Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Riding The Rails With Roy Head, Who Is Still Having Adventures


“The Texas of my youth exists, and it shall be the Texas of my death. Everlasting, Texas is an unchangeling. Do you measure yourself against Texas? You’ll not find a scale to fit the both of you. To compare your deeds against her doings? Consequence will find no purchase in your resume. Texas will respect your audacity, but ignore the rest.

“However many water parks you have, Texas has more.

“To the north, west, east? What did this collage of cardinals have to offer a Son of the Yellow Rose? What jewels to be mined lay thereabouts? Each state a bigger letdown than the next: Wyoming is the size of the moon, but there ain’t enough people to get up a regulation conga line; West Virginia ain’t nothing but Mothmans and meth men; Oklahoma smells. My personal quibble with Washington is that it is a villain to a nondetail-oriented singer making up a tour itinerary.

“Six hours into the flight, I began to realize something was amiss.

“The south was where a Texan’s view rarely strayed from. Mexico and Texas may fuss, with feudin’ on occasion, but our history was intertwined. Massacres were rare, though not unheard of. Whites and Mexicans got along in Cascabel, unless folks was broke, or drunk, or bored. These was the old days, and you will note I did not include the adjective ‘good’ in that description. Everyone had their own side of town: White, Mexican, Black. Some Chinese families was fixin’ to move in, but Cascabel is triangular and there were no more sides of town left. I hated the arrangement! How could I deny the joy and jauntiness that my super-loose super-legs brought to anyone? Roy Head’s talents were to be shared with all mankind, and sexy ladies.

“Yes, that Roy Head. You should’ve heard of me.

“I was well-traveled, but did not travel well, as attested to by the fact that me and the boys had been thrown out of damn near the whole world. The high incidence of incidents, internationally speaking, had penned us in like wanderin’ cattle. Additionally, and as usual owin’ to Skippy Joe’s wild-eyed wiliness, we had been banned from boats. Not any specific vessel, mind you: boats. If it floated, we was not allowed upon it.

“With no background in maritime law, I hadn’t the means to protest.

“I was stuck in the same markets, revisiting cities, being arrested by the same police officers. My last single had missed the charts, partially due to not being recorded. The songs I was gettin’ offered was the bottom of the barrel of monkeys! Can you conjure up the sticky hell that would be the bottom of a barrel of monkeys, a foot deep of simian leavings and perhaps the fresh corpse of an overcome primate? Let the imagined smell sear the nose of your mind! That’s how bad them songs was.

“I am a titanic talent, but I was sinking fast.

“But within our doom lies salvation, and also someone to drive. Big Bucktoothed Pete had hisself a plan, and he laid it out one Sunday morning after church, at Miss Rosa’s. The problem, he opined over a Lone Star and a handful of pills, was the audience. I fully agreed with Big Bucktoothed Pete, as the only other option was that it was my fault, which could not be true. A fresh crowd, he emphasized, and that could only be found down south Meh-hee-co way. He emphasized this second point by removin’ his clothes and changin’ the subject to the Good Word, but that probably had more to do with the pills than the plan.

“We would take a train across Mexico, and we would call the tour the Fiesta Express.

“There was much to do, and little time to have other people do it for me in. Shows were booked: Big Bucktoothed Pete did not know Spanish, but he was excellent as speaking loudly and slowly. The tour came together mellifluously: Guadaljara, Delicias, Navolato. Mexican towns got names like gettin’ an angel’s tongue in your ear. I hired a mariachi band and rearranged my hits, turning down the Tex in favor of the Mex. Louie Grabass locked himself in his test kitchen dreaming up ways to chimi a changa what nobody had thought before. Skippy Joe was included in a conversation regarding how pleasant it would be to have our own train car.

“Skippy Joe’s predictability was predictable as hell.

“Our car was appointed in high style, and named the Spruce Caboose. It was fancy as hell. The sconces were made from gold, and then gold-plated. The wainscoting was carbon fiber. Full hygienic facilities for the band and crew, and a private privy for me off my bedroom; despite the car only havin’ one floor, I also had a private elevator installed. The common area had both a conversation pit and a raised platform for sitting in silence. Apparati were built to facilitate Mexican sleeping needs. That there was a kitchen set to the singular task of changa-chimmyin’ should come as no shock, but you might have been surprised by the inclusion of a drive-through window. Louis Grabass really wanted it, and Big Bucktoothed Pete got tired of telling him how stupid it was.

“He balked at puttin’ in a microphone and menu, though.

“We set out for the tour’s first stop in Monterrey and a raucous revelry infected the Spruce Caboose: the future was just over them tracks in front of us. We were giddy as schoolgirls, and so, like schoolgirls, we began drinking heavily. Mariachis and crew and me, the giant star who is Roy Head, quaffing in a spirit of brotherhood! To celebrate Mexico, we concocted bebidos especiales. We had El Chapos, which you take a sip of and then the next time you look down, your drink’s gone. We drank Sabado Gigantes; you have no idea what’s in them, but they’re still enjoyable. We had Chihuahuas, which are a drink but also a dog.

“At this point, sobriety was a poncho we had discarded.

“I must now defend my friend Skippy Joe, as it seems I do so often: Skippy Joe don’t have a racist bone in his body. He does know a shitload of racist jokes, though, and when he gets on a roll, he becomes as unstoppable as the train we rode. The mariachis became slightly offended, and more than slightly armed! I was unaware their giant hats contain giant knives! Thank the Lord Hisself that Big Bucktoothed Pete had brought a shotgun to the knife fight that he was unaware would break out! The tour was over before it had begun! We hadn’t even made it to San Antonio!”

“Do you want pumpkin spice in that?”


“I’m just gonna put pumpkin spice in.”

1 Comment

  1. Mothmens and meth men????

    [slow clap . . . . builds to crescendo . . . . audience on its feet . . . . ]


    (I read John Keel’s “The Mothman Prophecies” around ’79 or so, while living close by to Nassau Coliseum, where I regularly would go to see Roy Head . . . no, wait, that’s not right . . . where I regularly would go to see the Brentful Dead . . . )

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