I was listening to Buddy Guy burning the house down on guitar when I realized that blues musicians are just musicians whose living off women has finally caught up with them.
September 1976 – From my journal:
Glam was more alive in Dallas than Oklahoma City, where it was mostly people just coming through playing at the clubs. When we got to Mother Blues, there were two glammed out babes sitting on the hood of a car outside. One had shoulder-length straight light blond hair, lipstick on his full mouth, and dark glasses. The other had dark layered hair past his shoulders, a great face, and dark glasses. They made an indelible impression on me and were the image of Dallas I carried with me when I left.
You know who you are.
July 23, 1977 was my first night living in Dallas. I went to Mother Blues, and two of the Ramones were there. Dee Dee bummed cigarettes from me all night. U.S. Kids were playing. I talked to the nice drummer, Mike. There’s a note in my journal that the best looking guy I’d ever seen was in there. Now I have no idea who that was.
There were some characters at Mother Blues. I remember one guy who was around for awhile, and then I never saw him again. He would talk, but he was very dark and broody, and always fatalistic, like what was the point talking to women, because it was all going to go wrong anyway. He would tell me he could tell I was on the precipice of falling in love with someone. He would end up saying, mostly to himself, “It would never work.” When he disappeared, I used to wonder if he offed himself. No one seemed to know who he was.
October 6, 1977 – From my journal:
Will, Faulkner, and Cole were at Mother Blues last night. Faulkner bit my Roxy pin off my lapel. I think he’s perversely sensual. And I mean that in the best possible way.
Carter used to bartend there. He would insist he had met me in Oklahoma, but I swear if I’d met anyone that good looking and fun there, I’d have remembered it. I had been managing record stores in Oklahoma, making good money, got front row seats to any concert I went to, and was seriously in pursuit of a music business career. I’d moved to Dallas abruptly and landed at Peaches Records for $2.50 an hour, basically starting all over, so I had to adjust my standard of living drastically. I used to ask myself what the hell I was doing, because from a financial standpoint, I was static. I swear the best raise I ever got while working at Peaches was when Mother Blues stopped charging me for drinks. I’m telling you, it made all the difference in my existence. Because I was a lush. I remember that day thinking maybe I’d survive in Dallas after all. And in retrospect, those three years at Peaches and Mother Blues were three of the most exciting years of my life.
March 18, 1978 – From my journal:
As I was backing out the door to my apartment, Clif grabbed me and scared me half to death. His birthday is Saturday, March 25th, and Toys are playing afterhours at Mother Blues.
Thursday, I promised Lisa I’d help her throw a pie at Will. Clif wants me to join the “hordes of girls” and stand at the foot of the stairs at Mother Blues screaming while they blow kisses making their Grande Entrance. ANYWAY……
As he was leaving, he talked about what all he was going to do on his birthday, ending with, “and if I can just find a chick…” If I can just find a chick, indeed.
Then he left, and I went to Goodwill and bought a cartoon shirt, straight-legged Russian-blue lamé pants, and a shitload of gorgeous antique lingerie. Don’t FUCK with ME, boy!
I met so many people at Mother Blues that I would know for years to come. There were a lot of great bands playing there, especially after midnight, and then of course every musician in town seemed to hang out there. Things could get complicated. There were triangles. Triangles on top of triangles. Triangles that turned into orgies. There were times I didn’t know if I was a date or bait.
Mother Blues was such a second home to so many of us that we’d go there even when we were down. You might find someone hanging out in the back, sad and melancholy, but they still came, and so did I, because Mother Blues always represented an exciting new day, and was also a proving ground in many ways.
April 28, 1978 – From my journal:
Last Sunday, I pulled myself together and made myself go out again.I wore my black bustle dress, which looked really good, spiked heels, and that huge rectangular cut-glass necklace, as well as my diamond bracelet. I’d done my hair, of course. I’m sure I looked better than I have in months, if somewhat eccentric. I gave myself a stern lecture all the way from the car to the door of Mother Blues and so walked into the place haughty as you please.
Mother Blues would get shut down and reopen several times over the years. I remember one particularly bad timing. Patti Smith and band were in town, and she asked me where they should go. Mother Blues had just been closed down, leaving its clientele utterly without an alternative venue. I was at a complete loss where to send her.
Mother Blues had been closed for some time in ’87, but reopened its doors very briefly one last time.
April 1, 1987 – The last mention of Mother Blues in my journal:
Today at work, RB pointed out to me that Mother Blues was reopening, and then showed me the itinerary. I told him, “Looks like next Wednesday is Old Boyfriend Night. I’ll either have to stay away or get very drunk.”
I still feel that way.
I’m watching the 1969 performance of Janis Joplin on the Dick Cavett DVD, doing “To Love Somebody,” and I was reminded of how many people have been spouting nonsense about different contestants on the television talent shows “sound like Janis Joplin.” I tell you what, you listen to Janis Joplin in 1969 belting this song (or any number of others) and you can’t say that with a straight face. I will put this as colloquially as possible: Ain’t NO-BODY got voice power like Janis Joplin in 1969 and not likely anyone ever will.