Can a blind man kill and walk away?
Can he find the jugular and slide
a blade through the dark, through
the vein - and then escape?
That's what I'd ask myself
in the thick of those days
after I'd runaway from home to make
my mark with a would-be manager.
I'd trod his roads for weeks -
but instead of money, he'd speak
of sudden fees I owed. How my debts
had grown and signed my folks into debt -
that they'd find themselves sued
into ruin if I didn't grind those piano keys
like his trained monkey. This went on
night after night, while in the day
I'd be confined to locked rooms.
Nobody'd listen to a ten year olds'
plea for freedom. He'd tell them
I was in his charge- and a little slow...
and soon enough I began to know
my mother's slavery - note by note,
song by song. He took the one thing
I truly owned and smothered it
with hate till every finger I lifted
for music bore the weight of shackles
and chains. And so, I started to wonder...
about making a blade. How to break
a glass clumsily and smuggle secretly
one long, slick shard. How to wait
for the dead of night to cut him hard
and dead. Yes, my friend. I'm sorry
to say that I felt this the only way
I was going to win myself back again.
I'd gotten low enough to start planning
the spill and the strike - to prepare
myself perhaps for prison...
so it was a damn lucky thing when
my stepfather finally tracked me down
in the midst of my labor, claimed me
for kin and led me out the saloon door.
I swear it now and I swore it then -
I'll never slave my music for no man
again. I ain't bendin over no piano
like a plow on a sharecropper's piece.
I ain't no beast bent to push ivory keys.
I'll be free as I play or I won't play at all
- I'll just play the notes inside my skull
alone in the dark where they roam
around loose. 'Cause playing like a slave,
I'll just step myself straight into
a hangman's noose.