Johnny Rottentail, by Amy Ray

Thinking about songs to suggest for Ben’s 20 Songs in 20 Days project, I thought of Johnny Rottentail, by Amy Ray (of Indigo Girls fame).

This is another one of those songs that I ended up looping over and over. In fact, I recall driving from Chicago to Columbus, OH, listening to this song on repeat. I can still sing most of the lyrics from memory, as I spent a large chunk of that drive trying to memorize all the words.

Not quite sure what it is she’s playing. Originally when I heard the song, I thought it was a guitar. But looking closer, it seems to be shaped like a mandolin. I see eight pegs, which means eight strings… so maybe it’s a double stringed mandolin?

This is crazy – in looking back over the blog, I can pretty much pinpoint exactly where I first learned of this song. In 2002, I was invited to be a visiting writer at the University of Alabama (the official title for the gig was, I think, a Coal Royalty Visiting Chair). I taught a week long course on Flash to students, and did the whole nine yards: daily coursework, student projects, office hours. It was a pretty fun time.

At the end of my week-long class, I got to hang out with some of the students. Several of us all made our way to Justina’s place, where I remember hearing this song on her stereo system. In fact, I remember remarking how much I liked the song… and I recall Justina insisting I take the CD with me.

I seem to be focusing a lot on repeated songs, and on music and memory this weekend.

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