“Never Felt No Fishing Blues”

I almost called this post “The Soul-butter Fishing Blues.” Samuel Clemens used the term “soul butter” in Huckleberry Finn, but I think the term had a negative connotation, as RSCN4559 when the king and duke defrauded villagers with their version of reality and sold them some imaginative snake oil.

I was feeling the soul-butter blues, that mean low-down feeling that can build inside your tissues when you need to fish but the world of labor, mundane or otherwise, has you shackled. Relatively speaking, the soul butter, as I know it, is a mild malaise. You know that things could be much worse, but then again, what’s worse for an able-bodied angler than to be tied up when the wading shoes are parked beside the door?

DSCN4641It’s as if the angling spirit awoke at 2 a.m. with the gout, to toss and turn with big toe misery, knowing that the fishing trip next morning would be squelched again.

…I ain’t never felt no blues like this before…

Damn it all, I’ve found another piece of music that’s possessed me. I accidently bumped into Karen Lovely’s “Never Felt No Blues” and it floored me. …I ain’t never felt no blues like this before… Had my share of black, black nights… I’ve been pacin’ the floor… It seems that Karen is a rising queen of the blues, and I like her sultry voice and unpretentious style.

When I checked into the history of this song, I found an original version by B.J. Sharp, DSCN4682recorded in the late 90s, about a decade earlier than Lovely’s cut. It too sounds terrific to my blue-veined ears.       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPSFAoq6u4w

I’ve been playing both versions of the song repeatedly and can’t decide which one is better. Each one has a different punch for that soft spot at the core of me. I was overthinking all of this, of course, and knew I had to simplify.

Yeah, I’ve got the soul-butter blues, the temporary no-fishing blues, and luckily nothing more. It’s not the real blues, with its biblical heartbreak and black-night pacing of the floor, the kind I remember all too well from the years before my marriage.

DSCN4465Who needs such a gut-wrenching heart explosion? The kind that makes soul butter look like picnic fare without the trouble of ants. Nonetheless, the song moves me out of darkness toward the light, as if to say, I’m glad it ain’t me who’s involved!

It’s the deep blues from a woman’s point-of-view, from entanglement and despair, and if you think it’s simple, guys, well, try to sing a few bars. It ain’t soul butter, if you do it right.

Which brings me to say: I really need to fish again. The heavy rains have kept me off the stream at times; I’ve had work both here and there, and minor ailments have raised their ugly faces on occasion– all of which is good– to a point. But when a guy needs to fly-fish, hell, he needs to go!

RSCN4564By the time you read this, I’ll have tried the water again. I’ll be moving on to Cedar Run and, next week, the Yellow Breeches. I look forward to that mix of free and limestone water on the Breeches, even though the fish are mainly stocked. I’ve fished that creek only once before, and I know there’ll be a set of challenges.

I’ve wondered how the Yellow Breeches got its name… Apparently, British soldiers during the Revolutionary War scrubbed their white leggings in the tannic water and got them stained… yellow. Like soul butter… We can chuckle and imagine their surprise. And we can listen to the problem once again…

I ain’t NEVER felt no blues like this before….



About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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19 Responses to “Never Felt No Fishing Blues”

  1. Les Kish says:

    Cheer up Walt, the fish are just getting bigger, and they’re waiting for ya.

  2. Thanks Les. I’m cheering!

  3. Brent says:

    I would also listen to the “Cloud Splitter Blues.”

    On a side note, I think an era has come to an end. To log my comments as “Junior,” I’d have to sign out of my own WordPress account. Might be more trouble than it’s worth.

    • I like the sound of Cloud Splitter Blues! Okay Junior, we’ll miss the moniker but you’ve earned the right to be called Brent or Ben Franklin or whatever you like. Thanks!

  4. Missing out just makes it that much sweeter when you do get back out there. (Or, that’s what we can tell ourselves at least.) Hope you’re back on the water soon.

  5. Bob Stanton says:

    Ah, nothing like it when a song gets its hooks into ya, and that’s all you want to hear. Lately, it’s been “Oh, Sweet Nothin'” by the Velvet Underground. Scratch that fly fishing itch, brother!

    • Yeah, Bob, those hooks on the rare song get a tentative hold at first, like “what did I just hear and maybe I should listen to it one more time,” and you listen one more time, and then once again and again… It’s like the ff itch, scratching it as I am with small stream fishing while I have a chance in this unusual season….Enjoy!

  6. Mark W says:

    How the no-fishing blues will be leaving soon! BTW – didn’t know the story about the Yellow Breeches, I’m still chuckling! thanks

  7. marymaryone says:

    Hope your days experiencing the outdoors will make you feel better.

  8. Thank you, Mary. They will, and always do, once I get both oars in the water, and get my metaphors straightened out!

  9. Alan says:

    The gout, man I can relate to that.
    Cherries can help.

  10. Leigh says:

    I just found both versions on YouTube and I can’t decide which is better either . . . when the sun hits your face and be breeze comes up off the water the blues just seem to fly away. Good luck, hope we can connect soon.

  11. Leigh, thanks for checking out both versions. If you like blues, these two are difficult to decide upon, in our estimation. You’re right about the power of water when you’re about to cast a line. Are you planning on a visit to the Fly Fishing Museum grounds again this year? We’re planning to be there on the 2nd.

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