Monday, February 19, 2007

Heavy Rotation

It's high season for Mamapalooza preparation. So I'm in Toronto now. It's 24 hours after I set out on this journey, which will be the last for my truck.

When you are traveling 520 miles through lake effect, black ice and snow squalls, over mountains and through valleys, there's only one thing you can do: Play it loud and wail on your 78 RPMs at 85 MPH, as much as you can, when you can. Bust a tonsil if you must. And keep the selections at a good adrenal clip when you are behind the salt and sand truck. That is enough to keep the windows steamy all day into the night. Over the hours we witnessed four vehicles that had skidded into the highway median, but our little truck was flying.

Yona says, "Damn, we listened to a lot." First we went through some 200 songs from Yona's Creative Zen, including:

The All-American Rejects
The Fray
Beyonce (To the go, Girl)
Plain White T's
Snow Patrol
Gwen Stefani (Halla Back Girl at brain-melting decibel)
Fergie (Fergalicious)
Bowling For Soup (they're all great)
Bobby McFerron
Bryan Adams (Summer of 69 -- repeat if necessary: repeat)
Yellow Card
Blue October
and many, many more.

At Corning, for the first refueling, we switched mp3 players.

From my iPod we harmonized with:

Lucinda Williams (Car Wheels on a Gravel Road)
Laura Nyro (The Loom's Desire)
2 hours' worth of Italian classics, with a focus on Louis Prima and Connie Francis
Yiddish radio classics (Yiddish in swing, too dayum good for English words! Sultry Barry Sisters...Moishe Oysher with that wholly erotic voice...even 50 years after his death -- OMG!)
Rosanne Cash (you are very much on my mind, darling!)
Rodney Crowell
Emmylou Harris
AC/DC (Back in Black!)
Shel Silverstein (Freakin' and other ditties of debauchery...let my kid learn it from the Light in the Attic Guy, and not in the street!)
Gram Parsons Tribute CD (Elvis Costello's Sleepless Nights makes me cry every time)
Yiddish/Hebrew/Russian by Netanya Davrath (by the hour, repeating Es Brent and Eitz Ha'Rimon)
Marty Stuart (Hillbilly Rock)
Brian Setzer (a double shot of adrenalin personal favourite...testosterone, all served up on a '57 Gretsch. How much do I love that guy?!)
"Swing!" - Manhattan Transfer with Asleep at the Wheel
and Heaven Knows what else.

Here we are in TO. Gotta put a set list together for our gig on Thursday now. So many to choose from. One hour to knock 'em out before hitting the road again Thursday afternoon.


Flashback to the eve of the Big Winter Road Trip of '07. The love of my life had just returned from a very exhausting trip to Southern Florida, San Francisco, Orange County and Los Angeles for a week. Miriam was en route to Paris with her school. Yona was going to be up in TO with me, so we were mellow and giving each other lots of space. Not to mention the Hellhound on my trail.

The week had sucked real bad. As lousy as I am to be around, I am no f*cking good at all when I'm alone, and everyone who knows me knows this. So our house became a frat house in which no one had a real meal or slept very much. We ordered in veggie Chinese one night. It lasted three days because we were all glued to the computer, obsessing on music, Scrabble, or whatever. Stuff was strewn everywhere. The mail was stacked up, unopened. No wash got done. People traipsed in and out. Big shout out to Miriam who actually made her bed and did the mountain of dishes. I think I made a batch of rice crispie treats. Or maybe I just meant to. We grawed on wilted carrots and rice crackers. The only order was disorder.

But there was at least one thing I got right: I dusted off my double set of Robert Johnson and blew the cobwebs off my 1952 National Resophonic. I pulled out my slide, which had been a gift from Johnny Winter who-knows-how-many years ago, and I played along to Mr. Johnson, in a trancelike state. I never forgot how good that stuff sounded. It's always like the first time, especially when you drop the tuning down and do it like Robert did it. Yona took the picture, which is below.

I am offering you the lyric to Come On In My Kitchen. Best version I will ever remember was by David Rea (where are you now, Davy, California I hear?). His big claim to fame was writing Mississippi Queen, which Mountain made famous. I met David Rea at either Mariposa or Owen Sound sometime during the Jurassic era. I loaned him my Yamaha FG-180, when I learned from his manager, Gene Mascardelli, that David's Martin was stolen. He spent a year banging out his legendary, amazing Robert Johnson show on that battle-scarred guitar, which I still have and treasure. When I got it back, it looked like hell, but it sure sounded like David had sold its soul to the devil. I am positive that's how it went down.

So, here it is, with a special personal dedication from me to Jeff Healey.

Come On In My Kitchen

By Robert Johnson
Recorded in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday, November 23, 1936.

Mmm... you better come on in my kitchen babe, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors
The woman I love, took from my best friend
Some joker got lucky, stole her back again
You better come on in my kitchen babe, it's goin' to be rainin' outdoors

Oh, she's gone, I know she won't come back
I've taken the last nickel out of her nation sack
You better come on in my kitchen, baby, it's goin' to be rainin' outdoors

(Spoken: Oh, can't you hear that wind howl?)
Can't you hear that wind howl?
You better come on in my kitchen, baby, it's goin' to be rainin' outdoors

When a woman gets in trouble, everybody throws her down
Lookin' for her good friend, none can't be found
You better come on in my kitchen, baby, it's goin' to be rainin' outdoors

Winter time's comin', it's goin' to be slow
You can make the winter, babe, that's dry long so
You better come on in my kitchen, 'cause it's goin' to be rainin' outdoors

1 comment:

Doug said...

That's a great song. I have an Eric Clapton version from his "Me and Mr. Johnson" album. Clapton is appearing here in a couple weeks but I don't know if I'll try to afford going.