Doctor and the medics

This morning, I feel like talking about Dr John.

Don’t know why. Sometimes I just get the itch to enthuse about something. And he’s going to be 70 next month.

If you saw the Jez Butterworth play Jerusalem, you’ll know there’s a funny bit where gypsy-cum-soothsayer  tall-tale teller Johnny Rooster Byron spins a long, boozy, digressive yarn about how he was “born on the tip of a speeding bullet.”

Yeah? Well it’s true of Dr John.

Somewhere in the generational hinterland between the 1950s and 60s, guitarist Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack got his finger shot, and couldn’t be a guitarist anymore. His pianner tinkler Ronnie Barron was getting pistol-whipped and, without thought of self, Rebennack put his left hand ring finger between his bandmate and danger.

Rebennack the guitarist shrivelled and dried with the blown-up digit, and Dr John the freaked-out, on-fire, most-wanted, cap-in-the-ass ponytail blues guy stepped out from behind its pickle jar.

He didn’t really learn anything about firearm safety though:

“I’m blessed. I survived a lot of things. Gettin’ shot in my finger was one thing; gettin’ shot in my knee was another thing; gettin’ shot in my ass was another thing; so was gettin’ shanked in my back. You get stabbed enough times, that’s not healthy either.”

Let’s leave him there, fleeing the DEA with his nine and a half fingers and his daughter wrapped up in a copy of Playboy, and listen instead to him saying something about the Third Ward neighbourhood in New Orleans, famous for the number of teenage future musicians that have moped around its precincts.

“Right on the corner where I grew up, there was a guy who could only play piano in the key of f-sharp. He could play more blues in that key than I could ever think of playin’ to this day.”

See? That was good wasn’t it? Why don’t we ask him about what happens when people die:

“The spirit kingdom is more powerful than the meat world we live in. We bleed from the spirit kingdom. This meat world we live in is the temple for that. When this meat gets wore out, you’re gonna croak.”

Oh hell, let’s just have this.

~ by David Thorley on October 13, 2010.

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