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Desperado

The blog incarnation of the Desperado mailing list, the voice of the apocryphalypse since 1978.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Backwater Blues 


The song was written by Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues, after the catastrophic Mississippi Flood of 1927:
When it rains five days and the skies turn dark as night
When it rains five days and the skies turn dark as night
Then trouble's takin' place in the lowlands at night

I woke up this mornin', can't even get out of my door
I woke up this mornin', can't even get out of my door
There's been enough trouble to make a poor girl wonder where she want to go

Then they rowed a little boat about five miles 'cross the pond
Then they rowed a little boat about five miles 'cross the pond
I packed all my clothes, throwed them in and they rowed me along

When it thunders and lightnin' and when the wind begins to blow
When it thunders and lightnin' and the wind begins to blow
There's thousands of people ain't got no place to go

Then I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hill
Then I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hill
Then looked down on the house were I used to live

Backwater blues done cause me to pack my things and go
Backwater blues done cause me to pack my things and go
'Cause my house fell down and I can't live there no more

Mmm, I can't move no more
Mmm, I can't move no more
There ain't no place for a poor old girl to go
Lyrics from the excellent blueslyrics,tripod,com which also provides helpful information about "backwater":
backwater, mostly old river beds which are left to take the excess flood water to relieve pressure on the levees (embankments). As the height of the water is excessive, however, breaches in the levee walls are deliberately made at certain points to allow particular areas to flood and thus lessen the pressure of water. These are the "backwaters," which occur in the St. Francis Basin to the west of the river between Memphis and Helena, in the great Yazoo-Mississippi Delta north of Vicksburg, in the Tensas Basin west of Natchez, and at other selected points.
In an interview in 1957, Big Bill Broonzy related how a record company executive invited a number of blues singers to the Mississippi flood region in 1927 and promised $500 for the one who would come up with the "best" blues about that great flood (it made 700,000 people homeless). Bessie Smith won the prize with her "Back Water Blues".
... one thing that did actually happen, I can remember that, that me and Jim Jackson - Charlie Jackson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, Ma Rainey, and this guy they called Barbecue Bob, and Shorty George... Mel [Mal?] Williams was the guy, he was ah - well he run the recording part of ah - this company at that time, the Paramount. And ah - OKeh and them companies, he did most of the recording for them - at least he kept auditions there and recorded - and they got together and they sent all of us down to Mississippi to look at this flood when it happened down there. And they said, the one that wrote the best one would get 500 bucks. So we all goes down there... and Bessie Smith got the 500 dollars. I think they paid Lonnie too something, because they didn't use the one that he had, but the one I wrote they didn't use it, and all the rest of the guys they didn't use none of them but Bessie's and they used Lonnie Johnson's, he was down there too. And the one that Bessie wrote, it had more feelings to it, and it had more sense too - in the words that she had in it - actually, things that I see was goin' on, down at that time, and a lot of people lost their lives in that flood and ah - she sung about it and a lot of them that ah - lost their homes and had to stay up in the hills in gins and cotton houses and different places, until they could get more places to stay..." (here Big Bill begins to strum his guitar) "I don't think nobody in the world ever sang it like Bessie. But I do know the tune of it and ah - the way I play it..."
It's an enormously moving song, totally nailed by Bessie, and her biggest hit ever. It has been rendered even more moving. I hope you get to hear it.

Even trivial pop songs about the Crescent City take on strange overtones:
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss her each night and day
I know I�m not wrong because the feeling�s
Getting stronger the longer I stay away
Way down yonder in New Orleans
In the land of the dreamy scenes
There's a garden of Eden...you know what I mean

Creole babies with flashin' eyes
Softly whisper their tender sighs
Then stop....won't you give your lady fair...a little smile
Stop..ya bet your life you'll linger there...a little while

We've got heaven right here on earth
With those beautiful queens
Way down yonder in New...Orleans
I haven't been to New Orleans yet. I wonder if I'll ever go there. It means food and music to me. Especially music.
posted by Tom  # 8/31/2005 07:31:00 PM
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Bush says, my bad 


Okay, so it was blood for oil after all.
posted by Tom  # 8/31/2005 07:26:00 PM
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Saturday, August 13, 2005

A billion registered patriots walk in the park 


The Defense Department has scheduled its America Supports You Freedom Walk and Free Clint Black Concert for September 11. Apparently, Memorial Day and Veteran's Day just don't do it for the George W. "W" Bush Administration.

Unlike those other holidays, participants in America Supports You Freedom Walk and Free Clint Black Concert will be required to register their name, address, phone number, and e-mail address before participating in a walk from one public park to another along public streets.

Upon hearing of this inspiring extravaganza, Dummranger's immediate prediction was: "The National Park Service will suddenly start providing crowd estimates again."

My immediate reaction: "Yeah, actually, the estimate has already been prepared."
posted by Tom  # 8/13/2005 08:24:00 AM
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It pays to increase your word power 


Within five years, the word kleptocracy will move out of the specialized vocabulary of political science and into the common parlance.

Just a guess, but bookmark it and we'll see.
posted by Tom  # 8/13/2005 08:20:00 AM
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Monday, August 01, 2005

Sky kisser 


The Boston Herald had just the headline once again for the story that Jimi Hendrix had pretended to be gay to get out of the Army.

Maybe he did say "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" after all
Jimi Hendrix used gay ruse to escape army

posted by Tom  # 8/01/2005 11:23:00 PM
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