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.

Thursday, December 23

J.J. Krupert Top 13 Countdown – November ’10 #13: “Home Sweet Oklahoma” by Leon Russell

I have been on a huge Leon Russell kick lately, reminded how awesome the dude is. This song is one that I only recently heard ever, which is amazing considering I have had like 9 Leon Russell LPs in my collection since my early 20s. The story on Leon is he split Oklahoma as a teenager, classic runaway story, to hit big and crazy brightly lit Los Angeles and make it big. And god bless that crazy fucker, somehow he did it, which in itself makes me proud to be American, in the strange and fucked ways I usually find pride for the geopolitical boundaries I was randomly born into.
One summer, I was riding Greyhounds around here and there, and went to Oklahoma City for I don’t know why, met a bunch of west coast gangsters on the bus, as well as a reformed gangster who played softball professional somehow, who pointed me towards a cheap hotel somewhere in OKC, where I spent about a week, in a shithole room, taking walks to the front desk to buy two forties for $3 with the choices of Budweiser or Busch. There were strange old crinkle-faced dudes with the textbook definition of “leather skin” and obvious crack money rooms around me, weird overweight ladies who cleaned the rooms and drank in the attached bar without a clear distinction between those two tasks (you should always just keep your Do Not Disturb sign on your door in places like that; in fact, having come up more in places like that than anything else, I just do that regardless of the hotel, never allowing staff into my room at all until I am gone, ever), and it was just a generally perfectly Oklahoma thing in my mind.
At some point, I decided to go ahead and hitchhike out of town to go to Colorado where I had a friend living, and I cleared out at six in the morning, OKC quiet as fuck, scraggly little dogs barking in Spanish at me as I tromped through with my camping backpack full of useless shit that I never dug deep down into. I saw a handwritten sign that said “RAVEN” with an arrow pointing straight ahead. So I followed, leading to another one about four blocks away, then another, pointing to the left. Of course, I followed – this was my destiny, laid the fuck out right before my eyes.
I imagine this is exactly how Leon Russell left Oklahoma, same way. Unfortunately for me, the signs ended up at an abandoned strip mall with a store called RAVEN that looked like it had been looted. I am fairly certain in retrospect my destiny was to break into that place to look around, get arrested, go to jail in Oklahoma, get out of jail in Oklahoma most likely no longer in college and no longer having a place to live in Richmond (although I actually didn’t have a place when I got back anyways), and then I would’ve charted some errant path towards my true destiny. The one I’ve got isn’t bad at all, but I often wonder what that chance thing was the universe was laying out for me that day. I also often think me not breaking into that place is part of my problem in a nutshell, not smash and grabbing what is placed right in front of me by the universe, to claim my rightful little cobwebby corner of popular culture. Luckily, it seems the universe is patient with me. And I was a pretty baby-faced dude until my late 20s (which is why I grew a beard), so going to Oklahoma jail or even running away to Los Angeles most likely would’ve ended up in the handling of strange penises somehow. So there is that to be thankful for, no?
STEAL “Home Sweet Oklahoma”
The Nashville hit that made an alleged outlaw!

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