”I went to see the doctor. He said, ‘You should be dead.’ I said, ‘I was, doc, but now I’m back. I’m holding on. Yes, I am.’ The doctor looked right through me, shook his little head, and said, ‘What do you know about that?’’”
Resurrection seems par for the course for Chuck Prophet, who digs around in mortality’s nutrient rich soil to cultivate music that rooted in the raw stuff of life and death, the dirt of our inevitable final fall evident in his verses as well as honest joy at still being able to fog a mirror each morning. Big ideas suit him but always addressed with a workingman’s heart, his smarts earned through sometimes hard living, his wisdom ever-streetwise though flecked with high brow splashes that make one wonder just how much Chuck really knows about this clockwork universe.
Prophet shimmies with revolutions – personal, economic, global, social – in unmistakably rock ‘n’ roll ways – this ain’t no folk circle – and it’s often only a good while after his songs finish that the full weight of them hits one. As finger-snapping, flip your collar up cool as his tunes first appear, there is nearly always something else floating in the ground water – a moist, mineral creep that enters the bloodstream smoothly and silently. Put another way, the cat is deep AND hip. For all the accolades and arenas that greet guys like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, it’s worth noting that Prophet is every bit the talent they are and it’s only the world’s cruel inequities that haven’t placed him in the same comfortable spots. In a way, one wonders if his albums would have the same close to the bone incisiveness if he was riding in the back of limos, but for the Impound’s money there’s no better chronicler of the still unfolding (or perhaps near-to-folding) American Dream today than Chuck Prophet.
We asked Chuck to tackle our little philosophical roundtable, and he was nice enough to oblige.
What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you see the word “God”?
An interesting question. Plenty worth mulling over. Disgust – another two-bit carnie TV barker has breached the perimeter and must be slain. But I’m reacting like an ordinary Joe who maybe has no desire to, does not want to look at someone’s Power Point crap about, “Ooooh, our trip to Jazz Fest to see real black people.” But you asked about SEEING the word not HEARING it. Seeing the word, my first reaction is a guarded excitement – someone has cared enough to write it down, right? YOU GOT MY ATTENTION.
Which has the better cosmology, Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?
Star Trek, hands down. Dumb as it was, it eventually got smarter. The Jean-Luc episodes about The Borg subtly invoked the dangerous notion that, together, we are our own creator – We are The Borg. Star Wars is just a smarty pants sad sack of a Jackson Browne song.
Name one album that has spiritual resonance for you.
[Bob Dylan’s] Blood on the Tracks. I suppose the third Velvets record isn’t far behind. Chew on it. There’s “Beginning to See the Light” and “Jesus,” and that’s just two. Now. That. My. Man. Is. Spiritual.
Woody Allen once said, “I don’t know the question but sex is definitely the answer.” So, what’s the question?
And he tells the uncle/chicken story in Annie Hall:
“Why did your family let your uncle pretend he was a chicken?”
“We needed the eggs.”
But the question is, “Is this shit worth doing?” The answer is yes.
You can have a dinner party with any three people throughout human history. Who do you invite, what’s on the menu and what intoxicant do you share for dessert?
An answer that ought to be found only a day at a time. It changes…but today…Gandhi? No. Einstein? No. Jesus? No. Today’s answer would be Winston Churchill, Lauren Bacall, John Murry, and me (Chuck Prophet). No menu is involved. We’re eating in the men’s Grille at the Old Town Club, where I’m beloved by the staff and despised by the other members. Gus, the daytime chef, asks what I want.
“A mixed grill, G-Spot. We’ll need chicken, beef, pork, sea stuff, and perfect-o-veggies. Broil us up some tomatoes with gorgonzola. Whatever bread seems best to you. Caesar salads. I guess it would be good manners to have the anchovies on the side, but that ought to make more for me anyway. The fat guy likes brandy and champagne in unimaginable quantities. Keep him happy. The thin guy with the big head? Serve him whatever he wants, but don’t offer, okay?”
“Got you. Dessert?”
“Aww, man, beats me.”
“The kitchen made 36 Three P pies for the weekend …”
“That’ll do. One of the pies ought to be clean, but the other one needs some spice to it, like maybe this,” as he hands the chef a small envelope. “Not all of it. Cut off a couple of stamps for yourself, but be careful because it isn’t the diluted crap they sell for acid these days.“
“Jesus! Pink Dragon?”
“No – same formula but the sheets are Tortoise.“
And then they sat down to eat.
It was an epic feast of mankind.