Caught by the River

Jeb’s Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 26th February 2023

Jeb Loy Nichols puts another record on the turntable, and finds that the country side of life is a strange and funny place to be.

Robert Parker
‘Give Me The Country Side Of Life’
Island Records

As Woody Guthrie said, this world is strange and funny place to be. 

I’m out walking when a neighbouring farmer pulls his Landrover over and tells me hello. 

Hello, I say.

We talk for a minute about the weather, sheep, fencing and the state of the roads before, with no warning, he tells me, I guess you know that the King is a lizard.  

I rarely think about the King, much less his possible cold bloodedness, so I say nothing.

I’ve been reading about it on the internet, he says.  

A lizard?

A shape shifting lizard type alien thing that drinks human blood in order to look like us.

I nod.

They basically run the world, he says.  


The lizards.


And their under lords.

Under lords?  

He spreads his hands, indicating whole oceans and mountains of both lizards and under lords.

Obama?  Kennedy?  Merkel?   Farage?  Prince Charles?  All lizards.

Well, well.

And the Kremlin?  A breeding house.  As is most of China.  

I don’t doubt it.  I’ve always assumed there’s something fishy going on with most people. 

Every time there’s an outbreak of some new flu virus, he says, that’s the overlords, making human blood more tasty.

I pretend an interest in my neighbour and his doings; it makes life easier.

It’s been like this for two thousand years, he says.  They crash landed their space ship in the ocean and are waiting around until we have the technology to build a new one.

Last month he told me a story about a Welsh princess who asked for and was granted a wish to be a wild hare for a week.  The experience so pleased the princess that she spent the rest of her life hiding, frightened the spell might be removed and she’d be returned to the dull life of a human.  All of history, my neighbour says, is filled with people wishing to be other than who they are.  

I’ve been reading a biography of Hildegard Of Bingen, entitled Visitations And Illuminations.  I don’t understand much of it — what about a German nun born in 1098 am I going to understand? — but I understand that it isn’t about understanding.  It’s about language.  The language does the one thing denied to most language, it speaks.  I underline whole paragraphs and sentences.  

Search out the house of your heart.  All creatures are green and vital.  We are all co-creators with God.  There is no creation that does not have radiance.  Be it greenness or seed, blossom or beauty, the world is a living being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity.  Like billowing clouds, like the incessant gurgle of the brook, the longing spirit can never be stilled. 

When I get home I put the first record I touch on the turntable.  I don’t even look to see what it is.  I put it on and it’s perfect.  The right record at the right time.  Robert Parker in New Orleans talking about the country.  Produced by the great Allen Toussaint and arranged by Wardell Quezergue, two southern alchemists who consistently turned music into magic.  A record, like my neighbour, that’s a curious mix of nostalgia, hope, funk and fantasy.  The country side of life.  A strange and funny place to be.


You can follow the Jeb’s Jukebox Spotify playlist here.