What's amazing to me about this photograph is how much the young Chuck Berry looks like my friend Dando G., whom I met in Togo, West Africa, 30 years ago. Dando and I had an instant connection that was at least as solid as the connection I instantly felt to Chuck Berry's music about ten years earlier. Something about the eyes and the little grin here are just about identical.
I looked for these for another reason. My trip to Mississippi revived old longings of all sorts. I pulled down a book I have on Delta Blues guitar. During this same period of frantic sketching (I figure it lasted about three weeks) I also drew Skip James from the cover of the book. I'll post it later. Anyway, the book itself is one that I have felt guilty about for about as long as these pictures have been mouldering in that steel box. I could never figure it out. But now I have more of the records. So today I got out my Charlie Patton record and a capo and tried my best to make a few of the sounds. The book was suddenly helpful. It at least got me to a few of the chords, which in Patton's case, are regular old Cs and Es and As. I'm still no Charlie Patton. He wasn't a friend of mine, and I didn't know him, and I'm not him. But I'm a step closer. (That's why I keep my stuff forever.)
This one comes from the cover of another book of sheet music-- an old Chuck Berry book that's long gone. It wasn't terribly helpful as a book because all it really gave you was piano music, and I don't read music. But I'm always optimistic about learning, so I bought it, failed to learn it, and then drew the picture. Looking at it now, all I can see is that I made one pupil much larger than the other-- and that the chin on that side is bigger, too. Maybe that's the scanner. Ah well.
(Editor's note: Actually, I've looked at the picture, and others, and realized that Chuck's chin is a little bigger on one side. Saw it again in a recent photograph.)
And followers of this blog will know that earlier this year I revived my artistic side just long enought to start a painting featuring CB as the subject of a painitng in a gothic cathedral. (Unfinished view to left.) It shows general deterioration of both skills and mind-- but that's what can happen, right? In the meantime, the painting has suffered from additional layers of confusion and obscurity-- but I'm hoping that someday it will turn out just right.