The Story of AMERICANA JOE. The Rob Sobol Project. Once upon a time, on a tiny wooden stage in a dark, smoky, ancient whiskey bar, at the decrepit edge of the most dilapidated neighborhood in an otherwise picturesque small town, stood Americana Joe. The band ended their last set with Whiskey and Cigarettes. The crowd sang along. Joe smiled his toothy grin. A good man with simple needs, satisfied.
As he left the stage, he looked up at the tv and learned that an era was over - his childhood hero, Sally Starr, had just passed on - Goodbye Sally. She came from a different time - one when innocence, good intentions, and sincerity was celebrated.
As he sidled up to the bar, he ordered his usual – Jack neat. He just dimly saw the new girl, barely hanging off the side of her stool, like a drooping red rose, painfully beautiful but apparently desperately in need of care. She had heard him singing in his strong and reassuring voice and searched through the darkness to find its source. Her eyes met his. She had come with her skanky abusive boyfriend, who saw what was happening and complained to her, A Fire's Got Ahold of You.
Joe walked over to her, eyes still locked with her, and made almost comically quick work of the now ex-boyfriend. He began talking to her like he'd known her all his life. One thing led very quickly to another, they left together, and walked endless miles, talking like repeatedly revving engines, rapidly circling each other like two hummingbirds on some higher energy level. Ending up at his garage, then entangling, with the rhythms of dancers, pulling apart, coming back together again, building with force and belief, to explosions, Bangs, then completion and fulfillment, their bodies fit together like warm brandy in a single crystal snifter on an otherwise impossibly frigid winter night.
They became inseparable. Day after day, they spent every possible hour together. They talked endlessly, finished each other’s sentences, reveled in each other’s company, and told story upon story, of dreams of music, of dancing alone in basements to scratchy music on vinyl records, of protecting little brothers, and fearing older ones. She told him how her Mother's Lullaby still echoed through her mind and heart, the pain she always fought to conceal bursting out.
He told her of his youth, the way he had to Fly Away from abuse, how he planned every detail, from the first childhood moment he could remember, to get as far away as possible from his birth home.
He wanted her to know everything about him, he warned her he was a rambler, that he had to Drive, it was in his blood. Though he'd always be faithful, he wouldn't always be home. Falling into his arms, she said that she didn't care as long as they had each other.
Joe said he needed some kind of future, was joining the Army, and soon shipping off to fight. The recruiter said to him, You Might Have to be a Hero, but nothing could have prepared him for what happened next. On one of his last missions before he was to come home, he heard a sudden shouting, saw a blinding explosion brighter than the sun, felt a weight heavier than a piano thrust down upon his head, and stood in horror as his best friend got torn to pieces. Joe’s own head was bloody, unremittingly pounding with pain and ringing.
When he came back stateside, it was clear to all that he was a hero, but he wished he hadn't needed to be. He grieved for his buddies every moment of every day. Somehow, though, through unsurpassed suffering, surgeries and therapies, emotional ups and vast wastelands of down, doubts of sanity and bouts of drinking, he came out alive on the other side. He slowly began his life again. After her healing power of love, her tender mercies, and their endless efforts together, his life with her truly became Marital Bliss.
The way she did the simplest things, like folding his clothes, brushing her hair, smiling at unexpected moments, her laughter enveloping him in a warm blanket of love, even her occasionally angry moments at the injustices she saw all around, made him feel as blessed as the richest king that had ever lived. He was a lucky man, he had found his Original Woman.
As their life went on, times were good, times were bad, sometimes so bad in the Hollow Land that they ate nothing but cold beans, right out of the can, shivering with no heat, but still happy to be out of the rain and wind, holding each other tight.
They survived, even thrived a little, working harder and longer than they thought humanly possible, happy with each other’s quirks and moxy, still fighting through emotional scars, but tough birds who felt lucky to be fellow travelers.
They aged, became older, grayer, and danced away into the night, secure in the loving support of each other's arms and hearts, Glad to Be Gray.
Words and Music* Copyright Rob Sobol (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved. *Fly Away = Words and Music by Rob Sobol and Michael Brown, Brian Lawlor – Bass, Bob Nolen – Drums, Marty Gallagher – Guitar, and Michael Brown - Guitar. Mothers Lullaby and Bang: Violin - Ted the Fiddler. Samples / Loops - Courtesy Mixcraft / Michael Bacich. Vocals, keyboards, programming, production and engineering - Rob Sobol. Independent Minded Records. email@example.com.