One of the most beloved numbers in all the Cramps’ repertoire will always be their crazed cover of rockabilly psycho Hasil Adkins’ berserk “She Said.” The song tells the tale of the frightening aftermath of a drunken one-night stand:
Why’s don’t I tell you what it is?
I wen’ out last nigh’ and I got messed up
When I woke up this mornin’
Shoulda seen what I had inna bed wi’ me
She comes up at me outta the bed
Pull her hair down the eye
Looks to me like a dyin’ can of that commodity meat
Like a dyin’ can of that commodity meat???
Pure poetry. William Shakespeare himself couldn’t have written those words together, one after another, if he’d have wanted to (which I doubt very much that he would’ve wanted to, but that’s beside the point entirely).
Adkins trained himself to be a one-man band due to an assumption he made as a child that only the credited musician (like Hank Williams, one of his idols) must have played all the instruments on their records, hence his uniquely hillbilly caveman performing style where he played several instruments—usually guitar, drums, harmonica, toy horns and some kind of homemade backwoods rhythm pole—simultaneously. The Haze’s subject matter tended to lean towards topics of meat (especially chicken), fucking and murder or all three (“No More Hot Dogs” is about decapitating his girlfriend and mounting her head like a hunting trophy). Despite being active musically (in an improvised home studio) since the late 1950s, his records were released only on the most microscopic of local West Virginia indie labels (or self-released) and he really wasn’t much of a “name” until the Cramps raised his profile in the early 80s by recording “She Said” and when (former Cramps drummer) Miriam Linna and Billy Miller brought his music to greater prominence in the late 80s and early 90s via their Norton Records label.
I’ve seen Hasil Adkins play live a few times, and I even got a chance to meet him in 1999. It was a memorable encounter: The scene was the Charles Theater in Baltimore where Rest in Pieces Robert Pejo’s documentary about painter Joe Coleman (which Hasil figures in prominently) was being screened. I was in the projectionist’s booth with Joe, his then fiancée Whitney Ward, some people who worked at the theater and John Waters and Mary Vivian Pearce. At one point Hasil arrived with a guitar, various cases and a rucksack on his back. He was a one man “commotion” and clearly not entirely a “well” person (like you could easily picture him going completely psycho without warning. “Unmedicated” is the word I’m looking for). Trying to be friendly, I mentioned to him that I, too, was a West Virginia native, but this didn’t seem to impress him at all. I mentioned, too, that I’d seem him at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ, but this also failed to impress him—he just balefully glared at me like “yeah whatever, preppy” whenever I tried to make conversation—so I just stopped trying.
Then he told a story about how someone he knew in West Virginia had ripped off an entire truckload of gallon vodka bottles and brought all of this illegal hooch over to Hasil’s house to hide. The way he told the story, there were a few hundred gallons of cheap hooch and he’d drunk every last drop of it.
Then he shrugged, shook his head and said regretfully “...but I don’t drink anymore.”
Forgetting for a moment my earlier chilly reception, I innocently asked the reason he stopped drinking—I was merely curious—whereupon he fixed me with an evil stare, like I was a complete idiot, and slowly shouted (directly in my face) “BECAUSE. I. DRANK. IT. ALL!”
Continues after the jump…
Posted by Richard Metzger |
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