Ray Wylie Hubbard is a storyteller without equal, who inspired a flock of country and blues poets. The Dallas native made a stop this week on Letterman, in promotion of last year's The Grifter's Hymnal. He and his excellent band played a track from that album, "Mother Blues," which remembers the nighclub of the same name. Watch the clip below.
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It's an exquisite yarn, one that rings true to this very recent transplant. Hubbard tells it best, but in case you got caught up in the melody and missed the words, here they are:
When I was a young man About 21 years old y'all All I wanted was a stripper girlfriend And a Gold Top Les Paul Be careful of the things you wish for You might get 'em
There was a night club in Dallas Called Mother Blues It's where Lightning Hopkins played And Freddy King even payed some dues
All the dealers and gamblers And young white hipsters, they all made the scene The girl at the door who checked ID's Was just 16
Aw, it was not a place for law biding citizens Jackie Jones he had 'em a habit, he just couldn't stop Aaid give me 500 dollars And I'll sell you my Les Paul God Top
I drove my daddy's car down to Ross Avenue And I sold it I guess I should have told him He eluded to the police someone stole it
It was just the first of many bad decisions I was to make for the next 20 years Oh, but I had me a guitar
Everybody knows That the real nightlife Begins after the clubs close What they call after hours
It's 2 a.m. and everybody's gone But the band, the dealers and Jack Jones And then the girls from the landing strip club come over After they put their clothes back on
So I'm at Ma Blues and I'm sitting on an amp I'm playing "Twist and Shout" And this tall drink of water walks in Like she might have to shoot her way out
She come up to me and she said "You know anything good on that guitar?" I didn't say nothing, I just kept on playing She said, "Have you ever heard this song Called Polk Salad Annie?" I just kept playing
She said, "Every time I hear that song My insides feel like warm butter And I just wanna take off my clothes And dance around in my underwear"
I said, "Down in Louisiana Where the alligator grow so mean" That's all I knew of it and it was enough
So we hit it off, me and this dancer We hit it off like a metaphor Like a metaphor for a hydrogen bomb We was enriched uranium, super critical mass We was a chain reaction, it was love and lust Aw, mostly lust but a mutual attraction
So there I was boys at 21 years old, I had it all I had a fine stripper girlfriend and a Gold Top Les Paul Aw, the future, it looked promising Oh but there were dark clouds on the horizon
She was a beautiful girl But she liked to drink Tequila and that ain't all I come home 4 or 5 times And she pawned my Les Paul
We broke up and she went to Hollywood She married an actor
She got a job dancing on the Hudson Brothers TV show And modern lipstick from Max Factor I got over her, I'm glad she done alright I'm glad she done alright, oh yes, I am
Well now me, I never busted through the gates Into the big time as a rock and roll star For 40 years I just carried around an old Gold Top guitar
But love and fate are mysterious things In this funky old world It was 20 years ago I ended up marrying That Mother Blues door girl
We had us a boy, he's 18 years old now, he's playing guitar He ended up with that Les Paul Gold Top, yes, he did Now I don't know if he's gonna hang his life on it or not But I'm very grateful for the time I get to share the stage with him
I'm grateful for the time I get to play with musicians Like George Reiff and Rick Richards I'm grateful that I get to write these old songs And travel around the world and play them for people
And they come out and hear me play And the days that I keep my gratitude Higher than my expectations Well, I have really good days