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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Arts & Entertainment, At TMV, Featured, MUSIC, Passages, Places | 4 comments

B.B. King is Dead, Long Live the King: The Thrill Ain’t Gone, No No No

B.B. KING

FOR BB

BB they called him.
His big black
and silver tipped
guitar was named Lucille.
Not LuCILLE.

LUcille.

He was a big man
filled the chair
type 2 diabetes
sang sitting down

had an eye
for the ladies
I dont know
and
dont I know

had hands
as big as
brown boxes
and big and pretty
light colored
fingernails
and pink palms
with yellow ochre
at the fingers
and sepia brown
in the finger bends
and high knuckles.

That’s how close
I was once
twice
three times
he-man
and a woman.

Mississippi
where people
lived on tiny
porches
bigger than
inside the house–
mustard black
spotted dogs and rattlers
under the cracked
white pine gone charcoal
wood planking.

Little kids running
in mud that made
their skin gray
or red,
grown ups watching
fanning torn paper
at themselves,
time for a green dinner
it was
across the nation, then
bath time
in the river
or a zinc bucket
of water
carried up.
There BB grew up.

And then music
came out of the
child’s hands
and mouth,
it stood up
like a sine wave halo
around his head
as he bobbed his
way through the song
and

what he did
with that guitar
anybody might want
be done to them
on their worst and
best days… soothing
the strings,
pressing just the right
places, holding the high
notes in a screaming
waver for long and long,
and then dropping the body
down into the softest deathbed,
of everyone so happy
to die that kind of dying…

and having the backup
of a bass guy who wore a
sweat darkened
fedora slammed atop
his pitcher ears,
and sometimes a
ten armed drummer
who looked not like
he was drumming, but like
fire and flame and smoke
were drumming,
and sometimes horns guys
who could pass as defensive ends
bulging and near splitting
out of their too small
white prom jackets.

and BB, yeah
on those high notes
of such pain and smoke,
just holding to it,
pinning it to the wall,
bringing it and bringing it,
his face contorted
to that ‘look of agony’
like any woman has been
graced to see on her lover’s
face at his ‘last moment,’

too BB would talk
in between songs
and between lines and licks
saying things kinda like this–
dont you go back home
if you wrecked it when you left…
and
–good woman aint hard to find,
but hard to keep if you aint good…
and
treat a man like dirt
and he will turn into a road
leading away from you…

and other things
many things
and who knows–
I saw the buttery yellow satin
of the back of his vest
when he took off his
dark brown suit jacket
so as to play better
more free…

and more than anything
over his music almost
I remember him for
making everybody’s body
scream like he made LUcille
scream, and for his hands,
his beautiful hands
with the high dark knuckles…

and when he also took
off the vest, and just sat
there in his brown wrinkled
in rays at crotch and knees trousers,
in the sweat drooping white shirt
with the so high starched collar
hitting at his cheeks…
and the black bowtie which
had slid to the crooked position…
and the yellow satin lining
of the vest
that hung on the back of his
playin’ chair, draped there
like dripping yellow honey…

while he played
oh baby of yours and mine,
how he did play.

The thrill, man,
the thrill
will never be gone…

Sail on BB, sail onward.

you can see/hear BB here…

You can read more at WApo, here.

The image of BB as a young man is a creative commons license from wikimedia, taken by its maker Marco Tambara. See BB_KingbyMarcoTambara at wikimedia.com

CODA
“You can get vaccinations against most anything nowadays. But if they ever offer a vaccination against music, as they tried to inoculate the young against the soul-smashing-that-lets-a-true-self-run-free-for- daylight, that is, the music of blues, of r and b, of rock and roll, of the chant, the strings, the winds, the drums, the voice full through the mask of the face, the words that move the heart, love found, love gone wrong, songs of gallantry and so sweet people weep to hear them, the cri de couer– refuse to be made immune to heart-music, music that returns you to true self.

“The thing about music, the kind you love that was born into the very root of you, will make you die of true tastes of the Soul, your Soul, over and over again, and leave you remembering what it is like to be truly free– against every harness and set of rawhide strings anyone would ever want to put over you, to tame you, to use you, for all the wrong reasons…” dr.cp. estés, excerpt from La Pasionaria/ The Bright Angel, forthcoming book from Sounds True Press.

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Copyright 2015 The Moderate Voice
  • Carol Wright

    Really, made me weep. I am glad you got to experience him in person, so you could write this tribute. I’m sure he is lookin down thinking this pretty darn kewl. Shoot, I am still crying.

  • A wonderful tribute Dr E. When I moved from records to CDs the first ones I replaced were my BB King albums. I still listen to his album with Eric Clapton and I have both the video and CD of his live performance with the Rolling Stones. Although his death is no surprise it is still a sad day.

  • tidbits

    Nice remembrance. So long, BB, but we’re still listening.

  • Brownies girl

    had hands as big as brown boxes

    Wow. Beautiful — you don’t write, you show. The best writing possible when it’s done that way.

    light coloured fingernails
    and pink palms
    with yellow ochre
    at the fingers
    and sepia brown
    in the finger bends
    and high knuckles

    I only saw him once, back from the stage – but close enough to see the spotlight reflecting the perspiration lines running down his cheeks. I concentrated on the music – soul-moving it was. Soul shifting almost. I like your poem a lot, but mostly I love your description of his hands. “Big as brown boxes” – now there’s a description that will stay with me forever.

    Thanks for what you wrote.

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