T-Model Knows Better: an advice column by life coach/musician T-Model Ford (Arthur, May 2005)

Originally published in Arthur No. 16 (May, 2005)


T-Model Ford is the 84-year-old self-proclaimed “Boss of the Blues,” also known as “The Taildragger.” Each issue, Arthur calls up T-Model at his home in Greenville, Mississippi and asks some questions about things we have on our mind. T-Model gives his sage answers, then we transcribe the conversation with some interpreting help from the fellas at Fat Possum Records, the Mississippi label that releases T-Model’s all-bets-are-off blues albums. If you’ve got questions for T-Model, and we suspect that you do, email ‘em to editor@arthurmag.com

How do you deal with traffic?

I don’t worry about it. I take my time. Don’t rush, wait your turn and your time will come. People want to rush too much these days.

Are bad people born that way?

It ain’t the way you born. It’s how you raised. If you in too much of a rush, you won’t raise ‘em right.

What’s a better pet: a dog or a cat?

A dog, if you train it right, is the best pet. You can’t depend on a cat, it’s up to its own devilment. But a dog? If you train him right, you can depend on him. You can leave a baby with him and he’ll stay right there. He’ll make sure that baby don’t get in the road. Pick him with up his teeth and move that baby on back up there. A cat won’t do that.

Do you have a dog?

I had two dogs that a white lady gave me, German Shepherds. I raised them up right, trained them right. 

What happened to them?

Somebody poisoned them. And my cat Tom, while I was playing guitar up the road, somebody let their dog out and killed him. I was pretty mad that night. I got out there in the yard the next day with my gun, laying up for that dog [to return]. The police came, and I told them, ‘You ain’t taking this gun. It ain’t done nothin’—yet.’ 

I think they took that dog up to the country. They knew what I was fixing to do.

If you’ve got some cash, what should you do with it? Hide it somewhere, or put it in a bank, or…?

If you want to save it, put it in the bank. You can’t hide nothin’ nowadays. So, best to put it in the bank. It didn’t used to be that way. But now, the young races is in charge. They rushing around…. Most of the old folk are afraid to go out, because of the teenagers robbin’ and fightin’ and killin’. If the old folk do go out, they take a gun. Yeah, it’s getting rough now, alright.  

T-Model Ford is featured at length in the new feature-length documentary, You See Me Laughin’: The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen, available now on DVD.

Categories: "T-Model Knows Better" column by T-Model Ford, Arthur No. 16 (May 2005) | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

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