THU., MARCH 23, 2006
Here’s a dirty, filthy, shameful little secret: Austin is lousy with poets – not the free-versing, in your face, theatrically emotive, gangsta-gesticulating slam poets. They’ve already outed themselves. They’re upfront about their embarrassing little literary obsession. No, more insidious and pervasive are the poets who attempt to deny the intrinsic dorkiness of their craft by disguising it as something cooler: music. They call themselves songwriters. It’s no wonder. Historically, poets don’t get much for their efforts except poverty and misery. You can bet your ass that America’s current Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, doesn’t have iced-out bling and a sick crib with a boom boom room like Big Boi from OutKast. More than likely he’s shivering in a mud hut on the windswept plains of Nebraska scrawling arthritic elegies to rusty, abandoned farm equipment, hoping his Pulitzer pays for a few more months of precious propane. That’s, as Sinatra sang, the “top of the heap” of the poetic world, and he probably can’t even afford Bono’s deli tray. It’s no surprise then that songwriters are notoriously cagey about owning up to being word geeks, but they are – word geeks in the worst way. While the rest of the literary world abandoned rhymed verse about a century ago, songwriters keep hammering it out ad nauseam. For a lot of songwriters, music is the lipstick on the pig of shamelessly bad poetry, but occasionally you find a songwriter who is a brilliant synthesis of musician and word geek, who within the strict framework of structured verse and musical meter manages to transcend both. Southpaw Jones is one of those songwriters, and he is celebrating his First Annual 29th Birthday tonight at the Cactus Cafe with Erin Condo, the Ginn Sisters, Spike Gillespie, Jon Greene, Matt the Electrician, Seela, Bill Passalaqua, and others. Poets? Songwriters? You decide.