He never really talked about, but then he never really let you in about things important to him, things that bothered him.  He was kinda into himself—ya know.  And you had to read into that.  You had to read into him.  And sometimes it was hard to read him right…  It was like he was always in a movie—in his own movie, a picture show.  And there were always unexpected twists in the narrative, like he was making it up as he went along, improvising—based on what he was given—how he took it.  I guess that’s why you could call him a dreamer.  He lived that way.  He saw life that way.  As an interactive dream.  A lucid dream.  And I think sometimes it was a nightmare—it turned into a nightmare for him.  But I guess that’s what happens when it’s your own movie.  When you live your life like you’re asleep.  Because it’s only you—talking to yourself.  And no one gets along with themselves all the time…  Maybe that’s why you need someone.  A partner to your dream—ya know.  So you know what you’re seeing.  You know for sure.  Otherwise your reality is always in question.  Because it isn’t shared…  I think it was hell for him sometimes.  What maybe hell is really like.  He never talked about it—Mississippi.  He never talked about what happened his first trip down there.  And I think that’s why he came back—why he joined the Army, being a black man.  He wasn’t drafted like I was.  He volunteered.  This at a time when the Army drafted just as many black men and they did white.  And there wasn’t much resistance to it then.  In fact many men were deferred so that manpower for the production of war materials could continue.  Becaue the women couldn’t do it all…  But he never talked about it—being back in Mississippi again.  And I think it was hell for him.  Not being able share what it was really like—what he felt being back.  Isolation—ya know.  Maybe that’s what hell really is.  That torment that your whole life… is just a dream.  Like you’re in a coma and everything you think is happening to you is just a projection of your mind, a mind movie, and everything, everything happening to you—is just you.  The horror that you think you’re in control, but you’re really not.  Because you never really know.  You never really know if it’s real or not.  There’s just the hints—the taunts—of other’s in the same hell.  Sometimes letting you know it’s real.  Sometimes letting you know it’s not.  And you never really know.  You never really know if it’s your dream or someone else’s…  At least that’s my idea, my idea of what hell’s really like—everyone insane not knowing if they’re really there or not…  Funny how I can imagine that, but I have no idea what heaven’s really like.  But then maybe in heaven you’re just not all by yourself.  Everything is everyone’s—ya know—all the pain, all the joy—is shared, shared by everyone.  And everyone knows that for sure…  I just wish I could have shared that with him.  I wish he would have let me in.  But then maybe what happened to him—what happened in Mississippi—he just didn’t know how to share, and maybe even if could have I wouldn’t have known how to share it with him, share in it with him in a way he could trust it for sure…  I don’t know…  Even though he was hard to read sometimes, it still felt good to call him a friend.  And he sure could play that guitar…

            –Johnny Tribout, from a PBS interview, September 1971

Advertisements