The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Crawlin' Kingsnake" and the Tennessee Drizzle

Yesterday was a travel day for us. The trip was pleasant until we reached that dreadful section of I-40 between Little Rock and Memphis. Somewhere around Carlisle, Arkansas, our progress came to a complete stop. The sun set behind us as we waited in darkness in an ever growing line of vehicles for over 30 minutes. 

Finally, the Arkansas Department of Transportation decided to let us move on and we made it to Memphis, which according to some, is the birthplace of the Blues. We tuned our Sirius to the appropriate channel and found the show "B. B. King's Bluesville" in progress.  

Besides the Blues, we encountered something else in Memphis--the famous Tennessee drizzle, which stayed with us all the way home. This drizzle or at least the Nashville variation of it was described early in the last century by the short story writer and embezzler O. Henry (William Sydney Porter):

Take a London fog 30 parts; malaria 10 parts; gas leaks 20 parts; dewdrops gathered in a brick yard at sunrise, 25 parts; odor of honeysuckle 15 parts. Mix.The mixture will give you an approximate conception of a Nashville drizzle. It is not so fragrant as a moth-ball nor as thick as pea-soup; but 'tis enough - 'twill serve.

I would leave out the honeysuckle part of O. Henry's description, and add this: The Tennessee drizzle is a type of concentrated, slanting rain consisting of tiny, needle like droplets of water. The "concentrated" idea is most important. If you were of a scientific mind and employed some sort of sophisticated electronic device attached to your windshield, I'm convinced after our experience last night that you would get a measure of no less than 7,000,000 droplets per square foot. 

Our Enclave's wipers were at times over-matched, but somehow we managed to get home around 11:30 PM. 

But even though the last third of our trip was bad from the weather perspective, it was a blast otherwise. 

A cold rain was falling outside, but Joyce and I enjoyed a hot rockin' Blues concert all the way to Nashville. We heard some great new stuff and lots of good old stuff like Etta James' "Crawlin' Kingsnake."
"Crawlin' Kingsnake" reminded me of something we used to talk about in Literature class, a figure of speech called a synecdoche. Here's an example: Gesturing to the shiny new Porsche Boxster, Bruce says, "Hey I like your cool new wheels, Dude." In the example, a part, "wheels," is used to signify the whole car. 

I'm going to be discreet here (I'm not sure why) and let you read some more about this figure of speech and then apply it to the song yourself. Or not. Your choice. Either way, you can enjoy the great blues voice of Etta James in a most memorable performance. 


  1. Dang. Great minds DO think alike. We were putting the final touches on blues-based posts together (in time), but separate (in space).

    I loves me my Sirius/XM... I can't remember the last time I played a CD in my car, it's all XM, all the time... and makes that four-hour drive to ABQ pass all too quickly.

    In re: Etta. This, from an post at EIP:

    I've been privileged to see Etta James on a number of occasions, the most memorable o' which was in a small pub in Camden Town (in London) back in the day, which is to say sometime during 1980 - 1983. When I say "small," I mean SMALL... as in "could mebbe seat 100 people, with another 50 standing." The Second Mrs. Pennington and I arrived at said pub about two hours before show time in order to secure seats before Etta's performance, knowing full well how small it was from previous experience with that venue. The end result was we were both very well-oiled by the time Etta took the stage (and I use the term "stage" loosely) but that did NOT diminish the experience in the least. Miz James did two sets that night, if memory serves, and that evening was one of my very best musical experiences... which included the opportunity to say "hi" and thank her personally for her performance. It don't get no better than that, Gentle Reader.

    I'm dead serious about the "it don't get no better" bits in the above.

    RIP, Etta.

    1. Insert "old" at the appropriate place above... as in "an OLD post..."


    2. Buck, I do remember reading that old post of yours. You and Mrs. II were lucky to get to hear Etta in that intimate setting. Etta's the best.

  2. We get plenty of rain here, but I would never ascribe a "honeysuckle scent" to the smell of it. More like "mud" with a "tinge of grass clippings".

    1. Inno, I've never been to Oregon, but I've heard it rains a lot there.:-). BTW, didn't I read that the Ducks beat my Commodores in b-ball the other day?

  3. Glad you had a safe trip despite the Tennessee Slime on the windshield!
    Lawd, don't like no snake songs Mr. Dan.

    1. Thanks Scooney. And I promise I'll go easy on the Snake songs. I know you guys up on the Ridge have to watch where you step!