“Cracklins” (Sunday P.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

I gotta find some weed and some wine! I just got to find some trouble sometime!  

They’re called The Gourds. They say their music is for “the unwashed  & the well-read.” I’ve oft-referred to them as “Austin in a can”…frothy, cold and startin’ to sweat straight outta the icebox. Pop the top and out comes the sound of Austin in a musty, malty swoosh.  

The Gourds are (left to right): Max Johnston, Claude Bernard, Jimmy Smith, Keith Langford and Kevin Russell.

Goof-damn, there’s been so many good gourd-carved memories!  

Hearing ’em live for the first time ever at the tiny Cactus Cafe, a room as big as y’all’s den; dancing with Leah at Antones, on one of her last A-TX visits before she got married and became Sophia’s momma; flirting with Cha by the lake at twilight as The Gourd’s tore it up cuntry-style.  

Then there was that sticky sunset, driving into El Paso on my way to The Unified Science of Consciousness Conference in Tucson (University of Arizona.) After a long blistering day on I-10, I celebrated crossing the Texas border (finally!) by repeatedly cranking “El Paso.” Cigarette on a rumble seat, drive all day got nothing to eat. I’m Drivin’ all day,  got nothing to get me to where I’m going to. El Paso I’m going to, El Paso I’m going tooo….  

Let’s see? What else?  

Ah, the annual New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. One in particular, at The Parish. I wore my elaborate indian headdress & daisy yellow tights under a black mini-dress (trusty LBD of the day) and all night long I played the hell outta my tiny toy accordion! We passed a bottle of bubbly (my prize for best-dressed) and we sputtered laughing cause it was just the kinda New Year’s Eve that you expected to have as a kid, while all the Grups were out partying and you stayed home to watch the ball drop with Grandma. The RobotBoy had a robot mask and we danced all night –rung in the new year right.  

Yep, so many of the gourds-soaked memories are romantic: like “Hallelujah Shine” on the radio those days, those nights in a dark dash-lit car, when the Robot and I were first falling in love.  If you want to meet the Jesus, you gotta go down there brother. If you wanna meet Muhammad, you gotta get in the water. If you want yer hallelujah shine, you gotta go under. You gotta go under Jordan’s mighty waters. This hallelujah shine is mighty dark & old!

If we ever get married — the ‘bot and I — we’d love to have an old-fashioned country carnival: snake-charmers, burlesque dancers, fried chicken and gin-soaked watermelon. RobotBoyLoverMan would don a seer-sucker suit and candy-striped socks. My dress would be all sweet & kicky; something shorter, since a long train would collect grass-stains. Instead of flowers —  as my “bouquet” — I’d tug a swaying, bobbing bunch of balloons. My bridesmaids would sparkle beneath paper parasols, six gorgeous faces shadowed from the Mississippi sun. Speaking of that sun! Let the sucker set! As the sun melts like a butterscotch, The Gourds’ll kick off a raucaus set with “Cracklins!” (Maybe later they’d indulge with a cover of Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love.”???) 

(At this point, after 11 loyal years together, it’s worth waiting until gay marriage is legalized or until we have the budget for The Gourds.)
 
  
I’ve only  just arrived back here in Podunk, Mississippi, having come from Austin, Texas (at this point, I call both cities home… each one homey for different reasons) and after a long roadtrip, I’m thinking damn if it isn’t high-as-hell time that we featured “Cracklins” by The Gourds as a perfectly punk-ass Punk Rock Gospel selection. 
 
The song makes me wish I was a wicked cracklins connoisseur but no. I’m no fan of real-life pork skins. They’re stinky and they’re furry. I prefer my snack foods to be hairless. But hey, I got nothin’ but good things to say ’bout some weed and some wine and some trouble some time.
 

 

“Cracklins” is about recovery, reinvention, redemption! 

Reincarnation! Resurrection!! 

“Cracklins” reminds us that “living out loud” (as G*word would say) is a joyous & good thing — a great big noisyness, a holy ruckus, a prayer the gods are sure to hear!!!
 
I just gotta find a little trouble sometime.
 
When Blood of the Ram first came out( in 2004) I played “Cracklins” for my friend Mary Knott and she thought I was nuts! Especially when I started crying at the end — weeping really, like a stone statue of Mary. All overwrought & goof-touched. All giddy & awe-struck.
 
It’s been years and “Cracklins” still gives me chills.
 
Them Mississippi state police chased me, Pascagoula all the way to Metarie. I robbed a federal bank with a rack of ribs. A jar of sauce, some white bread and a bib.
 
“Cracklins” is an anarchist psalm & a trickster yodel. A holy hell holler & a crooked halo.

An ode to the outlaw! 

A sly nod to all that’s mysterious & mischievous & miraculous about the human spirit.

 Hot DAMN! 
 
Come all ye holy hedonists, this shit’s for you!

  

Listen up! 

