The year-end countdown list from Tumbleweeds All the Way Down host Jack Fowler is always a fun take on the annual feature. Here are his top five songs that remind him of the day a giant squid killed Esteban, his best deckhand. Enjoy.
5. Scrapper Blackwell - "Goin' Where the Monon Crosses the Yellow Dog"
Recorded less than a year before he was robbed and murdered in an Indianapolis alley, this 1961 blues masterpiece features Blackwell at the peak of his powers as a guitar player, but it's the supple, slurred vocals I love the most. They remind me of Esteban, scrambling up to the crow's nest during a squall to calm my panicked crew with plaintive love ballads just moments before the tentacled demon emerged from the waves and drug him into the briny depths below.
4. Carter Sampson - "Queen of the Silver Dollar"
Based on a Shel Silverstein poem, this shuffling ode to an aging barfly renders the original 1972 Dr. Hook version irrelevant. Simply put, this song was made to be sung the way Carter sings it. It reminds me of Esteban, how one could watch him set sail on the mizzenmast and know there was ne'er born an abler seaman, nor one less deserving to meet his fate at the hands of the foulest creature ever loosed from the bowels of hell.
3. Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson - "The Sweetest Waste of Time"
A perfect, slow-dancin'-on-the-sawdust-floor song, Aussie pals Chambers and Nicholson echo country royalty like Wynette and Jones on this ballad from their 2008 duet album. It reminds me of Esteban, how he and the writhing monster seemed almost locked in a lover's embrace as they battled to the death on the poop deck.
2. The Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose - "It's Too Late to Turn Back Now"
The Florida family band's 1972 R&B hit is enjoying a resurgence thanks to Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman." It reminds me of Esteban's enthusiasm for the brothel girls on the Tortuga wharf, and how the giant squid may have been the one to meet its fate that day had Esteban not been reduced to a weakened and pallid state by his most recent bout with syphilis.
1. ZZ Top - "Doubleback"
This rollicking bluegrass instrumental from the Texas dirtbag icons was featured in "Back to the Future Part III" and remains the most compelling piece of music the band ever recorded. It reminds me of Esteban, and how much he loved "Back to the Future Part III."