Sunday, July 26, 2009

the blues had a baby (39)

the blues had a baby
all you people, you know the blues got soul
& this is a story, a story never been told …
the blues had a baby & they named the
baby rock & roll
muddy waters
twas a day of fortuitious forces & events.

in the heavens, the sun promised ideal
affectational exchange, while miz moon fell
sick from overwork. fleet mercury proclaimed
a hope-to-die-paartay, while the deities of
love & war conjoined in fiery coitus never
thinking thru’ the consequences. father time
balanced his budget, dour pluto gave a fierce
libido its head & moody uranus read a letter
full of tears. but neptune was to win the day,
driving a sleek & shiny oldsmobile, the
muscle car of love, into the celestial white only
showrooms of popular song.

down here on the ground, on a muggy march
& memphis afternoon, sun sam phillips put
young ike turner & his rhythm kings on wax
(with ike on piano, raymond hill on tenor sax,
willie kizart on lead guitar, willis sims on
drums & jackie brenston on vocals). the song:
ike turner’s rocket 88. rock ‘n roll exploded
from the belly of the blues, breached its birth
gates with a veil over its eyes; rock ‘n roll was
here to stay. oh how horny hound dogs
howled & fat lascivious roosters crowed for
day & in the acid afterbirth, in the gunshot
accents on even beats, in the keening night
cries of the electric guitar, the hip,
unrepentant glissandi of an infectious boogie
woogie keyboard & wry raucous saxophone, a
dark alchemy was loosed; an amount of alkali
equal to acid fluxed sweet puppy love &
transmuted it into a feral, snarling addiction.

what kind of love was this that made
me manic; made me want to jump & shout;
that flaired my big fleshy nostrils wide at
eight? was it the fearful floride in the chalky
southern california water…or something more
sinister in the music? lurking in the lyrics, in
the velvety smooth phrasing of ivory joe
hunter was the germ of an idea that lovers
might be delusional; i was surely feeling
things i wasn’t supposed to feel. was i

i asked jackie p. in the fifth
grade to go
steady with me. or maybe she
asked me.
it was all over in a mere short
week &
i almost lost my mind. i followed her

around for days like a hang dog, my heart
going bo-bom-doo-wop, bo-bom-doo-wop & i
in my ten year-old tenor sang like frankie
ervin of the shields: u cheated, u lied, u said
that you loved me – until her big football
playing fourteen year old brother threatened to
kick my narrow ass if i didn’t stop. a year
later i fell in love with pretty brown evelyn t.
who called out my name when we were
picking spelling partners in class. her voice
mouthing my name made my skin ripple &
flutter. i felt a sudden forceful flow & swift
release of affective force – since i met u baby,
my whole life has changed – but alas, evelyn
had older sisters who entertained grown men
in their home & with her watching. soon she
was mimicking them with an older boy from
across town. what’s he got that i aint got, i
asked howard, my best friend, indignantly
the reply was
quick & brutal. a dick, he said.

i felt weak in the knees, like little willie john,
& loose in the head: my baby had left me i
wish i was…dead? no i didn’t want to die. i
was almost twelve years old & fighting mad! i
wanted the little girls to stop doggin’ me
around. that was it! in fact, i didn’t even want
a little girl anymore. jackie wilson had it right;
helped me sort out what i wanted -- i wanted a
woman, a lover & a friend! & i’d wait.

changed schools again following my soldier
daddy, the third move in eight years. the girls
would have to wait, would have to grow up
‘cause i was playing football & basketball &
running track & listening to smokey robinson,
imagining my jesus loving mama telling me to
shop around. i started going to the youth
center on the army base on saturday nights &
after three months of looking, gathered the
courage to ask joanne b. to dance. she agreed
& i danced with her every dance thereafter,
slow & fast (even though i couldn’t really fast
dance) until the place closed. she was medium
tall, pretty, black & stacked & she liked me;
called me on the phone every day. between
phone calls i’d work on my dancing moves
with my sisters; even fixed my twist. when we
next met at the center on the following
saturday night, i did myself, dee dee sharp,
chubbie checker & hank ballard proud. i did
the twist, the wa-watusi & the mashed
potatoes, too. i found that the slow drag &
booty grind came naturally to me. ooh it felt
so good when our hips & crotches rubbed
against each other, made achingly sweet
friction as smokey sang who’s lovin’ u. we
snuck out back & under a monterey cypress
tree, i kissed her. she ruined that first kiss by
sticking her tongue in my mouth.

three times we tried to get it right, the last,
memorably, with both our eyes wide open.
she saw my uneasy disgust & confusion &
dismissed me as a lame. she never called me or
saw me again & i took comfort in ray charles’
declarative: born to lose i 've lived my life in
vain; every dream has only brought me pain,
all my life i've always been so blue, born to
lose & now i’m losing u. to add injury to
insult, i broke my leg trying to deliver
newspapers on roller skates. i was laid up in
the hospital mending for 3 months until it was
time to move once again – this time to a black
city & a black high school.

i grew four inches
while in the hospital.
i went in 5’11” & came
out 6’3”. i thought
i was now big enough to
find me a real woman.
my good friend, melvin,
17 & the baddest sucka
in town (who beat
up his older brother who used
to be the
baddest sucka in town) had hooked up
our high school spanish teacher. she was a
real grown woman, white & too fine. she
would come & get him. take him away. i
thought i might do something like that until
sam cooke was shot to death in an l.a. motel
by a real bad woman.

