Thursday Inspiration #103 Just Like A Woman

A woman who appears to be very strong on the outside can on further investigation actually be fragile like a little girl.  A lot of people like to think that they know what the Bob Dylan song ‘Just Like A Woman’ is about and there are some crazy theories out there.  I read where somebody said that this song is about a transvestite, because she looked like a woman, but she wasn’t just like a woman.  Then of course there are those who feel that these lyrics are misogynistic, saying that the things she did were just like what a woman would do.  You can take Bob Dylan’s lyrics however you see them and that is what makes this such a great song.  In my opinion, this song is about a relationship that has ended and the person has already moved on from it.  Dylan made a decision that this girl was not right for him, so he gets really harsh and tells her to pretend that she doesn’t know his name any more after they have broken up.

Women have been getting a bad rap from the beginning of time, as is exhibited in Genesis the first book of the Bible, which was written by a man named Moses who was most likely an anti-feminist, sexist, chauvinist.  He needed to pin the blame on someone, when Adam and Eve were being evicted from the Garden of Eden.  Eve made an easy target, as back in those days, women were taught to be seen but not heard and that resulted in a severe lack of named female characters that were able to actually make it into this book.

This week’s prompt is breaks and you are asked to link this word to the image above a wave that breaks on the shore line, or perhaps you can listen to the 1966 Bob Dylan song ‘Just Like A Woman’ and be sparked to write something.  You could write about that person who was so ugly that the mirror would break anytime they looked into it.  Remember that there is a difference between the homophone’s “break” and “brake”, so you should not make this about getting your car’s brakes repaired, or that you always brake for unicorns.  Break is a verb that means to damage or destroy, so you could make this about that time when your leg did break, or some bad breaks that you had in your life, or what you would do when the levee breaks.  As a noun, a break would be a pause or an interruption of continuity like taking your coffee breaks, or going on a bathroom break.

She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl

Stick to You Like Crazy Glue

Naia Kete wrote the song ‘Crazy Glue’ with Shelly Fairchild and Philip Lassiter on her first writing trip to Nashville.  Philip Lassiter is a multi-instrumental vocalist known as a sought-after songwriter and jazz musician, as well as being the musical genius behind the funk group Philthy.  Shelly Fairchild is an openly gay country artist from Nashville, TN.  About 2009, Naia met Lee John, who joined her band which included her brother Imani Elijah.  Like Kete and her brother, John’s parents were also musicians.  His father is guitarist Earl Slick, best known for his work with David Bowie, and his mom is Jean Millington, who co-founded the band Fanny with her sister Institute for the Musical Arts co-founder June Millington.  Not long after John started working with Kete, the three musicians moved to California and started busking on the streets.

Lead singer, Naia Kete appeared as a contestant on Season 2 of NBC’s The Voice, and she was hailed by Rolling Stone as being “an earthy soulstress” who delivers captivating vocals and dynamic bass lines.  Multi-instrumentalist Lee John (Naia’s boyfriend), ignites the band’s sound with electrifying guitar riffs and rock steady rhythms on drums.  Imani Elijah, the third and final member of SayReal, also plays drums and is arguably one of the best key bass players out there.  With poignant lyrics and striking hooks that give each song mass appeal, this thought-provoking family group of artists, educators and trendsetters is more than a band, SayReal is a movement and all who hear the call are welcome.

In ‘Crazy Glue’ Naia sings enthusiastically about love, listing her reasons why she has surrendered to the power of love.  She lets her feelings be known to her man, especially how good it makes her feel when her man is holding her hand.  She vows to stick to her lover like glue, because she knows that he also loves her.  This feeling of love allows her to turn gray skies to blue, and there is nothing she won’t do to make him smile.

