During my staying in Memphis (which, honestly, I didn’t like that much) I was wondering if before Vicksburg should I go somewhere closer, so as not to travel only the long distances – that’s when the country changes too quickly and you miss a lot. But before I even got closer to making a decision, my host, Justin said: ‘y’all see, in two days I have to go to Nashville. I ain’t happy. I’ll leave y’all where you need.’ Alright, I ain’t been happy either… I tried figuring out a place to go to next (Jackson? Clarksdale? Vicksburg directly?) but I had no idea where to stay at. Carla, whom I was staying with in Vicksburg, wasn’t in the city yet, no answers from CouchSurfing in Jackson, only two profiles in Clarksdale… I’m homeless any way. For a moment I had this blush of ‘I’ll go with redneck to Nashville and spend some more time with sweet sweet Josh’ thought but I was pretty sure it would get uncomfortable for both of us eventually… Also I needed to keep on moving – that’s the road, I had already said goodbye to Josh and ‘the City of Music’ (and so did he, in a letter which is still in my wallet as a most necessary item). ‘Clarksdale it is’ I decided ‘I will be homeless wherever I go and the reason why I’m here is for the music.
Maybe Clarksdale is the smalles and it’s CS is the worst, but that’s where the blues has got some part of its history, for some almost sacred – the crossroads. The legend says that born (probably) in May 1911 Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads where he met the devil and made a deal with him, trading his soul for mastry on the guitar. The life was cruel to him but he succeeded. Texas was the place of his two recording sessions. After his death of unknown cause all the world has got left after Robert Johnson is a few songs, three photographs and little pieces of different stories told by people who knew him at some point, from which the most famous one is a legend. But the world has also got the blues. And though, let’s be honest, W.C.Handy has got more to do with ‘creating’ the blues than Robert Johnson, he still is a huge person for the history of blues and will stay its important part, its founder, as a half-legendary, for some nearly holly figure from the dark past. This is what makes him the architect, this is what makes him God: his distant times and mistery.
Early in the morning my redneck left me in a terrible place. Forrest, dark wooden church, gas station with black hobos and in the middle of it me – small, harmless, white, lost and homeless. I stuck my thoumb out and the man at the station starred at me even more than when I just stood there. So dodgy… the sun wasn’t that high yet… A car stops. Big black car with a skull on its hood, seats covered with garbage and a scary huge white dude with burned skin and scars all over his body. He was completely scary. Yet, I was in a bad position, I had get the hell out of there. And what confirmed me to entering his car was that he packed my guitar first to the trunk and said ‘I saw you and didn’t want to pick you up. But then I saw the guitar and I thought I have to help a fellow from the industry’ – alright, hitchwiki was right – the Americans are crazy about musicians. Also he asked me himself if I wanted to text his plates to somebody (what I did). It turned out I made the right desicion – I was safe with him and he drove me all the way down to Clarksdale. The only thing was that he believed himself to be a druid and he laughed at satanists who didn’t know what the black Bible said (which he seemed to know well). All around us only cottonfields and open spaces.
He left me by the only place open in Clarksdale at 9 am – a coffee house/lunch bar. I came in so as to look for hostels (turned out that there are no hostels, so I switched to checking out all of 4 or so hotels in the city) and have a cup of coffee.
The waitress came up to me.
‘Hi, I noticed you have a guitar! Would you like to play for us in the lunchtime? Usually we have somebody play here but the guy who supposed to play today…’ some reason. ‘Can you do that?’
‘Sure, I said. When?’
It was about NOW. So I took a place with my guitar, started… and so the story did.
But the story of Clarsdale in part 2.