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A Conversation with Tommy Womack (continued)

PM: Are you what you'd call a spiritual guy?

TW: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. I consider There, I Said I It, in a very leftist way, my first Christian record. And I've started kind of coming out about my Christianity to people--not to wig them out, and not to insinuate myself into the Christian music thing in Nashville, because I certainly wouldn't fit. I use a lot of dirty words, and I question the Resurrection in track nine.

PM: Right, absolutely. [laughs]

TW: But I grew up with it. And everybody needs some sort of spiritual center, whether they consider it God with a capital "G," or if they get it through gardening, or whatnot. [to Beth] He just went in his bedroom, sweetie. I don't know--I guess he's laying down, I don't know. [to Frank] My wife just walked in the door.

PM: Yeah.

TW: Kroger had no Tylenol. Hmm.

PM: That sucks.

TW: So I would like to be instrumental--this may be a little delusional--I'm not Martin Luther or anything--but I'd like to help Christianity go kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

PM: Wow.

TW: And I like proclaiming it--well, I don't proclaim it--I don't witness at my shows, I don't lead a prayer, I don't do anything like that. But I do kind of like bringing it up now because I like putting across the notion to people that Jesus is not a member of the GOP.

PM: [laughs]

TW: And not every Christian is, either. [to Beth] What are you looking for, sweetie? I haven't seen it. [to Frank] She's looking for the thermometer. Our boy had 103 temp when we got home.

PM: That's scary.

TW: Yeah, yeah. I mean, when I picked him up at daycare, I felt the back of his neck. I just put my arm around him as a regular matter of course, and got a little second degree burn on my fingers from his neck. He was like an oven.

PM: Damn.

TW: So she's in there taking his temperature now. And I think Mom is going to be staying home from work with him tomorrow, because I can't. I got a Belmont Internship Fair from 9:00 to noon.

PM: For whom?

TW: For me.

PM: Ah.

TW: I'm going to try to find me an intern at Belmont to come work with me at my house.

PM: Did you have to pre-register and get a table and all that stuff?

TW: Uh-huh, exactly.

PM: Yeah.

TW: I want somebody to help get my files in order and get my music room in order. And in exchange, in addition to the three hours college credit they would get, I am a repository of--

PM: The music business.

TW: The music business. I can pontificate at length to this youth and scare them to death--

PM: Yeah, from a unique point of view.

TW: And urge them to change their major.



PM: Speaking of track nine, "Alpha Male," that's like the perfect rock 'n' roll version of a talking blues, the real precursor to rap.

TW: Uh-huh, it is a talking blues. It was written as somewhere between a talking blues and a Kerouac number. I wrote it at a bar in Franklin, while a friend's band was playing. And I was sitting at the bar. I don't drink anymore, so I got to do things to occupy myself when I'm sitting at a bar--which is probably not the wisest place to sit at. But I was seized with this writing, and I had the bartender spit me out two strips of cash register ribbon, two feet long apiece.

PM: [laughs]

TW: And I filled up the front and back of both strips, an equivalent of four feet of cash register ribbon, front and back. And that's "Alpha Male."

PM: That's classic.

TW: And very little of it changed from that original scribble. I wrote it at the bar there in about the time it takes to sing it three or four times. It all just spilled out.

PM: Wow.

TW: And it's very stream of consciousness. And the great thing about stream of consciousness is that you don't have an outline to follow, you just--

PM: Let it roll.

TW: You just let it roll. And it went from--I remember reading it in a van to a couple of friends right after I'd written it down. I got an e-mail from one of them the other day, they're just thrilled to death they were there at the birth of the baby.

PM: Wow! Yeah, it's like "Subterranean Homesick Blues," or something.

TW: Uh-huh.

PM: It just kind of rolls that way. [see guerilla video of Tommy doing the song live, here, at youtube]     continue

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