If I write my thoughts down on this page
I figure someday I might say these things to you
You got me tangled up inside
And now I’m listing reasons why
This love is true

And I think I’ll let me feelings fly
And I’ll watch them make their way
As we kiss every fear good-bye

Cause I get high when you hold my hand
You know you do all that you can
Just to make me understand
The way you love me
And I notice what you do
And I will stick to you like crazy glue
It’s all your fault I’m caught up in
The way you love me

If I were to sing you something new
Than would I turn gray skies to blue
So you could see
I’d do anything to make you smile
And you’d know it’s all worthwhile
From the melody

Cause I get high when you hold my hand
You know you do all that you can
Just to make me understand
The way you love me
And I notice what you do
And I will stick to you like crazy glue
It’s all your fault I’m caught up in
The way you love me

Sometimes words get lost within our minds
So difficult to find
But I am gonna say them anyway

Cause I get high when you hold my hand
You know you do all that you can
Just to make me understand
The way you love me
And I notice what you do
And I will stick to you like crazy glue
It’s all your fault I’m caught up in
The way you love me
It’s all your fault I’m caught up in
The way you love me

Written for Thursday Inspiration #102 – glue.

Thursday Inspiration #102 Stuck On You

Welcome to Thursday Inspiration, a weekly picture and word prompt which will hopefully inspire you to write something creative, perhaps a poem or a piece of flash fiction, or maybe you want to write about a song.  Last week didn’t go all that well and I am hoping to have more participants, but with the April A – Z going on, I realize that it may be difficult for people to join in.  This week’s prompt is glue and you are asked to link this word to the image above, or perhaps you can listen to the 1960 Elvis Presley song ‘Stuck On You’ and be sparked to write something.  This was Elvis’s first hit single after completing his two-year stint in the US Army.  It went to #1 in the charts and was written by Aaron Schroeder and J. Leslie McFarland.

Did you know that prehistoric hunters used a tar-based adhesive made from birch-bark to create a natural glue, which they used to bind stone arrowheads or axe stones to wood?  The Beatles may have been fixing a hole where the rain gets in, but when King Tut’s beard broke off in an Egypt museum, they crudely glued it back together when it was damaged, and insisted the item could be restored to its former glory.

I’m gonna stick like glue
Stick because I’m
Stuck on you

Sitting in This Old Jail House

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton is a mellow mountain of a woman, almost six feet tall and topping two hundred pounds, who is probably best known for a song that she sang first and another that she wrote, which both became really big hits for other artists.  Elvis Presley recorded the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller ‘Hound Dog’ after Thornton.  Her 1953 version of ‘Hound Dog’ is listed as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in February 2013.  The Elvis Presley ‘Hound Dog’ is ranked #19 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and it is also one of the best-selling singles of all time.  The other song ‘Ball And Chain’ was written and recorded by Big Mama, but her recording never made its way to the charts.  Janis Joplin recorded this in 1968 on the Big Brother and the Holding Company album Cheap Thrills, and this went to #1 on the Billboard Top LPs.

One weekend in November, 1971, blues freak, Link Wyler and his buddies from the Gunsmoke TV crew, gave in to temptation.  On production hiatus, they left Hollywood and went to the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon to film Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner and George “Harmonica” Smith, who were then barnstorming the U.S. Pacific Northwest with their bands.  The two hour and 20-minute film Gunsmoke Blues was released of this show in 2004.

In 1975, Thornton released her album Jail on Vanguard Records, which was recorded live at Monroe State Prison, Monroe, Washington and Oregon State Reformatory, Eugene, Oregon.  The song ‘Jail’ is on this album and it was written by Willie Mae Thornton and Link Wyler.  Big Mama Thornton makes it clear that she is not unacquainted with human suffering, but she has no intention of letting it get the upper hand, because she will always be herself, even if she is stuck sitting in jail, which she figures is just a waste of time.  Thornton never received recognition or the money she deserved for her accomplishments.  In her last years, Big Mama sometimes got stranded on the road in cities like Buffalo, waiting for the next little wave of cash that would allow her to get back to her home in California.  She was nominated for the Blues Music Award six times but never won.  Thornton was found dead at age 57 from a heart attack in a Los Angeles boarding house, on July 25, 1984.  I liked this song a lot, but I couldn’t find the lyrics listed anywhere, so I had to listen to this recording several times and I feel that I got most of them right, well it should be close enough.

