26 June 2013


I don't do or have much in my life so I try to keep alive to the 'spark'.

Of late I've been driving around 
with Jim Potts' fine blues rocking my car stereo.

I became intrigued by hobo blues - someone even sent me a trivia piece on the meaning of hobo - but I found myself writing it for the local ferries that plough our wine-dark waters, and at the same time I latched onto Baddeley-sahib's ubiquitous bicycle and his all-too convincing cloth cap.

Stop Press 23:51hrs June 30: As the Corfu Bluesman says, this post is getting better by the day: Simon Baddeley's wonderfully poetic comment and now this definitive version of Hobo, live acoustic by John Lee Hooker at the Newport Folk Festival.

Best I've heard and I may be re-shaping my ferry-hobo lyrics to do justice to the Master.

When I first took to hoboing,
I took a ferry to be my friend,  
Those salt-sea days of hoboing,
Ventouris ferries were my friend,
Rode from Igoumenitsa,
Whoa, down to the Corfu end.
When I first took to hoboing I had a cloth cap and a bike,
My first time merry ferryin', folksy cloth cap, trusty bike,
10 gears on that baby and a natty Burberry stripe 

[by my troth!]

This bike don't do no tandem,
Can't stand that saddle bunch,
I've got no mind to tandem,
Don't like no saddle crunch, 
There's a blue light on the back wheel
Derailleur gears in front.

(Carrie gets up singin' n cryin')

Just can't quit this hobo-ing.
The Ionian dark as wine, 
Hear those props a-throbb-oing, cleaving the Odyssean brine,
All my years at sea, can't keep of time.

[wailing solo, little Jimmy on harp, sea-gull sound effects, drap├Ęd albatross, lord have merceh]

Hoboing hoboing hoboing, took F/B Siren for my friend,
Hoboing hoboing hoboing
Pedal 'til the end, 
Can you hear that lonesome whistle
Coming round the Kavos bend.

(That ferry's so fast the hobos dont mess with that boat, they just stand on the quay with their caps in their hands.)

I love these 'sparks' when they happen: I hear the chords in my head and when I get home I know exactly which knobs to hit on the amp to get the sounds and tone I'm after.

Comment chorus - inspired by Sinbad:

Thump thump moan holler (foot keeping the beat)

Called that gal to breakfast, 'caint you see the north wind's risen?' 
Told that woman 'rise and shine, that mean mean north wind's risen,
They's servin' apr'cot jam and cawfee,
Better be there, ain't nuthin' for the missing.

[she just turned over and went back to her snoring]

There's a sparkling sea a-stir, stab of bright slab through the haze,
That sparkling sea's a-stir, touch of grey smudge to the haze,
Schooners scudding north and south,
Every which way thru the wild Otranto Straits.


Anonymous said...

Cool chord changes!

Simon Baddeley said...

At breakfast the north wind's risen, stirring a sparkling sea, grey smudges on the horizon now and then flashing a bright slab hull through the haze show other ships heading south and north to from the Straits of Otranto. Two bread slices, butter, apricot jam and coffee....Now and then, over the constant rumble of the turbines, a bump felt more than heard like a missed heart beat and a distant boom on the hollow drum of the hold as tho' something had reached up to rap the hull requesting quiet. The gale on the sea - white caps to the horizon, spume rocking in the rippled interval between rollers, seen through the square salt-flecked ports of the ship's saloon is hardly more or less real than the flow of images on digital screens spreading news from across the world - images mirrored to infinity in the semi-frosted glass dividing sections of the saloon; on one banquette where a man like one of Caravaggio's boys surrounded by beautiful young women is on his mobile explaining to someone in accented English why their visit to Pompeii - three hours drive from Bari - will be delayed by the late arrival of the ferry - tap, chat, tap, chat, tap...

Corfucius said...

wonderful poetic comment. thanks.

Simon Baddeley said...

Now set to music? S

Corfucius said...

I'm setting everything to music these days - a last-ditch bid to distract myself and also have a song up my sleeve to surprise locals with its 'locality'. i find the moment they realise that they're listening to something with a corfiot/ionian connection - or about someone they know - they sit up.

actually, some of your poetic comment could make it into 'Ionian Hobo'. it's a blues but i get very bored of the same old chords and it'd be fun to suddenly skip into a madcap middle 8 and then come back to the rules. Oh i dunno, some of those lines are pretty bluesy ... pack them with grunts and moans and hollers. [dons man-of-the-people burberry cloth thinking cap]

Corfu Bluesman said...

Getting better all the time. Lovely contribution from Simon.

My favourite version of The Hobo, as song by John Lee Hooker, is the Newport Folk Festval live acoustic version:


That's the version that inspired me.