Block City

A Week-End Special


What do you do when your well runs dry, your muse gets an unlisted telephone number, and your hits fall like a stone?

I dig up bones. Now, strictly speaking, Digging Up Bones, as defined by country music legend, Randy Travis, involves rummaging through the old home place and finding tangible memories of a lost and long gone love, which activity is not necessarily confined to country. City folks can also get those “Gone, but not Forgotten Blues.”

Of course, everything, it seems, has its generic version. I seek the elusive muse while standing in front of my book cases staring at the titles hoping to rekindle a lost thought or two. It’s almost as productive as panning for gold, which is to say not very, but at least you can keep your socks dry.

[You will find a treat at the end, so hang in there.]

I was watching Kris Kristopherson- second rate singer, first rate song writer (Bobby McGee, for example)-talking about working on the oil rigs south of Corpus Christi early in his career. A real Texan would probably just say Corpus as in Neiman’s rather than Neiman Marcus, but that’s another story. Anyway, he was talking about night time on his hands on the oil rigs, and he said he wrote songs with this old guitar, which he was holding close to his heart. Since then, I’ve been pretty sure the muse would visit more often if I relocated to an oil rig south of Corpus and strummed an old guitar to lure her in.

The pulling power of a guitar and a little strumming, if you ever doubted it, was illustrated brilliantly by Sara Evans in “Three Chords and the Truth.” It seems her baby left her, or did something that caused her to leave him, but he finally wormed his way back into her good graces with what she took to be the truth set to good, traditional, country, three-chord, whining music-straight from the heart and through the nose.

Michael Lewis stoked my creative juices in an interview talking about song writing in general and writing Panic in particular. (I use the term writing loosely in this case. Editing is okay, but it should be as clearly marked on the book cover as the health warning on a pack of cigarettes.) It seems that Michael has a little stone cabin at the end of a trail behind his house that he uses to rendezvous with his muse. Then he almost spoiled it for me by saying he puts on his earphones and plays the same rock music over and over. I can understand and accept the over and over part, but it’s the rock part that turns me off. Rock must roll to be palatable to me, but that’s rare these days-a sure sign of moral decay.

For the record, the person most responsible for dropping the roll from rock and roll deserves to suffer severe discomfort. (I’m understating this, trying not to incite a mob.) Anyway, my muse fantasy has expanded to include seclusion, if not on an oil rig, at least in a little rock cabin with great air conditioning, a guitar, and Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino beating out the boogie on dueling pianos.

Comments (3)

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  1. Cannon says:

    You know who is really awesome on the piano? I’m talking about Jerry Lee Lewis’ cousin (no, not Jimmy Swaggart). It’s his other cousin, Mickey Gilley. I saw him in Branson years ago, and he put on a really good show.

    If this post was intended to draw some parallel to economics or the like, it totally went over my head. A lot of fun, nonetheless.

  2. Scott McTeer says:

    Thanks for the music!
    Texan singer-songwriter, Townes Van Zant, said “there’s 2 types of music: the blues and zippity-do-da.”
    Of course the answer to not living with the blues is listening to music that positively affects the soul –gospel, folk, spirituals, country, rock, classical, etc.
    Maybe you agree with John Lennon, who said, “There’s nothing conceptually better than rock and roll. No group, Beatles, Stones or Dylan, have ever improved on ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ for my money. Or maybe I’m like our parents: that’s my period and I dig it and I’ll never leave it.”
    Scott McTeer, Austin, Texas

  3. John Booke says:

    Wow. Brings back wonderful memories of a couple of years spent in Galveston County (Texas City). Best times were with friendly Texans crabbing and knee boarding in the Dickinson Bayou.