Karaoke Cowboy

Watching the video of Bakersfield by Social Distortion (via Bakotopia) I decided to go ahead and post the entire “Karaoke Cowboy” tape from Slim the Drifter. My copy was in this DIY case—Scott and Mary dragged a bunch of spraypaint art down to Cheryl Mestmaker’s shop and shot it with her Polaroid passport camera. They ran Xeroxes onto label sheets and cut them down to stick on cassettes. Most things Slim did were homebrew collaborations among friends; I figure friends who google Slim might find some of these posts. I could be wrong about the titles; he seldom wrote them down.

The songs can be found below the fold.

Side 1:

Side 2:

I commented to Rex that Slim was “always writing suicide notes” (which is a reference, also, to a Pontiac Brothers song). There is some evidence to that effect here. Google the lyrics to the George Jones song if you haven’t heard it. But the real death-note is “World so Cold.” My favorite song is “Bohemian Town,” because I’ve never really heard a song that better captured the “underground scene” in Bakersfield:

She wore a brightly colored sweater
with a ribbon in her hair,
chestnut bangs hang down.

There’s some girls drinking coffee
all they do is sit and stare,
trying hard to put her down.

But she’s used to it now,
she comes from this bohemian town,
bohemian town.

Yeah this place is pretty hip
if you like turtlenecks and hicks
who holler when the sun goes down.

Read Bukowski in the pick-up
with a whiskey and a six
and hate themselves for driving around.

Never getting up the nerve
and leaving this bohemian town,
bohemian town

Well the lights are so much brighter
where the hippest people go
you think we would have learned by now

So I’m bustin’ out the lights
to be the life of this bohemian town
bohemian town.

The cover of Slims’s “Here comes a Lily” single (I’ll get to that some other time) was a shot by a Bakersfield Californian photographer (Ed something… I can’t remember his name) of Slim standing under a streetlight near the Wall St. alley in downtown Bakersfield—it was where he was “bustin’ out the lights.” After we first met, Slim asked me what I thought of the shot (blurry nonsense) and I told him. I took pictures for him after that, and I never charged him the $150 that Ed extracted from him for that cover shot. It’s strange to see my photographs circulating, mostly distorted from crappy scans, on most of the material including the poster shot for his tribute on Wednesday in Bakersfield. Slim himself Xeroxed that one, using it in the cover art of Callin’ Cali. Most of the other copies were probably begat from there. I’ll be posting more first generation stuff from my originals when I get the chance. I started a category for it; I might as well build a Slim shrine.

One thing I’d like to address is the lack of any mention of Mary (Lulu). Belardes somehow claimed that the “Slim” character grew out of his break-up with Mary. That’s bull; Mary cut the stencils and inhaled the paint and arranged the displays of merchandise that were so much a part of “Slim the Drifter.” All that material is signed “Slim and Lulu,” so it would be a neat trick that character to be built out of their break-up years after the recordings that I’m posting.

Whistle in the Darkness, in fact, is about his courtship of Mary. Mary lived in a not-so-great neighborhood in East Bakersfield and Scott whistled to let her know that it was okay to open up her window and let him in. At least that’s the story I got, in the presence of both of them. But you never really knew how much was fact and how much was fiction with Slim. All I can really say for sure is that it features Richard Chon on violin.

2 thoughts on “Karaoke Cowboy”

  1. Thanks for clearing up inaccuracies. It’s good that you’re stepping in to provide another perspective.

  2. Wall Street

    The Wall Street Alley, Bakersfield, CA, c.1990 I was racking my brain trying to remember the name of the Californian photographer who Slim hired to do the cover for “Here Comes a Lily.” It was Ed Homich. Thanks to the…

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