Friday, January 12, 2018


I once drove through Tulsa, OK with a leather decked gutter punk who was travelling to Austin, Tx to reclaim his pawned tattoo kit. I stopped in Tulsa to look for work in hurricane response but the dairy queen ethic of locals-firsters chased me back onto the tired Route 66. We were treated as suspicious wanderers, politely moved from town to town by sheriffs and federal marshals after a pat down and ID check. In a land of laws the lawless have no home so we wandered south, avoiding public places, camping by rivers, bathing in wastewater treatment drainage culverts. I was as broke as a virgin prostitute so we started playing music on the streets until the police would run us off. In Tulsa we ran into a musician who turned me on to Southern Gospel. I was aiming for Texas to pay tribute to Western Swing artist Bob Wills but caught the Southern Gospel bug before I got there. Authentic mono recorded Western Swing of 1944 is my ideal music. It swings, moves, shakes, makes you want to do the freaky deeky and it often involves only two chords that are embellished to death by long-fingered, cigar-smoking guitarists with names like "Slim" and "Hank" and "Three Thumbs". Buddy Holly probably had to smuggle Western Swing singles into his bedroom in the virtuous town of Lubbock but I hear lots of Milton Brown influences in early Cricket's recordings. It's 'Western Jazz' if you want to get technical. Or you could call Duke Ellington the "Urban Bob Wills".

The stop in Tulsa introduced me to Southern Gospel as it was meant to be performed, not in the previous incarnations that I'd encountered in New Orleans rescue missions where the raspberry jam tastes like arsenic and the TB phlegm and pubic hair clogs the shower drain and attending the church service is required to sleep and the out of tune piano plinks like Tom Waits on LSD to the dozing black audience.

Years turned into years and my Gospel addiction finally introduced me to The Golden Gate Quartet Jubilee. I prefer Acapella when listening solely for meditative purposes but

Joshua Fit The Battle demonstrates the brilliant enunciation of these four vocalists that I have to feature the video. It's hard to slur the word "Joshua" into "Fit" but they do it smooth as melted butter on a slab of bacon.

It's interesting to note that I was parked in a vacant ball field parking lot, no one in sight because of the brutal heat and humidity of Corpus Christi, TX, playing Southern Gospel tunes for my own pleasure when some enforcers of Law and Justice rolled up and had me on my ass with my guitar in my mouth before I could call my ACLU rep. I always think of that scenario, playing gospel music alone in a city named after Jesus Christ, and being molested by enforcers of Law and Justice for no fucking reason, and I wonder if God isn't laughing his ass off as old Oggy stumbles around this wacky pinball game of life.

No matter. I'm not bitter at that because I've got plenty current events to be bitter about. I'm a working man. The internet has more devoted writers and narcissistic travelers who can fund their adventures with royalties selling bath salts and plastic dildos so they don't have to work. I'm not an affiliate salesman for anything. Money isn't that important because I've seen the false smile selfies pasted on the over-tan youth-corporate-shill-generation and I want no part of it. It's not art. It's not honest. A shill is a shill and their product has been done before. I'm too busy nursing my emotional wounds to type anything worthwhile so I'm not going to force it. My powers ebb and flow, my interest waxes and wanes. 

A guy got dead shot today as I passed a Dairy Queen. He was wanted in another state but the Federal Marshals decided to pop the question on the busiest street in town where I happened to be remodeling a Redwood deck. A stray bullet could've taken my neck flaps off. Sometimes they take the plate away before you're finished eating. That's life. I'm still here but no one can say about tomorrow; the fates have their own agenda, their own time frame to work with and there ain't shit I can do but aim high and button each shirt button until there ain't none left. 

The word 'fit' is slave slang for 'fought' so that should give you some clue where the tune comes from. Joshua crumbled the walls of Jericho and freed his people with nothing but trumpets. I've got plenty of excuses to keep my chains tight on; what's yours?

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.