Janis drank so much Southern Comfort Whiskey that they gave her a fur coat and thanked her for all the publicity that she gave them.  Her idol, Big Mama Thornton once told her to take it easy on the whiskey before a show so that her, “liver don’t go.”  Janis sang about wanting a Mercedes Benz, but she owned a psychedelic Porsche which she drove everywhere with the top down and her feathers flying in the breeze.  Janis didn’t seem to mind being naked, she openly admitted to sleeping with all the members in the Big Brother band, referring to them as her family and Janis and the four males all got naked, jumped on a bed and smiled for the camera during a shoot for the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills album.  One night Janis Joplin got into a violent brawl with Jim Morrison and after he propositioned Jimi Hendrix on stage at club in New York while he was performing.  Joplin called Morrison an asshole and banged a bottle on his head.

Well, here I am again
Sittin’ down in this old rotten jail
Well, here I am again
Sittin’ down in this old rotten jail
Woah, I got to say
Sittin’ here is just a waste of time
Won’t somebody help me
Help me find peace of mind
Well, somebody help me
Help me find peace of mind
Sittin’ here lookin’ out through those walls
God knows there ain’t nothin’ but the waste of lives
Hey mister warden
I just want you to let me go free
Please mister warden
I just want you to turn the key
Oh, sittin’ in this old jail house
I know it ain’t nothin’ but the waste of time
You know I look next door in the cell
My big brother have a sign in your house
Looked in the cell next door to mine
Big brother hunger sound to cry
Yea I got nine long years
Didn’t matter busy really wastin’ time
I got like ninety years more
And I know that one day
I said I got ninety-nine years more
I just want to tell you this one day
I am going to ask you once
To let the moma go free
Sittin’ in jail, sittin’ in jail
Ain’t nothin’ but a waste of your time

Written for Thursday Inspiration #101 Ol’ Man River prompt jail.

Thursday Inspiration #101 Ol’ Man River

Welcome to Thursday Inspiration, which I inherited from Paula.  This is a weekly picture and word prompt that hopefully will inspire you to write something creative, perhaps a poem or a piece of flash fiction, or maybe you want to write about a song.  I always enjoyed writing in this challenge and I am happy that Paula decided to turn it over to me after she did her 100th Thursday Inspiration post last week.  It is not really a music challenge, but I have always considered it to be one and I always enjoyed finding songs that went along with Paula’s prompt word, but if that is not your thing and you would rather write poetry or prose, just link it back to this post and I will read whatever you come up with.  I will continue responding to the prompt and this week I will write about the Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton song ‘Jail’, which never achieved much fame.

This week’s prompt is jail and it would be good if you could link this word to the image above, or perhaps you can listen to the American classic song ‘Ol’ Man River’, which was composed by Jerome Kern and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II for the musical Show Boat, which premiered in 1927 and was about life along the Mississippi River.  The song expresses both of hope and despair.  I remember the first time I was in jail, and there is not a lot you can it there.  As I waited to be released, I looked on the walls of my cell and saw a lot of stuff that looked like it had been written by bikers and it seemed like some guy named Kilroy may have been there.  I did see where somebody wrote, “If you can read this, you are in jail”, which I thought was very appropriate.  Next week I will discuss the song ‘Stuck On You’.

You and me, we sweat and strain,
Body all achin’ and racked with pain,
Tote that barge! And lift that bale!
Get a little drunk
And you lands in jail

Shakes All Over Me

‘Shakin’ All Over’ was written by Frederick Albert Heath who worked under the stage name of Johnny Kidd and it was originally performed by Johnny Kidd & the Pirates.  This recording reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1960.  Kidd’s recording was not a hit outside of Europe and in other parts of the world the song is better known from recordings by other artists.  This song is about the feeling you get when you are near a great looking girl.  Kidd said that he was out with his buddies and they happened to see a girl who was a real sizzler, so they said that she gave us ‘quivers down the membranes’.  It was a standard saying with them referring to any attractive girl and that became the inspiration for this song.

Kidd’s hit song came by chance as his producer Wally Ridley and the assistant producer Peter Sullivan on the HMV label wanted them to record the old traditional tune, ‘Yes Sir That’s My Baby’ which was written by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson in 1925 and they said that Johnny Kidd could have the B-side to do whatever he wanted, like they’d been able to on the last few singles.  The day before the session Johnny, guitarist Alan Caddy and bass player Brian Gregg figured that they would write any old rubbish, or maybe try to do something like their first song ‘Please Don’t Touch’ which was written by Kidd and Guy Robinson.  They went to the studio and recorded ‘Shakin’ All Over’ thinking it would be a B-side, but the record company quickly realized that ‘Shakin’ All Over’ should be what they should push, so they flipped the single.  The Pirates appeared on Wham!, the latest Jack Good TV show, and he loved it and the record charted immediately.  When it made #1, it became the first real proof to British listeners that British people could make rock and roll every bit as good as the Americans.  The Scottish guitarist Joe Moretti played on this song.

The Guess Who had previously been known as “Chad Allan and the Expressions” prior to the release of ‘Shakin’ All Over’, but the group’s Canadian label (Quality Records) issued the record as by “Guess Who?”, in an attempt to imply that the record might be by a British Invasion act, perhaps even The Beatles.  Disc Jockeys thought the group was actually named The Guess Who, and that’s the name that stuck, and making things worse, The Who started their rise to fame around the same time, and the groups were often confused with each other, but they changed their name to The Guess Who, and went on to a long Top 40 career.

When you move in right up close to me
That’s when I get the shakes all over me
Quivers down my back bone
I’ve got the shakes down the kneebone
Yeah havin’ the tremors in the thighbone
Shakin’ all over
Just the way you say goodnight to me
Brings that feeling on inside of me
Quivers down my back bone
I’ve got the quivers down the thighbone
Yeah the tremors in my back bone
Shakin’ all over
Quivers down my back bone
Yeah I have the shakes in the kneebone
I’ve got the tremors in the back bone
Shakin’ all over

Well, you make me shake and I like it, baby
Well, you make me shake and I like it, baby
Well, you make me shake and I like it, baby

Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 100 where this week’s theme is “over” from the 1967 Doors song ‘When the Music’s Over’.

Beauty and the Beast

David Bowie moved to Berlin in the mid-70s in the grip of a cocaine addiction, and living in this city purged his demons and pushed him to new creative heights.  By the summer of 1977, Bowie was on a creative high along with producer Tony Visconti and friend Brian Eno, so he began to make a new album.  ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was the first track on his 1977 HEROES album, and it was composed by Bowie, who also co-produced the track with longtime collaborator Tony Visconti.  Robert Fripp of King Crimson serves as the song’s lead guitarist, and he’s joined by Brian Eno on synthesizer, along with Bowie’s regular rhythm section which was made up of George Murray (bass), Dennis Davis (drums), and Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar).  Backing vocals are sung by the Berlin club singer Antonia Maass who at one-point swoons out “Liebling!”, meaning “Darling” in English.

Bowie has referred to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as being somewhat schizophrenic in nature, which is probably due to the days he spent in L.A. having severe mood swings, while addicted to cocaine.  It isn’t what you’d call a radio-friendly pop hit, although it did manage to crack the UK Top 40, stalling at #39.  It is often thought to be a cabaret piece of avant-garde pop, with something cold and malevolent about it.  Bowie was telling a story about frustration and maybe this song is about drugs or his relationship with Angie, which was surely a strange marriage that ended in divorce 3 years later.

The live versions are a credit to Adrian Belew, who had to play in one go the various guitar parts that Fripp had overdubbed and Eno and Bowie had pieced together.  The other musicians on the live recordings included Simon House on violin, Sean Mayes on piano, string ensemble, backing vocals and Roger Powell on synthesizer, keyboards, backing vocals.  After the ‘78 tour, Bowie never played ‘Beauty and the Beast’ again.

