Gatemouth in the Morning

Moved the chicken panels while the sun was still on the rise.  The neighbor is up too – a stratified skein of smoke hangs over the valley below (these days turn out warm but but the mornings benefit from a wood-fired boost).  At the keyboard now, with Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s Back to Bogalusa on the CD machine.  Mister Brown is the “Gatemouth” in the subtitle of Off Main Street, as it includes a profile I wrote on the man.  I was due to interview him on September 14, 2001.  Got him on the phone, because he wasn’t getting on any airplanes, he said.  Never did meet him.  But we did speak on the phone at some length.  He was seventy-seven and full of crusty wisdom and sly wisecracks.  Someone once said his country licks didn’t sound country: “What country you talkin’ about?” asked Gate.

Three days after 9/11, Gatemouth said, “…when things is smooth, nobody likes one another, they hate one another’s guts.  But when a crisis happens, everybody hugs one another with all this bullshit sympathy.  I mean why can’t you have respect and concern for each other before?  It’s just like Christmas – from January to December everybody is just on your own.  But when that one day comes up…”

He’s gone now.  He was sick before Hurricane Katrina hit, and it wiped him out.  He left the music, and it sounds right this morning.  The violin on “Breaux Bridge Rag,” the feel of “Folks Back Home,” somehow it works right here in Wisconsin on a warming springtime morning.

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