Don’t read the lyrics until you’ve listened to the song or you will spoil the surprise at the end which is the very best part and the reason why “Cracklins” makes for good gospel.   

   

Cracklins  

31 days my fingers feel like rain. 

This jail was built on cracklins and cocaine. 

Policemen knocked me down and then charged me, 

With smokin and inciting vagrancy,

yes ‘ey did, yes ‘ey did. 

***

Chicken sneezed, eatin’ my cracklins. 

Buttercup, bloomin in the badlands. 

Kaboom kaboom, piss on the curses. 

Hospital, kiss all the nurses. 

I got to find some weed and some wine. 

I just gotta find some trouble sometime. 

***

Them Navasota troopers ran me down, 

Escorted me right out of town, 

For cherry pickin’ squirrels and feedin’ dogs, 

And dreamin of Jamaica in a fog.

Yes I did, yes I did.

***

Chicken sneezed, eatin’ my cracklins. 

Buttercup, bloomin in the badlands. 

Kaboom kaboom, piss on the curses. 

Hospital, kiss all the nurses. 

I got to find some weed and some wine. 

I just gotta find some trouble sometime.

***

Them Mississippi state police chased me, 

Pascagoula all the way to Metarie. 

I robbed a federal bank with a rack of ribs, 

A jar of sauce, some white bread and a bib.

Yes I did, Yes I did.

*** 

Chicken sneezed, eatin’ my cracklins. 

Buttercup, bloomin in the badlands. 

Kaboom kaboom, piss on the curses. 

Hospital, kiss all the nurses. 

I got to find some weed and some wine. 

I just gotta find some trouble sometime.

Time, time. I’m gonna find ya, I’m gonna get it.

*** 

I was eatin cracklins as the Feds were closin’ in. 

They watched the water as my car went rollin’ in. 

They dragged the river and notified my next of kin. 

But brother, pigs do fly and so can a man! 

When he’s full of fried pork skins!!

Yes, sir! 

Whew!

**********************************************************   

Love love love! 

How ’bout a talisman to honor The Gourd’s teachin’? By PaganGypsy, only $5 bucks on etsy.  

 

In the mood for pork cracklins? See Emeril Legasse’s recipe for homemade cracklins!  

 Go thee to the gourds website  

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9 Responses to ““Cracklins” (Sunday P.M. Punk Rock Gospel)”

  1. Love the “Gourds”, here’s to you and Robotboy, having them play at your wedding! They should play for free, given your endorsement.

    Did you know that Emeril got slack for his recipe for “cracklins?” He did really.

    Enjoyed the piece, especially the reference to “melting like butterscotch candy in the sky” hum….Did I mention, I love butterscotch? I do.

    Thank you for “living out loud” …..
    Peace Alice

    • alphabetfiend Says:

      Oh, if only! That would be a lucky thing indeed. Not sure how much it would cost to get ’em to play. I’m pretty sure I could sell the idea to ’em and convince ’em to give me a quote but not so sure I could swing it from there so I’ve never pursued it. Robot grew up just outside of New Orleans though so I’ve thought well, maybe if I could wrangle ’em a nice Nola gig for the next night, maybe make it more worth their while to make the trip from Austin. Oh, to dream…

      I had no idea about Emeril and the cracklins! Too funny. Kinda makes it extra perfect considering the rebel context.

      I love butterscotch too. Taste and hue. My parents never let me have candy but when we moved to Toledo, my Grampa Floyd starting slipping me butterscotches from his pocket. O! It was like Nin’s can of sweetened condensed milk or Narnia’s “Turkish Delight.” Now all grown up, I worship butterscotch dip cones from the tasty freeze truck in the bowery NYC. YUM!

      What were you up to today, Alice?

  2. Yeah know, my UPS man came Saturday, bewildered I hadn’t ordered anything, that I could remember that is. “It’s that gall-darned dog again, ordering via the internet, charge card in paw” I said to my cutie UPS guy. He laughed a bit and handed me the package.

    I saw that it was from Barnes and Noble, excitement overcame me. I ripped open the box and inside a note– “A spontaneous gift for you, no apparent reason, except to please,and delight you.” What a lover man, he is. The book “Amazing Rare Things- The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery”

    It is scrumptious, I love the templates of exotic flora,animals, insects , and alike. Thank god for the artists I say. I enjoy how they foster a more dreamlike feeling in me in their depiction of natural things. Also, I am grateful for my lover man ,and how he lavishes me with such affection. Yummy.

    I think I will buy some butterscotch candy today, and reminisce. What ya think about that? Delicious…..

    Peace, Alice

  3. alphabetfiend Says:

    I love a visit from the UPS man! (That was the best thing about having a store, the UPS guy came all the time.) There was this certain period in my life where I was ordering from Victoria’s Secret a lot and my UPS man was quite bemused — he imagined me as a lingerie fiend, which I am but not nearly to that degree … there was actually more than bras & panties in the boxes, clothes: chocolate velvet overalls that fell in cocoa puddles or little rosy corset tops to wear with jeans and floppy sweaters.

