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Saturday, October 13, 2007

It Ain't Me, Dude

Over the years, I’ve noticed that there are some songs that are pertinent to my experience as a criminal lawyer. Among the titles that I hummed while slaving in lockups and courthouses were "I Fought The Law (And The Law Won)" by Sonny Curtis and "Please Release Me" by Roger Miller, et. al.

Of course, "Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison" was an album that was full of profound observations about the dilemma of our clients. For example: "Cocaine Blues" [by T.J. Arnall (and many others) reads like a confession by one of my clients:

"Early one mornin' while makin' the rounds
I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down
I went right home and I went to bed
I stuck that lovin' 44 beneath my head
Got up next mornin' and I grabbed that gun
took a shot of cocaine and away I run ..."

The last stanza could have been written as a commentary on my performance:

"...Into the courtroom my trial began
where I was handled by twelve honest men
Just before the jury started out
I saw the little judge commence to look about
In about five minutes in walked the man
holding the verdict in his right hand
The verdict read in the first degree
I hollered Lawdy Lawdy have a mercy on me
The judge he smiled as he picked up his pen
99 years in the Folsom pen
99 years underneath that ground
I can't forget the day I shot that bad bitch down..."

Of course, no modern songwriter’s lyrics are more on the nose when it comes to my generation’s experience about almost everything than Dylan and he might well have been watching some of my early pathetic attempts at defending petty criminals when he wrote "The Drifter’s Escape."

"Oh, help me in my weakness," I heard the drifter say,
As they carried him from the courtroom And were taking him away.
"My trip hasn't been a pleasant one And my time it isn't long,
And I still do not know What it was that I've done wrong."
Well, the judge, he cast his robe aside, A tear came to his eye,
"You fail to understand," he said, "Why must you even try?"
Outside, the crowd was stirring, You could hear it from the door.
Inside, the judge was stepping down, While the jury cried for more.
"Oh, stop that cursed jury," Cried the attendant and the nurse,
"The trial was bad enough, But this is ten times worse."
Just then a bolt of lightning Struck the courthouse out of shape,
And while ev'rybody knelt to pray The drifter did escape"

And Dylan summed up my life when he wrote:

"... You say you're lookin' for someone,
Never weak but always strong,
To protect you an' defend you
Whether you are right or wrong,
Someone to open each and every door,
But it ain't me, babe,
No, no, no, it ain't me, babe,
It ain't me you're lookin' for, babe..." ["It Ain’t Me, Babe." Bob Dylan]

1 comment:

  1. Hm... I know that song... so it sums up your life? I wonder... Maybe it does...or, it' a story you tell yourself.