Thursday, September 11, 2014

Maybe It's the Wind

In the future, which is now, when books are digitized and transmitted as a couple of million bytes of data, will there be any excuse for listing the words of a song in a book and NOT providing an mp3 (or whatever) so the reader can hear the song as he reads it?

Back in the mid-60s when Jim Thompson wrote SOUTH OF HEAVEN he may have had a melody and arrangement in mind for this song, but only the lyrics were included in the book. That was then. Here in 2014 when Knees Calhoon spied the lyrics, which conveniently rhymed and had rhythm, he decided to see how they sounded sung over the first chord pattern that occurred to him.

Knees' Disclaimer: I moved some of the lines around to get the song to fit a three-verse pattern. I have a feeling that the song, as imagined and maybe produced by Jim Thompson, was more sophisticated, and probably better, than my version. It's doubtful that Jim would have opted for two vocal lines, an octave apart, each run through a harmonizer that raised the bass one and lowered the high one. It's reminiscent of one of my favorite scenes from Get Smart. Max is getting some spy equipment from Carlson for an assignment where he'll be undercover as a reporter. He gets a camera (which Carlson explains is actually a tape recorder) and a tape recorder (which is a camera). Max asks Carlson why he didn't keep the camera a camera and the recorder a recorder and Carlson replies: "Because my mind doesn't work that way."

It's not easy to decipher my singing so here are the lyrics, copyright by Jim Thompson

A while ago as I sat there, counting the cracks in the floor,
Trying to blot out the future, to forget all that happened before,
I heard a baby crying, and I saw a face I’d known.
But the kid was dead and the face and head were crying there alone.
Wailing in infinite sorrow, sucking its finger tips
Till nothing was left but the marrow and the feebly gnawing lips,
But maybe it’s the wind, kid. Maybe it’s the wind.

The devil and a bearded saint peeked through the door at me.
The devil had a smoky taint, the saint a golden key.
The devil laughed, and he said to him, “I keep all whom I take.”
And he bound me there to that very chair with a ten-foot rattlesnake,
Then I heard the woman’s scream when the club came down on her back,
And the starving hounds on the grassy mounds where the dead fight off attack,
But maybe it’s the wind, kid. Maybe it’s the wind.

Maybe it’s the wind that aching hungry breeze
That blows all hell loose through the lid of one contagious sneeze?
Or the gasps for breath as the rope brings death while mob-fire turns bodies black,
Or the mad men, the bad men, and the sad and the glad men who rape and murder and sack,
Where the bombs explode and the shells erode where the sinned-against have sinned,
But maybe. Just Maybe. Maybe it’s the wind.
Maybe it's the wind.
Maybe it's the wind.