Friday, February 29, 2008

Battle of the Decades

I haven't done a Battle of the Decades in a while, but I have an excuse. I got a download of the Complete Buddy Holly, in ten volumes, boing back to a home tape recording he made when he was 12, and I've been cataloging it. A lot of it is great -- Holly, fooling around in the studio but more than just fooling around, did his version of a whole lot of rock 'n roll hits of the day, from Bo Diddley to Rip it Up to Smokey Joe's Cafe. One not-very-effective cover is Ferlin Husky's Gone -- Buddy's strength wasn't in country ballads. Which explains why, when he started out in the early 50s in Texas, as Buddy and Bob, Bob did most of the lead vocals. Buddy had a different muse. This follows the theory that so much innovation in art comes from artists who don't have the ability to imitate -- Dizzy Gillespie tried to sound like Roy Eldridge but couldn't, so he moved on to create his own unique style. Miles Davis tried to sound like Dizzy but...

THE 40s
Glenn Miller v/Ray Eberle
Moon Love

THE 50s
The Silhouettes
Get a Job

THE 60s
Paul Revere & the Raiders
Him or Me (What's It Gonna Be?) (67)

THE 70s
Donny Osmond
Puppy Love

THE 80s
High On You

THE 90s
All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You

I trust I don't have to explain to anyone why I'm eliminating Donny Osmond first.

Paul Revere and the Raiders were always mediocre, but they recorded some very catchy songs -- this isn't one of them. Survivor was just another disco group. Ray Eberle leading the Glenn Miller Orchestra isn't exactly breaking any new ground.

Speaking of Survivors, who would have expected Heart to craft one of the longest-lasting careers in rock? But they're still going, and they were particularly strong in the 90s, rocking as hard as they ever did, and adding those nice harmonies to a full-tilt rock sound.

But I have to go the fogey route again. Peter, Wendy, Jon and Tad as teenagers, cruising around Woodstock and surrounding areas, listening to George ("The Hound") Lorenz, sponsored by Mother Goldstein's Top of the Vine New York State Wine , and -- one suspects -- sampling the Mother's Malaga. I don't know how much Payola entered the picture, but when the Hound liked a song, he'd play it over and over -- the DJ in "The Buddy Holly Story" who locks himself in the studio and plays Buddy Holly until they break the door down -- that was The Hound. Here's a good web site for him (even though they do mention "Clyde McFatter).

On this night, when he broke "Get a Job," we knew what we had to do. WKBW Buffalo was clear channel, but it drifted in and out of clear reception in the valley of the Catskills. So we drove around for hours, looking for good reception areas, because we knew that if a new song was this good, The Hound would keep coming back to it all night. That was back when music was still magic.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Not revision of poems -- that's a different subject, and deserving of its own post, or series of posts. This is about teaching Freshman Comp students to revise -- a dark and tangled task, but someone's gotta do it. After going over a student's first paragraph recently, making editorial suggestions, then explaining why I made the changes I did, I wrote:

If this seems an improvement over your paragraph (I hope it does), and if my explanation of my rationale is clear, it’s not necessarily because I’m a better writer than you are. It’s because I revise constantly as I write, changing the connectives between thoughts, breaking sentences differently, looking for the right word and changing my first choice if I decide it’s not right, moving thoughts around, making sure that my afterthoughts are moved up so that they don’t sound like afterthoughts. Some time, I should try to save every correction that I make to a critique like this, to show you all how horribly I can write, too, if I leave everything as first draft stuff.
But I couldn't really do that...the process is too fast, too intuitive. Nevertheless, I tried to do it for one sentence:

I started writing this:

Look at all the good things you do later on in

“Good things?” blah….

Look at all the good insights you present later on in the paper – desire to live in a world where he still has the option to pursue, obsession, inner turmoil due to the fact that she might be out of his reach, cannot grasp, fear of commitment, difficult to conceive why she’d marry, life is incomplete, jealousy and greed, incompetent,

“Insights” is better. Then, midway through making a list of the words the writer uses, I realized that the insights gain their force by this forceful language. So I went back:

Look at all the good things you do insights you present powerful and expressive language you use later on in the paper, and the insights you are able to offer with this language:

“Good powerful and expressive language”? That’s awful. “Good” doesn’t belong there – at which point I realized that it didn’t belong with “insights” either, and I should have cut it out in the earlier revision.

