empty eyes, blackened fingernails, frayed cuffs, alone throng gets down and dirty
n.b. Nashville, Tennessee, ‘The Recording Capital of the World, (as I heard a man in a check shirt, jeans, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat label the place to two men incheck shirts, jeans, cowboy boots and cowboy hats), is a busy place on a Saturday around noon.
It is mighty crowded. The sidewalks too narrow to accommodate the people. The shops too small for the lines of customers. The Johnny Cash Museum fulsome of people buying tickets, lining up to enter its exhibition rooms, queues of others waiting to have a gander around the souvenir store.
The air is filled with the low throb of traffic congestion; the whoopin’ and a hollerin’ of open wagon loads of young-acting women and men drinking heavily. Every building that isn’t a boot store, or souvenir shop is a bar with a stage that positions a duo, a trio, or a full bandwith their backs to the sidewalk. The bass drums and cymbals, distorted guitars and amplified voices tumble, conflictingly onto the street.
All around groups of friends, couples, families, stag and hen parties, step around each other trying to agree where to go next, what to do, or hesitate to check their party retains some coherent form.
In the bigger bars, several storeys of open windows and roof top terraces are full of people standing and drinking, or sitting and eating, often with bands bashing out popular songswhich encourage customers to try singing along.
A plane passing close overhead on its landing flight path cannot be heard. If you add a couple of ambulance sirens, or a police vehicle’s whining to the cacophony, then you have a good idea of the unholy racket. Music City indeed!
Well, getting back to the senryū above, in the heart of this overwhelming nonsense, there are some very isolated people. They carry all their belongings in a plastic bag, or even a suitcase or two.
They are not of this tourist partyworld. The crowds so loud and busy there is no hope of being heard if asking for handouts. These sun-weathered ghosts just wander around, or sit in the not so rare boarded-up doorways, or just stand and stare, sometimes mumbling to themselves, maybe fumbling a rolling tobacco cigarette.
Hieronymus Bosch would have loved Nashville. On a Saturday lunchtime, a setting forthe centre panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights; at night the setting fit for Hell.
never walk alone with hope in your hearts Iranian blues
n.b. Music-maker, Shervin Hajipour; poet, Mona Borzoi; footballer, Hossain Mahini; all arrested for voicing protest at the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini.
Mahsa had been arrested for failing to meet the strict dress code for women in Iran. She died three days after being taken from her family on their way to visit relatives in Tehran. She had been beaten on being taken into a police van, witnesses reported.
A song ‘Baraye’, released on social media comprising words from the voices crying out at this murder, is integral to the continuing protests. Change has got to come and music keeps the flame of hope alive.
You can hear it here. Every word has been taken from social media messages of protest beginning with “because…”
Hazelhurst's hurting Robert Johnson's been long gone town's still got the blues
n.b. Technically a city, a county capital, Hazelhurst has a population that has reduced to less than 4,000 with a quarter of whom living below the poverty line.
It is the birthplace of Robert Johnson, whose songs made others rich. The blue guitar sign, just visible on the right of the picture, offers a clue to the substantial debtowed by the music world for the gift of a life started here.
From this modest town there comes some remarkable people in the line of medicine, literature and the fight for civil rights for African-Americans, not all celebrated, but it’s worth finding out about the Deacons for Defense and Justice, who were compelled to come to Hazelhurst in 1966 to confront racist violenceinflicted on people of colour organising with the NAACP to be able to exercise their civil rights.