From the start I was different--rather than the blazing red hair and green eyes of so many of my kinfolk, I was fair of hair and had sea-blue eyes. Those eyes got me into plenty of trouble as I entered my youth. Young lasses seemed to fall for them almost instantly, and I roamed the countryside, seducing one fair maiden after another with promises of undying love and marriage, only to take off with the dowry on the wedding night, leaving the poor bonnie sadder, poorer and wiser. After several years of this, my reputation grew far and wide and many a father admonished his daughter to stay away from that Conn man.
I don't know when I realized I was immortal. It was after I had fled the Highlands for London, and the court of Queen Elizabeth. Those Elizabethans knew how to party and many's the time my homeboy Will and I slung back a few pints of our favorite bitter, "Outrageous Fortune," in a quest for the perfect quatrain. But it was years before railroads were even invented, so we never found it.
Alas, it wasn't to last -- and posing as a cabin boy (for I still looked like a youth of 25), I hopped a sailing ship for the New World.
Ahhh, America!! For a young Scotch-Irish lad of 150 or so it was a land of endless opportunity and adventure. Too many to recount here, to be sure, but with my close personal friend Ben Franklin--the horniest guy I ever knew--we ravaged Philadelphia for several years. When Ben was Deputy Postmaster of the Colonies, we developed the concept of the chain letter to generate revenue for the Postal Service.
Even though the chain letter -- and its direct descendent, the fund-raising direct-mail piece -- preyed on fear and superstition, we didn't care: we were too busy smoking George Washington's hemp. Indeed, George and Ben and I spent many an hour discussing god (or was it God?? During one summer, we argued that exact point for weeks on end) and freedom and philosophy. I remember one particular night, after a frightfully powerful bumper crop--where I suggested that we--the Colonies--break away from England. George just about fell over laughing and said "you gotta be high, dude," but Ben just sat there, looking thoughtful.
It was Louis Armstrong who stuck me with it. One of the little-known facts about the Satch-meister was that he often made up nicknames for people. George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Charles "Lucky" Lindbergh, Leonard "Chameleon" Zelig -- those are all his. Of course, sometimes his nicknames didn't always stick: he tried to name the youth of the roaring 20's the "X generation" but people preferred the more descriptive "Lost." Go figure. Anyways, since he always played on my radio show (often right before Robert Benchley's comedy revue), he wrote a song called "Barefoot Jim" for me. I'd like to report that it was a big hit, but it was pretty much a flop.
To this day, I really don't know how Louis came up with it. I once asked him, and he replied "If you haveta ask, you'll never know." In any event, I liked it a lot, and have used it in various incarnations since, and will continue to do so in the future.
Sometimes it's lonely, outliving everyone, but it's a good life, and now and again I return to the place of my origins: a mystical magical renzevous with the gods that dwell in the eternal twilight of the Scottish Highlands. Afterwards, I feel rejuvenated, and want to go on.
This pack of lies last changed on 12 February, 1996
I was listening to Guided By Voices -- Under The Bushes Under The Stars