he had had it made; had
29 top 40 hits, but his
version of a fool’s
paradise rang truest: i often
think of the life
i've led & oh, it's a wonder, i ain't
dead…but he
was dead – just like that, wacked
by a woman.
like "cleanhead" vinson said, who
never loved
& said he never will, i knew then
that a loving
proposition could most definitely
get u killed.

i had to back up, hold up & regroup. i had to
think this through. if i learned to really talk to
a woman, maybe steal a lyric or two, from
smokey perhaps, or the temptations, like:
it would be easier to take the wet from water,
or the dry from sand… or… one day u will begin
to realize by the look that’s in my eyes how
much i love u… yeah, that’s it, like that. & learn
to kiss, learn to suck on a tongue & explore the
soft inside of a woman’s cheek -- maybe, if i’m
good enough & if the planets ruling the day favor
me, i just might get the right woman & …
i just might get laid!

©Joseph McNair;2009


  1. This is a very powerful period piece. You do teenage angst very well and i loved the music. Took me back!

  2. Rock’n Roll emerged from the blues causing a great revolution in music. It manifested the darkest, craziest and deepest feelings of love, passion, happiness, sorrow, hate, rebellion and others. Rock’n Roll has gone through different changes and transformations, the same as human beings change through different stages in life. Since we are born, we experience a great deal of emotions that lead us to make stupid or wise decisions. But we learn to deal with our emotions, resign ourselves to them, avoid them or control them.

    Love is one of the things that make us experience all kinds of emotions. From happiness and joy to sadness and anger, it is inevitable to escape from these feelings. We can decide to give up our dreams for love or decide to be stronger and continue in the journey of love. Disappointments and failures are sometimes involved in the journey.

  3. In this post it expands my knowledge on how music has transformed rock and roll 'n particular. Rock 'n roll came from a genre of music known as the BLUES!!! This kind of music is known to express emotions such as darkness, sorrow, hate and the most popular disobedience. This obviously changed the music world and had more people listening to this genre.

  4. In the past and in current times music has become a get-away for anyone. Musicians like Smokey Robinson and Ray charles contributed to the blues transformed into what is known in modern times as rock and roll (either hard or soft rock). Rock has infulenced other music to help modernize the old-rock into new rock;Today bands such as Kiss,AC/DC,and those bands are heavy metal,then there is also soft rock such as creed.It shows different emotions ,and can infulence in many ways.

  5. Read like a prose. I enjoyed it and the music very much, but with a title like The Blues Had a Baby that is just to be expected. Reading about the author’s own experience in love and growing up, made me realize how truly inexperienced I am. Most adolescents go through that phase, some at a much younger age and late bloomers soon after. But around that age I couldn’t even fathom such emotions. Growing up, I was always very blah about love, boys, and romance. I only ever had time for school, friends, and family. I figured it was a waste of time to be in a relationship at such a young age with no prospect of marriage. I always had one reason or another to push aside budding romances, and never really knew how to deal with someone when a situation would arise. I now realize that I had it all wrong. Being in a relationship with someone, especially at such a young age, isn’t necessarily just about love or romance. We are taking what we see and applying it with someone we cherish (even if it’s just at that moment). It is a wonderful way to learn life lessons not available through helpful words of advice, or taught at school, or even written in self-help books. Moments like those experienced during the first kiss are invaluable to the growth of each individual, like its own rite of passage. And one I unfortunately never traversed. Benched, like a player whom no one really believes can make the play, I now sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to call me into the game once again. To believe in me to make the winning play, but who am I waiting for? The man of my dreams, my future husband, or a guy who is willing to play the game right alongside me, cheering me on and believing in me to play the game fairly, honest, and with a little sportsmanship. Now, I really do wish I was a little more interested in boys growing up.

  6. My first kiss was pretty gross too, he tasted like peanut butter. Then we were both teased for days because the other kids on the playground caught us behind the jungle gym. Haha. I loved reading this piece, you have such an eloquent way with words. One of my favorite things to do is let my imagination take me back to when I was young and naive, filled with questions, hormones, and unexplained emotions. It's too bad those beautiful days of innocence are long gone, adulthood can seem so bitter in comparison. I guess all you can really do is cherish those precious memories and hope to learn something from them.

  7. I can go back to when boys had cooties. I also remember chasing my brothers friends when he was at boy scouts. I even remember my first crush in second grade, his name was Shane Small with the same initials like me. I even dreamt about him, and my dreams are suprisignly crazy as a seven year old girl. I had my second crush on my moms best friend son who played soccer with me-his name was Brando Dunic. While I liked the soccer boy, I developed another crush for John Ponce-I was in third grade and he was in the fourth, but he was so doggonfine (lol). Then I enter middle school had a few casual looks that turned into nothing and some of my boyfriends and even my first kiss. My first kiss was a terrible experience as well. He was unattractive and our tounges were touching and it felt so weird. I regreted it until I kissed another boy who was cute, and knew what he was doing. Then I regretted that kiss until I kissed the love of my live who I am with today. Third time is definitely the charm. I found Mr. Right and I pray and hope we keep it right. So we can get married and do it every night ---And eventually have a baby.

  8. This piece primarily talks about how the music genre of the blues created what we today consider to be rock n’ roll music. Many genres of music have also been branches of another genre that came before it. Regardless whether it’s through blues and rock n’ roll music, the same emotions and feelings are being felt by all the artists making these songs. Music is a filter which some people use to get their emotions out and other people listen to the music in order to relate to it and help express themselves better as well.