Here it is in a nutshell: the reality of 1:30am bar life. Verbena sees the 2:00am last call on the horizon. Semisonic will play “Closing Time,” and the jukebox will stop, the lights will come up, and the illusion will shatter. But in this brief moment, with Lloyd’s arm around her, his warm bourbony breath on her cheeks, and fiery hot nuts so accessible and so amazingly affordable, life is good.
This is one of the most telling portraits from Henry Horenstein’s book HonkyTonk, a book of fascinating black and white portraits he took mostly from the country and western scene in the 1970s. It’s hard to narrow a brief selection down, but there are sites that showcase many of them, such as http://clampart.com/2012/07/honky-tonk-portraits-of-country-music-2/#/13. However, I prefer to leaf through the book itself and create my own back stories.
Is Earl waxing nostalgic for his salad days, missing the boys in his high school rockabilly band, before the tattoos and the Kool habit? Before Arlene cheated with Vernon, his supposed best friend, and then a twister took Vernon to his maker, and isn’t that sweet justice?
Lookin’ for love in all the right places.
Last call indeed.