Story 1996-09-25 Akron, OH
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25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Atlantic City´
´´Good evening, Akron….thank you…..(some people : ´Happy Birthday, Bruce !´) grazie, grazie, thank you, that was, uh….Woody Guthrie´s ´Tom Joad´….I wanna welcome you to the continuation….of the ´Tom Joad´-tour, uh, a few groundrules, uh….music´s pretty quiet so I kind of appreciate all the quiet I can get, I kind of need to be cheered on there too much, I´ve built my confidence up over the years and I´m feeling alright (chuckles) and uh….(?) last night I had to step down and slap a young child in the crowd that was crying and I really don´t want to do that again and ruin my nice-guy image and all that stuff….ah….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Straight Time´
´´Thank you….well….last night I slept….in the only place in the world where you can sleep in a silo….that’s what….that’s what the literature said….on the night-table….and I lay there thinking …´Was it the puffed rice….or the oats ?….Which one was I in ?….I got to know !’ (chuckles)…(someone yells ‘I love you Bruce ! Happy birthday !’) yeah….yes, it was my birthday (chuckles)….and if I got to know you, I’d love you too, I’m sure (chuckles)….alright, this is a, uh….this is a song about trying to….I guess, get out from underneath yourself….trying to, uh….find some place…..and it’s about old, all your old answers running out on you….about trying to find that place where you….you can feel new….it’s about a fella that’s trying to find out that place where…..he can leave what feels like a normal life for a decent life….and I think that can be hard to do when sometimes the things that make you feel alive or the things that feel like hope are the same things that bring you down….or that can kill you….this is called ‘Straight Time’…”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Highway 29´
´´Oh, thank you…..I always say this next song is a song about sudden insight…. unfortunately sudden insight usually comes after you´ve fucked up very badly….why is that ?….that´s a shame….this is called ´Highway 29´….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Murder Incorporated´
´´I remember growing up when I was a kid, you had such a sense of yourself as a…..as a ….(someone yells) no, no, not that (chuckles)….you had, uh…idea about what, you know, America was supposed to about….and uh….as I wrote this song, I don´t know if I…. when I listened to it back later, seems it´s about a system that sort of (?) its own citizenry ….in a sense that there´s people´s aspirations and there´s people´s dreams whose….whose, whose are valued less…and uh….and that circle of violence does get propagated and we´re left with murder incorporated ….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´It´s the Little Things That Count´
´´Thank you….often, often when, uh….when I’m out on the street, fans come up to me…. and they say ´Bruce, show us the real you, please´….so this next song…. I usually hate to say if any of your songs are autobiographical or something, it’s always an out, you know, you can always say ´Well, it’s not really about me´….but this, this next song is….a page ripped right out of my diary….if I kept a diary, which I don’t do….you can ask Ted…. ´I shouldn’t have kept a diary´ Kusczinski why, alright….but uh….so, uh….I don’t want, you know, posthumously anybody going through my notes and seeing what I was really thinking about all of this stuff, you see…..also, if I die in one of those little planes I gotta fly around, I don’t want anybody traipsing through my fucking house either…remember that, tell my family when I'm gone, alright….so….this is a true story…happened a real long time ago….I can barely remember back this far….I was in California visiting my mother and a friend of mine….uh, invited me out to dinner….so I borrowed my mother’s Cadillac ….and I had to go across the bridge into, uh, Oakland…..and I got about halfway there and I got lost, of course….and I turned off this freeway and I ended up in some industrial section of town, everything seemed closed, I don’t see anything open and way down, a couple of blocks, I see a little corner bar….so I pulled the Cadillac over and I get out and I go into the bar….figuring that I´m gonna practise some of my new-found maturity and call people and tell ´em I’m gonna be late if I’m gonna be late, alright…uh….I go into the bar but I don’t have any change….so I go to the bartender, I only have a 20-dollar bill and (?) for some change….and he looks at me and says ´Well, we don’t give any change around here´….so I say ´Alright, you mean, like, you don’t give any change in this bar or has the whole community joined together and said ´Fuck ´em, no more change´ ?