Thursday, March 31, 2011

"you write like someone who's never been hit"

damn, i should be in bed. it's late. the workers will be here again the morning to bang and rip the stucco off the outer walls of my room. i had to spend the whole day away. did one of my rituals, getting take-out egg foo young and picnicking at the local forestry tree farm. that lifted my spirits a bit, those haunted, broken limbs. unfortunately, the meal didn't settle too well, too much salt.

sure, i should be sleeping by now. and i would be, but i got pulled off track a little while ago. since i've bought a blue ukulele i've been trying to learn how to play without practicing, looking at books, listening to recordings. osmosis usually works, though not in this case, so far.

you cannot imagine the number of uke groups in the world. youtube's overflowing. it's an incredible feast. tutorials, flamenco, rock and roll, you name it. i keep going back for more. except tonight i wandered off into the performances of janis joplin. i'm still thrilled. again it proves i shouldn't listen to anybody else. the san francisco chronicle writer ralph j. gleason put her down as a screamer. and a girlfriend in new york who had dinner with her said she ate like a pig and spit on the floor.

very well, that may be. lately i've been going back to blues roots, a big fan of the recordings made in the 20's and 30's. patton, johnson, blind willie mctell. used to be i had dozens of recordings and i'm collecting them again. i'm not a big fan of bessie smith or the later chicago blues. that's where janis comes in. she's really a blues singer out of that tradition. and she did grab hold of me tonight.

where did my title come from? a poem called the girlfriend's train by nikky finney. it gave me a shock when i ran across it at the bookstore.

that black woman who came up to her after a reading, using the phrase above (i've changed it a bit in order to relate) and showing her own scars. i hope the poem affects you as much as it did me. i can remember being hit lots of times as a child, yet at most i'm an entertainer, unable to open up and really sing the blues.