Sunday Evening Blues

Melancholy_ Wes (1894)

“Monday, Monday, just can’t trust that day,” sing the Mama and Papas, but T Bone Walker in “Stormy Monday” argues Tuesday is just as bad.

Not so for Steve Wright of the Easy Beats, who feels better on Tuesdays, claiming that “even my old man looks good.”

It’s Wednesday morning at five o’clock when that Beatles girl slips away from her parents to meet “a man from the Motortrade.”

Tripping on acid, Donovan claims “the gulls go willing spinning on Jersey Thursday,” referring not to the scavenger gulls of Asbury Park but to the ones of the isle between England and Normandy.

Again, the Easy Beats: “On Monday, I got Friday on my mind.”

Twenty-four hours later, Tom Waits is gassing her up, hand on the wheel, arm around his sweet one in his Oldsmobile, looking for the heart of a Saturday night.

That leaves the Christian sabbath, Sunday, Bloody, Sunday. Lucinda Williams and I can’t seem to make it through Sunday. [sigh]

 

 

Sunday Evening Blues

 

On Sunday nights

I remember

lying on the bottom bunk

in my pajamas,

wishing I’d done my homework,

listening to the stampeding notes

of Bonanza’s theme song

echoing from the den as I dreaded tomorrow.

 

In the stasis of quarantine,

it seems I should be able to shake

this chronic case

of the Sunday blues.

 

After all, Monday mornings don’t matter anymore.

I don’t need machines to measure minutes,

yet that childhood sadness endures,

indelible, resistant to erosion,

carved into the tombstones

of so many Sabbaths. [1]


[1] Yes, dammit, the shortening of each successive line of the last stanza is intentional.

Hank, Cormac, and Daddy

from left to right, Cormac McCarthy, Hank Williams, Sr., Wesley Moore, Jr.

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses


I want some old school raspy voiced chain-smoking musician from Alabama or Mississippi to write me a song called “Crushed Out Cigarette in Hank Williams’ Ashtray.”

Hank was high-strung, jittery, an ADD-riddled Cormac McCarthy. The glass ain’t half full with them two, and their assessment of the glass ain’t even as positive as half empty. The glass is half-empty and carcinogenic. [1]

I remember being a kid at The North-52 Drive-in with my parents and seeing the trailer for Your Cheating Heart, a biopic of Hank’s life starring George Hamilton with Hank Jr. providing the soundtrack vocals.[2] In the olden days, I’d have to describe the trailer for you based on my short-circuiting memory, but now you can see for yourself.

 

 

At the drive-in some of these scenes hit home a little too familiarly. In other words, I could relate. Like Hank, my daddy could be sweet and generous, but, like Hank, he had a fuse so short static electricity could set him off, especially if he’d been drinking, Nor was my daddy what you would call a feminist.

Like Hank, Daddy felt the urge to create. He rendered in shoe polish on our dining room wall a credible copy of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner’s The Lesesne Gates, 14 Greene Street. Late in life, he sculpted gnomes, which weren’t nearly as good as the mural. Not only was he creative in the visual arts, he was also scientifically inventive. He received a patent for a sonar-operated weir for sewer treatment plants, but rather than selling the patent, he tried to manufacture the product himself and went broke.

I wish I had a photo of the wall, but I don’t think we ever owned a camera. The wall’s been painted over three or four times. I do have half of a gnome, though, which I keep hidden in the closet of my classroom. Because they were never baked, they eventually fell apart.

Hank’s works, however, survive and will as long as humans are around to strum guitars. His pain lives on in a meaningful way. Listen to Lucinda pass it along to us.

 

 

I raise my glass to dissonance, to sweet songs of sorrow, to Hank and Cormac and Daddy.

Wesley Edward Moore, Jr.


[1] To my ear “ain’t” is a lovely word with that mournful diphthong.

[2] Actually Hamilton looks more like Townes Van Zandt than he does Hank.