Before Akbar Lightning and Logocentric, there were Johnny Cockburn and James (“See”) Corn. Here they are, again, nine or so years ago, doing the “education.”
The Education of Corn and Cockburn
This was “HI”larious. I have been now edumucated. Dang fellows. I had no idea you both could play the guitar so well. I feel so inadequate now. I think I can play the jaw harp a bit. Maybe I should pick it back up.
I also did not know there was an alias of your alias. Did you use that alias that much. Good work. Bring them good fellows back to life why don’t ya?
i think we came up with the names on our first collaborative writing project. it may have been the first and only. then we started making these tapes, and the names carried over. i suspect at least one of them is still hanging around somewhere, wondering what happened in the past ten years.
there is something about the raw sound of this that reminds me of being a teenager and listening to old robert johnson records…
robert johnson, yes. there is also a bit of johnny cash and willie nelson going around, if only in spirit and not directly in the tunes we played. . . . we were trying to get at something about our southern-ness, cramped together in that studio and trying to figure out how to get along in the city.
and i think the part about the ‘moral revolution’ fit into our attempt to get at something that might replace the deep sense of uncertainty that, as i recall, pervaded our social environment at that time. we knew–along with a lot of other people, i believe–that we had entered a very strange, new moment that had not yet been defined or labeled. amid all the tragedy, paranoia, and color-coded security, there was still an opening that demanded a creative response. i imagine that we tried to make a home, however temporary and somewhat ham-handedly, in that breach; and we drew from what used to make us feel at home. i can only speak for myself, but for me it included blues and country and the occasional company of jolly rednecks.
but there was also a seriousness in that effort, which came in large part from our frequent reading of Martin Luther King–and from the sense that, although we were white boys from the south who couldn’t fully appreciate the particular struggles that had made him an important historical figure, we felt the gravity of the moment we were experiencing. and we tried to express the need for an alternative to the militarism and jingoism that enveloped us. just as King had done late in his youth. just as he had spoken from an unlikely and, for many, an unpopular place in expressing an alternative to war and the mentality that condoned it. there was certainly an artificiality and even banality to the events we witnessed, and that is reflected in some of the recordings we did. but there was also a deep sincerity in the effort to recall something better: maybe an unfulfilled opportunity whose moment we thought had finally arrived.
perhaps it is silly to compare a play-skool recording to the efforts of a man whose adulthood was fraught with death threats against not only himself but his wife and young children as well. perhaps i’m doing a disservice to his memory in posting this recording and then commenting on it to justify the dabbling of two young yuk-yuks whose civil rights were never in question. maybe i’m completely wrong. maybe i made a mistake.
still. . . [and i’m pointing not just to the ‘education tape’ but to the larger project of which it was a part, and which is (probably?) much too large to present here in its entirety. . .]
it is too easy to look back and label things ‘delusional’ and silly and to lament the excesses of idealism and the paths of projects that seemed to lead nowhere. and, although i don’t propose that there is a way to go back to that particular moment and relive it and think the thoughts i had or make more of those old recordings than what they are, i want to honor them–that is the reason i started posting them. i want to honor them because i want to remember that i took part in something, however small and perhaps forgettable, that stood in comfortable contrast to a decidedly uncomfortable new moment.
that is all. . .
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