In Love with the Devil

18 Apr

When Robert Johnson went to the crossroads, he met a dark, shadowy spirit.

He met the Devil, most people say.

I would argue that, in this case, the Devil got the short end of the stick.

Johnson’s encounter gave the world perhaps the greatest music ever produced.

The older I get, the more I realize: we need the yin and the yang, the dark and the light.  What would it be like to live in a world without shadows?  I’m not sure I want to know.

Throughout history, we’ve seen encounters with shadowy forces produce great things: great people, great figures, great art.

I just learned that Jimi Hendrix’s father was the bastard son of a wealthy white merchant from the Midwest.

Hemingway danced with the bottle his whole life, and produced A Farewell to Arms, and Old Man and the Sea.

Bill Clinton’s stepfather was a vicious alcoholic, driving Bill to transcend his terrible upbringing.  Question: If Bill had been raised in a “well adjusted” home in Severna Park, would he have become President?  I’m convinced the answer is no.  He would be the vice president of a pharmaceutical company.

Van Gogh’s insanity and his genius were inseparable.  My favorite painting of his, The Potato Eaters, is more a shadow than a display of light and color.  The painting’s true content is in the shadow, not the dimly lit faces of the potato eaters themselves.

How much great literature has come from war?  How much beauty has come out of destruction?  How many poems have sprung from the rotting yet fecund remains of dead romances?

Am I arguing for chaos, violence, pain?  No.  Just accepting that it often seems to come with the strange territory of being human.  And it sometimes produces the most exquisite things.

This song attempts to play along the edges of shadow and light, good and evil, love and revulsion.

And what’s more, it dances along the boundary line between country and jazz.

Does it work?  God only knows.

10 Responses to “In Love with the Devil”

  1. Caroline (Niece) April 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Wow… Great writing and singing. You are really talented,

    • The Publisher April 19, 2012 at 3:25 am #

      Caroline, coming from one of the best singers and performers in the family, I take that as a high compliment. I saw your performance from the talent show and it brought tears to my eyes – you were amazing, kiddo. Can’t wait to see what you do next. Love ya.

  2. angie April 19, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    One more bit of amazing from my uber-amazing brother Jay – Love you and your talent!

    • The Publisher April 19, 2012 at 3:24 am #

      Thanks Ange – the $20 is in the mail! I was thinking a lot about you while putting this together. For one, there’s a lot of keyboard work in here, and I was wondering what you’d think of it. Secondly, I remembered how much you liked the Squirrel Nut Zippers and for some reason this song made me think of their song, Hell, which was GREAT! Love you.

      • petalumarose May 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

        I love and miss you Jaymandude… and I want a CD. This is amazing stuff. L~ Rose

      • The Publisher May 10, 2012 at 2:27 am #

        Miss you too, Rosemanbabe. We all miss having you guys around to visit and throw stuff into your hot tub! Love ya – and hope to get down for a visit soon. I can definitely make a CD for ya. I have a couple other new songs coming down the pike here that I want to get recorded, then I think it’s time to press a few discs. Love ye. Jaybird

  3. Vince Lupo June 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    The magically disappearing and reappearing Jay Livingston! I heard through the grapevine that you were back in Annapolis….don’t ask me who told me.

    Your old friends miss you……

    • The Publisher July 3, 2012 at 12:58 am #

      Vinny!! I was talking about you just the other day – Whiteman told me you were still in the general vicinity, too.

      Are you guys still in Lincecum? We just moved to Severna Park, and glad to be back in God’s country. Let’s get together asap. I miss you, dude – and your mustard-grilled soft crabs, and bocce, and trips to Tangier. Hope Mary’s well, too. My phone is 410-991-3058. Jay

      • Vince Lupo July 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

        Lunch reserved for tomorrow at 12:30pm, table in my name. Be there baby!

  4. Vince Lupo October 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Think you could write something about Frank Deford? Just heard him on NPR, and I truly believe he was a pirate in a past life.

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