Look at all the powerful and expressive language you use later on in the paper, and the insights you are able to offer with this language:

“Language” used twice? I could tighten that:

Look at all the insights you are able to offer with the powerful and expressive language you use later on in the paper:

But for my taste, now I’ve tightened it too much. I’d rather start with language, move to insights, and then finish with language, which is the word that has to go before the colon (changed from a dash), because it’s the word that introduces the list:

Look at all the powerful and expressive language you use later on in the paper, and the insights you are able to offer with this language: Look at all the good insights you present later on in the paper – desire to live in a world where he still has the option to pursue, obsession, inner turmoil due to the fact that she might be out of his reach, cannot grasp, fear of commitment, difficult to conceive why she’d marry, life is incomplete, jealousy and greed, incompetent…

Scratches the surface. But at least it shows a little about the process -- as i do it, anyway. Everyone is different.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Tom Paxton calls them "short shelf life songs." They're the ones you make for a moment in time, but six months later you’d have no reason to sing them. So why do they persist in memory? Mine, anyway. Perhaps summoned up by the re-emergence of Raul Castro, another Castro sibling came to mind – sister Juanita, who denounced the revolution and left Cuba early on, and who makes a guest appearance in this mid-60s song that Peter Jones and I wrote. Memory then took over, and a host of others came flooding back. Here they are, with links for the younger generation. The first is to the tune of “Rosin the Beau”:


Well, I’ve traveled all over Havana
And now to the US I’ll sail,
And I know that the HUAC Committee
Will be waiting to put me in jail.

Will be waiting to put me in jail, boys,
Will be waiting to put me in jail,
And I know that the HUAC Committee
Will be waiting to put me in jail.

I see the committee approaching,
That cruel remorseless old foe,
They say, “You’re found guilty of treason,
In the words of Juanita Castro.

In the words of Juanita Castro
In the words of Juanita Castro
They say, “You’re found guilty of treason,
In the words of Juanita Castro.

When I’m jailed and deprived of my passport,
A voice I will hear coming through,
“You’re unjustly deprived of your freedom,
Take your case to the ACLU.”

Take your case to the ACLU
Take your case to the ACLU
“You’re unjustly deprived of your freedom,
Take your case to the ACLU.”

Then get me a dozen stout liberals
To come to the aid of a friend,
And ask them to give an opinion,
And watch them cop out in the end.

And watch them cop out in the end,
And watch them cop out in the end
Then ask them to give an opinion,
And watch them cop out in the end.

When I’m dead and my obit is written,
The liberals will kick up a fuss,
They’ll say, “He’s a martyr to freedom,
We’re proud that he was one of us.”

We’re proud that he was one of us
We’re proud that he was one of us
They’ll say, “He’s a martyr to freedom,
We’re proud that he was one of us.”

And this one, from the same period, also with Peter Jones, to the tune of “The Wild Colonial Boy”:


There was a wild Midwestern boy, Bob Zimmerman his name,
He was raised in Minnesota, the Mesabi iron range
He left his mother’s cozy home, he changed his father’s name
He called himself Bob Dylan, and to New York town he came.

He wandered through the Village, a-strummin’ his guitar,
He wore a cap of corduroy, and sang of peace and war,
He said the times were changing and filled young men’s hearts with joy,
A terror to the establishment was this wild Midwestern boy.

One day upon MacDougal Street, as Bob he strode along,
A-strummin’ on his guitar, and a-singin’ a protest song,
A vision came before his eyes, as plain as he could see,
The All-American Super Hits on WABC.

“Surrender now, Bob Dylan, and a millionaire become,
Surrender to the Establishment, you aren’t the only one.”
Bob plugged into an amplifier, and said, “I like the tone,”
Then promptly he sat down and made “Just Like a Rolling Stone.”

Now Dylan is a hero, with an amplified guitar
He sings of screwed-up women, and forsakes the Vietnam War,
He claims he’s got the misery, but he’s havin’ a lot of fun,
Gunnin’ his motorsickle down on Highway 61,

There was another from the same period, about Joe Namath, and I remember it all except for two lines, but that doesn’t count for a perfect memory. So I’ll go back farther into the past, to my college days at Bard, and this one I wrote with Lenny Rosen, to the tune of “The Frozen Logger”:


I sat down one evening,
‘Twas in an espresso café,
An 18-year-old waitress
To me these words did say:

“I see that you are a beatnik,
And not just a common weird,
For nobody but a beatnik
Stirs his coffee with his beard.

