A while back a friend presented me with a copy of Me And Big Joe by Michael Bloomfield.
I put off reading it for a long time. Not for lack of interest. I just wanted to save it for a night when I really needed something to cheer me up. Well, I have to go to the hospital this afternoon for a procedure so I really needed cheering up yesterday. The book did not disappoint.
It’s a simple story. Michael Bloomfield relates his adventures with Big Joe Williams and discovers that loving a form of music and understanding the culture it came from is not always the same thing.
At the end of the story Bloomfield writes:
Joe’s world wasn’t my world, but his music was. It was my life; it would be my life. So playing on was all I could do, and I did it the best I was able. And the music I played, I knew where it came from; and there was not any way I’d forget.
A long time ago an old guitar player took me aside and pointed out that most of my heroes died broke, drunk and crazy. He ended his little speech with a warning that, “There are no happy endings in country music.” I thought about that for a long time last night after reading Mike’s adventures with Big Joe. I thought about that almost all night long.