THE BOOGIE MAN
RANGE: Uptown and ‘way across the tracks is where he’s at, they say, but
if you have to ask, man, you’ll never find the way.
He’s wailin’ in a cellar, kinda low and mean and sweet. He’s singin’ on
the river. He’s dancin’ in the street.
You hear him in the moonlight, but you lose him in the dawn, and
anyplace you get to man, he been there— but he gone!
HABITS: The Boogie Man is Dixieland. The Boogie Man is funk. The
Boogie Man is po’ folks, makin’ beauty out of junk.
Invented half the slang you use and every dance you do. He turns your
whole world colored (like black and tan and blue).
He teaches you the shimmy and the swingin’ Lindy hop, then puts you
jitterbugs uptight with rock’ n’roll’ n’bop.
He move so cool, his threads so fine, that everyone appear a silly
imitation of the way he looked last year.
He made you want to blow like Bird, or shuffle like Ali. Invisible and
Beautiful, Unsuppressible and Free!
HISTORY: African roots, man. Lion pride. Savannah, jungle,
Blood pulse drumbeat. Electric bird. Music. Ghost. Feeling. Word.
Grandfather spirit, tall as a tree, follow the slave ships over the sea.
Alive in the seed, alive in the flower, mystery family, history and power.
Rainbow wearer, cakewalker, blues shouter, jive talker, soul brother, fire
preacher, dream teller, truth teacher.
Hey, Yankee Doodle up on your pony, that feather in your hat’s a phony,
’cause the coolest feather (or ain’t you heard?) shines on the wing of the
SPOTTER’S TIPS: Too white puppets tryin’ to dance in too tight, too bright
Sweatin’ cool in a clubfoot step so square when it was hip to be hep.
Finger snappin’ jazz collectors, pale eyed middle class defectors, lookin’
to score on a credit plan some soul from the soulful Boogie Man.
*The Boogie Man’s still getting down, when you’re just getting up.