had to cut down trees in our front yard on the off chance she had an accident because someone came around the curve that was marked 25 mph too fast and plow into innocent children, who would be our future. I was jeopardizing America's future by having an untrimmed shrub in my yard. I told him about the dudes cutting my shit up, because I thought he might want to know. He gave me the number of their subcontractor company to try and get money back, but fuck man, the yucca plants were here when we moved in and the blackberries were wild. It wasn't about money no ways, just about dudes chopping down shit that was on my property. He sent out his boys, who measured right-of-way from the center of the road, and not only were the Mexicanos beyond that, they were even more beyond it than I realized, as right-of-way is measured from the center of the road and not the edge. The local office boss guy was cool, and he must have told the subbing company, because I stood around in the yard to make sure to let the Mexicanos know next time, and he didn't even cut near my house, which was good because another spot fronting a pasture they always cut, I had planted a bunch of sunflowers.
Anyways, it was during my blackberry spells, that I was digging in the crates in the basement of Plan 9 in Richmond's Carytown, looking for dollar 45s that seemed halfway worth a shit, when I came across this song. The Isley Brothers are great, but you probably knew that already. Good old school baby-making music, and I have a couple of LPs, but never any singles, especially 45s. And what a good purchase this one was. First off, it's some obscure little label called T-Neck, and the sides are just one long song broken up into two parts, which the Isleys were famous for, but also is classic soul single snazziness. Ron Isley does a little intro about him and his brothers picking blackberries growing up in Cincinnati, and then of course the song goes into euphemism mode, and it's just great shit that is reason 1,309 that I'm an idiot for not having my jukebox fixed yet. I could be playing shit like this in the kitchen with all the lights out and candles lit right now, drinking a homemade pear cider, and trying to convince the old lady to be wearing less clothes at the kitchen table.

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