I Ain't Playin'
I Ain’t Playin’ by Diunna Greenleaf
Drums, backing band, momma told me. A rough voice. Can’t trust no man. Reminiscent of Big Mama Thornton and Big Maybelle. Bass driving through. Momma told me. Girl you just can’t trust no man. Horns, up and at ‘em. Guitar licks. But I was wild every time. Keyboard fills. The bass a constant, always on, pushing through the bridge. I been lied to . . . The vocals a growl in formation, telling all the girls. Don’t you ever trust a man.
Guitar fill, a more heavenly voice, almost spiritual. I’m a rescue you just like the red cross. Moving over the boards with a healing tone. Running like the red cross. Zydeco, the feel, synth keyboards almost organs. I’ll assess all your injuries. Everything is going to be all right. Running . . . choral works, men singing, like the red cross, soul sister stirring. Like the red cross . . .
Hard beats, moving in, a whole city. So tired of being pushed around. Funk beat. Four, more, to the floor. All I need from you is a chance. Dipping. If it wasn’t for the blues don’t know what I’d do. Singing of the pointless ghetto, who decides. Drumming like a funky drummer. Guitar and bass filling in. Cry. I don’t know what I’d do.
Solo. Filling time. Guitar echoes. Trying to stay true.
Vocals. Lord. Horns, emphasize the point. Struggling to do my thing. If I hit or miss. There be days like this. Feeling the old beat, James Brown rhythm coming through. If it wasn’t for the blues. Cry. Don’t know what I’d do. Low down blues.
Upbeat. Guitar. I work every day. Moan. I might as well be all alone. Rocking the beat. Guitar and bass, horns. Talking through. Come on baby, don’t you sit there and pout. Crying about a hard working woman. Going solo, leave behind the man and his baggage. Why don’t you try it for yourself? That’s why you got no right to complain. A hard working woman. A solid bass, driving. Guitar. Drums up in there.
Spiritual. Soft. Almost like Aretha singing opera. I wish I could share. Rhythm moving in. Solid accompaniment. Organ. Near hymnal strength. I wish. All the things I can do. Funky rhythm, synth, bass, guitar. A feeling like I’m going to church. Well, I wish I could be like a bird in the sky. Build up, up, up as the lyrics take me higher. I know what it feels like to be free.
Jazz. Hitting all the notes. Look out for them sunny day friends. A feeling of angst made light. Like a whole chorus turned upside down. Guitar solo. Who cares cause sunny day friends going to leave you in the wind. Better watch out. Yet the music goes on scatting, bass in repose, sax and piano making the gig. All a lead up to the disappointment. Look out. Watch out. Sunny day friends.
Bass. Lead in. Guitar. Follow. I rushed home from work. A working woman’s lament. When I walked through the front door . . . when I called your name. A ballad, slow, solemn, moving across the kyes like a funeral. Harmony sung by multiple women. Just like rain the tears keep falling. Chorus, melody answers, when I call your name.
Country, almost, in the way the guitar sings out its lament in the bridge. Greenleaf keeps going, however, in the poor woman’s pain. Nobody answers when I call your name.
Rock comes next. Darling you know you done me wrong. Low down, in the barrelhouse, her register at its bass. I don’t care what you do. Sax, singing the refrain. Over and over. I don’t care what you do. Guitar a solid solo, up and down, into the breach. I got somebody to love all right. I got somebody who warms my chills. I don’t care what you do. Insistent. Over and over. I don’t care.
Calm, an instrumental intro. You said I’d come crawling back to you. When she sings her refusal it’s no question she won’t be back. Feeling her heart long past the due date. I’m not trying to be nasty, baby, but I’ll be damned if I do. Pushing out the dog to make room for the real woman. You say I can’t live without you. Make a liar our of you. Can’t take it no more. Goodbye, baby, goodbye. Good riddance to an intolerable man. I’ll be damned if I do.
Choral. I know I've been changed. The angels in heaven done signed my name. Short. Shuffle. Circle the song. Singing the good word as the angels sing. Blues the melody of a heavenly chorus. The angels in heaven . . . I know I’ve been changed. Cause the angels in heaven done signed my name.
Back door man.
Funk like they mean it. I been hearing about you all over town. Speaking about the back door man. At the beauty shop. Job keeps him busy. Cry. Why you be a back door man? Synth. Organ. Zydeco. Crying the question. It’s you. I know it’s you. Just tell me why . . . it’s you. I know it’s you why you wanna be a back door man? Sax solo. Singing the blue funk. Why? Why, oh why? You been pimpin' and cheatin’ backdoor man. Why, why, why? Back door man. Trailing is the sound. Your things sitting by the door.
Solid intro. Don’t you worry. If he satisfy me, he should please you. Piano off the charts, holy barrelhouse blues. If he spend his hours, all night alone . . . I love him, and I will till the day I die . . . people let me cry. Fats Waller loosed. James P. Johnson, Roosevelt Sykes. Moving up the keyboard like there’s no tomorrow. Giving place to the guitar. One lone heart etching its place in the world. Boogie till the heart breaks. If I’m a fool just let me be. And as my tears are a falling so people let me cry. Fade . . . into death. Let me love him till the day I die.
Upbeat, almost doo wop. I want to be loved like a woman. To be free to be wild. Singing the freedom. Driving through. No letup. Pushing through the right track. Harmony singing. It’s my turn. A solid explanation: it ain’t over yet. It’s my turn. It’s my turn. Boomerang in the bass. I took the time so I could heal. It’s my turn, it’s my time. I’ve been fat and I’ve been thin. It’s my time, it’s my time. Happy ending. Due right to a voice deserving. It’s my turn. It’s my time.
(Written on the back of a very large napkin while sipping vodka martinis, with two olives.)