God Is Great, Beer Is Good

SourOwl41-003

Mother’s in the kitchen washing out the jugs

Sister’s in the pantry bottling the suds

Father’s in the cellar mixing up the hops

Johnny’s on the front porch watching for the cops.

–Prohibition Song

Dream Big, They Said

Fred's Lounge, Mamou, LA, 1977
Fred’s Lounge, Mamou, LA, 1977

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?

Hillbilly Ranch, Boston, MA, 1972
Hillbilly Ranch, Boston, MA, 1972

Lookin’ for love in all the right places.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN 1975
Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN 1975

Last call indeed.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN  1974
Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN 1974

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