Clinton, S.C., Thursday, May 22, 2014, 11:09 a.m.
Hey, it’s good to be back home again / Sometimes this old farm seems like a long-lost friend …” – John Denver.
I’m not sure how much work I’m going to get done today, even though there’s lots of it. I’m not as much tired as ruminative. I feel like songs, short stories and blogs, whereas circumstance requires bills, errands, and accounting.
That stuff can wait just one more day.
I feel like I’ve been writing a new verse to Hank Snow’s “I’ve Been Everywhere”: I’ve been to (or by) Jackson (Mississippi and Tennessee), Saxon, New Orleans, Plaquemine, Lafayette, Alexandria, Gainesville, Nashville, Knoxville, Booneville, Jefferson City, London, Paris, Bonham, DeKalb, Lamar, Lincoln, Lewisville, Denton and Valley View, among a thousand others.
I spent thirteen hours walking up and down a ramp to a stage, keeping an eye on my watch, motioning to bands that they had one song left, reading numbers off raffle tickets, cracking jokes, reminding folks about silent auctions, barbecue and an autographed guitar, introducing singers and bands, and standing around behind the stage or in the audience, chitchatting with musicians and folks who know a lot about music.
And I played my own songs for thirty minutes. A Day & Night for VISTO, in Gainesville, Texas, took up just one of my nine days on the road.
If I applied myself and worked at it, I think I could make a living as an emcee. I hear it’s not that big a job market, though.
One of the unexpected changes that come with playing music is it’s hard to find time to listen to it. It’s funny that the most enjoyable experience of the whole trip was listening for hours on end to music on satellite radio and my iPod.
When I got to Gainesville, I just checked into the motel and started planning for my stint as emcee at the festival. I thought about songs I would sing, jokes I would tell, contingency plans, how I would manage to keep the concert on schedule, etc. I practiced performing songs. When I finally went to bed, inexplicably, I didn’t sleep well. At about four in the morning, this song kept me awake, an old one by Lynn Anderson that I’d heard while driving through Louisiana. Just the chorus, over and over.
If you don’t want me, baby / If you’re not satisfied / If you don’t care, get on your horse / And ride, ride, ride.
I haven’t thought about it since.
Till just now.
It was a great experience, a communion with close friends I only see rarely. I seem to have pleased the concert organizers. I’ve done it before, back when it was called Pawlessfest (Vince is still heavily involved and the chief reason I go out there), but it’s moved from the fall to the spring and it’s at the fairgrounds, though only a couple miles away from the old site at Bob and Dava Brown’s place.
In Nashville, I roved around town, tending to a few things, had lunch with one close friend and dinner with another. Also, I went to see “Godzilla” at the movies. It was playing, and I had a little time to kill.
The next night, I sat around with a friend playing music in his living room, and then it was one more long drive back home.
Every time I take off on one of these adventures, I say I’m going to take my time and see the sights, but then I get out on the road and start thinking about needing to get to the next stopping point. This time I did at least visit the great author Eudora Welty’s home in Jackson, Mississippi.
I’d have liked to have spent more time in New Orleans. I’d have liked stopping off in Bonham, Texas, to find out more about Sam Rayburn. I’d like to drive the Natchez Trace and see more ballgames. En route to Nashville, the Jackson Generals were at home, and I was sorely tempted to stop as I drove by the park.
I’ll fill in all the blanks one of these days.