Ooo-ooh

Weaving down a byroad, singing a song
That’s my kind of highroad gone wrong
(My, my smile at least)
You can’t say no to the beauty and the beast

Something in the night
Something in the day
Nothing is wrong but darling, something’s in the way
There’s slaughter in the air
Protest on the wind
Someone else inside me
Someone could get skinned, how?
(My, my) someone fetch a priest
You can’t say no to the beauty and the beast
Darling

You can’t say no to the beauty and the beast
(Liebling)
(My, my)
You can’t say no to the beauty and the beast

I wanted to believe me
I wanted to be good
I wanted no distractions
Like every good boy should

Nothing will corrupt us
Nothing will compete
Thank god heaven left us
Standing on our feet
(My, my)
Beauty and the beast (my, my)
Just beauty and the beast (you can’t say no to the beauty and the beast)
Darling

My, my
My
My, my
My

Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 99 where this week’s theme is “beast” from the 1978 Rolling Stones song ‘Beast of Burden’.

Secret Smiles

‘Can’t Come Down’ was an early Grateful Dead song that was played in 1965-66 concerts for which no setlists exist, so nobody actually knows how many times this song was played by them and how many times this song was performed.  It was recorded when they were the short-lived group, The Emergency Crew and even before that when they were the Warlocks.  The studio recording that they made was released on the So Many Roads (1965–1995) five-disc box set in 1999.  Eventually the Dead dropped this song from their repertoire, however Phil Lesh & Friends revived it in 2012.  Bob Weir described the writing of the song in an interview saying, “Well, we wrote all the music and Jerry wrote the lyrics.  Jerry excused himself for a moment and went off.  He came back with a couple of verses and we put together a chorus.”

I don’t think that fans of other groups do the same stuff as the Deadheads, as they kept track of how many times each song was played and they compiled setlists from their shows.  This may had been assembled from bootleg recordings, which the Grateful Dead encouraged their fans to make.  The fans love to brag about how many concerts they saw and talk about their favorite songs and I guess this stems from the Grateful Dead being known for never playing the same setlist twice.  ‘Can’t Come Down’ appears as the first song in The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, which was published in 2005 to coincide with their fortieth anniversary.  This is one of the four original songs that the Grateful Dead recorded on their November 3, 1965 session for Autumn Records at Golden Gate Recorders in San Francisco.

Lyrically this song is often compared to Dylan’s song ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ from the Bringing It All Back Home album, because the lyrics are sung very fast.  I have always wondered what Garcia was doing when he excused himself to write these lyrics and I guess that he may have been ingesting something which would take a long time for him to come down from, as back in these days he was known as Captain Trips, but a better guess would be that he was he was looking rhyming words up in a homophone dictionary.  The Grateful Dead’s lyrics got much better after Robert Hunter joined the band a bit later, but Jerry was not all that bad at making rhymes.  He tells it like it is in the chorus saying, “Who you are and what you do don’t make no difference to me”, coping an insensitive, not caring, unsympathetic attitude.  The only other lyrics which I am aware of Jerry writing is a verse for ‘The Other One’ with the part “you know he had to die”.

I’m flying down deserted streets
Wrapped in mother’s winding sheets
Asbestos boots on flaming feet
Dreaming of forbidden treats
When uniforms on nighttime beats
Ask me where I’m going and what I eat
I answer them with a voice so sweet

Chorus
I can’t come down, it’s plain to see
I can’t come down, I’ve been set free
Who you are and what you do don’t make no difference to me

Well someone trying to tell me where it’s at
And how I do this and why I do that
With secret smiles like a Cheshire cat
And leather wings like a vampire bat
I fly away to my cold water flat
And eat my way through a bowl of fat
And I say to the man with the funny hat

[chorus]

They say I’ve begun to lose my grip
My hold on reality is starting to slip
They tell me to get off this trip
They say that it’s like a sinking ship
Life’s sweet wine’s too warm to sip
And if I drink I’ll surely flip
I just say as I take a nip

[chorus]

So as I dream of forgotten seas
And granite walls and redwood trees
And of the eye that only sees
Endless mirrors and infinite me’s
About the winter’s coming freeze
This afterthought I say with ease
To all of you who made your pleas

[chorus]

Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 98 where this week’s theme is “secret” from the 1963 Beatles song ‘Do You Want to Know A Secret’.

