Jeff Lybarger's Song OF The Day

Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 07:33:56 EST
From: OUTRIDERJL To: zeppelin-l@lists.Stanford.EDU
Subject: Song Of The Day LXVI

The scene is a dark, dingy, unkempt bar on Bourbon Street. Called by the locals as Old Abby, which is short for Old Absinthe Bar, things are rather quiet this January evening in 1975. Only seven people are present. The bartender, a gruff looking man who used to be a sailor, to his left a black woman sits sipping her Long Island Tea, to her left a black man sits at a piano, playing a few sparse notes and mumbling some song no one understands. In the back of the room a prostitute leans against an old juke box. Across the room to her left a salesman stands holding his jacket, tie loosened, tired after a frustrating day of trying to sell things nobody really wants to buy anyway. To the right of the bartender stands a pretty young lady. She looks rather sad as she eyes the nicely dressed man seated at the bar. He's been here all afternoon, his head down, hasn't looked up once, he just keeps reading a note over and over.

Suddenly the sound of the wind drifts in as the door that leads to Bourbon Street opens and a rather ordinary man steps in from the cool night air. The black man recognizes him and slips away from the piano. He knows the newest patron is going to want to do some playing.

"Hello Stewart, the usual?" The bartender greets him and the piano player nods his head. "The usual indeed." The pretty girl asks the piano player, "So what are you gonna play for us tonight?" The piano player takes a seat at the piano and says, "Tonight, I have some friends who will be stopping by. We are going to play a little number from their upcoming album. I think they're calling it "Physical Graffiti" and it should be out sometime next month."

The girl studies him hard, and then proclaims, "I think you're pulling our leg. You don't know anybody that has an album out, or is gonna have an album out. You've been coming in here for years and we've never even seen you with anybody, let alone somebody with an album."

He lights a cigarette and takes a long hard drag. As he exhales he says, "Oh my dear, how wrong you are. I want you to listen close tonight, because when the album does get released, this will be the third song on the fourth side, and it will be clocking in at 3:45, it's called "Boogie With Stu."

She laughs out loud and the wine she has been drinking almost runs out of her nose. She composes herself and says, "Oh, I see. I mean, I SEE! Well! Not only do you know some people with an album, that hasn't been released just yet, but they wrote a song just for you. So Mac," she turns to face the bartender, " just what have you been putting in dear ol' Stewart's drink anyway?"

Just then a noise from the rear of the bar startles everyone. There is a door there, with a neon sign that says EXIT above it, and five men enter the room. Mac eyes the first man, a huge, rough looking sort, then looks back to Stewart. "Your friends Stu?" "Yeah, come on in guys." The large man looks around the room, and takes a seat at the back of the bar. The other four are carrying instruments and begin setting up around the piano area.

The black woman takes a long sip of her tea, and watches the skinny guitarist closely. As he pulls out an acoustic guitar she whispers to him, "Hey, you're kinda cute, but you need to put some weight on. Come on home with ol' Stella and I'll fatten you up real good." The guitarist smiles and gives her a wink.

After a few minutes the band has set up and the drummer begins playing a snappy beat. The guitarist and piano enter after a couple of bars and the few people there start to enjoy the vibe. The piano player is getting into some very tasty honky tonk, and the singer, with his eye on the pretty girl near the end of the bar, flips his long hair back and begins to sing.

"Been in town my baby,
we've just got to rock on...
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah darling
we've just got to go home...
I don't want no tutti frutti no lollipop
Well come on baby just rock, rock, rock...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah honey
we've been shaking all night
Woah, woah, woah, woah, darling
We've just got to roll right...
Ahhh, ahhh, ooh my head
Rock on...
Rock on...

The skinny guitarist takes a solo on the acoustic guitar then Stewart starts to really get down on the piano. The place is starting to rock, except for the guy seated at the bar. He still hasn't looked up from the note.

