I'm A Singing Cowboy / 25 January 2003

I’m a singing cowboy accompanying myself on a ghetto blaster made of serpentine, the song going bp cha bp tss. The audience’s springs are uncoiling, their clockwork winding down, shoulders slumping, heads held at awkward angles. Tough room, I say. The rows of automatons wheezing, steam escaping from seams at their necks, the cable-choked ceiling softening with fog.

I’m all Chan Marshall’d and collapse on the stage. The tape deck autoreverses and gone is the wooden drumbeat and here is the sound of a xylophone being played superslow in the hull of an oil tanker. I’m remembering when I recorded it, surreptitiously, the palsied hands of Mister Magic Bellamy, hopped up on this self-manufactured narcotic he called Natalie Would which only worked when disseminated by humidifier, the notes being cut from the instrument as if by scalpel, though the reverb was like layers of bandages and Bactine.

The song has words even though M. M. Bellamy didn’t sing. It was one of those where the lyrics are buried within the tune, encoded somehow, unspooling as we hear it. I’d barely left my Fireship / It was hardly a week gone past / When I found the fire that burned in her / Was a-ragin’ in my ma-a-ast.

I sing it now, hauling myself up, and the machines thrash together in applause, releasing geysers of flame from their built-in lighters. The Concert Promoter, a program run by punchcards, gives me a thumbs-up, which is a laborious process. I can come back next Wednesday, she says, and her voice is bright and pristine. We’ll pay you with beer tickets.

Joshua Green Allen

Fireland is a rickety old website by Joshua Allen.

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The Sexiest Sentence Alive, Fireland Broke My Will To Live, The Black Pill Diaries, and a sampling of Old Fireland Designs.

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