Song for Two Jims

Laurie Anderson
Lingua: Inglese

A while ago I was camping out in Kentucky. I was sleeping out under this ledge and about three in the morning I woke up. The fire was out but I could see two boots standing a few feet away. I crawled out and there was a guy standing there holding a musket. He said: We eat critters. And I said: What? He said: We eat critters--you know, possum, squirrel, night animals. We hunt ‘em at night.

He said he didn’t think it was a good idea for a woman to be alone in those parts… and he invited me back to his house. I followed him and ended up staying a week. His name was Mr. Taylor and he was married to Mrs. Taylor. They were also brother and sister - but they didn’t think that was too strange because their parents were brother and sister too. There were four Taylor kids - Jack, Jim, Rhonda and Jim. Two Jims… who knows why. We’d get up every day and sort of hack around in the tobacco patch and when it got too hot we’d just sit around on the porch and sort of stare out.

The landscape around there was completely desolate except for the tobacco plants. Standard Oil had strip-mined it in the thirties, and just when some vegetation was beginning to grow back, they discovered that a certain kind of low-grade shale could be converted to oil, so they came back and drilled holes - very deep holes - hundreds of feet down into the bedrock. But they never got around to filling them afterwards. The just sent down a shipment of manhole covers, but nobody every bothered to put them over the holes.

One day, Mrs. Taylor told me that she used to have another kid, but that he had apparently fallen down one of the holes. Her description was very abstract. She said: “Well one day I saw him out there and I was watching and then I didn’t see him out there no more.”

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