Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dusty Old Dust

When I was a young-un, it was before that stuff you kids call rock 'n' roll, we had folk music...and it was good. My buddy Woody and I would go to coffee shops and listen and drink — coffee that is, non-alcoholic, kept you awake. In them days bars in Norfolk closed about midnight, but the coffee shops were open all night. (Did I mention I was in the Viet Nam war. I fought in Norfolk. I'll bet you never saw a viet cong in Norfolk. I done a good job? Huh??)

After moving to Denver I spent a lot of time at the Folklore Center and had my hands on mandolins, dobros, geetars (them's different than guitars), and all sorts of folk instruments. Why my best friend William (only he was "Bill" back then) even played a banjo. We was folkies.

So all good folkies owe a debt to Woody Guthrie. Why just ask old Bobbie Dylan or even Arlo. Woody was the king. (Woody Guthrie — not my friend Woody — he was the prince.)

This is a song that he wrote during the dust bowl years and I've always liked it. (Again, Woody Guthrie, not my friend Woody.) I'm more partial to the version by the Weavers. In my home town, Lewistown, named for Capt. Lewis of the seventh cavalry, we only had one radio station, KXLO. So it had to play all kinds of music to fit the demographics of the various people what lived there, although we didn't use big words like "demographics" in those days. That was before I went off to college and larned them big words like algebra and economics.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, KXLO. So KXLO was a sort of country-rock-folk-jazz-oldies (and I mean from the 40's)-farm report station. Why you were as likely to hear Nat King Cole as Woody Guthrie as Arlo Guthrie. That was before those four mop heads from LIverpool arrived and wanted to hold everyone's hand. Back then the Beach Boys were kings of rock and I was into folk.

Now the Weavers were a very interesting band. They weren't no Peter, Paul, and that gal. No they were stricktly non-commercial, protesters, FOLK SINGERS. They was from Grenich Village in New Yark. There was Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hayes, Fred Hellerman, and my personal favorite, Pete Seeger. Pete's famous for "This land is your land, this land is my land," but that's a digression — another big word I larned.

So here is what I used to sing as I boxed groceries in my dad's store and listed to KXLO:

I've sung this song, but I'll sing it again,
Of the place that I lived on the wild windy plains,
In the month called April, county called Gray,
And here's what all of the people there say:

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

Now that's Woody's version. Here is how the Weavers put it:

I've sung this song, but I'll sing it again,
Of the people I've met and the places I've seen.
Of some of the troubles that bothered my mind
And a lot of good people that I've left behind, saying:

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
What a long time since I've been home,
And I've gotta be driftin' along.

My favorite part was about sparkin'. That's folkie talk for neckin', or 'spoonin' or whatever you young folks is callin' it these days.

The sweethearts sat in the dark and they sparked.
They hugged and they kissed in that dusty old dark.
They sighed and they cried and they hugged and they kissed,
But instead of marriage they talked like this:


I went to your family and asked them for you.
They all said, “Take her. Oh, take her, please do!
She can’t cook or sew, and she won’t scrub your floor.”
So I put on my hat and tip-toed out the door, saying,

(Helpful note: If you'uns singin' along, it will help with the flow if you put the emphasis on the correct sylogabble. Least that's how I do it. Now, ready, a one, a two, a ...)


I walked down the street to the grocery store. (Ya gotta make "grocery" have four sylababbles.)
It was crowded with people both rich and both poor.
I asked the man how his butter was sold.
He said, “One pound of butter for two pounds of gold.”

I said,  CHORUS

(It was good to be a grocer!! — not part of the song — just my thoughts at the time.)

(Now, here comes my favorite part. I still play these lyrics in my head all the time. By the way, for you little people, a telephone was what we used before cell phones and texting. It was screwed to the wall so you never wondered where it was and it had no battery to charge. All you could do was talk on it, but it seemed to do the job in those days.)

The telephone rang. It jumped off the wall,
That was the preacher, a-makin' his call.
We’re waitin’ to tie the knot.
You’re getting married. Believe it or not!

The church was jammed and the church, it was packed,
The pews were all crowded from the front to the back
A thousand friends waited to kiss my new bride,
but I was so anxious, I rushed her outside.

Singin'... CHORUS

Well folks, can I call you folks seein' as how I hardly know you?, that's the end of my tale. After that I grew my hair long, got an electric guitar, and went to work for IBM. Remember, old folkies never die, they just forget the words!

Originally written July 12, 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment