A stranger asked me if I knew the Devil / I told him, well, in fact, he looks like you / He told me he was no more than a lawyer / Who merely wanted someone else to sue / Or screw.
Mud Galvin called at eleven, and Abel tried in vain to sound as if the ring hadn’t awakened him.
“Get your ass up, Abel. The Devil’s loitering around the backyard, and I’m a-feared he’s gonna steal my chickens! I need your help to fight him off.”
Abel swung his legs off the bed and sat up. Mud, being a songwriter, was prone to hyperbole. “Let me have a cup of coffee,” he said, “and I’ll swing by directly.”
“That’s one of my favorite words, directly,” Mud said. “Means ‘indirectly.’”
“Be that as it may, I’ll get there quick as I can.”
Mud was a storyteller, and that’s the way he wrote songs. He still released a CD every now and then, but he hadn’t toured in twenty years. He had a recording studio at the house. As soon as Abel pulled out his guitar and got settled in with a cup of coffee, Mud played a song about a modern kid who woke up one morning in the seventies. In addition to wry observations about the differences in dress, automobiles, and bad habits, the focus of the song was the uproar caused from the kid when he asked a black girl to the senior prom. The title was “You Were Too Soon (and I Was Too Late).”
When he finished, Mud said, “You know, kids from the high school come by here a couple times a week, usually four o’clock or thereabouts. They bring their guitars. One of them plays a fiddle. I don’t let ‘em do nothing illegal, and I stay straight when they over here. If I’m gonna be a bad example, it’s gonna be bad music, but, what that really means is they get high before they get here, and then they take breaks, sit on the steps, smoke cigarettes. They ain’t much different from kids ten, twenty, thirty years ago, but it seems like to me they a lot less racism in their attitudes. That’s a good thing. These kids are truly color-blind. They don’t think nothing of whites being with blacks, Mexicans, Japanese, whatever, and that’s the reason I wrote yet another song nobody in town’s gonna touch with a ten-foot pole.”
“You’ve always been about ten years ahead of the times, Mud.”
“Now I ain’t got ten years left,” he said. “That’s the hell of it.”
TO BE CONTINUED