Americana 4 The whole town used to gather around the four bands in the four saloons on the corner. Okey Poke used to tend bar behind a diamond sunflower stickpin and the gambler Ed Mochez, who left a hundred and ten suits when he died, played every hand of poker like a tiger. People in and out day and night, all raising simultaneous barrelhouse cain. Where is Willie the Pleaser? Always women running after him, that sweetback man kind of strutting with it in a very mosey walk from down the river called Shooting the Agate. One day a boy picked up a flute and started right in playing it. Showed everybody what is a flute! Walked over to a saxophone and damn if he didn't start making the thing just talk! "Go, my son, and riff it through the land," and he went through manhood in his comic little hat. He'd walk out on the stage and say, "I'd like to introduce my band," and introduced the musicians to each other. Then he'd step back, tilt his horn and blow a high note of emanicipation. Then the reeds would liquefy and move out, far out on a mellow riff, and his trombones peppered dirty notes to make it real, and church rocked! Not a chick in town was safe until the blues cut him down. The origin of the blues? Always been. Some poor hustling woman feeding her fancy Dan in the servants' room. Some poor guy playing a mysterious bass fatherless figure on his trombone, sometimes braying on it like a jack being the porter in the barber shop. Some underground Jupiter grieving: Lord, your servant Juba lives in hog slop. Give this offchild your medicinal herbs, root of the master weed, Peter's roots, and May apple and sweet William. The origin of the blues? The white hero!
*** Americana 5 As it gets on in years the third generation feeling lonely with its children goes into its darkroom and develops a picture of cattle lumbering in from the timbered pasture at the end of a summer's day a century ago their bags heavy with milk planting the acre north of the hoghouse to sweet corn for late eating with fresh country butter families visiting from a hundred miles singing under a shade tree. Where the road forks at the red barn and the oak tree has a knot hole on its north side the old ones feel at home, hoeing weeds in a little garden and marveling how things grow the corn having jumped a foot over the Fourth of July weekend. Here four-square on historic legs on all sides bounded by (how is this capitalized?) God and hard work stands the Nineteenth Century. --Carl Rakosi,
fr. Amulet, 1967