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I feel better ...

don't you?

The underground film classic, Ribs 'n Sauce, began as an extension of Blind Lemon Joy's quest for originality. He had none himself, so he had to borrow it. That involved a quest.

Blind Lemon Joy often begins (and ends) his quests in the local tavern. He soaks up stories at the bar (and his liver soaks up something also).

This bar happened to be almost exactly one block closer to his residence than the next bar. It was even closer for Al McKenney, the host of "Captain Fun's American Gumbo" on the Skidmore College radio station, WSPN. Skidmore played an important role in Blind Lemon Joy's "artistic" development, but that is something we won't touch here.

Captain Fun (Al, who looks a lot like the fella on the left)knew Big Joe Turner from his days as a road manager/gadfly/emcee. One evening he recalled that Big Joe "ate himself into a wheelchair."

That is how Blind Lemon Joy -- who at this time was being laughed at, or with -- in comic appearances at nearby Caffe Lena, got the inspiration for his song. Big Joe specifically liked to eat at Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City. Al McKenney also remembered the cartoon from the Kansas City Star the day following Bryant's death. That also found its way into the song.

While Blind Lemon's experience in Saratoga Springs is described in his lamentful, bluesy and appropriately stupid "Bad Decisions I Have Made, Part III," on the best-forgotten Apologies to Everyone LP (deleted), the song and the film it inspired (and the off-off-Broadway play, the novelization, the comic book series, collector card editions, the "theme" parties and the television commercials that followed, not to mention the short-lived hairstyle and, of course, the action figure and hernia truss) remain as a tribute to the people, the time and yet, is a painful reminder that Blind Lemon could actually remember the lyrics to a song, let alone write one.

 

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