And you call yourself a drummer?

July 19, 2021

RHYTHM

If everything could be sung to the standard rock and roll progression -- C, A minor, F, G chords -- then everything’d be simple. How many variations on a single theme. The greatest drum solo I ever heard was made by a loose flap of tarpaulin on top of my car hitting the wind at eighty. The second best is windshield wipers in the rain, but more abstract, less animal. Like the rhythms of a rabbit scratching his chin. Vision rhythms are neat like hawk swoops and swan dives. Slow motion space rhythms. Digging rhythms like shovels and spades and hoes and rakes and snowplow rhythms. Jackhammer rhythms make Ginger Baker and Keith Moon look like punk chumps. Oilcan rhythms, ratchet wrench rhythms. Playing cards in bicycle spokes. A string of rapid-fire, firecracker rhythms. Propeller rhythms. Cricket rhythms. Dog claws clicking on hardwood floors. Clocks. Piston rhythms. Dripping faucets. Tin hitting tin in the wind. Water slapping rocks. Flesh slapping flesh. Boxing rhythms. Racing rhythms. Rushing brooks. Radio static buzz in a car when the engine is the dictator. Directional turn signal blinkers. Off and on neon lights. Blinking yellow arrows. Water pumps. Refrigerator hums. Thermostatic-controlled heating systems. Clicking elevators with the numbers lighting up for each floor. Snakes sliding through grass. in fact any animal through grass. At night. Buoy lights. Ship signals. Airplane warnings. Fire alarms. Rhythms in a stick car horn. Eating rhythms. Chewing rhythms. The cud of a cow. The chomp of a horse. Knives being sharpened. Band saws. Skill saws. Hack saws. Buzz saws. Buck saws. Chain saws. Any saw rhythm. Hammers and nails. Money clanking in a poker game. Cards shuffled. Bus meters. Taxi meters. Boiling water rhythms. Clicking ballpoint pens. Clicking metal frogs. Roulette wheel spinning rhythms. Tire rhythms. Whittling. Stitching. Typing. Clicking knitting needles. Parrots sharpening their beaks on wood. Chickens scratching. Dogs digging for moles. Birds cleaning their feather. Cocking guns. Spinning guns. Bolt actions. Lever actions. Snapping ginger nails. Finger popping. Cracking knuckles. Snapping bones. Farting. Spitting. Blinking eyes. Blowing nose. Coughing without control. Candle flicker rhythms. Creaking houses. Thawing ice. And you call yourself a drummer?

- From HAWK MOON by Sam Shepard, (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1973)