RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Friday, March 25

J.J. Krupert Top 13 Countdown - March '11 #5: "Tight Rope" by Leon Russell


Look, I have talked about Leon Russell for like nine months in a row, and judging from the contents of my 4gb gaypod, I will probably talk about him for the next nine months. Let me just tell you he has some hits and he has some misses, and you might get a CD and it suck, be like some old ass white dude doing R&B music. That's okay, that's Leon. But the album this song comes from - Carney - it is an unmistakable classic. If you get that shit (like for real buying it or just pilfering it from inside the interweb's bountiful electronic vagina). So just get that. And since it's a carney theme on that album, including the metaphor behind this song - which is a great goddamned song, perfect use of piano in a classic rock poppy format, I shall wander through the memory bank about the time I drank forties with a carney worker who had just come home on the Greyhound.
The ride started out I think in Columbus, where I had spent most of the day for some reason, with a long ass layover from right at dawn until late afternoon. First thing that morning, I was cleaning up in the bathroom, and some old dude who I think was Mexican but looked indio as fuck was brushing his teeth with an open 40 of malt liquor right beside him, and some little black kid was kind of standing beside him, and then the old indio dude just started cussing the kid out in Indian Mexican jibber jabber, and I was like, "Ahhh... my beautiful America." I slept for a while on the TV chairs, head down, face tucked into my one arm, that arm's hand holding a knife that was tucked into my second armpit. I learned while riding the Greyhounds this was usually the best way to sleep in the bus station. After a nap, I wandered around a little, got a little high, and ended up my bus headed to Charleston, West Virginia, around the dinner hour. The bus was a strange mix of black kids who were heading from up north (like Detroit and Chicago) to college down south, a couple dudes (black and white) who were fresh out of jail, me, and a quiet dude across the aisle with a couple visibly sketchy tattoos on his arm. Nothing major, but you could tell they were homemade as fuck, like not even trying to look not homemade. I respect that.
Well, once the sun went down, the conversation towards the back half of the Greyhound usually gets pretty wild. The bus already is a place that draws those with more time than money, and I have always appreciated being from that sociological tax bracket. The stories are amazing. And the white underclass and black college kids and myself who was like a college kid from the underclass or whatever the fuck I was, we all sort of agreed on a few major points: namely, fuck the government, the whole thing in general but definitely the police at an individual level; and we all loved to have sex and get fucked up. I mean, who on a bus doesn't like to fuck and get tore down? The one white dude fresh out of jail was talking and talking about how he had two chicks waiting to pick him up in Portsmouth and how they were gonna do a bunch of coke and get drunk and fuck all night. We were all like, "Okay dude, whatever," because hey, it's the bus you know. But when we got to Portsmouth, Ohio, there was this tiny S10 pick-up truck with two hefty, hefty women, who he jumped in the middle of, squeezed into the cab, and was looking through the windshield giving a double thumb's up back at us on the bus as they drove off.
After that dude got off, the bus got quieter, as you could imagine. I bet most of us were thinking about how much greater it would've been to be squeezed between those two not really attractive fat chicks, going to some run-down apartment to sleep on a pull-out couch, than pull another few hours on the bus. Shit man, one of the college dudes was going all the way to Atlanta. But me and the dude across the aisle had quiet conversation, and he was getting off in Charleston, where I was gonna have to spend the night in the bus station until the 7:30 am bus headed east to Richmond.
His story in a nut shell: got a girl pregnant, split small town West Virginia to run off with the carnival (no shit, for real), had been gone for six years, nobody knew he was coming back, so he didn't know what to expect. All he had was a backpack with some clothes in it, and this giant cardboard box holding one of those all-in-one stereo systems that he bought with his carnival money to bring home to the girl he left behind (again, no shit, for real). When we got to the bus station, he made a couple calls on the pay phones trying to find someone to come pick him up. One person had to wake up another person (it was about 11:30 at night), and then he was all, "Can't you borrow $5 to come and get me? I ain't been home in five fuckin' years." After a while, he had somebody coming, but they were gonna be a couple hours before they got there. So we went out front of the Charleston, West Virginia bus station, near midnight, and sat on our backpacks. A couple crackheads rolled up, friendly crackheads, and we shot the shit. They had two fresh 40s, which they shared with me, the other dude didn't drink, potentially a racist I guess, but the four of us talked about how weird it was the Charleston, West Virginia, capitol building was gold-plated, and the crackhead girl was like, "Shit man, make me wanna go up there and scrape some of that shit off. Know what I'm sayin'? Don't make no sense." We all agreed it didn't make no sense, and sat there in front of the bus station, and I have always remembered this scene under a dim streetlight, and it would've made a great painting. Glorious times. The Greyhound is where the underbelly of America slithers back and forth across this god damned country.
STEAL "Tight Rope"
NEXT:
A rap song that I did a 12-page paper on in college!

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