Monday, November 15, 2004

A Balance of The Sacred and Profane

So last Monday evening I'm playing some classic raunchy R&B behind the bar- what they used to call "race records" back in the old times- and one of the songs that pops up is "Big Ten Inch Record" by Bull Moose Jackson. Great song, the lindy hoppers love it every time it's played.

I'm sipping coffee with Yoko Noge when the song starts playing. Yoko asks me again if I can lend her the cd so she can burn copy, which she's done numerous times before. I bring her the case and a bottle of Vermeer Chocolate liqueur for my coffee and say, "I think this would be a great song for Jimmy (Ellis) to sing." Yoko begins to concentrate to Bull Moose's vocal style, looks up at me, offers a sly smile, and says, "You're right!" Suddenly she's off in a rush to the stage and conferring with Jimmy. I move on to washing some glasses and rotating stock in the cooler.

A few minutes pass and Jimmy is asking for his usual quaff- a snort of brandy, just enough brandy to fill the bottom of a rocks glass. Jimmy calls it part of his personal "mental science." He drinks it this way so as not to get too drunk too quick. Never mind that by the end of the evening he's downed one-fourth of a liter of brandy. Anyhoo, he askes, "Why would you think I'd want to sing that nasty song?"

"I think your vocal tone would be a great fit for it," I answered.

"But that's a nasty song, Chuck! I'm a religious man! I go to church, you see, and if people I go to church with find out I'm singing that song they'll start talking about me."

I'm standing there wondering if Jimmy's having some fun with me, so I start to tread carefully. "How old are you, Jimmy?"

"I'm seventy-four years old, Chuck."

"And by all accounts you've told me you don't approach religion from a traditional standpoint- you go to church but realize that your body is the temple, right?"


Here's where I turned the tables. I leaned over the bar and said, "But you do believe that man was created in God's image."

"Now I wouldn't speak for God, now," Jimmy answered, "I believe in dinosaurs and evolution, but we all have some of God's handiwork in our makeup."

"Okay, then," I said cautiously. Remember, I still didn't know whether he was genuinely insulted at my suggestion or not. "If we carry that logic out to it's inevitable conclusion, would it be beyond the realm of possibility to believe that god would have a big ten-inch record that plays the blues?"

Jimmy looked up from his glass, met my eyes, and grinned like a cheshire cat. "You a crazy individual, you know?" Jimmy laughed. "But you're right!!" Then he asked, "Now what if you believe God is a woman?"

"Then she's got a little honeypot," I snapped back. "Bottom line is, it's just a song. It isn't gonna condemn you to Hell for singing it."

Jimmy couldn't stop laughing. "You're just crazy. 'God's got a honeypot!' Just when I thought I heard everything from you!!"

I'm bringing him the lyrics this evening to "Big Ten Inch Record."


I end today with words of wisdom from the philosopher Julius Henry Marx (1890-1977), aka "Groucho":

Here I am talking to parties.

I cam down here for a party.
What happens?
not even ice cream.

The gods look down and laugh.

This would be a better world for children
if the parents ate the spinach.

No comments: