Nah, I didn’t smoke.  That was just Schultz and David.  I mean I knew what it smelt like, and it’s not like I didn’t smoke cigarettes on duty—I guess I just figured I had enough stuff wrong to start doing that.  And after that fight at the roadhouse, that night we brought Schultz out to play with us, some of the officers on base caught wind of what he was doing, but he kept doing it anyway…  You asked if it helped with his music—nah, I don’t think it did.  Cuz you see I saw him play when he was high and I saw him play when he wasn’t.  I couldn’t tell no difference, and not even sure if he knew, if he knew the difference, if he thought about the music more or not.  I don’t think it was good for him though.  I think he just wasted energy on it.  Energy he could’ve use for something else—I don’t know…  Something about him embraced that.  Waste.  I guess you can’t stop it from happening.  You try not waste money, live on a tight budget, and then your car breaks down and costs a thousand dollars to fix.  You know—that sort of thing.  In a way everything goes to waste.  Food’s wasted.  Time’s wasted.  You look back on all those hours you worked for money to live and wonder if you was really living…  Maybe that’s how David found his peace with that, in his habits.  Not fretting about the waste.  The songs he could’ve sung.  And his listeners.  What he needed from them so they could listen.  They helped him and hurt him.  Just like when a day goes by in bed, in sleep.  And in a way his smoking and drinking sorta put him to sleep, so he didn’t have to think about all the things he could have been doing, all the things he should have done.   Because you don’t think about that.  You don’t think about that while you’re sleeping.  You just wake up thinking you did.  And it’s like missing the daylight and only seeing night…  Nah, I didn’t ever really smoke with him, but I know he was thankful sometimes.  Thankful like when you see the sunrise.  When the music was just music and nothing else.  He needed that most of all—I think.  Prison time is a constant reminder of waste.  And if we’d had stayed at it, our duty in Biloxi, guarding German POWs, I think it would’ve gotten worse for him.  I think he was glad when we got our papers, this just after the New Year 1942, and even though he made friends with some of them, some of the prisoners, friends with Schultz, he was ready to go fight them…  Funny, ain’t it?  I guess that’s why they say one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.

            –Johnny Tribout, from a PBS interview, September 1971

Advertisements