- Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)


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"Brother, Can you Spare $87,000?" and "Getting Famous" Part Two

Rockvale, TN July 18, 2006 - - Well, to be brief, I got my mortgage, so those of you who've been worried to death that I might not be able to continue my dissolute lifestyle can rest peacefully. Both of you.

Now I'd like to talk about fame again. Not George Raft's. Mine. So this is gonna be a very short discussion, okay? A couple of years ago I got a letter from a music writer named Marley Brant, who was working on a book that is called "Tales from the Rock and Roll Highway" or something. Anyway Marley wanted permission to use a piece I had written, "Dance Hall Gals: Marcia Routh", in the book. I was duly flattered and gave it, and eventually the book came out.

I don't have the book, so I can't quote directly, but the last time I was in the Netherlands, or maybe the time before that, my friend the worldwide webster Riny had a copy of it sitting around his lodgings and I got a look at it. It's basically the usual anthology format: the anthologist discusses what is going to follow, in italics or something, and then you got your piece. The story was basically about how I once got hauled in, though not actually arrested, for rape and my friend Marcia Routh rescued me.

Now here's the interesting part: in the little intro before the story, Marley says something like "Sometimes even being famous isn't enough to save you from interfacing with the authorities", or something like that, setting the reader up for what is to follow.

And then, what follows is something like " by Panama Red (New Riders of the Purple Sage)". Which anybody, including me and especially the New Riders, will tell you is bullshit and completely inaccurate. So there's this irony thing going on: here's a story about being famous and yet I'm not so famous that Marley doesn't get the information completely wrong. Peter Rowan, who wrote the song "Panama Red" and I, Panama Red, who has lived the life, have had such a thing about it that we've somehow managed to avoid meeting for thirty years, despite multiple career and mutual-friend bi-coastal overlaps.

So I guess a better lead-in would have been "Sometimes even being famous is not enough to avoid being mistaken for a song Peter Rowan wrote and the New Riders recorded."

Sic gloria fugit, or something.

Panama Red