Nighthawk Blues

Nighthawk Blues by Peter Guralnick Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Nighthawk Blues by Peter Guralnick Read Free Book Online
Authors: Peter Guralnick
Jerry for want of anything better to say.
    “I didn’t feel like talking for
” Hawk hissed meaningfully. “What I want to do that for? I done talked enough for free. Make some poor sucker rich off my words. Shoot. When you gonna get that book on me, make us some
I give you enough of that old-time shit can’t nobody else remember nothing about and don’t nobody care, you could’ve written three books by now. Shit, you probably just waiting for me to kick, so you can cash in all the chips.”
    Jerry shook his head, murmuring denials. Lori had transcribed the many painful hours of interviews. For three years he had carried the book around in his head. He didn’t see any better way to sell it now than he had then. No one cared about this old man’s memories anymore. When they were riding the crest of the blues wave,
Rolling Stone
had expressed interest in excerpting a chapter, but he had not been quick enough and they had not been serious enough, and now it was San Francisco and Summers of Love they were nostalgic for.
    “Hey, we gotta go see about getting you out of this hospital bed,” he said unconvincingly to Hawk.
    Hawk smiled a strangely twisted smile. “I be out of here before you wish it,” he said cryptically.
    “Is there anything I can get for you?”
    “Yeah,” said Hawk, laughing. “Get me a young woman. I got me a old woman already.”
    S HIT , it ain’t like he thinks it is. It ain’t like none of them imagine. They think it was all hard times and suffering, they think you lived like some kind of animal, like some kind of beast of burden that sleeped in the fields. Shoot, it wasn’t nothing like that, we had good times, man,
good times.
Oh man, the way they got it, must have been born with a whiskey bottle in your hand instead of sucking on the titty like everybody else. Just imagination—what do they know? I think it’d disappoint ’em if I told them the truth. I didn’t touch whiskey till I was sixteen years old, three years after I was first married, after I taken Mattie away from 01’ Man Mose that they got on record, they call him the Father of the Mississippi Bottleneck Style, shoot he wasn’t nothing but a mean old drunk, used to beat up on a young wife, left her with marks she couldn’t never erase, across them titties, her thighs was pretty well striped, too. Wasn’t nothing but a thirteen-year-old kid, but I was growed. Working in the fields beside her so she could support that raggedy-ass funky-butt old nigger, he couldn’t have been no more than thirty-five back then, but I thought he was as old as the
couldn’t never imagine that I’d make it up in age that way myself. That nigger had it soft, just lay up in the bed all day, stay out all night long playing them old country reels and eagle rocks—people’d slow drag to them and buzzard lope and turkey trot, it used to be a regular mess when you get out on the dance floor, dirt packed tight as your fist, Mose’s big feet stomping away, she-it. Now they say to me, these young suckers, Well, you musta been right at the cat’s feet, picking up them pointers, learning all them techniques, growing up like you did on the same plantation as Ol’ Man Mose. Oh man, it musta been your lucky day. It was my lucky day all right, but ain’t nothing to do with that motherfucker’s
Well, you know, I may have gone to the balls, but it was just to make sure that lying old man was occupied for the evening. Then I snuck back across the field, just as fast as I can, couldn’t hardly wait to get in the door before I got my britches undone. And Mattie, the first Mattie, she was a delicate little thing, high yaller, nice skin, nice hair, people couldn’t understand what she be doing with a coal-black nigger like me, man she was all over me hugging and kissing and squeezing, sometimes we couldn’t wait to get in the bed. When he come home the next morning, you could hear him coming across the fields, most of

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