I was going to sit down and write y’all a long post on white-boy blues. I was going to start with Tom Petty’s “Honey Bee,” move on to the White Stripes’ “Ball and Biscuit,” and finish up with the “Whole Lotta Love” medley from Zeppelin’s BBC recordings.
But I heard “Give me some sugar, little honey, little bee” as I was opening the “Persnickety Alpha Male” t-shirt I got for YBHC and I instead decided to write about him.
YBHC is mostly the Butcher’s friend. This is my fault, as I never tag along when asked. I’m not sure what my deal is, but there you go.
YBHC is cool. He’s kind of a little taller than you expect, and he’s got himself a shaggy haircut that hangs all in his face and some dark glasses. He’s usually got a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. He’s exactly the type of guy who could pull of a “persnickety alpha male” t-shirt even though no one would ever accuse him of being any of those things, except male.
He’s laid back and constantly kind of distracted. He’s cute as all hell, but lacks swagger.
The thing I like best about him is that he surrounds himself with his art. And he’ll fill your life with it as well. We’ve got this naked big titted woman in our bathroom that he drew and some weird smoky lightbulb picture in a frame.
I kind of admire that about him, that art doesn’t seem like something far off and proper, it’s just something that he does. His casual talent is pretty awesome.
And so I guess “casual talent” brings us back to the boys at the beginning of the post. There’s nothing unpracticed about it. That’s not what I mean by “casual talent.”
Hmm. Well, let me get at it another way. My co-worker’s husband is a guitar player. He plays around town some and I’ve been lucky enough to see him. The thing that’s so cool about watching him play is that he doesn’t look like he’s trying very hard. His fingers just go where they’re supposed to go when they’re supposed to go there and he doesn’t have to concentrate to make that happen.
I’m sure he has had to practice like hell to get to that point, but when you see him play, it seems casual.
So these three songs seem like that to me, too. The thing that’s amazing to me about the Zeppelin piece is that it really starts to feel like some kind of seance, like they’re invoking all the old bluesmen who’ve influenced them and are letting them pour through them and onto you, the listener. Every time I hear this, it’s all I can do not to drive to Memphis.
But my point is that they can do that because they aren’t thinking about how to play what they’re playing. They just play.
YBHC? He just is, too.
And I think that’s important. “Just be” sounds like “sit quietly and empty yourself of everything that is not you.” But sometimes “just be” sounds loud and thumping and growling and… yeah, sometimes “just be” is all about getting beyond self-discipline.