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The Mississippi Corpse - CyberCorpse 12

From: Eugene Halton ehalton@mail.nd.edu

OK. Trust me.
Here's my gut response: You as Melville's The Confidence Man, appearing in a myriad of disguises as the Mississippi gambling boat makes its way through the river of life.
You are there in Davenport when Bix Biederbeck first hears Louie Armstrong performing on the boat.
You are there, trying to talk to a preoccupied Samuel Clemens as he is sounding the depth of the river so that the boat does not run aground. "Mark 1!" "Mark 2!" "Mark Twain!"
You are there in congo square, black and not yet bought, after your arrival from Africa.
You are in one of the many stories Allan Lomax tells in his book, The Land Where Blues Began.
You are China Astor, (from the novel) selling your soul to the devil by making a friendly loan.
You are a commodity, making its way down the river to port.
You are the living earth, bleeding in chemicals and floating to the New Jerusalem.
You are a catfish underwater, singing with Muddy Waters: "If whiskey were a river, and I were a divin' duck, I'd dive down to the bottom, an' I'd never come up."
You get the idea? You as the quintessential American, en costume ("Life is a carnival, en costume." --Melville, The Confidence Man).

And here's a piece from an opera, The Confidence Man, premiered at Santa Fe 20 years ago. It's by my ex-wife's parents, composer George Rochberg and libretto by his wife Gene Rochberg. This is the American mix, on the Mississippi (from a bootleg tape someone made, it's not been recorded yet. Section is about 5 minutes long):http://www.nd.edu/~ehalton/Confidence.mp3

The chorus, which comes in after the Confidence Man, sings:
Trust, trust, what trust
Can you put in men?
Why the trust of perfect confidence!

So we people
Blend varieties of face and dress
In the all-fusing spirit of the West.
And like the Mississippi
Uniting streams from
Distant and opposite shores
Pour forth in one

And here's a blues song, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU MY TRUSTING FRIEND, for your listening pleasure, improvised on the spot by a great bluesman I work with sometimes, The Tail Dragger. He's from Helena, Arkansas, other side of the river from Mississippi. His last CD for Delmark, American People, has as its title cut a tribute to Bill Clinton. Tail Dragger got his first car from his uncle, who bought it from Clinton's uncle's used car lot. My favorite verse goes: "President Roosevelt had a girlfriend, President Kennedy had two, I've had some women in my time, let the man do what he gotta do."
But anyway here's the song, made up after a thunderstorm delayed the band. I play harmonica: http://www.nd.edu/~ehalton/sounds/Wesosorry.mp3

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