New year and all, it makes a man take a little stock in his present and his future, no doubt about it.
After losing my job, I began to ponder the same thing many in their early twenties ponder: What should I do? and how well will I get paid for it? The answer came to me in a song.
I spend a lot of my free time listening for the meaning of life in old blues records. While listening to the 1928 Furry Lewis recording of "Kassie Jones," I heard a verse that goes something like this:
"Name printed on the back of his shirt Nachul-born easman don' have to work."
Don't have to work?!? That sounded perfect, except I didn't have any idea what a nachul-born easman was.
John Lomax defines an easman as a hustler, "that is, a man who wanders from town to town living off women, often other men's wives."
This might be harder than it sounded at first. Sure, I'd love to not have to work, but other men's wives? Going town to town? This easman job would require a drastic shift in thinking, as well as a shift in basic morality. Ok, not that big of a shift, it's true. I may have been something of an easman in my youth but c'mon...I've been out of that game for some time, trying to earn my own way in the world. Had I given up to soon? and more importantly, was I "nachul-born" at this whole hustling thing?
They say that everyone has a special gift. If this is true, had I squandered mine at such an early age? Had pride destroyed my one true talent? Am I like that playground basketball player who had NBA talent, but squandered it with bad decisions? Is it even slightly possible that I could have had it so that I didn't have to work, if only I had followed my heart, instead of falling back on my own stubbornness re: self-sufficiency?
Oh well. Maybe it's for the best. Kassie Jones (or Casey, depending on the version), our original nachul-born easman, well, he had a sorry end:
"On a sunday mornin' it began to rain, 'Round the curve spied a passenger train, Under de cab lay po' Casey Jones, He's a good engineer, but he's dead and gone."
An alternate ending to the Casey Jones song goes like this; a particular favorite of mine:
"His face and head all covered with blood, His eyes you could not see, And as he died he cried aloud, 'Oh, nearer, my God, to thee.'"