Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Enchilada

Funny the way the brain works. Today I was writing in response to a couple of comments left on Throughlines, and I got thinking on the one hand about odd subliminal connections — the way the brain moves at the subconscious level — and on the other hand about the kinds of comments authors and performers make about their work. And that's when a memory popped up from wherever such things are secreted in the cerebral cortex.

When John Prine was in Honolulu in for a concert (in October of 2002, I discovered when I googled Prine-Honolulu-concert), he sang a song called “That’s the Way the World Goes Round.” And of all the things that I might remember about that concert, what has stuck in my mind, and popped out this morning, was what he said when he was introducing the song.

He said that at he had been playing at a club he had finished up and was going to do an encore and asked the audience what they wanted to hear, and one woman called out that she wanted to hear the “Happy Enchilada” song. Prine said something along the lines of, “Well, I’ve been writing songs for a long time, but I didn’t recall every having written a song about enchiladas, and I was damned sure I hadn’t written any about happy enchiladas. So I asked her to sing a little bit of it, and that’s when I figured out what song she meant. So I’m going to sing it now.”

Then he sang “That’s the Way the World Goes Round,” which goes like this

I know a guy that's got a lot to lose.
He's a pretty nice fellow but he's kind of confused.
He's got muscles in his head that ain't never been used.
Thinks he own half of this town.

Starts drinking heavy, gets a big red nose.
Beats his old lady with a rubber hose,
then he takes her out to dinner and buys her new clothes.
That's the way that the world goes 'round.

That's the way that the world goes 'round.
You're up one day and the next you're down;
Half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown.
That's the way that the world goes 'round.

I was sitting in the bathtub counting my toes,
when the radiator broke, water all froze.
I got stuck in the ice without my clothes,
naked as the eyes of a clown.
I was crying ice cubes hoping I'd croak,
when the sun come through the window, the ice all broke.
I stood up and laughed thought it was a joke
That's the way that the world goes 'round.

He finished the song with the apocryphal version of the chorus:

That's the way that the world goes 'round.
You're up one day and the next you're down.
Happy enchilada, you think you're gonna drown.
That's the way that the world goes 'round.

Turns out that there’s a video on YouTube of Prine singing the song at somebody’s house, and, about midway through, telling the story.

1 comment:

Maqz said...

Big fan of his. I too had the song just pop into my head after not hearing it for years. Now I play it at least once a week.