Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mule Skinner

Download: "Mule Skinner Blues" mp3

Then I heard this horrible crazy sound. And I felt this insane mad feeling. Neither of which was I in any manner acquainted. It was the bluesiest and most obnoxious thing I had ever heard. It was an attack of revolutionary terrorism on my nervous system through aesthetics.

It was blacker than the blackest black record I had ever heard. It reached out and grabbed and it has never let go of me.

I went limp. I almost fell off the sofa. My mouth fell open. My eyes widened and expanded. I found myself hyperventilating. When it was over I tried to get up and go and get a paper bag to restore the correct balance of power between oxygen and carbon monoxide. I screamed for help but nobody was around and nobody came. I was drenched with sweat. It was like I had woken up to a new and thrilling exciting horror movie.

Nothing has ever been the same since then.

You see, I had gone insane.

And I didn't even know about it.


I had to hear that record again. It was madness and I knew it would get me in trouble and it did get me in trouble but I couldn't help it I was out of control.

So I went to the record store in Silver Spring, Maryland, the name of which I forgot. It was at the intersection of Georgia Avenue, and Colesville Road.

Right around the corner from the Silver Theatre.

I asked the man behind the counter about that record. He was a "nice guy." He looked it up in some great big yellow catalogue and actually found it.

But, it was out of print. And there wasn't one on the shelf.

"Sorry, kid, I don't have one and I can't get you one."

"But, I've got to hear it again. I've got to."

"Listen kid" he went on. "that record is no good. In fact it is evil. It caused a lot of trouble while it was around. Women left their husbands. Husbands left their wives. Children ran away from home and were never seen again. There were sunspots on the moon. Revolutions started, massacres happened, suicides and alcoholism went sky high, wars started, monsters were seen on the Edge, it was bad kid. Maybe it would be better for you if you didn't hear it again. I mean I just feel I gotta' tell ya' that kid. It's dangerous for anybody your age to get interested in things like that."

"I don't care," I said, "it must be fate."

"Fate schmate. I gave you a warning. But if ya' don't take it the only thing I can do is tell ya' this. You gotta' find a record collector. Chances are a record collector would know about it."

"You know any of those guys you are talking about?" I asked.

"No, I don't hang out with weirdos like that. But they're around. And I'll pray for ya' kid. I'll pray for ya."

"Thanks a hell of a lot. I may need it."

"Oh, you're gonna need it alright."

From How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life by John Fahey
Drag City © 2000

Locust St. is at it again. If you haven't checked out Chris' exhaustive posts on 7 Means of Movement, do yourself a favor. This post is an addendum to his Interlude 2: Asses and Mules. While it feels to me a little cheap to riff of of his painstakingly epic work, I couldn't
resist posting this Bill Monroe track which I've been wanting to put up for a while. The "horrible crazy sound" that John Fahey so passionately describes in the above excerpt from his book, actually refers to the other side of the original issue of this record. My copy, however is a DJ Promo backed with a godawful track by Elton Britt. Both of these songs come from Jimmie Rodgers.

Here's the flip:

Download: "Blue Yodel No. 7 (Anniversary Yodel) " mp3
by Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, 1939.

Buy music by Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys at Amazon
or at your local independently owned record store.

1 comment:

C. said...

Hey, glad you liked it. I thought about doing one of the "muleskinner" songs, whether Jimmie Rodgers or Dolly Parton, but eventually ruled against it. So this is great--