As I sit and type, the snow is piling up outside. It’s been nearly nine years since we moved from Wisconsin for parts south, so it’s been nearly that long since I’ve looked out my own window and seen a sight like this.
It seems beholden upon me to select an appropriate song for the day, so naturally I gravitate back to the artists who logged their time in the endurance test of American Dairyland winters. It was in the springtime of 1990 when I saw John Kruth play live at Milwaukee’s Shank Hall, opening up for Irish songsmith Luka Bloom (though it’s worth noting that springtime in Wisconsin can feel like winter in most other parts of the country). He was exactly what my stalwart concert companion and I needed that night: loopy, clever, and delighted with his own flagrant geek tendencies. Each of snapped up vinyl copies of his latest release, the irresistibly titled Greasy Kid Stuff, also asked for his signature on the inner sleeve, still only one of two occasions when I’ve asked for an autograph.
This was one of those albums that went into my record crate and resided lonely as different technologies dominated my listening, and since Kruth is not one of those artists whose catalog has been meticulously updated to the digital era, I went for years without hearing any of the songs that I once loved, songs that I routinely dropped into my old college radio shows. That absence continued until I lamented it online. My typed out moans were met by my old cohort bestowing a CD copy of the album upon me, along with a few other shared favorite rarities that will undoubtedly get their Friday in the sun in this space.
So where does the snow come in? Good question. The song I’m posting here includes the following lyrics:
I was in Oshkosh, stuck in the snow
It was forty below
There was no hope in sight
That encapsulates the feel of a Wisconsin winter as well as any eighteen words ever could. And what I see outside my window this evening may be North Carolina, but it sure looks a lot like Wisconsin winter.
(Disclaimer: It sure looks to me like Greasy Kid Stuff is out of print and has been for quite some time. Mr. Kruth has other music available for purchase, but I don’t believe this record can be acquired through the exchange of American dollars. It is posted here with that understanding. However, if anyone with due authority to do so asks me to remove the file from the Interweb, I will gladly do so.)