´….so he doesn’t say anything but there´s a waitress sort of watching this whole thing go down…..and she kind of saunters, saunters over and goes like this….and, uh, she has a quarter in-between her fingers….and I take it and say ´Gee, thanks´….I go to the payphone, put the money in and dial the number….but I seem to be a little bit out of the area code…..uh….so I turned to the waitress and said ´Gee….I think it’s a 50-cent-call´….and she just answers ´Well, that’s too bad´….she says ´But….if you give a ride home I’ll give you another quarter´ (no reaction from the crowd)….that’s the story (cheers)….made it all up (chuckles)….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Red Headed Woman´
´´Thank you, thank you…..speaking of tongues….speaking of tongues, I'd like to do a song now, a great song about a great subject : cunnilingus and uh (some guy yells) thank you ….I hope I pronounce that correctly….I think it's one of the finest songs ever written on the subject…..but I don't know what the competition might be….needless to say the field is wide open…alright….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Shut Out the Light´ (following ´Red Headed Woman´)
´´Yeah, I felt the Macarena coming on there for a minute !….wooh, it almost happened ! (chuckles)….I can do that Macarena, let me tell you (chuckles) alright….this is a song that I, I wrote just after the Nebraska-record….and uh….I think it was put out on a flip-side or something but uh….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Dry Lightning´
´´Got a love song here….this is, uh, I didn´t directly about love for a long time….and uh…. I always tell the audience how I was in the same relationship for 30 years….but it was with a lot of different women, you see….and uh….but I had it down (chuckles)….oh, this is a song, I guess, about one of those….one of those sort of ´Hey…almost, not quite….I didn´t try hard enough, tried too hard….didn´t know what the fuck I was doing´ (chuckles) can´t let that get in your way (chuckles)…woh, this is called ´Dry Lightning´….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Youngstown´
´´(?)….on the first leg of the tour we played in Youngstown, Ohio….and uh….it was, uh, played in a little townhall there, I guess, got a little nervous when I saw the boyscouts march in (?)….I said ´Hmm….no ´Red Headed Woman´ tonight´ (chuckles) so, uh, hell, they would´ve known what I was talking about anyway, kids these days (chuckles)…. yeah….uh….I guess there was, there wasn´t anybody in the hall that had, probably hadn´t had somebody, a family member or a….who hadn´t been affected when the mills closed down there….and….(?) anyway, I wrote this song about the people that….built the bridges, built the buildings we live in, gave their sons and, and their daughters away to the wars that we fought….spent 30, 40 years of their life doing something that they thought would provide them with some security….and then were deemed expendable….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Sinaloa Cowboys´
´´Thank you….about, uh, every once in a while….I get to, I get to take a trip with a few of my, my buddies and uh….it´s a man thing, you know what I mean, it´s uh….my wife calls it ´man dancing´, you know (chuckles) it´s better than beating your drum out in the woods or something (chuckles) iiih ! (chuckles) but anyway, last time was in 1989 so I guess that (chuckles) a while back but uh….I was in this little (somebody claps) hear it for 1989 ?… woh, hell of a year, woo !….can´t remember a damn thing about it (chuckles) all I know is it happened, alright (chuckles) but uh, I was in this little….Western Arizona town (some guy yells) yeah, yeah, yeah, what the fuck is so hot about that ?…I mean (chuckles) why must people shout out at the mention of any state, city or town ? (chuckles) you´re from Arizona ? no, that´s alright, goddammit, who cares ? (cheers)(chuckles)….oh, thank you for your support, uh….anyway, I´m in this little Western Arizona town (no-one yells) alright, and uh (chuckles) and uh (chuckles) and it´s in the fall and it´s beautiful in the low desert in the fall at night, it´s about 90 degrees and it´s dry and we´re sitting outside this little motel and there´s hundreds of these little desert towns out there where there´s just a a motel, a grocery store, a gas-station and a bar….all the necessities of human existence, you know….and at night the grocery store closes….the gas-station closes around 11 or 12 ….so that only leaves you with the bar and the motel….