I was walking home from work and saw our neighbor, Bobby Barefoot, sitting out on his porch, picking a guitar and singing to himself. “Hey, Bobby,” I yelled, “how’s it going?”
“Okay,” he said, “if I could just get this darned song finished. I’ve been fooling around with it and fooling around with it, and I can’t quite get it where I want it. Say, you being a writer and all, would you mind listening to it and see if you’ve got any suggestions?”
“Well, I don’t know if reporting the garden news makes me a writer,” I said, “but I’d be glad to do what I can.” So I perched on the railing and waited for him to start.
“Huhhmmm,” he cleared his throat. “I call it ‘Talkin’ Iranian War Blues’.” Then he began.
Woke up this mornin’, Iran was on my mind.
Yeah I said woke up this mornin’, and Iran was on my mind.
When I hear those drumbeats rollin’,
I know for sure our leader’s lyin’.
‘We’ll give diplomacy a chance,’ that’s what they say.
‘Oh we’ll give diplomacy a chance,’ yeah, so they say.
But you know the plans are drawn up,
And there’ll be bombs fallin’ any day.
Well, a letter from Iran came in the mail,
Yeah yesterday there was a letter in the mail.
Guess they thought we’d bother to answer,
But we’re hell-bent that peace will fail.
Losin’ two wars at a time, let’s try for three.
Oh why are ‘easy’ wars so hard, let’s try for three,
While rivers of other people’s blood
Change into oil for you and me.
Blood into oil, like water into wine,
Yeah I heard that somewhere, water turnin’ into wine.
I just know that blood a-runnin’
Helps Halliburton’s bottom line.
Oil for you and me, and ready cash,
Yeah it’s oil for you and me, and beaucoup cash.
Keep the oil and profits rollin’,
And we’ll have ourselves a bash.
I wonder what it’s like down on the ground,
Oh yeah sometimes I wonder what it’s like down on the ground.
They say there’s people cryin’,
But I just can’t hear a sound.
He played a final chord and then looked up at me. “Well, what do you think?” he asked.
“Uh, the rhythm’s a little rough,” I said, trying to be polite.
“Nah, nah, talkin’ blues you can fudge the rhythm,” he said. “It’s not like scanning a poem. You can phrase it and make it come out all right.”
“What about the perspective?” I said. “It seems to shift a lot.”
“I take sort of a Picasso approach to perspective,” he said.
Then I cut to what was really bothering me. “Do you actually think the administration is so flat-out nuts as to start another war, when we’re already stretched too thin in Iraq and Afghanistan?” I asked. “I mean, the whole premise of your song is that they’re going to do it, and that the real reason isn’t Iran’s nuclear program, it’s oil. You’re taking a pretty cynical attitude, aren’t you?”
“Ace,” he said, “I’m not cynical. I’m trying to be realistic about the most cynical administration in American history. That makes me sound cynical when I describe them.”
“If I believed they were as reckless and as ruthless as you make them out to be,” I said, “I’d be scared out of my britches.”
He hesitated. “In that case,” he said, “I’m glad I didn’t write about what worries me most.”
“Well don’t stop now,” I said.
[Okay, reader, maybe we WILL stop now. What do YOU think is worrying him most?]
© Tony Russell, 2006