The moon, Sun and Hemingway

The Moon

My 1969-era globe of the Moon, a testament to the inspiration the astronauts gave me and so many others.

It was a product of the pride the people in the United States had in the 1960s for our race to land a man on the moon. A globe of the moon. As a boy in Mississippi approaching my teens, I was consumed with all of the news, images and incredible prospects of space exploration. In 1969, when that hero of American heroes Neil Armstrong set foot in the Sea of Tranquility, a lot of other Boy Scouts and I watched the historic moment on one of the TV sets dispersed around the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Idaho. We were also given small American flags to attach to our tents to commemorate the historic occasion. Upon returning home, I made it my mission to learn about the space program. I wrote to NASA and they sent 8”x10” full color photos of the astronauts who flew several missions after the first moon landing. Each time a new one arrived in the mail, I immediately set out to learn everything about these brave men. I wore out my friends and family with my knowledge of our American space pioneers.

Sun

I’m proud to have this original Sun record autographed by one of my heroes, Johnny Cash.

Prior to my fascination with the moon was a preoccupation with Sun. Not the star that lights our world each day but Sam Phillips’ record company based in Memphis. Sun Records lit the musical landscape of the globe by launching the careers of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Sonny Burgess. Elvis and Johnny Cash were my favorite rockabilly astronauts. As I set out to learn more about them, I naturally learned about Sun Records. I still learn from them and the other Sun luminaries who have graced the world’s musical heritage.

The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway was not the first person to coin that phrase. He got it from “The Preacher,” who wrote it in Ecclesiastes.

“The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he rose.” – Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1, Verse 5, Old Testament, King James Version, The Bible.

The Sun Also Rises is one of my favorite books. Images created by Hemingway of young people in Spain interacting with each other as the bulls ran have captivated many and I am among them. I was around the age of the characters in the book when I read it. I have seen the sun rise on the French Quarter in New Orleans more than once. Not because I woke up early but because I went to bed so late, it had become early. One early morning on Royal Street, as I wearily made way back to my hotel I said out loud, “The Sun Also Rises down on Bourbon Street.” Later, with much more clarity, I put pen to paper and the song that resulted is below.

The moon may briefly eclipse the sun occasionally but it is comforting to know that once again, as The Preacher wrote, the sun also rises.

Click photo to see Les Kerr perform The Sun Also Rises at the Bluebird Cafe, Nashville

The Sun Also Rises (Down on Bourbon Street)
Words and Music by Les Kerr

A little boy down in New Orleans spied my shoes
He made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse
He said, “If you got a quarter
That you ain’t afraid to lose
I’ll tell you where you got them shoes.”

He said, “You got ‘em on your feet, 
Right here on Bourbon Street, 
That’s where you got ‘em; 
That’s where you got ‘em 
You tapped out your ol' soul 
Tryin’ to find the hole 
Down in the bottom; 
Down in the bottom 
You been up all night 
Tryin’ to see the light 
But those neon moonbeams
Just don’t make it right 
I hate to tell you, Mister, 
But you just met your de-feet 
The Sun Also Rises
Down on Bourbon Street”

‘Bout the time they turned the lights out
At the Famous Door
That sticky Southern sun 
Began to rise once more
I gave that boy a dollar, yes, 
I paid my dues
He told me, “When you’re lost, man,
You’re just following your shoes”

French Quarter philosophy served me well
I headed back to Royal Street to my hotel
When I think about it now
Wnd want to lose my blues
I thank that little boy
Who made some money off my shoes

He said, “You got ‘em on your feet,
Right here on Bourbon Street,
That’s where you got ‘em; 
That’s where you got ‘em
You tapped out your ol' soul
Tryin’ to find the hole
Down in the bottom; 
Down in the bottom
You been up all night 
Tryin’ to see the light
But those neon moonbeams
Just don’t make it right
I hate to tell you, Mister, 
But you just met your de-feet
The Sun Also Rises
Down on Bourbon Street”
©1994 by Les Kerr
Publisher: O.N.U. Music (ASCAP)
Click here to download
The Sun Also Rises
(Down on Bourbon Street)

Text and photos copyright 2017 by Les Kerr

Click photo to view Les Kerr’s online CD and download catalogue.

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About Les Kerr

Les Kerr is a songwriter, recording artist, journalist and author originally from the Gulf Coast now based in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn More about Les at www.leskerr.com
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4 Responses to The moon, Sun and Hemingway

  1. John Burton says:

    Very evocative, Les. Of great memories and love for the Old South. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes from your West Texas friend. Who also paid a dollar, down on Bourbon Street.

  2. katkennedy says:

    Reminded me of the Johnny Cash song “Shoe Shine Boy.” I’d say that was a dollar well spent, Les!

  3. katkennedy says:

    PS I’m a little jealous of that signed Johnny Cash record!

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