Dave Russo Art

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Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again

Oh, the ragman draws circles
Up and down the block
I’d ask him what the matter was
But I know that he don’t talk
And the ladies treat me kindly
And they furnish me with tape

But deep inside my heart
I know I can’t escape
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile with the
Memphis blues again

Well, Shakespeare, he’s in the alley
With his pointed shoes and his bells
Speaking to some French girl
Who says she knows me well

And I would send a message
To find out if she’s talked
But the post office has been stolen
And the mailbox is locked

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

Mona tried to tell me
To stay away from the train line

She said that all the railroad men
Just drink up your blood like wine
An’ I said, “Oh, I didn’t know that
But then again, there’s only one I’ve met
An’ he just smoked my eyelids
An’ punched my cigarette”

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

Grandpa died last week
And now he’s buried in the rocks
But everybody still talks about how
Badly they were shocked
But me, I expected it to happen
I knew he’d lost control
When I speed built a fire on Main Street
And shot it full of holes

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

Now the senator came down here
Showing ev’ryone his gun
Handing out free tickets
To the wedding of his son

An’ me, I nearly got busted
An’ wouldn’t it be my luck
To get caught without a ticket
And be discovered beneath a truck
Oh, Mama, is this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

Now the tea preacher looked so baffled
When I asked him why he dressed
With twenty pounds of headlines
Stapled to his chest

But he cursed me when I proved it to him
Then I whispered, “Not even you can hide
You see, you’re just like me
I hope you’re satisfied”

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

Now the rainman gave me two cures
Then he said, “Jump right in”
The one was Texas medicine
The other was just railroad gin
An’ like a fool I mixed them
An’ it strangled up my mind
An’ now people just get uglier
An’ I have no sense of time

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

And when Ruthie says come see her
In her honky-tonk lagoon
Where I can watch her waltz for free
’neath her Panamanian moon

An’ I say, “Aw come on now
You know you knew about my debutante”
An’ she says, “Your debutante just knows what you need
But I know what you want”
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

Now the bricks lay on Grand Street
Where the neon madmen climb

They all fall there so perfectly
It all seems so well timed
An’ here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

ORIGINAL: $200
11x15" Prismacolor Marker and Micron Pen on Watercolor paper.

PRINTS
Archival ink on acid free paper
11x14" print: $40
8x10" print: $30
5x7" print: $20

Ships USPS
Purchase here

Synopsis by the artist

I didn't dig too far into the hidden meaning of this one. I have some theories but I didn't address it visually. I used the face value of the words instead. Partially as a cop-out because they are half baked theories, but also because I think the confusing lack of communication in this song is an important part of it's meaning.

All nine verses were addressed in the drawing. The most prominantly moment being in Verse 7 where he says "people just get uglier and I have no sense of time". Without a sense of time, all characters throughout the song are appearing in the same moment (not to mention, the clock tower has no hands).

The reason for the "stranglin' up" of the mind is because he mixed "texas medicine" (peyote) and "railroad gin" (acording to research, it's actual gin. Gross, strong, home made, gin). Mixing the halucinigenic cactus with alcohol is said to have that exact effect on the human brain.

Most of the characters are drawn with zero interpretation. The senator is a guy in a suit. He has a gun and tickets. Mona is litterally holding an anti-railroad sign. Grampa is literally shooting a fire on Main St. Ruthy is tiangular because she's dancing in 3/4 time. Shakespeare looks like Shakespeare, etc.

I did use some literal phrasing against the grain. The preacher with the headlines, for instance. His face is drawn identically to the character in white (who is playing the roll of 1st person) because "you see, you're just like me".

The one character that I took a stab at accurately depicting was the "neon madmen" which I choose to believe is the endless advertisement in the landscape. Neon for obvious reasons and madmen because that was the nickname for Madison Ave advertizing men. They were a celebrated profession in the era this song is from. They're also up to their necks in the confusion and misinformation of the day.

I also think that the Panamanian moon is panamanian simply because Panama is an isthmus connecting two huge worlds. Hinting at my theory of the subject being torn between two things. Even if I'm wrong about what that is, we can just leave it as Mobile and Memphis.

Aside from those few exaples, it's just a chaotic tribute to a chaoitic song. Misplaced information seems to be the common thread. The Ragman doesn't talk. The tea preacher is baffled. The Post office has been stolen. Smoked eyelids and punched cigarettes. Even if I were able to fully decode every little nuanced metaphor (which I can't), I feel it would disrespect the song to do so.

If I want to be extra fancy, we can say that I, the artist, am the Ragman drawing circles up and down the block. Neat, right? Though I assume he's talking about journalism.

- Dave Russo