Volume 2, April 2020

Buenos Dios, buckaroos and buckarettes!

I'm Bob. You may know me from the band Big Medicine Head or daytime television.  This monthly missive from the land of tumbleweeds and the lonesome six string guitar features news from the frontier, music and prose.  Each issue will have a downloadable track and lyrics, along with the backstory of the song.

If you'd like to revisit past issues of Tales of the Western Hemisphere you can find them at bobgemmell.com

Strange Times 

The world just changed, everyone. My hope is that you are safe and well. For my creative friends, find a pen, a paint brush, knitting needles, a garden hoe or a banjo and settle in. May your muse visit with you for the duration.

Lea is working on a dog sweater. She has also spun her own yarn. It is Lea's hope that during #stayhome there is a hand knit sweater for every dog and a portager garden for every home. 

March started with the promise of mirth and camaraderie. The Dirt Preachers Union was slated to bring our rolling boxcar of paisley and twang to the fine people of Texas during South by Southwest.  Our hosts Anita Dunn from The Barn and Joe Koizen - the King of Unincorporated Austin - had put together an entertainment bllowout that rivaled Woodstock, but with a more refined hygiene posture. Now, because of this cursed virus that plagues the land, Joe's sprawling music venue is filled with unemployed jugglers, trapeze artists and a waffle cone vendor. The circus tent has been folded, and tumbleweeds blow through the streets of Austin. 

But take heart - across America musicians refuse to be bowed! Singers and guitar players, hip hop artists, lonesome poets and professional karaoke stars have taken to social media to keep the music alive, and provide the glue that binds us in these troubled times. From the Joey Harris Five O'Clock FaceBook Dance Parties out of San Diego to Tom Melancon and the American Flats Band YouTube concerts, music is alive my friends. Which brings us to... 

...Songs From The Bunker

In addition to the music download that is included with each Tales of the Western Hemisphere newsletter, you may now experience the splendor and intimacy of my song catalog, reinterpreted for acoustic instruments. Ever wondered what the full throttle diesel fueled grinding locomotion of Big Medicine Head songs would sound like if they were played by the Kingston Trio? You're about to find out. 

What's important to all of us now is that before the arena and stadium shows, 50 cities in 50 night tours, hours of JeffyD production genius, slumming with movie stars and morning after reflection, these songs began with me bashing away in my bedroom on an acoustic guitar. 

The initial offering is Shark Knife (The Ballad of Ayn Rand). I'll explore the genesis of this song below, because the electric version is also our Song of the Month. What is noteworthy is that this is also my submission for the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. I would like to thank NPR and the Tiny Desk staff in advance for making my dog Rex a movie star.

So...here is Shark Knife (The Ballad of Ayn Rand) - the first song from the bunker.  Just click here or anywhere on the photo of me and Rex!

Song of the Month 

Legendary songwriter Peter Case once asked me to write a song about the scariest thing I could imagine. Shark Knife (The Ballad of Ayn Rand) is what I came up with. No matter what you think about Ayn Rand's philosophy, and no matter on what side of the political spectrum you roam, the question you must ask yourself is this: would you let her babysit your kids?

The download and stream below are the electric Big Medicine Head version of the song. This is an excellent example of the tremendous engineering of JeffyD, the Sonic Lord.

I hope you dig it!

Shark Knife

Last night I drifted off with the tv on
blue light flickered from channel 31
A delta breeze came sifting through my room
a silver cloud sailed across the moon
a silhouette appeared against the drapes
I pulled the covers up over my face

Last night I dreamed I saw Ayn Rand
crawling through my window with a shark knife in her hand

She pointed at my Teddy Bear and said "that's got to go"
she was smoking Lucky Strikes
she glared through the nicotine glow
she said "Me and Billy Sunday played a dice game for your soul
"I won, you lose, get dressed it's time to roll"
she filled my trunk with Pabst Blue Ribbon and rum
she whispered to me "let's have some fun"

Last night I dreamed I saw Ayn Rand
crawling through my window with a shark knife in her hand

She took me to a party at a warehouse by the docks
inside senators were dancing and drinking shots
there was a lobbyist with caviar dripping from his chin
in the back of a red white and blue Mercedes Benz
The Wall Street bull was dancing with a fox
Milton Friedman mud wrestled John Locke

Last night I dreamed I saw Ayn Rand
coming through my window with a shark knife in her hand

Now my high school education hasn't served me well
I was lost on either side of the recess bell
but I know there are some things we should avoid
and the tea they served at that party made me paranoid

Last night I dreamed I saw Ayn Rand
coming through my window with a shark knife in her hand

To stream this song, follow this link

To download this song, follow the instructions below - see you next month!