You Can’t Go Home Again

Sylvie. 30 Day Letter. Termination. Goodbye, Seattle. Country Blues Song.

You can’t go home again. Neither should I have stayed on another week at Hotel Julian. The subdued rhythm of my pastoral turned boisterous with the arrival of the fleet, and my absence in Seattle and now my prolonged and somewhat mysterious trip south caught up with me, testing Walter’s patience, and as he was wont to do at any sign of disloyalty among those with a seat at his table, he terminated me. There was of course more to it than that. The Walter Team was disestablished. It would be near impossible to disambiguate the transactions. In any case, I was no longer Risk Manager to the gods. Sylvie said Walter had sent me a 30 day letter. I could transfer to a desk in Morocco or take my leave, but the 30 days had already expired, and I had been cut loose with a modest severance bonus. Sylvie was on her way to spring training with her Single A team in Costa Rica. She had leased the Queen Anne house to some moonshiners out of the hills somewhere in east Skagit who planned to set up a microbrew. She had taken the liberty of putting my severance into a fund of fund of funds with no guaranteed rate of return but with a reputable track record. While I would not yet have to give up my weekly room status for a berth in the bunkroom, I would have to scout around for some part time work. I would not go back to Seattle though. I would take my risks elsewhere and in due time. Come Thursday night of my second week on board I climbed the Hotel Julian fire escape up to the rooftop bar and grill where I drank a slow beer and listened to Jack Tar and the Flower Girl with the Weathered Weary Blues Band messing around with some country blues with players on guitar, banjo, harmonica, a snare drum with a single cymbal, a Flatiron mandolin, and a stand up bass. Flower Girl nearly keeled me over with this song:

“Back Home Again”

What I know about love, I wrote on a postage stamp,
and mailed myself half way up to the moon.
I’m in stardust singing – I do, I do, adieu.
I’m out on the road, and I can’t go home again.

I was born in the back of a beach bum shack,
again and again, then I sailed the seven seas.
I never made it back home again.
Adieu, adieu. You can’t go home again.

She was born in a coral of a rodeo,
off a road they call Route 66.
Between the cowboy and the clown she broke free.
Goodbye, goodbye. She won’t be back again.

The moral of this story, the point of this tale,
if you ever leave home, you can’t go back again,
because you won’t be there when you arrive.
Goodbye, my love, goodbye my love, goodbye.

And it’s home again, I want to come back to you,
see all my family and all my old friends too,
but it’s true what they say, you can’t go home again.
Goodbye, my love, goodbye my love, adieu.

Note: Hear “Back Home Again” played on the guitar
here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CEAoxkhIXgq/

“You Can’t Go Home Again”
is episode 23 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)

Two Riders Were Approaching

Two riders were approaching
on hogs and wearing leather.
“Let’s stop here,” said one to the other,
“for a cool drinking beer.”

They passed the time on songs
that ofttimes rhymed.
On the trail or in the big city.
They parked the hogs in the gutter.

At the bar the one he uttered,
“What’s that you got in the vat?”
“Saltwort Ale,” the barkeep did tell,
combing his beard with a hand.

“Two lights for us, my friend,
the day grows warm and thin,
the dust is finding its corners,
the dogs want shade and water.”

“No light here,” the barkeep says,
“and we don’t serve no rhymesters.”
“But we are the two riders,
two riders who were approaching.”

“This here’s a craft brew pub,
not some seedy tavern.
Take your hogs and dogs across the tracks,
go see John Wesley’s mother.”

The two riders went back to riding.
On the trail where we last heard their cry,
they were still approaching.
Two riders were approaching.

“Yippi-yi-yo,
yippie-ki-yay,
we’re gonna go
our own way.”

Yippi-yi-yo,
yippie-ki-yay,
we’re gonna go
our own way.”

“Two Riders Were Approaching” is a song I wrote and performed on my show “Live at 5 from the JoeZone” on Instagram on Saturday, May 9 (now deleted). I used the chord progression Am Dm E7 Am. I changed a few words and lines here, and I discarded here a few of the lines sung live, as follows:

“…where the hodads hang their hats”;
“The hogs are hot and tired”;
“I don’t care if you’re the four horses of the apocalypse.”

If I ever play “Two Riders” again, I’ll probably change it some more.
Meantime, tune in to Live at 5 from the JoeZone Saturday nights (PST), a pandemic quarantine social distancing live video hour (or less) of music, talk, stories, and such to help pass the time and ease the mind.

I wrote this song, as I explained on “Live at 5,” to celebrate the latest Bob Dylan recordings, his first with all original songs in eight years. The title of my song, “Two Riders Were Approaching,” is the penultimate line in the Dylan song “All Along the Watchtower.” As I asked my audience, “Have you ever wondered what happened to those two riders?”

Photo: Pic I took of a photo at the Oregon Historical Society “Barley, Barrels, Bottles, and Brews” exhibit in 2019: two musicians and a bartender at the Cowdell Saloon in Antelope, Oregon, 1913.



“Bury My Heart in the Muddy Mississippi”

Dancers with Band The Touch Yous

“Bury My Heart in the Muddy Mississippi”
A Country Music song
Guitar Chords: GAD

(Slow intro with a little lilt)
G                             A
I took my girl to the Friday night dance,
D                                 G
But she said, “I really don’t like to dance.”

(Lively now)
(G) Then some handsome fella
with the (A) swagger of Godzilla,
(D) asked her do you wanna (G) dance,
(G) and the next thing I knew
(A) away they flew.
(D) He’s got her in a (G) trance.

Chorus
G                          A
Hey, Baby, don’t drive me crazy,
D                                                      G
I thought you said you didn’t like to dance.
G                                        A
Well, bury my heart in the muddy Mississippi,
D                                                      G
I thought she said she didn’t like to dance.

So I walked on down and I put my money down
On the counter of the mausoleum,
And I asked the mortician how much it cost to die
But he said I was a buck too short.

Repeat Chorus

Late one night I was stopped at a light,
Revvin’ up my hot rod Ford.
Along comes a Chevy, at the wheel’s my Baby,
Askin’ do I wanna dance.
I took her off the line, pink slips on a dime,
And the rest I’m happy to tell.
The moral of this story,
The letter of this tale (D – G…)

Repeat Chorus