Well. So I almost threw my clothes onstage again. Twice.
That’s saying something, since in my whole history of concert going, I’ve only ever threatened to do that two times, and if you ask me about those two times in mixed company I’ll totally say, “What? When? That doesn’t sound like me,” and pretend I didn’t put it in writing.
But tonight it was Corb Lund, and damned if he didn’t get up onstage looking kind of like Chris Isaac, and he’s really funny, which kind of makes me swoon, and he even pulled off a song about a cow. I’ve never heard anyone pull off a song about a cow before. And then he peeled off his jacket and was wearing this black cowboy shirt. It was kind of a close call.
I thought I was done threatening inappropriate things after that, but then, hell. Hayes Carll. Who doesn’t love Hayes Carll? How could anyone not love Hayes Carll? And then he told, like, a ten minute story about a lion loose in a hurricane in his hometown, and his stories are just as good as his songs, and his songs are really damn good. Storytelling isn’t that different from songwriting, after all, so it stands to reason that if you’re good at one, you might be good at the other. He’s exceptional at both, though. Really.
And I was in the crowd with some of my favorite people remembering that I saw Hayes Carll at Cat’s Cradle a couple of years ago, and for no reason whatsoever was completely unraveled by the pedal steel guitar in the opening band, and pulled it together when Hayes came on and started telling stories, and then unraveled again at how beautiful his songs are. Funny, then devastating, then funny again, and it was about at that point that I realized that honky tonk, modern day or old school, is a powerful, powerful thing. For the most part I have steeled myself to the point that I no longer entirely unravel when I hear a pedal steel playing. Sometimes it’ll hit you out of nowhere, though.
And, you know, he’s any guy you’d see on the stool next to you at the Mecca lunch counter, or maybe just in the crowd at Southland Ballroom with all the other guys with kind of long-ish scruffy hair and plaid shirts and unassuming personalities, and then you’d probably get him talking and discover he’s a poet. A drunken poet, he’d say, but a poet nonetheless. So, you know, a songwriting storytelling scruffy poet who’d make you laugh one second and cry the next because the song is soooooo good, and really, people, why on earth am I still clothed?
Oh, right. Because for the first time since second grade (Sean Cassidy, I believe it was,) I am wearing a band t-shirt. That I bought at a show. It’s not the one that says “I’m like James Brown, only whiter and taller;” my friend Chad got that one. But a band t-shirt just the same. Just what I needed. I went in feeling a little honky tonk, and not in a good way, and I came out feeling a lot honky tonk, in just the right way.
A little Hayes Carll set everything right.