see it often. but when you do, you recognize it. by its fire. by its blood. by its anonymity. by its secret nature. by its pure originality. by the hint of death in its life. by the ecstatic union with death. by the beyond life and death that it eats. i’ve found it in seedy bars. juke joints. desert shacks. i’ve found it mainly in those alone. maybe in a crowd, but somehow their separateness resounds like an old blues. i’ve found it in the blues. i’ve found it especially in rockabilly, where the wild, zany vocal contortions exhibit a release, a relentless fire that says let’s burn all night. i’ve found it in jukeboxes full of old songs. rare songs. rockabilly and blues. and don’t forget the mexican food. gotta have cheese enchiladas, bean burritos, hot tamales, green chile, red chile, old fashioned nachos, mexican beer, with a side of sour cream and guacamole. you don’t see it often. but when you do you recognize its purity. no hesitation. i recognized it when patrick came to town. with a flask of bourbon in his backpocket. and nowhere to go. but to hell. said he needed a blowdryer. down on his luck. scraping the bottom. but if he was going to look the devil in the eye, he was going to look good. so, in the depth of his troubles, he would go into the bathroom and hook up the blowdryer and blowdry his hair for twenty minutes. the blowdryer his salvation. i fixed him up with the lowest of the low down motels, the traveler’s inn. that’s where he met the devil, in the lowest of the low down motels. there and a bar called the white horse inn. he caught the bus out of town with only one small bag, which contained a blowdryer. you don’t see it often, but when you do, you recognize it. sometimes in the distortion of a photograph. where the distortion allows a new light, a strange light, a piece of phantom light, a ray of sudden light, a bending of light to produce a new vision. distortion from stretching the image, x-raying the image, giving motion to the image, overlaying one image on another, bending the image, juxtaposing one image with another, reversing the image, turning the image upside down. turning the image inside out. it’s when time meets up with space. it’s when one dimension meets up with another dimension. it’s when art meets up with sound. that is, a music of image motion. the wolf’s howl. the drum’s pound. a withered rose in the snow. a withered heart on a train. a withered smile. some withered miles. a piece of america’s heart. the lonesome whistle blowing for faces on the train. the neon singing a backstreet blues. a piece of america’s heart. the secret life. the secret images. the secret sounds. everything and nothing and a rebel yell. a piece of america’s heart, you could tell. faces everywhere. faces on the wall, faces in the rain. faces in the images. phantom faces that appear and reappear and disappear and appear again. the rhythm in the words that you have to yell. the real thing. i ride a coal black train. brother of the thunder. brother of the lightning. stop the clock. bring on the storm.
out of the wounds of time. brother of the night. a piece of america’s heart.