´Ah, the deductive reasoning of this man !´ (chuckles) so we´re sitting outside and this….two Mexican men came in from the west and they, uh….they came into the motel and they….took the room next to ours and one of them was a young kid, he was kind of high and the other one was a fellow about my age, I guess….post-kid….and uh….he come over and looking at, at our motorcycles and started talking and….and he´d say he had a younger brother that been killed in a California motorcycle accident a few months earlier….and we sat for about an hour and….and….all he talked about was, was his brother….and I think that….there was something about his voice that always stayed with me, it always stayed in the back of my head, I think particularly once you have your kids, you know, you´re always….concerned with protecting them and how that seems to be that the first line of family is to protect the ones that come after you, you know….and uh, when that breaks down….because you know, you always know that in the end you really can´t….and when that, when that breaks down….I think trying to figure out how to deal with that loss and put yourself back together…I don´t know how people do it….but uh….I was writing this song about these two brothers who get mixed up in the Central California drug trade, Mexican gangs come up and hire migrant workers to work in the drug labs where you can make as much in a night as you could a year of doing….backbreaking work, what would you do ?….and uh, I think….his….his voice was always….I heard his voice while I was writing this song so
I always dedicate this at night to him and his brother, this is called ´Sinaloa Cowboys´, this is for my mysterious friend….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´The Line´
´´Thank you….this, uh….another song set on the….San Diego-California border there …. there´s a whole lot of young guys that get out of the service and….end up going to work for the border patrol….it´s a confusing job….uh….California was Mexico till 1848 and a Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes….says that the border is more like a….a scar than a borderline….and this is about a young guy….trying to figure out just where that line…. where that line really is…what it means….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´The New Timer´
´´Thank you….this is….a song that was inspired by this book I read, Journey to Nowhere ….these two fellas, a photographer and a writer rode the rails from….St.Louis out through California and up into the Northwest in the mid-80´s and chronicled what they saw going on in the country…it´s a…you can get it out there tonight when you go out, it´s worth, it´s worth reading….and this is a song about, I guess, being pushed to that faraway place…. where everything sort of falls in on you….I think when people lose their connections to their…jobs and their families….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Across the Border´
´´Thank you….this is uh….when I was a kid, I grew up….in a house where there wasn´t a lot of talk about books or art or….any, everybody was kind of struggling to keep their, keep their heads above the water, you know….and uh….the only, first, I guess the thing that really first had an effect on me was my mother always had the radio on when I came down into the kitchen in the morning and I guess when I was in my teens, she was probably…I don´t know, ten years, ten years younger than me….she was but a girl, you know (chuckles) and she liked that rock and roll music (chuckles) and uh….every morning we´d be down there….she´d have the local Top 40- station on….and uh….when I was nine years old, went out….we rented a guitar, didn´t buy one (chuckles) and I was too small to really get my hands around and play it but I always remember the way it smelled, it smelled….a real particular way when you opened up the case….but….throughout most of my young life, I was, it was the music that gave me a sense of just living and having fun and that life could be more than what I saw around me….you know, and should be more ….if you could make it so….and then I was 26, a friend of mine showed me The Grapes of Wrath by John Ford….and the picture, went out and read the novel, the Steinbeck novel and that resonated throughout the whole rest of my life and, and connected up with my own feelings and memories of my family….and the struggle that my own parents went through….and uh…..I always go back to it, always go back to it, I remember what, when it was over, sitting there thinking ´Yeah, that´s what….that´s what I wanna do….I want my work to be about something and I want it to, uh….find its way into people´s lives and mean something to ´em….be useful in some fashion´….and uh, there was something in the ….there was, I guess, idea in the novel and the, and the movie that always seems central to me and to….the work that I was doing too….there´s a scene….Tom Joad´s killed a security guard and uh…..and he´s gonna have to leave his family…. but….and he knows he´s gonna have to tell his mother that, after she´s come thousands of miles and lost her home and lost family members, that she´s gonna lose her son now too….before that there´s this dance scene and it´s great….the music is great and people, the way that he shot people´s faces and the way people are….holding one another out on the dancefloor, you know, I always thought that was Ford holding out the possibility of beauty, uh…. where there´s beauty, there´s hope and where there´s hope, there´s faith and, and divine love or whatever you like to call it, you know….then after that scene, Tom goes into the tent and he touches his mother, he wakes her, he says ´Mama, I gotta go now´….and they, uh….step outside underneath these trees…..and she says ´Tommy, I knew this day was gonna come but how am I gonna know where you are, how am I gonna know if you´re alive ? how am I gonna know….if you´re alright ? will I ever see you again ?´, he says ´Well, all I know is I gotta go out, Ma, and I gotta kick around and see what´s wrong and see if there´s anything I can do about it to make it right´….because….it´s that idea that…. maybe we don´t, maybe salvation is not individual….that it´s only….you´re only able to reach it in some collective fashion….and he says ´You´ll see me…you´ll see me in that darkness at night, Ma, when you´re sleeping, that surrounds you….and you´ll hear me in men´s voices when they´re yelling ´cause they´re angry….you´ll hear me in the way that kids are laughing when they come in and they know that there´s food on the table and that they´ve got a home and that they´re safe, you´ll see me, I´m here, Mama´….and he slips off into the night….and the next morning the Joads are….heading out, heading north for work and the father says ´What are we gonna do without Tommy ?´….and, uh, the mother says ´Well, we´re gonna keep going´, that´s what this song is about, this song´s about the way people keep going, how they fall back on love and on faith and on hope and on, ultimately on each other….and that´s all there is….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street ?´
´´Thank you, thank you kindly…alright, here´s one of those songs that I, that I was doing all those drugs I used to do….no, no, I never, didn´t do any drugs, I, I just didn´t do it, you know (chuckles) I should´ve do those, I should´ve done some, I wished I did but uh, I missed out on that part of my life and (chuckles)….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´This Hard Land´
´´Thank you very much (someone: ´Thunder Road´) no, I ain´t gonna play that old one (chuckles) alright, when you hit out in the lobby tonight, there´s gonna be some folks from Share in Northern Ohio, they´re some good people doing some good work out there in your community, check ´em out, please….this is for them…..oh…..”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´No Surrender´
´´Thank you….yeah, that´s the folks from Share in Northern Ohio out there in the lobby tonight, working in your community….go out and check ´em out…..(starts playing, the guitar´s out of tune) whops ! (goes on playing)….”

25.09.96 Akron, OH, intro to ´Galveston Bay´
´´Thank you, thank you, everybody, for coming out tonight, thank you very much…. you´ve been a fabulous audience….yes, I mean that sincerely, it´s really, uh, I appreciate coming out here and having the room to play like this and it´s a gift that you give me and I thank you a lot for it….I was, uh, I was to the end of the….Tom Joad-record and I needed a few songs and….I think I wrote ´Across the Border´ and I had that down at the end of the record, you know….I played it through and listened to it….said ´Yeah, that´s, that´s good but that´s….that´s the dream, that´s that thing that keeps people….moving along for some reason´….I felt like I needed something else, something that….wasn´t so much of a dream….so this is a song about, uh….uh, it´s not about what you´re saying, it´s about what you do….in the mid-80´s there was a….at the end of the Vietnam War a lot of Vietnamese refugees settled in the Gulf Coast of Texas and went into the fishing industry….there was a lot of tension between the Vietnamese and the Texas fishermen….many of whom had fought in Vietnam….this is called ´Galveston Bay´….”

Compiled by : Johanna Pirttijärvi

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