The Rich Old Man

Bruce Hornsby & The Range recorded ‘The Valley Road’ on their 1988 Scenes From The Southside album and this song went to #44 in the UK and it charted #5 in the US.  This was Bruce Hornsby’s fourth major hit, following ‘The Way It Is’ which topped the charts in the US in 1986, ‘Mandolin Rain’ which reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987 and ‘Every Little Kiss’ which got to #72 in 1986.  In this song you get the classic Hornsby theme of black humor from a lighter perspective looking at Southern life, centering on human indiscretions in a small town or rural setting.  Hornsby grew up in Virginia, so he encountered gossiping in a small-time community and this song is simply about people and their misadventures that were commonplace back then.  This is a recurring theme in Hornsby’s music.

This is a sad song about the daughter of the plantation owner, falling in love with one of her father’s employees, a man who is far below her social station.  He has this secret place off the valley road, which is secluded so no one will see them together and this is where they have their fun going all the way.  After the encounter, she is sent away and people notice that she is no longer around and they start talking, making up stories of what they think happened.  Somebody starts a rumor that she went to her sister’s, which is probably their way of indicating that she had really had been sent to a home for unwed mothers.

The fourth verse seems to be chronologically out of order, but maybe the guy is reminiscing about what happened, or the townsfolk just want more details to satisfy their curiosity.  The young girl was probably a virgin, as the guy needed to show her what they do down the long valley road, but when she returns, she acts as if nothing really happened, leaving the guy to walk back alone.  Her father knows that this man is probably a good worker, but he is nowhere good enough for his daughter to marry.  I imagine that this guy will find another girl to take a walk with him down the Valley Road.

Sometimes I lead, sometimes I follow
This time I go where she wants me to go
Said maybe today, maybe tomorrow
Go deep in the woods down the low valley road

While no-one was looking on the old plantation
He took her all the way down the long valley road
They sent her away not too much later
And left him walking down the old valley road
Walk on, walk on alone

Out in the hall, they were talking in a whisper
Everybody noticed she was gone a while
Somebody said she’s gone to her sister
Everybody knew what they were talking about

While no-one was looking on the old plantation
He showed her what they do down the long valley road
She came back around like nothing really happened
Left him standing on the old valley road
Walk on, walk on alone

Standing like a stone on the old plantation
The rich old man would have never let him in
Good enough to hire, not good enough to marry
When it all happens nobody wins
Walk on, walk on alone

Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 97 where this week’s theme is “rich” from the 1977 Hall & Oates song ‘Rich Girl’.

Run, Hide, Seek

I have been looking for an excuse to write about this song and Paula gave me one today.  I really like this mellow tune, but sadly there is not much information out there on it, unlike most other Grateful Dead songs.  The Grateful Dead had worked on songs in the early 1990s for an album that was intended to be the follow-up to their Built to Last which came out in 1989, but it was never completed.  This would have been their fourteenth studio album and it has sometimes been referred to as the Unfinished Last Grateful Dead album or The Missing Album.  ‘Lazy River Road’ is a Grateful Dead song that was written by Garcia and Hunter and it came out on the So Many Roads CD, which was released in 1999 after Jerry Garcia died which happened in 1995.