"Hey babe, hey babe
Hey babe, hey babe
Hey babe, hey babe,
Hey babe, hey babe
I don't want no tutti frutti no lollipop
Ah come on baby just rock, rock, rock...

Let's go on..."." 

The skinny guitarist takes another solo, delicately picking the notes, getting that bouncy feel. The band is tight, yet loose. The bass player is eyeing the prostitute in the back of the room now. Something about her just doesn't seem right. Almost...nah, couldn't be...but, well, almost looks like a guy in drag. Oh well, the bass player thinks to himself, guess I'll have to buy "her" a drink later and find out for sure.

"I don't want no tutti frutti no lollipop,
ah come on baby just rahhh oocck yeah..."

All the musicians stop playing, except for the bearded drummer. He's playing that snappy beat again, as the singer claps along. The drummer tries to change the tempo and make the singer lose the time, the singer stays with him though and they end the song. The room is silent, then the singer breaks into a fit of laughter.

Over the course of the evening the musicians jam on several blues standards and have a generally excellent time. As they finish and begin packing their equipment away the lonesome man at the bar rises to leave. The bartender says something to him, he answers and with that he's out the door, into the night.

The large man who came in with the musicians ambles up to the bar and asks the bartender, "What's up with that guy? You had some really good music here this evening, and he didn't look up one single time. Not once." Mac, who was drying some shot glasses, motioned with his head to the ashtray on the bar. The large man could see what looked like a note, but it was hard to tell, as it had been burned and left to smolder in its ashes in the tray.

He picked up the top left corner of the note, about all that hadn't burned away, and he could make out these six letters: Dear Jo "

Ah, I see, looks like a "Dear John" letter." "Precisely", said Mac. The large man asks, "So what did you say to him when he was leaving?" "I asked him if he was gonna go after her, he does love her, you know." The large man was really consumed by this now, and he asked the bartender, "So what did he say?" "Well," Mac said, as he dried another glass, "He said he was gonna do whatever it took, if he had to take a plane, or a train, hell, he even said he would crawl if has to."

The large man lit a cigarette and asked, "Think he'll get her?" Mac picked up the tip the lonesome man had left and said, "No, I don't. She does care for him very much, but, right now, I think she just needs something he can't give to her. Pity really, 'cause they made a real cute couple." "Oh, so you've seen her?" the large man inquired. "Yeah," Mac said, "Was walking out of the supermarket one day as they were walking in. They just looked so happy. Damn!" The large man thought about that and said, "Right, well look Mac, we're outta here, thanks for letting us play here tonight."

Mac stepped toward the large man and said, "You know, with some more practice, your band there, they might just be good enough to actually put out an album." The large man stared at the bartender long, cold, and hard. Then a smile eased across his face and he said, "Right Mac, maybe a bit more practice."

As the musicians were leaving the same way they came in, Mac asked them to leave through the other door. The one the lonesome man had left through. They obliged and disappeared into the New Orleans night.

The prostitute strolled up to the bar and Mac said, "What was with that bass player? He was sure talking to you a lot, buying you drinks like crazy." "Yeah I know Mac, he actually thinks I AM a lady! Boy will he be surprised. We have a "date" in two hours at the Royal Orleans."

Mac busted out laughing and said, "OK, Charlie, but be gentle with him." "Charlie", better known as "Charlene" on the street, let out a laugh and looked at Stewart, still tinkering with the piano and said to him, "Yeah, and after tonight, maybe they'll write a song about me."

The pretty young girl came forward and said the singer promised to write one for her. "He did, I tell you, he PROMISED me." Stewart looked at her and said, "Darlene, you will eat your words when that album is released." The pretty young girl gave him a kiss on his cheek and sat down and began to draw her name on a napkin.

The lonesome man sat outside, and through the din of the cool evening breeze, he could make out the mellow sounds of a lonesome song, wafting through the night..."Van Morrison", he thought, "hmmm."

...saw you early this morning,
with your brand new boy and your Cadillac
you're gone for something,
and i know you won't be back...


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