Tag Archives: Willie’s Oasis

Willie’s Oasis (Looking for drink in all the wrong places)

Punam over at dverse asks us to “Write about your favourite drink (alcoholic/non-alcoholic), write about getting drunk, use drinking as a metaphor, in short: write a poem in a form of your choice with a drinking connection”. (Update: I omitted to link this to Punam’s prompt, so I am now linking it to Open Link Night at dverse)

Willie’s Oasis

Houses hunker in the heat
Out on highway 82
The landscape sweats and saunters
Billboards block the view
And this is not New York City
This is not Saginaw
This a dry county, son
This is Arkansas

And I need a pack of Pauli Girl
I need a bottle of wine
I’m heading for Willie’s Oasis
Outside the county line

There’s a woman in line waiting
Someone’s girlfriend, someone’s wife
Says she wakes up every morning
And asks:”Is this my life?”
Beef jerky on the counter
Pickles in a jar
This is a dry county, son
This is Arkansas

And I need a pack of Pauli Girl
I need a bottle of wine
I’m heading for Willie’s Oasis
Outside the county line

Good ol’ boys are chugging out
Storm clouds on the horizon
The water looks like iced tea
Birds are improvising
And this is far from New York city
Far from Saginaw
This is Ashley County, son
This is Arkansas

My friend John Mitchell turned the lyrics into the song above (that’s Ben Mink on violin, look him up!).

Willie’s Oasis (The Mitchell Feeney Project)

(Willie’s Oasis…a song about looking for drink in all the wrong places)

This a song from my collaboration with John Mitchell (The Mitchell-Feeney Project).

I wrote the lyrics and John did pretty much everything else (except the violin)

The lyric was adapted from a poem I wrote called “A Dry Country in Arkansas”. The poem was published some time ago in Cyphers,  a long -running Irish literary magazine. When I gave the lyric to John, I had no concept what kind of song would emerge, I couldn’t have been happier with what he did. I’ll let John explain…

“Willie’s Oasis” turned out to be quite a challenge musically. I loved the feeling of the tune, that southern heat out on Highway 82, but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t hear the music. I tried using my electric guitars, my acoustics, I even tried my piano, but no matter what key I played in and what chords I used, I couldn’t make it work. So I decided to use technology, and I searched through some of my pre-recorded samples and found this rough sounding, bluesy guitar riff. As soon as I started to work with it and edit the sample, add a few more samples, voila, “Willie’s Oasis” appeared.The only live things I put on this tune were my handclaps and my vocals. 

I decided that it needed something else, so I called a wonderful violin player friend of mine named Ben Mink and asked if he would put some fiddle on the tune. Modern technology allows me to send him my tracks, he puts on the violin and sends it back to me via e-mail. We were never in the same room. I expected him to put some real down-home fiddle on, but he completely fooled me and played the most smoking electric violin parts that took the song over the edge. 

(A note about the violin player, Ben Mink: Ben co wrote “Constant Craving” with KD Lang. The song won KD Lang a Grammy in 1993. Ben and KD Lang also got co-writing credits on a Rolling Stones song, “Anybody Seen My Baby”, because the Stones noticed that the chorus of their song had similarities to the chorus of “Constant Craving”).