Can’t Get It is late coming Outta My Head this week, and therefore abbreviated, because of Mother Nature.
Part of CGIOMH World HQ is way too close to the floodplain, and the heavy rains of Tuesday and Wednesday pushed the river too close to the top of the levee. If the Trempealeau tops said levee, historically we usually get 20 inches or so of brown water in our basement garage. Not good, especially after 25 years of stuff accumulating therein.
So, instead of pondering what I Can’t Get Outta My Head those days, I was thinking about how to move things to higher ground. But I did think about songs about floods, while I was lifting and carrying, pushing and pulling, etc. — when the worrying and fretting permitted it.
The song from “Led Zeppelin IV” might be an option for the soundtrack in my head at that time. Especially the line “Now, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good” — nothing’s going to stop that rain, or change what happens when it hits the watershed. But “When the Levee Breaks” isn’t my biggest worry, fortunately.
There’s also Dylan’s “Down in the Flood,” which typically for Mr. Zimmerman is a great lyric: “Crash on the levee, mama/Water's gonna overflow/Swamp’s gonna rise/And no boat's gonna row,” could have been going through my head on one of those visits to the river Wednesday.
But I don’t like the sound of the mid-part of that last verse: “Well, it's sugar for sugar/And it's salt for salt/If you go down in the flood/It’s gonna be your own fault.” Had we known then what we know now, would we have built what we did 25 years ago this summer?
Another lyric that came into my head those days was from a Springsteen number, from his “Nebraska” album. That song, however, is about a “Highway Patrolman”; the high-water reference is to a band that plays “The Night of the Johnstown Flood.”
But we weren’t facing the kind of tragedy that unfortunate Pennsylvania burg suffered about this time of the year 1899. And, interestingly, there was no such song as “The Night of the Johnstown Flood” when the Boss wrote “Highway Patrolman” in 1982.
But such is the influence of Mr. Springsteen that there is now a song by that name, recorded by the Rock Creek Jug Band. But not of the same impact as “Highway Patrolman,” which apparently also inspired a Sean Penn movie.
But I digress from the flood crest. I found myself simultaneously dreading, and looking forward to, the “Wake of the Flood.” Which is of course not the name of a song, but of an album by the Grateful Dead.
The relevant song is “Here Comes Sunshine,” the lyrics of which contains the words in the album title, in the first verse: “Wake of the flood, laughing water, forty-nine/Get out the pans, don't just stand there dreaming/Get out the way, get out the way.”
That lyric is at once as allusory as your typical Garcia and/or Hunter work, but much more non-sensical, and its correlation to my situation was only that I was really looking forward to the sunshine coming. Plus, it’s not my favorite cut from “Wake of the Flood.”
That honor falls to “Stella Blue” — which is just about my favorite Dead song, edging several tracks from “Workingman’s” — followed closely by “Weather Report Suite,” particularly “Part I.” So I will digress again, if only to get my mind off a river that is still too high, considering there are rain chances the next several days.
There is a restaurant in Eau Claire called Stella Blues, which I would highly recommend. It has a Cajun-influenced menu, casual (but not too raucous) atmosphere, good beer selection and cocktails, outdoor patio, etc.
One of the first few times that we went there, after a good meal and a couple adult beverages, on our way out, I spotted a woman who appeared to be in a position of responsibility. My curiosity got the better of me, and I asked her where the name of the establishment came from.
She of course answered that it was inspired by the Dead song, for which I took her hand and thanked her. “In the end there's still that song comes cryin' like the wind/Down every lonely street that's ever been/Stella blue. Stella blue.” Indeed.