[Stephen and Kelly in Kelly’s truck, circa Hangover 1,982.]
[Stephen’s old publicity shot, circa 1982. Picture by Kelly – fine photographer, artful animator, manic mechanic.]
Brother Napoleon and I drove up to Prescott (Airheadzona) from Phoenix (Airheadzona) on ‘Margarita Day, 2012’ just to take a look around the old neighborhood, have lunch and a margarita.
I can’t remember anything that happened after that fifth margarita.
Jus’ kiddin’. We were good boys. (Hell, we’ll try anything once!)
We had lunch at the Gurley Street Bar And Grill, then a beer at the Prescott Brewing Company, we walked around the courthouse square, and I had ONE margarita at Lyzzard’s Lounge. Then we got outta town. (It weren’t nuttin’ like “The Terrible Night I” or “The Terrible Night II”.)
Awhile back ago, with the help of my friend Mister Sheboyganboy Six, I was able the determine that the Chevy pickup truck owned by my ol’ buddy Kelly Anderson was built in 1953 to 1955 or ’57.
Well, back in Prescott on Jan. 1st (“Margarita Day”) I paid a visit to the woman who runs The Old Sage Bookshop, whom I remembered had a Chevy pickup that looked to me as if it were very much like the one Kelly owned. She told me that hers is a ’53, and it just so happens that she’s got it up for sale. (Wish I could afford to buy it. Bet it ain’t as fast as Kelly’s though – being a manic mechanic, he had that thing all souped-up.)
So, I walked down Whiskey Row to where she had it parked and took another look and I made up my mind that Kelly’s Chevy must have been the same year, because I didn’t see a single detail that struck me as being different or out-of-place. Even the “3100” seemed familiar to me.
[Brother Nappy stands next to the '53.]
I’m still gonna play the Tom Waits song “Ol’ ‘55” every year on Kelly’s birth and death dates though - it’s close enough! And the memories! Oh, the memories:
Well, my time went so quickly
I went lickity-splitly
Out to my ol’ '55
As I drove away slowly
Feeling so holy
God knows I was feeling alive
Now the sun's coming up
I'm riding with Lady Luck
Freeway, cars and trucks
Stars beginning to fade
And I lead the parade
Naturally - to Brother Nappy’s disgust - I insisted on taking yet another picture of the cowboy ‘n’ horse statue behind the Prescott Courthouse. (Incidentally, the only lawsuit I was ever involved in was resolved in THAT courthouse. I doesn’t has to tell ya who won,
does I?) This time I think I finally got a picture I’m satisfied with:
I have no idea why the edges of these pictures make it look like there was Vaseline on the cell phone camera’s lens (probably leftover mayonnaise from lunch) but I dig how it makes the pictures look kinda dreamy.
Why do I like this statue so much? Well, mostly I just like the way the brim on the left side of the cowboy’s hat bends upward slightly more than the opposite edge does. (Look, I’ve told you people I’m odd, strange, weird. Didja think I was just saying it to make myself seem “different”? No! I really AM “different”... odd, strange, weird. "Not that there's anything right with that.")
Directly across the street from the fountain where BILLY JACK kicked all that booty in 1971 . . .
. . . there’s a new age book store called Lifeways. Well, back when I lived in Prescott (Oct. 1992 - Feb, ’94) that book store was a record store. As Nappy and I were walking past it, I got to thinking about where I was at “musically” during my time in Prescott.
By then, Jazz and Blues had replaced Rock as my favorite musical genre. In fact, that transformation had begun about 1983 and was complete by ’85. It’s no exaggeration to say that performers like the Eurythmics, Madonna, Culture Club, Duran Duran, and A Flock Of Seagulls chased me into the waiting arms of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and Blind Lemon Pye. And from there I eventually found my way to Jazz. Ahhh, Jazz!
So, during my time in Prescott, while I was weaving my way from The Bird Cage Saloon to Matt’s Saloon to Sneakers Bar to The Cattleman’s Bar And Grill and back to The Bird Cage Saloon again, it was Blues songs I had running through my mind.