    We developed quite the mutual crush for a while there, me and the misled UPS man.

    Oh, Alice! I know that book! I have lusted after it! It’s a very beautiful, sexy and organic book. Lucky you to have such a loverman who knows a valentine for Alice when he sees it. I’m glad to hear you are being properly spoiled. (Rotten as a summer peach? I hope so!)

    Yes, buy the butterscotch. There’s nothing like valentines to the self, I say. Round out the spoilings of your weekend with a sensory memory packed goodie. What is your favorite butterscotchness?

    Speaking of spoils and butterscotches, a good friend once gave me a piece of antique moveable type, the word “butterscotch” spelled out on an old chunk of wood. Small but lovely, it’s one of my all-time favorite birthday gifts. A writerly talisman if ever there was.

    I finally broke down and decided to read the Twilight books, despite my snarly attitude, and I’ve even enjoyed them in a fun summery kinda way. But in the book, Bella has an Alice and it’s odd, I know,, but I’ve always wanted an Alice. So few people have the name these days. Anyhow, it’s been nice cause I haven’t had to envy Bella for having an Alice cause now I know you!

  4. Yo freeeek—like the Cracklins riffin’. I passed it on to Gourds nation so they can get some of that stuff you got. Well, of course we can’t play for free, but let me know if you ever tie the knot with the bot and we’ll see about what can be done, if anything. Glad to have discovered yer blog finally.

    • alphabetfiend Says:

      Hi-ho, ShinyRibs!

      Are those the ribs you used to rob the bank?

      (One of the BEST lines ever, btw.) Your lyrics give me the lit-girl chills! …. I had a store in Austin — Storyville — that was “for the well-read & the smartly-dressed”… I always imagined our snazzy smarty girl dating your musty mindful man. I figgered they’d listen to rockin’ records and have amazing conversations about books. What every great love affair should be!

      Ah, affairs of the heart, about that. Part of the reason we have the wild Gourds/wedding fantasy is because of the song “Ants on the Melon…” which was the start of the whole country-style soiree which easily morphed into the country carnival where the whole world stopped cause FUN came to town. We even wanted to have the lyrics on the band-poster cum side-show banner invite: I swear, I swear, I do declare! Down to the soles of my shoes! My grass is green as the trees in spring and the sky is blue. Ants are crawlin’ around the melon, the melon spiked with gin. I’m gonna fry me some chicken, baby, fry me up some chickens tonight. Mash taters and butter and all the other! We gonna do it up right!
      It just sounds like the best party ever, with a killer menu. We’d include alkie & virgin “Brown Cows” because we love the brown cow at the song’s end even though it’s sad. The best part of the menu is that it’s pure deliciousness without being too pricey (all the more dollars to budget for a great band!)

      Thanks for reading this. What a cool monday morning treat. I’m glad you like it, after all the Gourdsy goodness you’ve given us over the years. Thanks for all the amazing memories! I hope my off-kilter toy accordian jam didn’t squash (*dork alert*) the musical magic. You’ll always be Austin to me! love, Alphabetfiend

  5. Lordy, now that is better than the best butterscotch treat, hum…?

    Maybe the universe heard your rally cry for the best god-darn weddin’ yet , and upon gossamer wings brought it to the ears that needed to hear you.

    Peace, Alice

  6. alphabetfiend Says:

    Alice, I know, right!?!? How cool is them ribs, right?

    That was most unexpected. I’m pleasantly flummoxed.

    Moments like these always bring me peace, an exhale like “oh, yea, the dreamy and the if only and all the perfect mythic mojo is closer that we think.” Nothing is ever as impossible or as far away as we think it is. Reaching & reward are intertwined. It’s just so easy to get bogged down in the lesser details sometimes… I dunno, I’m drowsy and making no sense.

    D’You get the butterscotch?

  7. No, I did not get my butterscotch treat yet. Had this idea of finding an antique recipe or two, and trying to make some myself. I have a sort of unique latent talent ; making candy. Patience, timing , and making sure you don’t get third degree burns in the process.
    I bought a book at a garage sale last year–“Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s cookbook” An encyclopaedia of practical recipes and processes, by Sidney Moore copyright 1908.
    I love old books, don’t you? For me it is like pulling back a curtain, looking into a different time, discovering what it was like to live then, when marijuana & opium, were sold at the corner store, or by snake oil salesman door to door as medicinal aides. (more to come on that score soon).
    And yes, I was addicted to watching “The 1900 House” on PBS, oh- I wanted to be a time traveler, a card carrying member of the Bowler family.
    Okay, I’ve gotten way off point now. Taking up way too much space, so I will leave you now. I will keep you posted on my butterscotch adventure soon.

    BTW- I like being known as “Your Alice”…
    Peace

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