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.

Tuesday, August 23

J.J. Krupert Top 13 Countdown - June '11 #5: "Pancho & Lefty" by Townes Van Zandt


I wrestle a lot with Townes Van Zandt, not meaning I wrestle with whether he's awesome or not, like you have to do with most alt.country superheroes, because the genre is sort of misled into thinking it is somewhere between T.S. Eliot and Willie Nelson, so there's a lot of academic fluff that gets passed off as greatness. Townes, I have found, sounds better and more interesting when he's less polished, which ultimately is why alternative country was supposed to exist, because Nashville is a hyper-demon beast that polishes everything beyond recognition, fills it full of audio monosodium glutamate, and unleashes it on a cartel of country pop stations nationwide, brainwashing people into thinking things like "Toby Keith is cool" or "I love big pick-up trucks that I don't do anything with other than consume energy" or "fuck anywhere but here". It's just one of those things. But if you look at the Heartworn Highways movie (which I think this came from if I remember correctly), there's Townes playing "Waitin' Around to Die" in some old black dude's kitchen, and it's pretty goddamned cool, which is not to say Townes Van Zandt is pretty goddamned cool, because I'm not so sure.
I actually wrestle with Townes Van Zandt a lot in my dreams, like regularly. For whatever reason, I have a recurring dream thing where Townes Van Zandt has a wrestling promotion, and I am always fighting him in a prominent match in front of a giant crowd full of hipster alt.country PBR-drinkers, in a warehouse somewhere. Townes is himself, and very popular. I wear a red mask just like the custom one made for me by Sexy Sadie and the Wild Irish Rosie down in Alabama (look for Sexy Sadie's Spandex on ebay... they are your hook-up, and very good street peoples of mine), and I am managed by Sly Stone, who is wearing a full-on hillbilly Nudie suit, as I saw on a classic Soul Train a few months back that Nudie made all of Sly's outfits back in the day, but Sly talks with a stereotypical hillbilly accent the whole time, hollering at people about, "Fuck you you white devil piece of shit, fake ass poor folks, from your sheltered cul-de-sac upbringings. I did coke off your mom's ass back in the day." And it's funny because the crowd kind of wants to like Sly Stone, because you know, they are hipsters and like anything that is stylishly crazy. But Sly is so good at plucking their nerves, as a whole as well as picking on individuals, that they end up just absolutely hating him, and thus me. My job is basically to just bludgeon Townes Van Zandt, who demands I don't pull my punches, even though it is wrestling, and he lets me cut him with our little scrap of razor blade rather than him cutting himself. I get the sense he has some sort of self-hatred thing going on, even when dead and in my dreams running a wrestling organization. Usually he's all like, "Make it deep," when I'm about to cut him, and I do sort of, but trying to be really careful, but then I'm stalking around, trying to work the crowd, and I see the windows are dark in the warehouse we're wrestling in, and I get freaked out thinking it might be like New York City outside, which sucks because I am a country boy.
Oh yeah, I never get named in the introductions, just referred to as "One Thousand Aliases" most of the time, though Sly calls me all sorts of gibberish names, and sometimes he'll be like, "Come on Bodhi Sattva Mr. Allah Bama Proclama Jamma!" at me and then turn to the crowd and say calmly, "That's alias number two hundred and nineteen."
But while I'm zoning out worrying about whether we're in New York City or not, I usually get sloppy and start dropping Townes Van Zandt on his head or shoulder in bad ways, and he never stops though, just all disabled and broken, keeps pretending like he's going to come back and beat me, to make the fans stoked, like a Hulk Hogan match from 1985. Usually I shift in the dream though and never see the actual ending, and we are back in the locker room, and Townes is cleaning up, and most of the time Elvis Presley is back there, getting ready for his match, by putting on a black version of his shiny suit, and putting full-on blackface on. He is a bad guy, and usually me and Townes are talking while Sly Stone is watching through the curtain, and "I'm All Shook Up" starts blaring and out strolls Elvis to ridiculous hatred and vitriol because the hipster alt.country crowd can't stand him. Sly is always laughing it up and being like, "Hahaha, motherfuckin' Elvis... that's my boy. We gonna get fucked up tonight." And Townes is talking to me about how good I did, and usually I realize everybody is a musician except me and I'm like, "Oh shit, why am I here? I don't make music." And Townes, still all smeared with his own blood and sweaty but drinking some sort of microbrew his hippie girlfriend makes him drink, says, "Raven, you know you've got them songs inside you man. Fuck those people out there. We both know they're assholes. You gotta sing them goddamned songs man." And at that point I'm all jostled by the conscious realization of what's happening in my dream, and wake up. It's normally about 8 minutes or so before I have to get up to the alarm and go to work, so I reset the alarm back about 7 minutes because it sucks to wake up before the alarm and not have at least 15 minutes to fall back asleep for. And then I get up, thinking about what dream Townes said after we were wrestling again, and how I need to let my songs out, but then I have to go to work, and work is a soul-crippling affair, and I think about song lyrics until about 11, planning on sneaking off for a break to write them down, but don't get a chance, and then by 2 or 3, I'm like, "I'll write out in the camper tonight, start putting these things on paper at least," but work just stifles and stifles and stifles, and by the time I get out of there at 5:00 or 5:30, the end hopes of my dreams have died already, and I need the few waking hours left after taking care of animals and shit around the compound just to convince myself to bother again with another tomorrow.
STEAL "Pancho & Lefty"
NEXT
: a most played remnant from my daddy's record collection!

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