Yeah, during my stay in Prescott, I had the Blues. I had ‘em bad and that weren’t good! Heck, it was the middle of January ’93 while staring out of my Victorian house apartment window that I composed the darkest poem I would ever write: ‘Ailing Spiders’. I’d post it here but it would only bum us all out.
And when I say I had the Blues, I don’t mean that I had the Sad Blues; what I had was the Angry Blues.
And that’s probably why I was SO READY to hear what I heard that July night in 1993 when I walked into that little record shop and started browsing. I really couldn’t afford to buy anything, but I had a few minutes to spare between drinks.
And then I heard those stinging, rip-roaring electric guitar notes bouncing off the walls of that little store. I stopped browsing, walked up to the counter and asked the clerk, “Who the heck is this you’re playing?!”
He says, “Gary Moore. His new album ‘Blues Alive’.”
Me: “You mean Gary Moore - the Irish dude - who was in Thin Lizzy?”
“Yep. Some time ago he met Albert King who really got him into the Blues, and now he plays this stuff. In my opinion, with this album, Gary has graduated into the Guitarist Big Leagues.”
I was just floored by what Gary Moore was doing. Here was an Irish bloke who had taken his brand of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, added Albert King’s brand of Urban Blues, and come up with an amalgamation I would call “Hard Metal Blues" .
I was all prepared to part with some of my limited funds to buy a copy of that CD but the store didn’t have any more Moore in stock, so the clerk sold me the store’s own used copy at a big discount. He took it right off the store’s CD player and handed it to me.
I took the CD and some beer back to my Victorian house apartment and cranked that album up to eleven for the next
You know how we associate certain songs, albums or musicians with certain events or epochs of our lives? Well, I will never be able to think of that Victorian house converted into an apartment building on Prescott’s main thoroughfare, Gurley Street, without thinking of my poem ‘Ailing Spiders’ and Gary Moore’s album ‘Blues Alive’.
I’ll bet the landlord was ecstatic the day I informed him that I was moving back to Los Angeles. No more nights of ‘Blues Alive’ cranked to eleven at eleven.
Sometime during that same year, my friend Dean came to visit. Some psychic or geologist or psychologist had announced that California was going to experience “The Big One” on a certain weekend, and Dean figured it was as good a time as any to pay a visit to his old friend Stephen up in Prescott, Airheadzona.
When he got there, we decided to spend the weekend camping in Sedona. Of course I packed Gary Moore into the bag with my toothbrush and my Excedrin.
So, that first night, with our campsite set up and an ice chest packed with cold ones, Dean and I broke out the invisible instrument cases, carefully removed the AirGuitars from them, tuned them up, and then stood side-by-side playing all of Gary Moore’s ‘Blues Alive’ licks . . . cranked to eleven, of course.
All through the Sedona valley you could hear our AirGuitars screaming and echoing off the rock walls! All the dogs in Sedona were barking, the women and children were running, and the tree-huggers were scampering up their trees! And the bears . . . well, the bears were sleeping. Even Gary Moore cranked to eleven can’t wake hibernatin’ bears. (Luckily for the AirGuitarist dudes.)
Not one person approached and asked us to turn the AirGuitars down to ten. But then Dean and I were both wearing red bandanas around our necks, and everyone knows you don’t wanna rile cowboys when they got the Blues. Just let ‘em play; they’ll pass out soon enough.
[A drive-through liquor store in Prescott.
Does M.A.D.D. know about this?]
Some songs found on Gary Moore’s ‘Blues Alive’ album . . .
Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues (Live)
Believe it or not, I think the version of “Further On Up The Road” found on the ‘Blues Alive’ album is even better than this one:
Gary Moore - Live Blues (1993) #12 "Further On Up The Road"
Gary Moore - King of the Blues (Live at HammerSmith Odeon 1990)
"He's the hunter with a crosscut saw
Born under a b-A-d sign!"
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.