I was in a live music band once in and around Memphis, TN, which boasted the questionable honor of having absolutely the sluttiest lead singer in the immediate listening area. She might have been the trashiest female performer in the entire Southeastern United States. I think she was way too far under the influence of some sort of unholy concoction of Janis Joplin and Pat Benatar. She (against all our appeals) wore Spandex see-through body wear during the gigs, and would damn near do anyone in the club who asked her. She just liked to screw. She liked to sing and screw. She liked screwing better than singing and even though she was probably better at screwing than she was singing, she could move an audience with her enthusiasm if not her range.

For professional as well as personal hygiene reasons, I kept our relationship strictly musical. Others in the band had different ideas, and that led to friction (as you could imagine). It was the last half of the 1980s and Ronald Reagan was having meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev while members of my band were having private meetings with Ann the lead singer.

It's the right time
And though I feel fine tonight
I don't know why you don't want me

We used to practice at my house back when I was living the single musician lifestyle. There was more than once that she slithered in the door an hour or so before rehearsal time, while I was still asleep, and I would wake up to see her there on my bed, grinning that thin, brunette grin, asking me if there was something she could do for me before the others arrived. I think one of the main reasons I avoided her was her ankles. I've always been of this opinion about women:

  1. You never know when it'll get serious. It often happens without your consent.
  2. When it does get serious, you never know how long it'll last.

Being the anal retentive person I am, I always assume it will last longer than it probably should. So I look at their ankles. My theory is this:

When the shit does actually hit the fan, as it will one day, you are going to need a woman who can plow. A woman with thin ankles may look good on the ballroom floor, but she is not going to be worth a shit behind a mule all day. You see all these great-looking Russian girls ready to marry anyone in the world, and some of them sure are beautiful. But I bet if Gorbachev had been forced to immediately pick just one to take in the deep, deep bunker prior to Ronnie blasting his country to a large pane of glass, he'd have chosen a gal with thick ankles.

It's the right place
I've got the new face tonight
I don't know why you don't want me

Since Ann the lead singer had already screwed everyone else in my band and most of the folks I knew plus half the clientele of the joints we played, I figured it was just some sort of score sheet she was keeping. I wanted to be a unique and special snowflake.

I did gain a lot of value from the relationship, however. One of the biggest favors Ann ever did for me was to turn me on to Rosanne Cash. I’d never heard her nor heard of her, and when I first heard Ann spin "I Don’t Know Why You Don't Want Me" on the turntable, I was floored. When we learned it and played it in front of an audience, I was often inspired. We were never able to accurately capture the bouncy keyboard-driven tone of this song, but that didn't keep Ann from laying some heart and soul into our version like I'd never really heard her do any other song before.

I'm in the right mood
I've got the new shoes tonight
I don't know why you don't want me

Rosanne Cash is the daughter of Johnny Cash and she was having some success with this song on the radio at the time. She wrote it with Rodney Crowell, her husband for a few years. I will bet you that all your little sordid tales of sweaty love can not begin to plumb the depths of weird lubricative storytelling that Mr. Crowell and Ms. Cash could tell you.

Here was a couple that I can imagine being thrown together, like gladiators of passion, into some sort of ring they didn't really understand but knew they had to fight like hell in if either of them wanted to survive. I'm guessing about all this, but I will bet you it's true. She has that look on her face that you might have seen from various strong-willed women in your life. It says something like, "I won't give in but I'll give it all to you right here, right now." I've seen Rodney Crowell play live several times. He has that attitude of, "I know I am the fucking boss and I know I'm good at it, but I'm not sure just exactly what 'it' is."

Rosanne Cash was born May 24, 1956, to the Man in Black and his first wife, Vivian Liberto. She grew up with her father trying to push her away from counting on the music business for a career, but (at the same time) hauling her little ass around to sing backup for him. (You ever get the idea that Johnny Cash, even though he is undoubtedly a folk hero, was not exactly a genius?) She met Crowell in 1978, she married him in 1979, this song came out in 1982, and they divorced in 1991, after what must have been (I hear) a few years of just plain godawful torture mixed with explosive bouts of respect and love.

I've got the new dress
I couldn't hurt less tonight
I don't know why you don't want me

Crowell was born August 7, 1950. Did you know that this six-year difference between the man and woman is statistically the best ratio for long-term marriages? Unfortunately, in this case, it means you have an artistic Gemini female hooking up with an overbearing but also artistic Leo male, both of whom have stardust in their eyes and money in their pockets. I don't think you need to be Linda Goodman to see how this was bound to turn out.

Rodney Crowell is a fantastic artist, and I'd recommend that you hear the stuff he's done, but (more importantly) that you see him play live if you can. He's a marvelous songwriter, a guitar whiz and he can sing as well as Vince Gill (in a lower register). You'll also see why he was not destined to be married to anyone for very long. Lions have pride and they also like to have a pride.

Somebody told you
I was so cold and mean
(Who was that talking?)

Somebody hurt you
But baby she wasn't me

CST Approved

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