Ok… well, I suppose this is a song about the pirate Blackbeard.
I first heard this song (in my head) five years ago while walking along the banks of the Ohio River in Owensboro, KY. But the next day I returned to Louisville and was working in my garden when I heard another song (this one about flower fairies) set to the same melody. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to write two songs with the same melody, because I dreaded the moment someone would say, “Hey, those songs have the same melody.” I was playing open mics around Kentucky, where the presumption was that you must suck, or else you wouldn’t be playing open mics, you would be dancing on a golden stage. So, I was feeling a little sensitive, and to avoid potential criticism, the Blackbeard song was buried and forgotten.
Until yesterday, when I heard it again, and decided to write it down, because if God can write multiple songs set to the same tune, then so can I.
So this is a song about Blackbeard. I have written a number of songs about people on boats, although I don’t know why. I have no interest in boats in real life. I also write a lot of songs about soldiers, and even gay love between soldiers, although once again I have no idea why.
But, I suppose the world of the unconscious is different from this world and the meaning of things aren’t the same. In this world, my favorite activity is shopping for scented soaps, but I will probably never write a song about that. Nor would I write a song about how much I appreciate special people in my life. That would be weird and nauseating, not to mention bad luck. Songs seem to come from a world that is upside down and backwards to this one. Their ways are not our ways.
Download MP3: Flags on the Rail
I always felt fascinated by the Ohio River because it separates Kentucky, where I grew up, from Indiana, the Emerald City-State, where everything is possible, where hopes and dreams come true by the minute. I love driving through Southern Indiana with its endless golden fields, gambling machines, and 64 oz polar pops. I love the flatness and lack of variety which make the land seem to stretch out forever, hypnotically, like a golden ocean. I love their cheeseburger hotdogs and American flag bandana-shorts, which encourage you to release the vain pretenses of the city and just be yourself, a human being, who loves tasty treats and the feeling of wind in your hair.
At other times, though, I hated Indiana and the Hoosiers who lived there. Sometimes it seemed like Kentucky was the promised land, a buttery gold corn fritter, while Indiana was a slimy side of spinach, basking in Kentucky’s sunlight and giving nothing in return but ghosts, which crossed the Ohio at night in hordes, seeking a better life in Kentucky.
Download MP3: Pink Star of the Beautiful Ohio
When I hear this song, I think of the Ohio River that separated Kentucky from Indiana. I see Indiana at night, shining with green lights like the Emerald City, and me standing in Kentucky, filled with longing. I see ghosts crossing the river, leaving Indiana to reach Kentucky, wearing long lace dresses that flutter in the breeze. I think of myself, all alone on the shore, bombarded by ghosts, and wishing there was a way to reach that Land of Dreams on the other side of the river.
Download MP3: Poleman