Personal Soundtrack

14 Aug

The Song

Don’t Owe You A Thang – Gary Clark Jr.

“Don’t Owe You A Thang” is an old-school blues stomp in all the right ways.  It starts with the lyrics, which follow the oft-present blues standard of finding a defiant pride in the midst of emotional and physical poverty.  The narrator may not have love, and may not have a dime, but damn it, he’s surviving.  To add more blues flavor to those defiant lyrics, “Thang” also churns with a lowdown and dirty sexual energy that builds up through searing guitar licks and releases in exultant ‘Whoos’, as if even Gary Clark Jr. can’t believe how hot his groove just got.

Like the great blues artists whose legends he seems to aspire to, Clark uses his vocals and guitar to reach some primitive part of your soul that just can’t help but move to the music he’s laying down.  It puts a little bit of a sneer on your face as the guitar licks burrow down deep.  Clark has only been around the music scene for a couple of years, but if buzz from his live shows and tracks like “Thang” are any indication, he may be packing a classic blues punch for a long time to come.

The Activity

You’re sitting at the bar, kicking back the beer with another Jack.  You’ve lost track of the count on each – the beers and the kickbacks.  It’s been a couple of hours, you know that at least.

It was relatively early in the afternoon when you pulled up to your current position at the end of the bar, and people have been steadily trickling in ever since.  You normally wait until the sun has gone down before heading out to the neon lights, but today was a bit of an exception.

The morning started out fine, but then quickly deteriorated as you got kicked out of your second band in as many months, this time for playing a better guitar line than the easily-threatened lead singer.  Shortly after that, you happened to walk past a sidewalk cafe where your ex-lady was kissing the guy she left you for.  It seemed like the best option after that was to keep walking until you hit the old watering hole, so that’s what you did.

And now here you are, sitting at the bar and developing a decent buzz, when the bartender slides a tall glass of expensive whiskey across the counter, to take the place of your newly-emptied cheap domestic.  You start to say that you didn’t order it, when the ‘keep nods his head towards the other end of the bar and says, Compliments Of The Lady.

You nod, and take a sip of the smooth whiskey before looking down the bar.  You already know who sent it – it was the beautiful blonde with the smoky eyes and short jean shorts, who’s been shooting said smoky eyes in your direction for the past hour.  The same blonde who came in with three rather bulky gentleman who have been getting loudly and obnoxiously drunk for the past hour.

You take another sip, still not looking down the bar, and weigh your options.  These guys are wearing designer jeans, tight-fitting designer shirts (one has some kind of glittery graphic pattern on the back) and shiny new boots.  They don’t look like they’re from around here, and they don’t look like they would take it kindly if someone happened to move in on one of their dates.

But those eyes.  With another sip, you turn your head slowly in the blonde’s direction, and catch her looking directly at you.  With the sort of half-smile that really makes your decision for you.

You tip your chair back, finish the rest of the whiskey in one pull, and stroll down to the other end of the bar.  As you get to the end, you slide right in between the last fellow and your new blonde friend and express your gratitude for the drink.

This introduction goes over quite well with the lady, but doesn’t catch on with the fellows in quite the same way.  The soberest one loudly asks Who The Hell Do You Think You Are, and the drunkest one gives you a hearty shove in the back.  Since this was about what you expected, you’re ready for it, and you manage to take out one of the guys with a right hook before the first beer bottle is swung at your head.

You manage to duck this bottle, and instead of hitting you, it careens into a group of locals at a nearby table who have been anxiously awaiting an excuse just like this one.  With a Whoop, they gratefully accept the invitation to dance, and a full-fledged bar fight quickly breaks out.

As the bottles, fists, and pool cues fly, you make your way to the edge of the fray and locate the blonde with the smoky eyes taking shelter under a table.  Extending your hand, you tell her it’s probably a good time to get out of there.  With a smile, she takes your hand and you both slink out the back door, ready to end the day on a good note.


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