“My lover was a beatnik,
There’s none like him today,
If you told him there was pot in it
He would smoke a bale of hay.

“My lover came to see me,
‘Twas on a winter day,
He read to me his poetry
And rotted my mind away.

“I saw my lover leaving,
He was leaving on the sly,
When two men came up behid him
It was the FBI.

“And so I lost my lover
And in this café I’ve appeared,
And here I wait till someone
Stirs his coffee with his beard.”

And again from Bard, this one written all by my lonesome, to the tune of “Barbara Allen.” It contains one word that I’ve never actually heard used, though its meaning is clear. I have, however, seen it written, in Evan Hunter’s The Blackboard Jungle: “Do you know what planked means, West?” Here’s the song:


In New York town, where I was born,
There was a wild chick dwelling,
Made every cat to blow his cool,
Her name was Barbara Feldman.

All in the merry month of May,
When maidenheads were fallin’,
Sweet William in his own pad lay,
Dreamin’ of Barbara Feldman.

He made a phone call to her house
In the Bronx where she was dwellin’,
“Oh come ye to MacDougal Street,
The joint is really wailin’.”

When she first walked into that place,
A strange smell she was smellin’,
“What is that strange smell that I smell?”
“It’s a reefer, Barbara Feldman.”

Then slowly, slowly, she took a puff,
The first one she was tryin’,
Then slowly, slowly, she lay down,
“Oh, man, I’m really flyin’.

“You’ve turned me on to a great new kick,
How can I ever thank you?”
“That’s very easy, Barbara dear,
For now I’m going to plank you.”

Just then two cops knocked at the door,
While they were still a-ballin’,
“Oh come ye to the station house,
If your name be Barbara Feldman.”

They took them up before the judge,
And said to him, “Your honor,
We’ve arrested these two beatniks here
For possessing marijuana.:

They took them up before the judge,
Barbara Feldman and Sweet William,
She went to the Women’s Detention Home,
He went to Riker’s Island.

It had not been two months or three,
When she began a-swellin’.
“Sweet William, babe, what have you done?
You’ve knocked up Barbara Feldman.

“You should have used a contraceptive,
Why didn’t you think of it?”
Then tenderly he said to her,
“I thought you were on Enovid.

“A cruel blow’s been dealt to us
By the fickle hand of fortune,
But don’t you worry, Barbara dear,
We’ll get you an abortion.”

“Oh, not so fast, sweet Willie boy,
That’s not why I let you mount me,
You’ll marry me, and get a job,
And move to Fairfield County.”

Now he works for BBD and O,
And goes to the city to labor,
While Barbara’s having an affair
With the milkman and a neighbor.

And retreating back further in time, this is high school vintage, and a joint venture between me, my brother Jon, Peter Jones, and his brother Wendy. It’s not too PC, but it has a happy ending, and I’ve sung it for gay activists, who’ve loved it:


Frankie and Johnny were fairies,
Oh Lordy how they could love,
Swore to be true to each other,
Just as true as the stars above,

He was his man,
But he done him wrong.

Frankie and Johnny went walkin’,
Johnny was dressed up in drag,
“Oh lordy me,” says Frankie,
“Don’t my Johnny look like a fag?”

He was his man,
But he done him wrong.

Frankie went down to the barroom,
Bought himself an imported beer,
Said to the gay bartender,
“Have you seen my lovin’ queer?”

He is my man,
But he’s doin’ me wrong.

“Well, I don’t want to cause you no trouble,
But I don’t want to raise no false hope,
I seen your lover Johnny,
Makin’ love with Truman Capote,

He is your man,
But he’s doin’ you wrong.

Frankie went to Fire Island,
He was hopin’ against hope,
But he seen his lover Johnny
Makin’ love with Truman Capote,

He was his man,
But he done him wrong.

Frankie went back to the Village,
Washed off all of his rouge,
Wiped off all his lipstick,
Kicked off his high heeled shoes,

He was his man,
But he done him wrong.

Frankie he went to the barber,
Said “Give me a big crewcut,
I’m gonna join the Marine Corps,
Just to cut my Johnny up,

He is my man,
But he done me wrong.

Now Frankie he is a Staff Sergeant,
Stationed down at Fort Dix,
Every weekend he comes to the Village,
Just to see his Johnny for kicks,

He is his man,
Does him no more wrong.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dean and Sylvia


--When are Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan going to make another of those wonderful romantic comedies, like Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail?

