Danny Barton's Narrative

page 2

In the spring semester I moved in with a bunch of teenaged hipsters from Orange, Texas, who had somehow discovered the cultural values and tiny publications of the 'underground scene' in New York City. Sing Out magazine, The Village Voice, and Paul Krassner's Realist were all laying around in stacks on the floor. One of the guys had a Gibson B-25, a pretty little guitar he had barely learned to play, and records by many of the folkie blues entertainers like Van Ronk, Von Schmidt, etc.. From Sing Out I learned to play open chords on his guitar and through experimentation I figured out the guitar chords for Stealin' and Walk Right In. These chord progressions, so much simpler than the scholarly be-bop I'd admired and yet so clearly ancestral to the simple but moving pop music of the Stones, Dylan and Beach Boys, seduced me into feeling that I could make music, too.

One evening I made up a little jug bandish ditty, 'borrowed' the B-25, and walked over to the Academic Center for the "University Sing Out," the second cultural resource I'd discovered at UT. John Clay, Bob Brown, and Ed Guinn were there, and maybe a dozen other people. When my time came around I played my little tune and shyly acknowledged the polite applause. Later that evening, when I told my house mates what I'd done, Gene Ivey, the more sarcastic of the crew, said that was nothing, he had picked up three teenaged virgins that evening and fucked all three of them. John Haslam, the owner of the Gibson, said I couldn't play his guitar anymore.

I sold my old .30-30 I'd carried for years and bought a Stella six string. It didn't sound too good, but the Gibson was now forbidden to me. At a flickering presentation at the Methodist Student Center of Mekas Brothers' films I first heard Jim Kweskin's music, a charming soundtrack that I would have identified as twenties jazz, not jug band music, but still intriguing. All summer long I practiced picking and tried again to find a copy of the Country Blues anthology.

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