August 14, 2009

Offerings to the Spirits

Buddy, Ritchie & the Bopper
Rock & Roll spirits, that is. My good friend and I were cruising through Clear Lake, Iowa, yesterday and decided to check out the Surf Ballroom, where Buddy Holly played his last concert in 1959 before his plane went down on that cold February night in a north Iowa cornfield. From the outside the Surf was almost innocuous, as if it hadn't changed a bit in the last fifty years.

We weren't that curious, at least not enough to get out of her truck. Driving around back we saw Leon Russell's dark red tour bus parked outside for his concert last night. Tickets at the door were $15. Being an old Leon fan I should have felt a little guilty for not being tempted to go but I didn't.

The woman behind the steering wheel said let's go to the crash site. If you knew her you wouldn't be surprised. After the dance is over we all gotta go somewhere and she's held more than a couple of hands as the person inside them went as far as they could go in this world. We drove five miles north of Clear Lake, parked the truck close to the metal sculpture of Buddy's glasses, and walked a half mile along a fence row in the hot sun to where the young rockers crashed and froze. - I'm up on the tightwire, one side's ice and one is fire. - That's the way Leon put it.

As you can see lots of things were left, from a guitar key chain, poems, coins, to a wallet full of credit cards. Clik the pics to enlarge.

This hat held in place with a plastic banana says it all.
I've been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. Way too commercial. Out on the edge of that Iowa bean field nobody was coerced into giving up money or a guitar key chain they may have liked. They did it because they wanted to.

As for me I hesitate to make too much out of three chords and a back beat, no matter how much fun I've had with it. James Cotton sang Rock and Roll, it ain't no news. It ain't nothin but the boogie woogie blues. - And before the blues there was something else.

I'm up on the tightwire, flanked by life and the funeral pyre. I wonder if Leon sang that last night. Doesn't matter; it wouldn't change a thing. I was listening to the Top Forty on my family's AM radio in 1959 when the DJ announced their deaths. Fifty years seems like a long time ago but others have been around much longer.

It's the last song at the last dance that's on my mind this rainy morning of what looks to be a rainy weekend. I'm not depressed although I know well enough what it's like. I'm just watching the rain come down.

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