--Tom and Meg will certainly be looking for scripts they can do together. But meanwhile, they each have projects going on their own. They’ll both be going in front of the cameras in biopics—Tom playing Dean Martin, while Meg does the life of Sylvia Plath.

Give up those adorable
Tom and Meg romances?
It’s too much to ask.

And there’s a better way.
Sylvia loses the Mademoiselle
competition. To make it up,

her parents take her
for a week in Havana. She meets
Dino--handsome, gifted, unfulfilled.

She tells him he needs a partner,
a wisecracker, zany—“What about you,
sweetheart?” Dean asks, eyes twinkling.

Her parents take her back to Boston.
She’s shoved into Wellesley, Lowell, poetry,
Ted Hughes, and Dean meets Jerry,

who looks sort of like Sylvia, without her
vivacious wit. Life pulls them apart,
their chance at happiness lost…forever?

It looks that way for Sylvia. One day,
she decides to end it all. She goes to turn on
the gas jet, but by mistake, hits the radio,

hears, through the static, Everybody
loves somebody sometime…Dean! He’s playing
the Albert Hall, with Jerry! She leaves

Ted and his mistress minding the kids,
she takes a cab, gets backstage to find
Dean in his dressing room, a gun to his head.

She pries it gently from his fingers. They talk
all night, walking beside the Thames. Dean tells her
he can’t stand another night with Jerry.

They’ve found each other. Jerry
goes off to France, Dean and Sylvia
head for Vegas, where he teaches her

how to laugh again, she writes
new material for him, brings
a touch of profundity to his act:

When a boot hits your eye
like a big Nazi spy
that’s a Daddy…

It’s a happy ending for Sylvia,
and there’s a lesson to be learned
for all of us:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Peggy Sue Got Analyzed

Freshman comp paper -- first graded assignment of the semester, actually, and I love it.

“Please don’t tell, no-no-no…” Repression and self-doubt are expressed by a struggling Holly in his original nervous ditty, “Peggy Sue.” This apprehension turns into indifference with a hint of anger in the second, more rockin’ version.

Holly, like most males, is struggling with an Oedipus complex- essentially wanting to love his mother and get rid of his father. With this comes a castration complex; he is afraid that his manhood could be taken away from him, thus making him fail at loving Peggy properly. Even though Holly’s mother is the ultimate goal, Holly invests his emotions in Peggy instead; loving her is okay but loving his mother is not. The relationship between Peggy Sue and Holly’s mother is evident with lines like, “She’s the one, I’ve been told/ Now she wears a band of gold.” This “band of gold” must represent something for Holly. It must have had some sort of effect on his life prior to Peggy Sue- it seems as if it had caused him some sort of pain. Holly saw his mother’s band of gold as the reason he couldn’t be with her- a constant reminder that his father had what he needed.

Peggy Sue, being a woman, naturally wants to be taken care of by a man. She is inclined to submit to the societal norm of marriage when she realizes her natural female Penile envy. Since she couldn’t be satisfied by Holly, she had to find someone else to fulfill her needs. This meant that she had to leave Holly and now he’s alone and emotionally confused . This only furthered his Oedipus complex and now he is dealing with feeling even more inferior. First he was rejected by his mother and now Peggy Sue.

The unconscious is the main site of creativity and obviously thoughts of Peggy Sue have been deep-seeded into Holly’s unconscious, “You recall the girl that’s been in nearly every song.” Being sensitive about this subject, and being bombarded by the anger he feels toward Peggy Sue’s new husband and his own father, he quickly gets uncomfortable and focuses again on his confusion, “This is what I heard, of course the story could be wrong.” He is comfortable describing his confusion because that’s one feeling that is socially okay to have.

In the second, more upbeat version of Peggy Sue, Holly’s self-doubt develops into indifference and apathy toward the situation. He has realized why Peggy Sue left him and he has come to the conclusion that he lacks the ability to please the women he loves and is too embarrassed to admit to it. Now he has been so emotionally beaten down by that fact that he is pretending to not really care. He has somewhat gotten over it, or is atleast trying to ignore his feelings so he can move on. He feels as if he has wasted too much time on this girl and has recognized that every relationship he has wanted in his life (his mother, Peggy Sue) has been ruined by a wedding ring and he is trying to recover and move on with his life.

