Talking Judsonia, Arkansas Blues



Let me start by saying I have nothing against the town of Judsonia or the state of Arkansas. This just happened to be the setting for the classic coming of age tale of two hapless dudes in a broke down van. With that being said, the journey did leave me wondering how far a family tree can grow without a fork (calm down I’m kidding, They were probably only 2nd cousins). It was the summer of 93 and I was a 17 year old mobile calamity, along with my best friend Josh, a year my senior and certainly the voice of reason (not much but enough to keep us from getting killed). We were plotting our first solo camping trip to Chickasaw State Park in TN. The night before we were to leave, I was talking to my girlfriend who kept saying how cold she was at her summer music program in Jonesboro. Forgetting she had left our fair city with a care package of chemical entertainment that might have influenced her perceived body temperature and comfort level, I took her complaints to heart and endeavored to bring her a blanket. Obviously, Jonesboro wasn’t on the way to Chickasaw so, as all great adventures start, we said “Fuck it” and changed plans to head for Heeber Springs in Arkansas.  With a bit of eye rolling from the parental units we were off. The first stop of the trip was at the ASU campus in Jonesboro to deliver the blanket. Our Jonesboro reception foreshadowed our human interactions for the rest of the trip. It was like we were an army of invading mercenaries instead of a couple of chubby hippie dudes in a conversion van.  My girlfriend (and later wife) also seemed kind of shocked to see her boyfriend in all his cutoff jeans and flannel shirt with the sleeves torn off glory holding an indian blanket, under watch of campus security. First awkward encounter down we persevered on. The actual camping trip was mostly uneventful, save for us forgetting to bring pots or pans to cook in (everything was cooked on a stick or can goods were just opened and set in the fire). Oh and there was the lantern fuel spill on the picnic table that Josh got the bright idea of cleaning up by dropping a lit match on without warning. Overall it was swimming, freedom and picking under the stars.

The narrative of the song covers our mishaps getting home. I mention that the story has no point, and in the context of an obvious struggle against a tangible enemy I guess it doesn’t. I’m not 100% sure why it sticks out so vividly in my head amongst other adventures but I think it had something to do with the two of us being completely on our own to navigate the good and the bad, the exciting and the mundane. Even though it was full of mishaps and a little hardship it in no way dulled my taste for road trips and adventures. If anything it just served to increase my love affair with saying “fuck it, let’s see what happens”. So here it is, a firsthand account of trouble on the road in Judsonia, Ar.


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