Link Wray at the Crystal Ballroom

Alan Scally - - January 20, 2004
           Well, Link Wray strutted last night across the stage at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon but it was really 1950 Oklahoma and he got out of his 1937 Ford coupe and walked boot heels crunch crunch across the gravel parking lot of the DariFreez, brushing past the football players staring at him and his black leather jacket, greased-back hair and at the Cherokee girl-child at his side--Hank Williams and John Lee Hooker, wind storm off the prairie, fire wrapped inside the wind he rides, hard chords of eternal defiance ringing out across endless wheat field and down lonesome highways, across cities and through silent farmhouses where a men sit and watch the darkness sink into the earth like a bitter flood; Link Wray struts like a black leather rooster, shakes his guitar like an angry lover as the notes fly away like buffalo stampeding across green spring grasses of empty Kansas forever land; Link Wray raged last night with all the defiance and laughter and love and power he carried within him - a legend surely as Crazy Horse, a force of nature like a tornado, a howling prophet man shouting blind in a dust bowl sun of tribulation and triumph to come.
           I saw Link Wray, I saw America, I saw the beautiful back-road land we turned away from because we're afraid of our dreams--our dreams came back last night, bulletproof and wary, shining in all the beat glory and visionary wildness of an electrical, storm in July over Omaha, followed by a double rainbow over the Missouri River. Ride, ride, ride across the land, shattered guitar explosion ripping out of the radio as the prophet man rages on, full-force rock n roll; proving why the American night holds no secrets only dreams, nightmares and visions.
           Greaser hair hanging in a ponytail to his waist, Indian chief painted on back of leather jacket, eternal shades, taunting grin, the coolest baddest bad-boy of forever came to town and we had a rumble in the high school parking lot. The prodigal son came home and killed the fatted calf his own bad self, then stole his daddy's gold and had a party for the temple prostitutes and his wastrel friends while playing rock n' roll on King David's harp.
           So Link Wray was here and yeah there is hope, yeah we can dream and if we listen hard we can hear the mocking laughter of angels leaving heaven to ride motorcycles toward an always infinite horizon to a small town where rattlesnakes sleep inside a jukebox that plays blues, Hank Williams, Elvis and the screaming guitar of a boy who stabbed his amplifier with a pencil and wrote his name in the storm clouds over a Wyoming highway. Link Wray strutted for us. He done good. He done America proud.
Alan Scally
2737 NW Upshur #109
Portland, OR 97210

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