T-Model Ford does it once again. Third time in three years for this old geezer. And if he reads this, he’s gonna kick my ass from here to Sunday (I called him a geezer!). But he is 77! He thinks. My first acquaintance with T-Model Ford happened when the Fat Possum Eye Scratchers and Ball Kickers tour rolled through town a few years ago. I went to see Hasil Adkins since he was the only name I knew on the bill. My wife tried to barter away his ball cap, but he would have none of it . . . he just wanted to know her name. T-Model and his drummer took the stage and tore up the bar with electric blues so raw I feared trichinosis. On the floor in front of him sat a few fawning white guys with rat-tails and newly washed white tennis shoes loving this seemingly old and authentic blues legend. Rocking back and forth on their butts, I truly wonder if they saw—or heard—beyond their own visions of the black man with the blues. Did they hear (as I did after I bought his first CD) lines like: “I’ve been shot / And I’ve been cut / I been shot / Nobody gets me down” or “I’ve been knocked in the head / I’ve been hit with a chair / I’ve been hit in the head” or “I put my foot in your ass / I’m gonna kick your ass / I’ll put my foot in your ass / I’m gonna kick the hell outta you / I’m gonna put my shoes in your ass / I went to jail / for kicking a man’s ass / Police wouldn’t let me by / I wanted to try again” or (my personal favorite) “Feel so bad / Feel like breaking somebody’s arm” Screw this old authentic soul-filled bluesman with his guitar. T-Model Ford was gonna tear my head off and shit down my neck! Then he’d kill my dog. (See why I shouldn’t have called him a geezer!)
She Ain’t None of Your’n is T-Model Ford’s third CD to date. It follows close on the heels of You Better Keep Still (1998) and Pee Wee Get My Gun (1997). A good friend of mine said after hearing T-Model’s first album “This is the most in-your-face music I have heard in 10 years! Those so-called punk rockers oughta run and hide!” And on She Ain’t None of Your’n, T-Model Ford carries on the tradition. Though T-Model Ford tones down the violence a bit here, he still paints freaky pictures of poverty stricken northern Mississippi with songs like “Junk” (“Ain’t nothin’ but a junk”) and “Chicken Head Man” (“I’m a chicken head man / I love chicken heads / When you kill a chicken, babe / Save me the chicken head”). T-Model Ford rocks through 11 tracks here, mostly just with his drummer Spam, but sometimes with a backing organ or some miscellaneous percussion. Fat Possum has been pumping out music from Northern Mississippi legends like R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Asie Payton and many others. T-Model Ford represents probably the rawest of the raw, and that’s like comparing roadkill to a slaughterhouse. Violence and blood aside, Ford’s music is stripped down, simple, spontaneous, and has more soul than those rat-tailed wonders could imagine. It just has a soul of whiskey, teeth, heartbreak, hardwood cudgels, and old cars. If I had to choose between T-Model Ford albums, I would not note She Ain’t None of Your’n as his strongest, but then what’s really the difference between blue jeans and denim? Or more so, getting hit upside the head with a chair or a shoe?
// Notes from the Road
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