Last Wednesday evening, the latest Sunflower Sessions took place in Jack Nealon’s on Capel Street, Dublin.
Sadly, this was to be our last literary gathering at this snug venue. We’ll need to find pastures new in April.
For this session, I decided to recite some of the blues lyrics from Talkin’ Squirrel Blues. Fingers Flaherty, a dead blues singer, is one of the main characters in the novel, and his rusty lyrics provide a jaundiced commentary on the main plot.
Of course, I didn’t sing the songs. My singing voice would have given the blues to all of Capel Street! Instead, I recited the lyrics, on the basis that blues lyrics are regarded by many as a uniquely American form of poetry.
The first song introduces the section of the novel where Moses has determined to find a new love (having finally accepted that his old love wasn’t really joking when she left him).
Marie Antoinette Blues
Well, I woke up this morning with my head in a guillotine,
When I woke up this morning, this ol’ head was in a guillotine.
At least the view is nice, at least the basket’s clean.
Let them eat cake, we’ve poisoned the bread.
I want to shake things up, I don’t want a revolution,
I just want to shake things up, we don’t need no revolution.
She’s putting on that uniform, she’s mixin’ that solution.
Let them eat cake, let them starve until they’re dead.
Let’s go to the jungle, babe, let’s go swingin’ from the vine,
Let me take you the jungle, babe, we’ll swing from the vine.
Just let me find my loincloth, let me finish this wine.
Let them eat cake, the sugar’s gone to their head.
These women chew me up, and then they spit me out,
I said, these women like to chew me up, they like to spit me out.
Don’t say a word, babe. I’m lost in your mouth.
Let them eat cake, the animals have been fed.
I hear distant drums, I hear a native beat,
Is that them distant drums? Is that the native beat?
Give me my war paint, get my dancin’ feet.
Let them eat cake, until their eyes go red.
Moses’s search for love takes him to a dark, sweaty nightclub in Dublin, with predictably intoxicated results.
White Man Dancin’ Blues
Throwin’ up the whiskey, throwin’ up the gin,
Throwin’ up the vodka, throw it all back in.
White man will be runnin’ when I got the white man’s gun,
White man will be dancin’ for his supper when I’m done.
He’s got the white man dancin’ blues.
White wine, red wine, peach schnapps and lemon tea,
Whiskey and cola, vodka and lime. What colour will my vomit be?
Did you never realise that I’d move in for the kill?
That you’ll be dancin’ to my tune until you pay your bill?
Sweatin’ away with the white man dancin’ blues.
Every touch feels like it comes from outer space, every breath gets lost in my throat,
Every picture looks like it was done by Picasso, the menu is something that James Joyce wrote.
Tomorrow mornin’ gonna strap white man to the plough,
White man gonna learn who the master is now.
He’ll have the white man dancin’ blues.
Lead me through the smokin’ streets, baby, make sure you don’t lose me in the dark.
I stumbled on in blindness guided by your spark.
Should I fall on my sword? Will you hand it to me?
Is it time for me to climb out of the tree?
Where are the white man dancin’ blues?
I like to stir it up, baby. I’m the whiskey in your lemonade.
I’ll call round this evening with the cucumbers and marmalade.
I wanna drop some sugar in your cup of tea,
I wanna taste your honey, little stingin’ bee.
Save me from the white man dancin’ blues
When you gasp for breath on your pillow, it’s not my name you’re calling.
You cry out in your dreams, but it’s not into my arms you’re falling.
The day is getting’ dark, the moon is getting’ brighter.
My feet feel heavy, but my heart is getting’ lighter,
Walkin’ away from the white man dancin’ blues.
The Talkin’ Squirrel Blues book launch takes place at the Irish Writers Centre on 6 April.
Books available for purchase on the night. See you there! 🙂