(I Dreamed That) Everybody Fell Out Of Love With Me But You
Never are we cured of our adolescence.
From the age of fourteen to seventeen I was often friendless; I wore the wrong clothes, had bad hair, was uninterested in cars, read the wrong books, didn’t drink, owned no records by Queen, was rendered speechless in the presence of women. Those years remain, for me, an oppressive sludge of southern rock, red neck bar bands, Fleetwood Mac on the radio, dirty long hair and endless guitar solos.
I took comfort in anything that stood apart.
There was, in the south Texas border town where my grandmother lived, a Mexican flea market. On the Hispanic radio stations it was announced with the words EL GRAN PULGA!!! Fabulous riches were promised; clothes, food, car parts, cook ware, boots, jewellery, furniture, records, guns and ammo. And always, on Saturday afternoon, a guest musician. Often these were conjunto bands from south Texas; Little Joe, Lydia Mendoza, Flaco Jimenez. Sometimes it was a national celebrity; Freddy Fender or Johnny Rodriguez. And sometimes it was a swamp star from Louisiana; Van Broussard or Roy Head.
I remember seeing Freddy Fender on the back of a flatbed truck singing ‘Wasted Days And Wasted Nights’ and then, in Spanish, ‘Jamaica Farewell’. He went through swamp pop (Oh Holy One), honky-tonk (Just Out Of Reach), soul (Junko Partner) and ended with a traditional Mexican polka.
Next to the stage was a booth selling records, tapes and posters. A sign across the top said Crazy Cajun – We’re On It!! I didn’t (much to my regret) buy any records that day. I flipped through them and marvelled at their communal strangeness, their regional purity. Most of the names meant nothing to me. A sign on the record boxes said Buying One Of These Records Can Only Add To The Goodness Of Your Soul.
I didn’t doubt it.
Twenty years later, in a shop in Tennessee, I came across a stash of Crazy Cajun records. LPs and singles by TK Hulin, Jimmy Donley, Heather Black, Wayne Talbert, The Sir Douglas Quintet, The Magnificent Men, Tommy McLain.
I bought (I Dreamed That) Everybody Fell Out Of Love With Me But You and two dozen others. I wish I’d bought more. I wish that I’d bought everything I touched. I wish that, years before, at El Gran Pulga!!!, I had taken the sign writers advice: Buying One Of These Records Can Only Add To The Goodness Of Your Soul.
Maybe it would have made my adolescence easier.