Tag Archives: Tom Russell

Poking Around Canyon, Colorado for the Navajo Rug

Sometimes a song just happens to twang the heartstrings and worm its way into a lifetime, I suppose.  Navajo Rug’s been such a song for me.

I first heard the song in Austin, Texas, performed by Bill and Bonnie Hearne in some tiny, packed appearance of theirs in the mid-1980s.  I liked it so well I bought a tape.  Then, later I discovered the Tom Russell version and made a 90 minute tape with just that song on it, listening to it on road trips sometimes for several hours at a time until the tape wore out.

Almost a decade later I was headed through the Four Corners area toward Hovenweep and various ancient sites in southwestern Utah, but still in Colorado when a road-sign announced I was entering Canyon, Colorado.  I craned my neck watching for evidence of a burned down cafe in the weeds as I passed through.

But all the time I was in Utah over the next several days the Navajo Rug song and Canyon, Colorado were nagging at the back of my mind.  I didn’t even have the tape with me, so I sang it to myself and the truck.  Then, on the trip back I resolved to try to find out if the cafe ever existed, where it was, maybe even pick up some piece of broken melted glass or a spoon from the ruin.

I spent half a day in that village slowly driving back and forth along the grader ditch, getting out and trekking around possibilities, asking around among any residents I could approach without interrupting what they were doing.

I didn’t find it, didn’t find anyone in town who’d ever even heard the song.

But I did sit down in the only eating establishment open and order two eggs up on whiskey toast, home-fries on the side.

Sometimes that’s about the best a person can do. 

But it wasn’t the only time I’d found myself pursuing musical/lyrical craziness when location comspired with a song I remembered to distract me from a destination.  On more than one trip through Morenci and Clifton, AZ, I did a lot of asking trying to find someone who remembered who sang Open Pit Mine.


Not a soul even remembered ever hearing the song.

Old Jules

Eavesdropping on Homeland Security

One of the ways I keep up on world events and amuse myself when I’m alone in an eating establishment without a book involves eavesdropping.  I gaze at the food, a picture on the wall, something outdoors through the plate glass, and I listen to conversations at the nearby tables.

It’s curiosity, as much as anything else.  And mostly I lose interest quickly because so often the talk is about some sports event, concert, or a television show.  But sometimes it’s pay dirt.

A while before I left New Mexico I was doing the listening routine to the goings-on among several BDU and otherwise uniform clad people of both sexes, all toting large-bore automatic pistols in holsters hanging from their waists.

Turned out these folks were part of a conference between Federal and State Homeland Security forces (whatever that might be).  I’d never seen that particular uniform combination, nor the patches and medallions, so I listened as closely as I dared without drawing attention to myself.

The eating establishment is on San Felipe Tribal Lands.  Maybe that’s why the conversation drifted in that direction.

Fed:  “Do you have any issues dealing with any of the tribes?”

NM State:  “You wouldn’t believe it.  Everything’s an issue.”

And so on in detail involving a lot of ‘issues’ a person born in 1943 (me), would never have believed could ever be discussed by government employees as though they should be part of any reality here.  The attitude was clearly that the tribes were being irresponsible in reluctance and obstruction of the aims of Homeland Security.

The topic broadened in a while.

NM State:  “I think a lot of people just don’t understand what we’re doing.  They don’t realize how dangerous things are for them.”

Fed:  “That’s a problem all over the country.  I was in Phoenix a few weeks ago .  . ., etc”

That NM Homeland Security lady all dressed up with a gun and nowhere to go was wrong.

I believe most people understand perfectly well what they’re doing and have an inkling of why they’re doing it.  It isn’t a lack of understanding that makes me smile and cheer inside, knowing the tribes, at least, are dragging their feet.

I think people are beginning to ‘realize how dangerous things are for them’, to the extent that dangers actually exist in this hostile reality we’ve chosen for ourselves.   But at least a part of the ‘danger’  people feel involves a new kind of policeman who thinks the US Constitution is obstructionist.

They just don’t know what needs to be done about it.

Tom Russell–Claude Dallas