Tuesday, 10 November 2009

There's a Fire still Burnin'


Things I found while looking for my father:
  1. The blues
  2. Bars
  3. Smoke-filled rooms
  4. Dirty women.
I had actually discovered all of these things before the old man passed away, but I never got to share them with him. He was weak and scarred and scared, and no longer the stud he had been in his navy days. He complained about the noise at a couple of my parties, and helped me once when I got pulled in by the police, and that was about it.

After he was gone, I went looking for lessons in how to be a man. And I went looking in the company of women. Not the normal way of doing it, I think, but it just seemed to me that the old John Wayne and Clint Eastwood type of masculinity was all washed up and nowhere to go.

I was sorry that John Lennon wanted to be with Yoko rather than Paul, and Marc Bolan ended up wrapped around a tree rather than Gloria Jones [G.L.O.R.I.A], but you know, I was right. It was the late twentieth century, and the way to be a man was to listen to the ladies, and find out what they wanted.


Mary Coughlan knew what she wanted.

I got a heart that's broken hearted,
How do I mend it?
I got a crying jag that's started,
How do I end it?
Well, honey, if you're gloomy
Come around and do me
Meet me where they play the blues

A day or two ago, I started singing this song to myself. (Yes, dear reader, I had a 'crying jag'. ) It's an old jazz standard from the twenties written by Jack Teagarden, but Ms Coughlan, being a fine, forthright, hard-drinking Irishwoman from County Galway, upgraded the lyrics a bit so that you knew exactly what was on her mind.

And you know, there's crying yourself to sleep, and there's crying yourself to sleep. Sometimes , the experience can be improved, without in any way changing the underlying mood or denying it, by matching it to the right music and the right company.

People have said they've seen you dance
In hideaway places
People have said you find romance
In others' embraces
Well, honey, if you're dreamy
Come along and see me
Meet me where they play the blues

Eyes that flirt with a tear
Are common round here
And misery loves company, they say
So I'll linger 'til dawn
While the trumpet wails on
And I'm hopin' you'll happen this way

I'm sick and tired of sippin' wine
And watchin' the bubbles
How did our dreams get out of line
And land us in trouble?
Well, honey, if you're learnin'
There's a fire still burnin'
Meet me where they play
I want you wehre they play
Meet me where they play the blues
MARY COUGHLAN