You can teach the dog new tricks, but this one bites.

3 things that Taj Mahal could just as easily provoke:

The end of the hottest day of the year in Rossville, GA and a truckers strike means downtown has becomes speckled and swolen with semis trying haphazardly to fit into metered parking spots. A woman who has just caught her husband cheating with their mortgage broker walks into a barber shop whose entrance is nearly blocked by a giant walmart 18 wheeler. The man who owns the place looks up and is shocked to see a beautiful women, even more so because of the beading sweat and desperate eyes, in a shop that normally cuts the last frail hairs off of frail men. She say’s cut it all off, and he wonders whether he should council her down from such a drastic move. She does not wait for a response and seats her self in the chair and grabs the scissors herself. They’re heavier than she suspected, and the metal slice that sounds whenever she’s pushed them together is as dry and unforgiving as the air they’re breathing, being recirculated by metal box fans. Her hair falls in rhythm, and the trucks outside sway in the wind.

Everybody’s Got To Change Some Time” is from Taj Mahal’s 1968’s self titled album.

It’s the hottest day of the summer on Rockaway Beach, but the cops have the beach blocked off because of water contamination from a tropical storm that died off in the ocean two days ago. There is a line two blocks long of old women with lawn chairs who swear they just want to get some sun, and another line that stretches all the way down to beach 12th street of others who don’t care about elevated level of iron in the water, who just need to get out of this heat. Up on the roof of one of apartment buildings which tip a little closer to a maritime death every sunset, there’s a father who swore he would teach his son how to swim today, took a sick day from assembling chandeliers in Woodside. He had hoped to do it in the ocean, after all, he had learned to swim in the ocean, but his kid is sitting five flights down slumping on the couch and watching tv, and so he’ll make do with what he’s got. He’s coughing and wheezing and regretting every smoke break of the last 4 years, as he struggles to inflate the top ring of the kiddie pool, and he’s wondering how he’s ever going to fit inside this thing, and how he’s going to get the water in. After he’s filled it up, he runs down to his apartment and starts emptying out lemonade, ice tea, crystal light, and tells his kid to turn off the tv and start filling these. Two hours later, after he thinks his son has gotten down a basic stroke, and after the tar from the roof has gotten stuck to his leg hair, he’ll shout down to the still waiting crowd that he’s got room and water for at least 4 or 5 of you if you want to come up here.

Queen Bee” is from Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabate’s 1999 album Kulanajn.

It’s hot. God it’s fucking so hot that it woke you up, not a garbage truck or the alarm clock, not her kicking you in the leg like she does in her sleep; you woke up in one dry breath. It’s 8:26 and she’s got 34 minutes before she’ll wake up with the most endearing groans and stretches you’ve ever seen, but for now she’s wrapped in sheets, splayed out across the bed and breathing as slowly as she can without you worrying. You push yourself up to a sitting position and look around at the room, which looks beautiful with dusty white walls. She always wanted to paint it; he landlord wouldn’t let her, but right now if the room were magenta or deep blue everything would be ruined. You look over to the nightstand and see a month old copy of InTouch and a copy of Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. You bought that book what seems like years ago in the silence of winter, late, in your college’s library sale, and you never really gave it a chance. You think to youself that maybe you’ll pick it up again. But for now, you’re stuck between the most relevant moment you’ve had in months and a need to ruin everything and take a piss.

Wild Ox Moan” is from Taj Mahal’s 1969 album De Ole Folks At Home.

at the concert last Sunday Taj said that the blues isn’t about complaining, it’s about bringing people together. I think there’s something to that.


Speaking of beautiful, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson’s album is as good as all that stupid, nasty, hype (that would drive any of us to have a heart attack or stick beeswax in our eyes and cottonballs in our ears) would suggest that it is. I hate to be another voice in the choir when I worry that the choir might be stopping the thing it’s praising from getting sleep at night, but (1- exactly four people visited this blog yesterday, so its a pretty moot point) and (2- seriously, the album is great. It’s really great.). He just recorded a Daytrotter session with all unreleased material and a great Dylan cover. Go for a walk with this.

One comment

  1. John

    I had never heard this version! Taj’s vocals are really restrained compared to how he sings it in other versions. It is interesting to hear vocal courtesy on a record.

    Love the quote. “Blues isn’t about complaining, it’s about bringing people together.” That is exactly how I feel about bashing bush!

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