Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Mood Thang

They said that Miles ran the voodoo down by eating a bit of his soul at a time. It was, they said, the lonely fire that burns itself, whose fuel is its own heat and desire to burn.

They were the critics, and some he'd sold his soul, that he'd cashed out for big money playing rock arenas and all that funkrock "jazz" (as they put it, clipping the word with quotation marks like sarcastic epaulets), but Miles just replied that a man's got to eat.

As his analyst, the topic of soul came up a lot, considering my Jungian background and Miles' devotion to the mystery of it all. He didn't pay me to resolve inner conflicts, although sometimes he liked to bitch. He paid me so he could talk scientific superstitiousness with a trained and respected professional.

"I see my soul as this big black void, bigger than space and blacker too, this thing that sweats out stars, boils galaxies in its guts, plays the planets in their solar systems like a band."

He liked that I was white. He said it let him pour out his "badass black mystique" unfiltered while he absorbed "all that white boy bookish shit". He made it sound like one word -- bookishit -- and laughed when I told him.

"That's too many sh's. I don't shush no one unless he's playing on my stage or talking on my dime, and why the fuck would I pay someone to talk and then tell them to shut up?"

He'd talk about God. He'd always sneak in sideways, like maybe he could catch God off guard and catch a glimpse.

"The thing about God that frosts my ass is he's such a lowdown dirty motherfucker -- he never even shows his face."

"But you see God in the sky, the mirror, a sandy beach. God is, if God is anything, everywhere," I said.

"Only time I see God is playing music, or like you said. Or making love to a woman. I mean: why do I have to do all the work all the time?"

"They say that one sees God when one stops looking, stops caring, just lets it be."

"That Zen shit's like a dog chasing its own tail until it likes the smell of its ass. Great for making music but it's not God. God's got to show His eyes at least once in a man's lifetime to take him seriously."

We didn't have Hubble telescope back then, the late 70s, when Miles had retired from music for almost a decade and got himself strung out on coke. I'd like to have seen his reaction to the more spectacular images. 
But I had a nice art book of quality astrographs from the era. I opened it to a nice B&W shot of Andromeda, took  a pair of Groucho glasses in my drawer, put them over the image.


The man could say so much with his eyes.

But he was serious about God. He was a man to make a thing real or push it aside. He was trying to find a way to look under the rug, peek around or over the cosmos and see what was hiding there.

You can hear it in his playing. That high thin sound when he squeezes a note so fine you can see daybreak round midnight. He was always trying to puncture the membrane between here and whereverland.

I told him I thought he was lucky, that he got to enjoy more of whatever God might be than most people.

"Maybe I do, but then why've I got to light a fire under his ass to see the light? Just once I'd like for him to blow smoke up my ass for a change."

I'm so old now I can almost see the universe through the pale parchment that is my skin at 79 years old. My blood's so thin I can hear the sea. I'm that generation lucky enough to enjoy a decent retirement, and the house in upstate New York has a front porch that lets the sky come down and watch itself in the spare rocking chair. I'll sit in my blankets and dare myself to let it take my breath away. At my age, that could be terminal, and my wife wants me around a bit longer.

So I keep my hat on, so to speak, and take in all that my thick old glasses can pipe past my tired old eyes, and feel that raw wonder.

Occasionally, a star will wink with uncommon clarity, and I'll hear a raspy old voice whisper, "Lowdown dirty motherfucker."

copyright 2014 Robin Morrison

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