Review of Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta

A List of Firsts II

First Concert:  Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  First and best. I must have been about 16.  I remember it well.  I was supposed to drive that night but earlier in the day, I had a terrible accident, another first, in the parking lot of Skaggs Albertson in North Little Rock.   A speeding El Dorado broadsided me as I was leaving the lot.  No injuries thank god, but the family cruiser, a 78 Impala was practically impaled.  The worst thing was I didn’t think I’d be able to go to the concert, and feared I’d leave my friends without a ride too.  Fortunately, HD, my guitarist friend stepped up and got us there.  It was festival seating and we arrived early and walked right up to the front of the stage and stayed there all night.  I was there to see Clapton, so when Muddy walked onto the stage, I hoped it’d be a quick set.  And then he started playing and blew me away.  I just stood there with my mouth open in awe the whole set.  Clapton was great of course, but Muddy, one of Clapton’s idols and a clear influence on his music, was the show.

First Computer.  It was a Leading Edge, with two floppy disk drives and no internal hard drive. It was a pre-Windows machine running DOS.  This was back before the days of the Internet if you can imagine such a time.  All I could do with the thing was type and save documents to a floppy disk, but unless you are my age or older, you probably can’t imagine just how revolutionary word processing was back in the day.

First experience with the Internet.  The dial-up thing with AOL was a trip and a very slow one at that.  And e-mail – totally cool.  My first free e-mail account was with Fastmail.  It had a .fm suffix.  A lot of people tried to correct me when I gave out my email address.  They’d say, oh you mean .com or .net and I’d say no .fm and they’d think I was stoned or something.

First shot.  A shotgun.  The kick almost knocked my arm off.  No one told me it’d kick like that.  It was a 12 guage single shot.  Maybe it was a cheap one, I don’t know.  I went duck hunting a couple of times with it, but never hit anything.  And the thing is, you really only get one shot with a single shot and you’d better be dead on. I was too cold to shoot straight and not really into the moment and when I did half-heartedly aim and pull the trigger, I just scared those mallards and drakes or whatever they were all away.  Who knows, it might have been that “extinct” ivory-billed woodpecker spotted in the woods of Arkansas.  Glad I’m a bad shot.  I’d hate to have been the one to inadvertently shoot the last one.  That’d be a bad first – the first to kill the last ivory-bill.  I gave that shotgun to my cousin who knew how to shoot it and I gave up hunting and guns for good.