Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hi Hello Mary

In my 25 years of playing in bars I have driven a lot at night. The 50-mile drive between Farmington NM and Durango CO is forever ingrained in my mind, every curve, every hill. At 2 am the Colorado sky is deep black with a million stars and there's a certain creativity that springs from the released tension of the night's histrionics. It's a perfect time to write a song.

Smoky Stover was a former sheriff-turned country guitar singer who, in 1970 had a weekend gig in Cortez, about 70 miles away from Farmington. Max Herrera was his bass player and they needed a lead guitar. I had sat in at the Copper Penny in Farmington one night and Max had heard me play and wondered if I wanted to play some lead with other bands. I was one month out of the army and expected to move to Gallup for a job with National Cash Register. I was newly married and we were expecting. But Gallup? I had no desire to move to Gallup.

So I took the job with Smoky and Max and a drummer at a very western night club in Cortez. I'd play some Creedence or Buddy Holly, but the rest was all hardcore country, which was fine with me since I needed to learn my country chops.

I met a younger, hipper band in Durango and they asked me to play with them on New Years Eve after midnight at the bar at the Strater Hotel. I was playing with Smoky in Cortez until Midnight. There was a 30 mile mountainous drive between Cortez and Durango but I was fortified with vitamin cannabis in those days and made both gigs. I made the mistake of telling Smoky and Max, while at the Cortez bar, that the next week I would be playing exclusively with the band at the Strater. I had driven up from Farmington with Smoky and Max that night and while I was packing up my guitar and amp, they drove off, stranding me in Cortez.

Written: Highway 666, Southern Colorado, fall 1971

This song came to Knees as he was driving back from Cortez CO after playing with Smoky Stover’s band at a C&W dive. Loosely based on Buffalo Springfield’s Mr. Soul it was always a popular song in the bars, even though (or maybe because) deep down it’s a paean to pedophilia. Knees always wondered why no one in R&R ever used the obvious “Mary wanna” pun in a song before.

Hi hello Mary, creepin up into your teens
Does your momma an your poppa
Know you got such tight little genes?
An does your big sister
Tell you what she do with me?
Does Mary wanna take a chance,
Does Mary wanna set herself free?

Hi hello Mary, you love your loud rock & roll
I can feed you goodies,
All your little mind can hold
An does your big sister
Tell you what she got in her bag?
Does Mary wanna take a chance,
Does Mary wanna take a drag?

Hi hello Mary, livin can be such a ball
Sometimes it’s like flyin,
Sometimes it’s like havin to crawl
An does your big sister
Tell you bout goin down?
Does Mary wanna take a chance,
Does Mary wanna come around?

Oozing Madonna

(Sometime in the late 70s at the Las Cruces Inn, Las Cruces NM)

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