This is a song that the Grateful Dead first started playing in 1993 and my best guess is that Garcia wrote the music for it and then he asked Robert Hunter to write the lyrics.  Hunter once said that, “The song ‘Box of Rain’ began as a rough vocal outline from Phil Lesh” and when he was asked how that process works, Hunter replied, “Scat singing: Dum-dum dum, da-da-da-da, bump-dum-dum-dum-dum, dee-dee-dee.  I’m able to translate people’s scat.  I hear English in it, almost as though I write down what I hear underneath that.  I hear the intention.  It’s a talent like the Rubik’s Cube, or something like that, and it comes easily to me.  Which might be why I like language poetry.  I can tell from the rhythms, or lack of rhythms, from the disjunctures and the end stoppages, what they’re avoiding saying – the meaning that they would like to not be stating there, comes rushing through to me.  I understand dogs.  I can talk to babies.”  It is very likely this song came out of Hunter scat singing the tune leading to the lyrics, even though they are beautiful, they don’t make a lot of sense and this is probably why a lot of people haven’t written much on this song.

This folksy song sounds like it could have fit in with the music that the Grateful Dead recorded on their Workingman’s Dead album.  It includes names that are sprinkled in, like Sycamore Slough, Shadowford Ward, Seminiole Square, and one of these places is real, but I have no idea why Hunter chose to include them in this song.  A slough is a wetland, usually a swamp or shallow lake, often a backwater to a larger body of water.  Sycamore Slough is in San Joaquin County in the state of California and people go there to catch Largemouth bass and Striped bass.  A ward can be an administrative division of a city or borough but I was unable to locate any Shadowfall Ward.  I was not able to locate a Seminiole Square either, but I did find a Seminole Square, which doesn’t contain the extra “i” and what I found is that Seminole Square Shopping Center  is located in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The second line in this song can’t be a nod to Melanie Safka and her song ‘White Man Sings The Blues’, because that was released in 2016, or the Merle Haggard song ‘White Man Singing the Blues’ which was not released till 2005.  I imagine that Pigpen and Eric Clapton among others are good examples that white men can really play and sing the blues.  I have never seen anyone “selling roses of paper maché”, but every year the VFD asks for donations and they give you those red poppies, but they seem to be made out of plastic rather than paper.  The next line “with flecks of starlight dew” reminds me of the Stephen Foster parlor song ‘Beautiful Dreamer’, “Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me, Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee”.  I am pretty sure that the following line, “I swiped a bunch and threw it your way” has nothing to do with Tinder.  Moving on to “where hazy moonlight glowed”, since the Moon is a light source it will often introduce noticeable amounts of glow that is not present in daytime haze.

This is clearly a love song and it mentions love several times, “All night long I sang Love’s Sweet Song” which may have been inspired by a song that John McCormack sang back in 1927 called ‘Love’s Old Sweet Song’.  At the end of this song it has the line, “Never cared for careless love” and perhaps that is a reference to the Bessie Smith song titled ‘Careless Love Blues’, which was very popular in 1925.  I am going to stop trying to make sense out of these lyrics now.  Even though there are no studio recording of this song, many live recordings exist and the video that I have here is from the June 26, 1993 concert where the Grateful Dead were joined by former member Bruce Hornsby on accordion in Washington, D.C.

Way down upon Sycamore Slough
A white man sings the blues
selling roses of paper maché
with flecks of starlight dew
I swiped a bunch and threw it your way
where hazy moonlight glowed
Way down, down along Lazy River Road

Way down upon Shadowfall Ward
End of the avenue
Run, hide, seek in your own backyard
Mama’s backyard won’t do
All night long I sang Love’s Sweet Song
down where the water flowed
Way down, down along Lazy River Road

Moonlight wails as hound dogs bay
but never quite catch the tune
Stars fall down in buckets like rain
till there ain’t no standing room
Bright blue boxcars train by train
clatter where dreams unfold
Way down, down along Lazy River Road

Way down upon Seminole Square
belly of the river tide
call for me and I will be there
for the price of a taxi ride
Night double-clutches into today
like a truck downshifting its load
Way down, down along Lazy River Road

Thread the needle
right through the eye
The thread that runs so true
All the others I let pass by
I only wanted you
Never cared for careless love
but how your bright eyes glowed
Way down, down along Lazy River Road

Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 96 where this week’s theme is “hide” from the 1965 Beatles song ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’.