Peggy Sue was just a medium through which Holly acted out his feelings toward his mother. The let down of this relationship was devastating to Holly and left him emotionally drained and embarrassed to admit his true feelings. In the second version, Holly’s situation is turned into a renunciation of these same girls and is portrayed as sick of being left behind and is ready to forget the pain both women have caused him.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Over There! Beside the Red Wheelbarrow! Could it Be...?


in the approximate vicinity
of the albino poultry.

Donald Hall

Whatever chicken, broad or narrow,
That pecked beside that red wheelbarrow,

May have appeared, to judge or wino,
It certainly was not albino.

Mr. Hall, a farmer-poet-
New Hampshireman, should surely know it.

It may have been Ameraucana,
Imported from Brazil or Ghana,

Both noted for abundant fauna.
Perhaps the Rumpless Araucana

-- But could so much indeed depend
On barnyard fowl with no rear end?

Aseel, Cochin, or Barnevelder
(You won't forget one once you've held her),

The Cubalaya's a petite bird,
but also Cuba's fighting meat bird.

Antwerp Belgian, Belgian D'Uccle
Booted or Sabelpoot, a muckle,

Not likely it's a Chantecler,
Even in Canada they're rare.

Cornish, Delaware (rare), Dorking,
Dutch or Hamburg might be working,

To get an egg one fries or boils
He might have chosen Faverolles,

For an egg that's truly fresh,
Langshan, Phoenix, or La Fleche,

For oven or for frying pan
American Holland, or Houdan.

Chabo or Japanese (still called
Japs in some parts of the world).

Since so much depends upon her,
Better not choose a Lamona,

Red-ear-lobed and quite distinct,
But quite possibly extinct.

If the farm was near foreclosing
Dr. Will might well have chosen

Leghorn , big and white and mean,
The ultimate egg-lay machine.

He could have gone to court a dame
With the Modern English Game,

The game bird with style and carriage
(Courtship might then lead to marriage).

Or, if he's only after sex,
Transylvanian Naked Necks

Enchant the girl who loves to swing
Or Russian Orloff, that wild thing.

Orpington is big and friendly,
Nothing fancy, nothing trendy

Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island White,
Yokohama, Rosecomb might

Be dependable commodities,
Not Silkie (oddity of oddities).

Wyandotte's the "bird of curves,"
Still, that might get on your nerves.

Sultan? No, it's all for show.
Dr. William C. should go

For something local, large, compliant,
Dependable -- the Jersey Giant.

With apologies to Donald Hall, William Carlos Williams, and poetry in general, and thanks to Ithaca College’s ICYouSee Handy-Dandy Chicken Chart

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Not Bloody Enough

How do I create these images? (For the show advertised below.) It's kind of a technique of my own invention. When Rachel Loden and I were doing "Affidavit," my art work for that was black and white, drawn directly on my computer screen using Microsoft Paint and one tool -- the one called "free-form select," shaped like a star on your MSPaint toolbox. I'd draw a shape, then invert it (using a little trick I had to discover -- you can't just invert with MSPaint), and keep working positive and negative space against each other until I had an image I liked. It's the same technique I use for the Film Noir images.

Then, because Rachel's amazing poem was about a gruesome murder, I decided I'd put some blood into each picture, which meant adding red, which scared me a little, because I'd always worked in black and white, and had no confidence in my ability to use color. So I started sending the new bloody images to Rachel, and she kept responding "Great! But not bloody enough." So I kept changing the color, looking for ever-gorier shades of red. Which should have been relatively easy -- you just take the paint bucket tool, and pour the new red over the old. (Note: this image has one of the early, discarded blood colors -- can't locate where I filed the final version at the moment.)

Except it wasn't. I discovered that MSPaint was an inefficient program that could not save color true. Once you saved an image, when you retrieved it, the middle of it was true, but it pixillated around the edges. It became discolored, mottled, and the new color wouldn't cover that part. None of this is a problem with PhotoShop, but fortunately I didn't have PhotoShop then, so I had to work with the frustration, and ultimately get it to work for me. While the mottled effect was driving me nuts for "Affidavit," it was also intriguing me, and it occurred to me that if you worked with dots of color, and saved frequently, every part of the image would have that effect. So I gathered up all my courage and made the jump into color -- computer pointillism, beginning an image with separated dots of color, and gradually merging them.

It is a horribly painstaking process -- each one of these can take up to three months to finish. But it keeps me off the streets.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

"It was easy," I said.

