Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Singin' the Yemen Blues
Blues Musician Willie "Skipbone" Johnson To U.N.: 'Yemen Done Me Wrong'
From the Onion Archives - NOVEMBER 12, 1996 | ISSUE 30•14
UNITED NATIONS — Legendary Delta bluesman Willie "Skipbone" Johnson is calling for U.N. sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen following what he described as "a low-down dirty deed" against him.
According to Delta bluesman Willie "Skipbone" Johnson, the nation of Yemen "done treat me so unkind." Yemen prime minister Faraj Said bin Ghanem denies the charges.
Among the alleged actions Johnson is protesting are Yemen's alleged tearing out and stomping of Johnson's heart; disappearing when Johnson most needed the Arab republic; and making Johnson feel like a worn-out old dog—actions which, according to the U.N.'s Charter Of Fundamental Human Rights, "just ain't right."
Said Johnson: "Prime Minister Faraj Said bin Ghanem gonna be the death of me."
This represents an unfortunate breakdown in once-positive relations between the predominantly Muslim nation and the 74-year-old master of the slide guitar. As recently as last year, Yemen's Council of Ministers rocked and rolled the musician in so vigorous a manner as to make a landlord forget about the rent.
"This is a devastating blow to Mr. Johnson," said Harvard University political-science professor Eldred Hyde. "For a man who has been beaten up and down until his mama don't recognize him no more and cheated out of his only pair of shoes, a diplomatic crisis with a longtime ally like Yemen may be an irreparable setback."
Noted Hyde: "If it weren't for bad luck, it appears Mr. Johnson would not have any luck at all."
The composer of such blues classics as "Dead Cow Blues" and "Butter My Bread," Johnson maintains that he gave Yemen all he had, only to be forsaken, much like a worn-out suit. He also said that there is another country whose name Yemen cries out at night.
"Yemen done recently form a trade pact with the United Arab Emirates," Johnson said, "and I been laid low ever since."
Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh has expressed a willingness to restore diplomatic relations with the Clarksdale, MS-born blues legend and vehemently denied that his nation has been seen with the U.A.E., that oil-rich country down Oman way.
Saleh added that it is, in fact, Johnson who is sneaking around, implying that Johnson's mojo was recently worked by Qatar.
"When Qatar shakes its thing, Johnson is unable to keep his stuff still," Saleh said. "May Allah have mercy on his two-timin' soul."
Johnson denied any involvement with Qatar and rejected Saleh's offer for negotiations, saying that he is "too busy wishin' I was anyone but me."
If Johnson's U.N. demands are met, Yemen will be hit with severe international economic sanctions. In addition, none of Yemen's 14 million citizens would be welcome in Johnson's house no more.
"I been cryin' ever since the day I met that devil-hearted country," Johnson said. "I ain't goin' down that Middle Eastern nation's road no more."