Planning a Comeback

I met Joe briefly in Glasgow in October 1989. He was promoting a new record and playing at the city’s famous Barrowland Ballroom with his group The Latino Rockabilly War. It was my very good fortune to be late for a signing session that Joe was conducting in a city centre record store. He didn’t see me as I approached him, and with a windmilling arm, he accidentally elbowed me in the face. As a consequence, he spent more time with me than I suspect would otherwise have been the case and we eventually left the store together, walking and talking all the way from Union Street to his hotel.

As you’d imagine I recall details from that day very clearly but the most memorable thing about it was his voice. The way he spoke was captivating in its undulating rhythm. Listening to him was like being blindfold on a rollercoaster; exciting, life-affirming and a little bit scary all at the same time.

I feel privileged to offer this tribute to a man who - arguably more than any other individual - positively influenced my attitude to life, politics, music and my own creative potential.”

(David F. Ross – December 2018)


Planning A Comeback

He says sorry, before a warm hello.
A mellow sound in accelerating flow
phrasing from a smooth to staccato riff.
Worn leather, grey smoke and Brylcreemed quiff.

Addictive enthusiasm, sparkling eyes,
he speaks like Dylan; rhythm and surprise.
It soars, dips, calms and beguiles,
magnetic, entrancing, Lord of these aisles.

Out into stair rod rain, a saunter.
Victorian streets. Earthquake Weather.
We talk about going missing in ’82 –
cryptic, jousting, he offers no clue.

On stage, the indignant fury returns.
Words hitting targets. Bullets from a gun.
A ballroom crescendo. A familiar scene.
Arms aloft. Leopard-skin Limousines.

Thirty years pass, I think of him still.
The mellifluous voice, the anger, the thrill.
Writing new songs, recording on 8-track,
out in the desert; planning a comeback.


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