There's a connection insisting its way in here, try as I will to stop it. My spellcheck red-flags "Villanelle," and one of the alternatives it offers is "Spillane."

There has to be a villanelle in that somewhere, and I'll work on it -- even though the trochee-iamb of "Mickey Spillane" is unpromising - maybe anapests? Or a catelectic line with a two-unstressed-syllable patter?

This is the story of Mickey Spillane

...that sort of thing?

Anyway, connections between poetry and Mickey Spillane won't let go of me. I'm working on a series of chapbooks based on film noir stills, and I suddenly remembered I had done a series based on Mickey Spillane paperback covers. I wondered if I could find them in a file somewhere, so I Google-Desktopped "Spillane," and the first place I was directed to was a list of literary contemporaries of Donald Justice.

"How c-could you?" she gasped.
I only had a moment before talking to a corpse, but I got it in.
"It was easy," I said.

ABC WXYZ -- The cat's in the cupboard but he can't see me

Mike Snider is gracious enough to say nice things about my "Barefoot in Florence," my ABC villanelle for Anny Ballardini (see a couple of entries below), and to extend the fledgling tradition with an ABC villanelle of his own.

I do seem to be inventing forms these days, without really setting out to do so. But I've always been a tinkerer, I guess. At Iowa, in my frighteningly extreme youth, the first time I tried to write a sestina, I didn't know how to do it, and so instead of making the second stanza FAEBDC, I just made it BCDEFA. I suppose I could have claimed that as an innovation, but it was just dumb. But in the same poem I did something else deliberately, that I hadn't thought of as an innovation, but Don Justice was very generous in praise of -- the Walking Enjambment. The first line of the first stanza was enjambed into the second line, then the second line of the second stanza into the third line, and so on. When I got to the last stanza, of course, there was no place for the enjambment to go, so I hit upon the perfect terrible idea of enjambing it in a circle, putting a caesura at the beginning of the first line of the last stanza, as if it had been enjambed from somewhere or other. Fortunately, no one noticed that, and Justice complimented the gracefulness of just letting the device disappear.

It's a device I haven't overused, I hope, but I did use it again in The Map of the Bear, which you can find on my page on Anny's Poet's Corner. There, I took the refrain line, "The only map is the map of the bear," and enjambed it on a different foot at the end of every stanza, so one foot of it appears at the end of the first stanza, two at the end of the second, three at the end of the third, and the whole line, unbroken, at the end of the poem.

And then there are my 5/4 syllabic poems, which are featured in my new chapbook "Take Five: Poems in 5/4 Time."

Here's the youthful sestina:


"They are developing some very strong feelings about this music -- so much so that I have heard some white country blues singers say, `I want to be Negro.'"
John Cohen, Sing Out!

A young man with dark sweater and a white
Face, in the sidewalk shadows of New York,
Shading his eyes to dim his skin toward black,
A battered (by choice) guitar held in his hands
While in his mind he sees a soulful blues
Moaning along the highways of the South.

There is no earth--it's barren in New York--
He tries to pluck a bass string with a black
Thumb, but the sterile whiteness of his hands
Is not for digging roots and picking blues
That grow along the highways of the South.
He pulls up milkweed, fluffy, dry and white.

The woman that he's living with is black,
He sees the race's character in her hands;
The suffering that goes to breathe the blues
Alive, in the fields and road gangs of the South
Whispers beyond the range of any white--
Although she's never been outside New York.

He'll tell you, "Man, just look at that spade's hands!
They look like they were born to play the blues!
(You know the way they breed 'em in the South.)
There's nothing wrong with him except that white
Soul, from the shallow spirit of New York
That robbed him of his birthright (which was black).

Sometimes a weary voice sings him a blues.
It may have drifted upward from the South,
He scarcely hears it: "Fella, be glad you're white!
You can buy better guitars up in New York
To sing about what happens to a black
Man, with cold iron shackles on his hands."

The kind of thing that happens in the South,
And hate the cops--that's safer if you're white,
Yes, fella, even up here in New York.
This is the time, you're thinking, to be black;
Well, if that's so, you have it on your hands."
"Was that an eight-bar or a twelve-bar blues?"

He sits in a White Castle in New York,
A cup of black coffee warming his cool hands
Too frigid for a blues bred in the South.

The Death of Dick Stillwell

A reminiscence of Woodstock in the 50s, from David McDonald's movie, featuring yours truly.