Tuesday

Apr. 4, 2006

Trouble In Mind

by Richard Jones

TUESDAY, 4 APRIL, 2006
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Trouble In Mind" by Richard M. Jones. © Universal Studios Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Trouble In Mind

Trouble in mind, I'm blue,
But I won't be blue always,
For the sun will shine in my backdoor someday.

Trouble in mind, that's true,
I have almost lost my mind;
Life ain't worth livin', feel like I could die,

I'm gonna lay my head on some lonesome railroad line:
Let the two nineteen train ease my troubled mind.

Trouble in mind, I'm blue,
My poor heart is beatin' slow;
Never' had no trouble in my life before,

I'm all alone at midnight,
And my lamp is burning low,
Never had so much trouble in my life before.

I'm gonna lay my head
On that lonesome railroad track,
But when I hear the whistle,
Lord, I'm gonna pull it back.

I'm goin' down to the river
Take along my rocking chair,
And if the blues don't leave me,
I'll rock on away from there.

Well, trouble, oh, trouble,
Trouble on my worried mind,
When you see me laughin',
I'm laughin' just to keep from cryin'.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of novelist and screenwriter Marguerite Duras, born in a small village near Saigon in what was then French Indochina (1914). After her father died of dysentery, her mother struggled to support the family, and she was so distracted that she forgot to enroll her children in school. Duras said, "For two years I ran wild; it was probably the time in my life I came closest to complete happiness. At eight, I still couldn't read or write." Her mother bought some land, hoping to farm it, but it turned out to be worthless. Still, the family was able to scrape enough money together to send Duras to school in Saigon.

While Duras was going to high school in Saigon, she began an affair with an older, wealthy Chinese man, which ended when she graduated from high school and went to college in France. She kept the affair secret for the next fifty years, while writing short, experimental novels such as The Sea Wall (1953) and The Sailor from Gibraltar (1966), and screenplays for films such as Hiroshima Mon Amour (1966).

Then at the age of seventy, after struggling with alcoholism for much of her life, Duras decided to write a novel based on her adolescent affair with the Chinese man. That novel was The Lover (1984), and it was her first major literary success.

Marguerite Duras said, "You have to be very fond of men. Very, very fond. You have to be very fond of them to love them. Otherwise they're simply unbearable."


It's the birthday of playwright and journalist Robert Sherwood, born in New Rochelle, New York (1896). He grew up in a wealthy family and went to Harvard, and he was brought up to believe that he was superior because of his background. But while serving in World War I he became friends with many working-class men, and when he returned to the United States, he began to write plays about the struggles of the working poor, including The Petrified Forest (1935) and Idiot's Delight (1936), which won the Pulitzer Prize. He's perhaps best known for his anti-fascist play There Shall Be No Night (1941).

He said, "To be able to write a play ... a man must be sensitive, imaginative, naive, gullible, passionate; he must be something of an imbecile, something of a poet, something of a liar, something of a damn fool."


It's the birthday of blues singer Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Mississippi (1915). He said that his grandmother nicknamed him Muddy Waters because as a boy he liked to play in the muddy creek near his house. He learned to play the blues in the Mississippi Delta style by listening performers like Son House and Robert Johnson. He worked as a farmhand during the week, but he began to perform at juke joints, fish fries and parties on the weekends.

In 1941, the musicologist Alan Lomax came through Mississippi, recording folk singers for the Library of Congress, and he made several recordings of Muddy Waters. Waters was blown away by the experience of hearing these recordings. He said, "Man, you don't know how I felt that afternoon when I heard that voice and it was my own voice." He was so impressed that he decided to try to make it as a professional recording artist. So in May of 1943, Waters took a train from Clarkesdale, Mississippi, to Chicago, Illinois. His only luggage was a suit of clothes and an acoustic guitar. Waters got a job at a paper factory, moved in with some cousins on the South Side, and started performing at house parties for whiskey and tips.

At the time, the most popular music in the night clubs in Chicago was big band music. Waters tried to break through with his Mississippi blues but he had a hard time playing loud enough for anyone to hear him on his acoustic guitar at the noisy parties and bars where he played. So in 1944, he bought a cheap electric guitar from his uncle, which helped increase his sound level.

It was the first time anyone had played Mississippi blues on an electric guitar, which revolutionized the sound of the blues. In 1948, Waters recorded his first hit, "I Can't Be Satisfied," for Chess Records. The song was released on a Friday afternoon in April of 1948, and the initial pressing of 3,000 copies had sold out by Saturday evening.


Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









«

»

  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »