Tarbelly and Featherfoot

"Featherfoot walked right past Tarbelly into the kitchen where she made and ate three sandwhiches, drank a pot of coffee and a bottle of Absolut vodka. All the while, Tarbelly stood in the door…"

Some songs just stick in your head.

I was around seventeen or eighteen when the first Sweet Relief album came out. We received a playable copy at the radio station I worked at and the disc was deemed worthy of being placed in the high rotation bin by the DJs. Several songs were highlighted for play on the show that I co-hosted with one of my best friends on Saturday afternoons.

Among these were "Summer of Drugs", performed by Soul Asylum and "Crazy Mary", performed by Pearl Jam. But the song that really stood out for me, the one that came and lodged itself in my hindbrain, the one that has refused to ever give up ground to time or memory lapse, was the one performed by Lou Reed, "Tarbelly and Featherfoot".

Even now, I cannot quite explain why it has such a grip on me. The song is simple, performed with an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, and a bit of tambourine at the end. The lyrics are more prose than poem; they tell a simple story of a man remembering the sheer joy of childhood and re-creating it with his wife or lover. And Lou Reed. Lou Reed sings it in signature Lou Reed style, more like he is telling you a story than singing to you.

Maybe it's Featherfoot's story, told in the details, in passing that I like.  Featherfoot is always moving, talking on the phone, drinking too much, doing everything she can to aggravate Tarbelly.  And maybe, perhaps, of course, I'm projecting too much of my life into a song, but, dear God, it reminds me of some of the girls I used to know and how I would let their chaos rush around me, me trying to keep myself balanced in the center of the maelstrom.

I think I just identify with Tarbelly. More than I should really, but, none of us can help that. I think I empathize with Tarbelly. How he just stands there, blocking the door, being in the way, refusing to be distracted from his train of thought, and then, at the moment of ephiphany he doesn't stop to consider ramifications, he just acts and it sets them both free.

That kind of thing is how I ended up in Seattle, and then Japan, and how I've done some of the cooler things in my life. Maybe that's why it has holed up in my brain for so many years. Maybe that's it exactly.

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Filed under Punk Rock Saved My Life, True Thoughts on True Life

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