Chicago Part One

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Posted by Fleabit Peanut Monkey on April 13, 1999 at 23:24:10:


HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders
- Carl Sandburg

Chicago was my last Stones show of the tour, and unspoken beneath this sad-enough-in-itself statement is the dreadful possibility that it's my last Stones show. I pray this is not the case, not just yet, and I do see no good reason for The Boys to stop, so I won't dwell in this morbid thought. Suffice it to say that Chicago 2 was a splendid show, a show with big shoulders.

Dandelion, Ridgely, and (especially!) Marilyn have already brought up the pertinent facts, so pardon me if I repeat their thoughts.

It was my first opportunity to see Chicago, and the first thing I wanted to visit was the grave of the great Muddy Waters. Dandelion graciously agreed to search the suburbs of the southside to find Restvale Cemetery. I really expected it to be a simple matter, that anyone I stopped on the street could point me toward this hallowed site. My naivete was similar to the Stones', who expected to hear Muddy & the Wolf on top 40 radio when they came to America. Many people had no clue who he was. I was shocked.
We reached Worth, the suburb where the great man is buried. There are SEVEN cemeteries there, acres and acres of box yards, but Restvale was the last we found after an exasperating afternoon of wrong turns, bad direstions and hailstones. And the gate was locked, closed an hour earlier at 4 pm.

We returned the day of the show, bringing a lovely flower Dandelion picked out, a big daisy. We searched and found the tombstone. It was depressingly small, covered with dead grass clippings and mud-stained. I felt sad, and outraged. This giant of a man rests here untended. There should be a goddamned statue here, a mount rushmore sized bust of his noble brow. Instead a 2" black marble marker reads: McKinley Morganfield The Mojo is Gone The Master Has Won and a little guitar, a bass actually, four strings. God damn it, Muddy played a telecaster. We started cleaning the stone, fetching water and tissues and making it look presentable. The first Mrs. Morganfield, Geneva, is buried beside him, and her stone which says "The wife of Muddy Waters" has bird dirt on it. We cleaned it too. Then we went into the office to buy more flowers, but all they had were artificial ones. The director gave us a list of other celebrities buried at Restvale: Earl Hooker, Hound Dog Taylor, Magic Sam, Charlie McCoy (mentioned in "Down The Road Apiece"),Walter "Shaky" Horton, others. We got directions to a florist nearby & returned with an azalea, two geraniums, and a yellow rose, and some carnations for the other bluesmen. Dandelion arranged the flowers, along with the streamer from Milwaukee and some dandelions, around Muddy & Geneva's tombstones. A graveyard attendant came over, and in a gravelly voice said, "you got him lookin' good!" I told him I'd come from PA. He said, "yeah, I guess he was a legend, huh? He gets a lot of visitors." That made me feel better. Muddy is not forgotten. But when we looked for Hound Dog Taylor, we found only a cement foundation, no stone. We left the carnations and went to report the theft at the office. "Oh, he might not have even had one," we were told. "A lot of those blues musicians couldn't afford tombstones." So Hound Dog Taylor, of Hound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers, a vicious slide player who legend has it had six fingers & cut the extra one of in a bar one night because it kept getting caught on the frets of his guitar, who died in 1958, lies in an unmarked grave, remembered only on a xeroxed typewritten list of "famous musicians and singers" buried at Resvale Cemetery, 176 West Adams St, Chicago IL.

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

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