You Don’t Have to Call Me Darlin’
I wanted to tell you, right up front. I did everything I could to win my little girl back. Everything I had wasn’t much back in 1972, you know, but I shot through it all to get her away from Nadine. Us Dixieland guys, even the popular ones like I was, we didn’t jam for the money.
Losing it all was how I wound up here, in Nashville. I mean, what was the point of being in New Orleans? I couldn’t see Emmaline, ever. Dat Judge character and Nadine, well, they made sure of it. No matter how much I appealed, how high I tried to go, I lost. Every time, I lost.
Lost all my fans, too. It was like somebody was behind it all, whispering, because, one by one, people stopped booking me. The telephone dried up so, I thought it was disconnected. Look, I know I sound paranoid, but you try losing your sweet baby daughter and your livelihood in the span of twelve lightning-fast months, and see how you feel.
Oh, and I forgot to mention my friends, maybe because they, like, forgot all about me. At the end of dat whole business, I had exactly one friend left. One. He owned the oldest bar on Bourbon. You know dat one, right? It used to be a blacksmith’s shop, but nowadays, they just serve booze.
Well, he reached out to me and gave me this one lead. “Call Big Rosie up there in Nashville. She’ll give you something to do.”
I remembered laughing in his face. I mean, I wasn’t some sad sack, sorry-assed, hick-i-fied country music performer. Hell, I hated dat stuff. But, you know, when someone was desperate, when they felt like they didn’t have anything else? Well, adjusting things like ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ got easier. And, when it wasn’t easy, proper lubrication made the rest of it go down.
So now, strumming a damn guitar and singing hee-haw was all I had. No matter how much I tried to lose myself in the twangy chords, the words still tasted funny, like, foreign in my mouth. I mean, I been at it for almost two years now, but it still doesn’t feel…….real. I guess I use booze to blunt my ripped edges and women to feel less by myself, but when I try to write all dat, to pour all my anger and frustration and drunk-ass loneliness into the words, it all sounds so cliche.
Dat’s what I am. One sorry, hang-dog cliche who misses his little girl so much he’s afraid to write it down and sing it out.