Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A town without shade and a Cherry County corn man

I was happy to receive a package in the U.S. mail from a friend in northern Italy this week. It's the first solo record by Andrea Van Cleef, Sundog, a more quiet folksy statement from a leader of rock bands.

Andrea sent me the record because it has a co-write with me on it, "Town Without Shade." Here is that song.

Andrea.Van.Cleef.Town.without.shade by ChrisKingSTL

Andrea wrote the music, I sent him some lyrics, and then he rewrote the lyrics quite a bit.

The lyrics I sent him were drawn from my first visit to Lakota country, all those reservation towns without shade.

I'm most proud of these lines, which conclude his song:

I wish we could get the sun drunk and high
And watch it fall down, off the sky

That sums up the desperation I saw in Indian country. It wasn't all desperation, but that's what the desperate parts looked and felt like.

I took this trip a very long time ago, about twenty years ago, so it's odd that in the same month Andrea's record with this song was released, I also released a chapbook with a poem culled from that same journey across the Plains.



He tore each head open, see
it’s good, I done good, I can do something right,
I can make people happy.
I’ll give you a deal: fourteen head, two dollars;
here, you can take two for free.
He never wanted to see forests on fire.
Nobody ever explained

Communism to me. Not democracy
either. I went to study
trees in Missouri, but they sent me to die
in Vietnam. Now isn’t
that nice? He can’t pronounce the name for what went
wrong, but he can grow corn, so
sweet, fourteen head, two dollars; here, take two free.

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