Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ship of Fools: Issa's Sunday Service, #171

Ship of Fools by The Doors on Grooveshark
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I ran across a deep cut in the Doors catalog, The Ship of Fools (a live version of which is linked above), and was intrigued. I remembered the novel by Katherine Anne Porter (and the movie that followed) and did a little background legwork. The original source appears to be a 15th century allegory that became something of a cultural touchstone at the time.

Pictured above is the Hieronymus Bosch depiction of the allegory, also titled Ship of Fools. As with all things Bosch, even when depicting a relatively tame scene, there is always something curious to contemplate in his work. Another 15th century rendering may be seen in the University of Houston's online digital library.

Of course, this allegory has legs, persisting all these centuries later, in the Porter novel and in songs by such diverse performers as the Doors, the Dead, Robert Plant, World Party, and John Cale, among quite a few others.

As to what the allegory was all about, Wikipedia has a nice little summary of what it is all about:

The allegory depicts a vessel populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction. 

Sound familiar?

Imagine my surprise then, and delight, to find a Christian humor site that takes its title from this insightful observation of the human condition: Ship of Fools. It may not be The Onion but, hell, this crew is laughing while they row, and at themselves, yet. There is an article on Holy Host dispensers, which have a kind of Steely Dan (not the band) quality about them, an hysterical 'caption this photo contest' depicting a particularly, um, earnest looking Tennessee Ernie Ford and a rather nifty exposé of a pseudo-evangelist

I have to say that the decidedly secular Issa's Sunday Service gives a thumbs up to this Christian humor site for, well, having a lark now and again. After all, it's a bit of a relief from the run-of-the-mill these days.

Since Tennessee Ernie Ford was known for other things than gospel recordings - such as shilling for Ford Motor Company, as well as a number of country and pop hits - rather than leaving you laughing at him, I thought it might be best to give the devil his due and present what he was best known for:


 Photo from "Ship of Fools" caption contest (titled holy quiff)

short summer night--
foolish flowers, clever flowers
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 171 songs


Ed Baker said...

that was SOME movie... and one terrific cast.... each
one giving a stellar performance !

If they ever colorize it
I'll vomit !

and Steely Dan.... there is a solid
connection be-tween
Steely Dan and William Burroughs

of course:
Tennessee Ernie !

what was that neat song that he sung? Big John !

wow... The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show.... on live tv.... the Best

nice post... hope folks are using the info.....

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Big Bad John ... Jimmy Dean!

Ed Baker said...

yeah Jimmy Dean, he was local to D.C. and had a live tv show here. I was on it once....Jimmy Dean dropped out to make sausage down on his farm in Virginia.
Tennessee Ernie and Jimmy Dean sort of similar.... sort of.
"16 tons of #9 coal " was the big Tennessee Ernie

also live shows here were Howdy Doody and Pick Temple

Milt Grant had a local dance show that was (I think) before American Bandstand...

... but I cld be wrong about Milt....

Ed Baker said...

thanks for picking up on Jimmy Dean...
will look around to see if he and Tennessee Ernie
worked together... like Chet Atkins and Jimmy Dean...

part 1 is over on the right
where Chet Atkins picks out Mr. Bojangles...

which Jerry Jeff wrote when in Texas (and in jail)

there's more to the story.... but not via a blog comment-post

now to search-out a Tennessee Ernie - Jimmy Dean connection

I just see that Jimmy Dean died in 2010 !

and I see a film of him in 2008 in a Patsy Kline event and he is in a wheel chair.... looks like a stroke !

Jimmy Dean Sausage in a tube was the Best....

Anonymous said...

Hi Don:

I may have made this comment some years ago, but again I am reminded of five phrases that came from Burroughs and rather entered counter-culture terminology in variously interesting ways: "Steely Dan", "Canned Heat", "Heavy Metal", "White Lightning" and "Cold Shot". There were probably others but these are the five I always recall. A lot of folks must have read Burroughs back in the day, long before I grew up and got around to it.

Best Regards -


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Jimmy Dean - sausage in a tube! Oh, my, yes ...

I remember the Mr. Bojangles Jerry Jeff story ... David Bromberg had a sort of FM hit with the tune and used to tell the story all the time.

Speaking of dropping out, Bromberg dropped out to make violins for 20 years, down your way I believe (Wilmington), Ed. He's back now and as good as ever, still keeping a hand in the violin making.

Here are Jerry Jeff and David playing it together.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thanks for the reminder ... I believe Big Bill was channeling drug culture lingo, at least some of the words ... and that got it into the mainstream, so to speak.


Ed Baker said...

more to the story that isn't in the history books.... sent you some of it via an email....

do check out Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff and their Circus Maximus group... circa 1965 or 67

Ed Baker said...

that vid of Jerry Jeff and David Bromberg playing is an older much older Jerry Jeff from when I knew him.

here i cover of Circus Maximus' first album... Jerry Jeff is up on the right... Bob Bruno is in the middle....

nice to remember/recall this "stuff"

nice to remember anything !
seems like all of my friends from-the-day
are either in their 70' or fucking dead !

not exactly an haiku moment:

Ed Baker said...

oppps... I left out the link to that cover-image of thir first album....

that's Jerry Jeff upper right.... about 1967.

that Bojangles song wasn't on that album
so, I guess JJ Walker wrote and sold it before Bob and he met ( as I recall in Texas, but maybe someplace else) and got back here.

you might ask Bob.... or Jerry Jeff about this

I guess Sammy Davis, Junior's owners bought it /owned it for S.D,Jr's use ?

Ed Baker said...

as if I couldn't guess that
EVERYTHING is now on The Net

here is a bit about The Circus Maximus

everything here but the booze, dope and girls ....

Wind was about my favorite BB piece....

I'm sure that it's on the net...

John Fahey was also around here then.... but part of a different "thing"

some of the same cute girls in common to us all....

Marilyn, Jenny, Rachel, Judy D., Paula... all had that they ironed their hair straight and wore heavy black eye mascara...

Betty was a "muse" to all

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, checked out those music links you sent along and they are great ... I agree "The Wind" is just an excellent song, but there is a nice period quality to these tunes that isn't dated ...


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

I'm sure Sammy Davis paid for the privilege but, knowing music royalties, it probably wasn't very much.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


For those who don't know what we are talking about or even who Sammy Davis is:

check this out ...

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Remember my sister ironing her hair in the back room ...