Tuesday, March 3, 2009
for ann marie
the first time i ever played guitar & sang for strangers was in new orleans at johnny white's. this was back in '73-'74. i'd been drinking at the bar, listening to the singer butcher song after song, & running my mouth to a guy sitting at the bar w/me. when the guy up on stage took a break, the guy i'd been talking with called him over, introduced us & asked him if it was alright if i played a few songs during his break. the guy was bar-manager. what did i know? i did ok. i played the few songs i knew at the time(bojangles, ruby, silver tongued devil, john philips' mississippi)& fled the stage. it was a real rush, i admit, but it was scary too. i had new found appreciation for the guy who had the gig.
the first time i was ever paid to play guitar & sing for strangers was at the tiki motel on p'cola beach. i worked(more or less)there as the night porter. it was a perfect job & i did it for 3 years from '73-'75. i read & played guitar. the most work i ever did was mess w/stopped-up toilets, wheel a roll-away bed to someone, or take room service. one night a guy stopped by room #40(the "porter station")& listened to me playing. after a few minutes, he said, "i heard you playing "help me make it through the night" earlier, right?" i confirmed that he had. "listen," he whispered conspiratorily, "do you think you could play that for me? i'll pay you." i started to play it & he interrupted me, "no, not now, not here. at my room. you sit outside my room & play the song, ok?" what the hell, i thought, he's paying me. "ok, let's go."
we got to his room & he handed me a twenty dollar bill. i was stunned. "just play it over & over, ok?" "how many times?", i asked. "maybe twenty or so, ok?," was his reply. he went into his room & i heard him open the front window & then heard a woman's voice & laughter. ah...there's method to the madness, thought i. i began to play. i played it 25 times. those extra five times was to show what a guy i was. i'm not sure he appreciated the gesture. he probably wasn't paying much attention by that time.
$20 was a lot of money back then. my weekly paycheck from the tiki was about $60 takehome. i probably took holly to angus steak ranch that week. i was flush.
i just had dinner w/ann marie & david. she mentioned kristofferson, how he's the only man she'd cheat on david with. david shrugged. i'm sure he's been hearing that for years. i found this clip of kris & rita looking for something else i wanted to post & write about(steve earle's great tribute to townes van zandt). this is a dreadful version of a ground breaking country song, sappy & made into a love song which it most definitely is not. but they do look gorgeous together & i did think about that moment at the tiki motel, so there it is.
ann marie, i think you'll like this more than "bring me the head of alfredo garcia."