The Story Behind the Song
In the late summer of 2000, I was in Reading, England, for an astrology conference when I noticed, in the back pages of MOJO, that Dylan was playing in Dublin. I’ve been an avowed ‘bobcat’ since, well, NASHVILLE SKYLINE. So that was a no-brainer. After the concert, I decided to write a review, and I sent it to Boblinks.
About a month after the concert, I got an email from a woman who lived in Seattle. She’d seen from the review that I lived in Vancouver, just a couple hours north. She said she was a devout ‘bobcat’ of the highest order, and did I wanna meet for coffee?
I said sure. Where?
She said did I like greasy spoons?
I said I loved greasy spoons.
Given that we’re both “bobcats”, she said, there’s only one place we can go: the Hurricane.
I walked in, about five minutes late, and there she was, sitting near the jukebox. “A Simple Twist of Fate” was playing. The girl with the rye. She was from Seattle. Who woulda thunk it?
“Guess what?” she said, even before I had a chance to sit down.
“I’ve quit smoking.”
The coffee at the Hurricane is pretty tasty. Like you find in certain pancake houses. In the course of those cups, I found out her name was Sandra, and she taught yoga. We had at four cups of coffee each. Slightly chipped cups, of course, with just a faint smudge of lipstick on both. She thought my review was addressed to her. Was she right?
All sombre reflection, as though I’d been caught with my hand in the cookie jar, I eventually nodded my head. At least five songs came out of that relationship, but none of them materialized until it was over.
In the summer of 2001, Rob Brezsny, who writes an astrology column found in many entertainment weeklies, etc, had dreamt up a contest in which five people would join him, for free, in an RV, at Burning Man.
I sent him the article about why astrology works. Sandra sent him a portfolio of nude pictures that an old boyfriend had taken of her, down in Death Valley.
We both won spots in the RV. Along with not three other people, but five other people. So it was a tight fit. But that’s a story for another time.
On August 24th, Bob Dylan was playing at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. So instead of flying to San Francisco and joining Rob and the others there, and driving to Burning Man, we drove down to Vegas, in my 1994 Grand Cherokee Jeep. On the way there, we drove through the town of Tonopah, Nevada. This is a town where they used to drop the atomic bomb. Sad, deadest town I’ve ever seen, and not a lick of animal life to be seen for miles.
There was one saloon, though, and we had to stop and have a beer there.
I asked the bartender how she happened to end up in such a godforsaken place. She said she was born and raised in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Met a soldier there, who got transferred to Area 51. She came with him, and stayed, even after he’d died from radiation poisoning. It’s good for my allergies, she said.
When we got back in the Jeep and hit the road, Sandra put some Neil Young in the cd player. Neil Young was singing “Albuquerque”, about the time we hit the outskirts of Vegas. It certainly wasn’t the best concert of Bob’s I’d ever seen – that would have to be a concert in Missoula, Montana, where I heard him sing “This World Can’t Stand Long” for the first time.
A determined google search might turn up a version of Bob doing it. Hopefully it’ll show up eventually a bootleg series release.
It was when I was watching a parade of floats at Burning Man – there was a morbidly obese naked guy with a bifurcated penis and a Tesla helmit on his head, shooting off fireworks, twisting, with a hula hoop, to “Help Me, Rhonda” that the chorus to “Truth or Consequences” occurred to me, as though downloaded from the Matrix.
By the time the Man finally went up in flames, along with my relationship to Sandra – she’d met someone at the cunnilingus contest – the lyric was finished. Eleven years later, I walked into Meech Creek Studio, a fine little studio on the outskirts of Wakefield, Quebec, and cut a demo of the song……
Anyone who wants to hear it can drop me a line……
Truth or Consequences
Throw all my books into boxes
Say good-bye to you
You say it never woulda worked
Yeah, I guess that’s true
Throw my suitcase in the back of the Mercury
Ain’t no tomorrow
You look up into the northern sky
Say it looks like snow
Truth or Consequences
We didn’t burn our bridges behind us
We didn’t mend our fences
Wish I knew where to go
As I leave these places I know
In New Mexico
Pull the Mercury into Senor Wences
Fill ‘er up with gas
Grab some tacos and some cold fried chicken
And then I head ‘er west
Into a poked eye sunset
Above the Rio Grande
Guess I’m gonna drive all night
That’s my only plan
Maybe I should head up north
Check out Saskatchewan
Maybe I should head down south