T-Model Knows Better: an advice column by life coach/musician T-Model Ford (Arthur, March 2004)

Originally published in Arthur No. 9 (March, 2004)

T-Model Ford says a lot. He says he’s 79 years old. He says he’s “the Boss of the Blues! TheTaildragger! From Greenvillllllllle….Mississippi.“ He says he doesn’t need his cane anymore. And he says he can help us. So, every two months, Arthur calls up T-Model and asks him for some advice. T-Model gives his sage answers, then we transcribe the conversation with some interpreting help from Bruce Watson at Fat Possum, the Oxford, Mississippi record label that releases T-Model’s shit-hot, original bad-ass records (more info on ‘em at fatpossum.com). We love T-Model round here: his last album, the Jim Dickinson-produced Bad Man, is still on the office Arthur turntable, 16 months after its release. But whatever. If you’ve got some non-math questions for T-Model, and we know that you do, email ‘em to editor@arthurmag.com and we’ll pass ‘em along. If they’re any good.

Arthur: What if you find out that an old friend of yours has been saying bad stuff about you around town. Telling people that you do business with, that you’re no good.  What should you do?

T-Model: Just let him talk, don’t have nothing to do with him. They’ll find out! That’s the way I do. They talk about me, I just let ‘em talk. But when they need something, they gotta come to ME. 

But what if you were a younger man? You know how younger men get upset: they wanna settle it with a fight. Is that a bad way to go?

Well, you got to study that yourself. Just don’t associate with ‘em, that’s the way I do. They talk about me, I don’t associate with ‘em. Then when they come running, want to talk, I say: “Well when you had a chance, you didn’t take it, so forget about it.” That’s the way I do. 

Have you always been that way? Or did you handle stuff differently when you were younger? 

No, I’ve been that way all my life. I go friendly with people if they friendly with me. If they ain’t friendly with me, I go my way and they go theirs. You take me, when I go to go somewhere around here, I get in my car by myself. I don’t be ridin’ with nobody. Can’t be nobody speaks… If they TELL somethin’, it won’t be me, it’ll be them, making up somethin’, to try to get up somethin’. That’s the way it do here. 

You ever seen a fight in a bar?

Yeah, I have seen a fight in a bar. And I have fought in a bar. 

You have? But you sound like a peaceful man.

Well, the man was pickin’ at ME! He about six foot tall, went snatching my cigarette — at that time I was smokin’ — snatched that cigarette out of my mouth, and come back to start it to me, and I met him. And I said, “Man, what you trying to do? Are you trying to start somethin’ with me?” He made a pistol break. That’s all he remember. 

You didn’t walk away.


You stood up for yourself.

I thought he gonna get up but he couldn’t. It take a good-hearted person to stand up what I be standing up under, a good one. Yes indeed.

When two men don’t get along, do you think they should go to court to settle their differences then? Or should they just let it go. 

I just let it go. Go on about my business, and tell ‘em, don’t follow me. 


[audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/WKWTMB-Teaser.mp3|titles=WKWTMB Teaser]

This new 16-track compilation/mixtape is now available direct from Arthur to your internet connection as a $4.20 digital download. It’s a collection of songs from recent (or forthcoming) releases that we’ve been digging lately that you might not have heard.

Here’s the track listing:

1. PURLING HISS – “Run From the City” (Woodsist Records)
2. TED LUCAS – “It’s So Easy (when you know what you’re doing)” (Om Records)
3. DOUG PAISLEY – “No One But You” (No Quarter Records)
4. SONNY AND THE SUNSETS – “Stranded” (Fat Possum Records)
5. TENNIS – “Take Me Somewhere” (Fat Possum Records)
6. THE INTELLIGENCE – “Like Like Like Like Like Like Like” (In the Red Records)
7. MARNIE STERN – “Building a Body” (Kill Rock Stars)
8. NOBUNNY – “Gone for Good” (Goner Records)
9. THE FLIPS – “I Just Don’t Know Where I Stand Anymore” (HoZac Records)
10. IDLE TIMES – “There You Go” (HoZac Records)
11. WOODS – “Suffering Season” (Woodsist Records)
12. JIM DICKINSON reads “The Congo” by Vachel Lindsay (Birdman Records)
13. LIMES – “Good Times” (Goner Records)
14. PETER STAMPFEL & BABY GRAMPS – “Bar Bar” (Red Newt Records)
15. THE GROWLERS – “Sea Lion Goth Blues” (Everloving)
16. LOWER DENS – “Truss Me” (Gnomonsong Records)

Compiled and sequenced by Jay Babcock
Cover photography by Kevin Bauman
Design by Stephanie Smith
Engineered by Bobby Tamkin at The Sound Ranch

Click the following link to purchase using a debit card, credit card or Paypal account. A link containing the “Who Knows What Tomorrow Might Bring” zip file (digital music files [192kpbs mp3s], artwork, credits sheet, etc.) will be emailed to you upon payment.

All proceeds help Arthur Magazine to resist economic pressures.

BUY NOW – $4.20

Thank you kindly, hope you enjoy.

The Arthur Gang

Singing poetry: Jim Dickinson reads "The Congo" by Vachel Lindsay


Birdman Records’ David Katznelson writes:

World Boogie Is Coming: If you were ever fortunate enough to get a letter or package from legendary record man Jim Dickinson (November 15, 1941 – August 15, 2009), it would end with those four words.

 It is the way he ended his first note to me, which contained the recording plans for the Texas Tornadoes (the project that facilitated our meeting). It is the way he ended his last words to his constituency as a mortal on this planet (see his message at zebraranch.com).

World Boogie Is Coming: It was his motto, his mantra, his mission — something he’d developed through the decades, from when he was a young boy, witnessing Elvis and the merging of music cultures in 1950s Memphis; to his years as a working musician, blowing away boundaries with his jug bands and session work with The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder and the Flaming Groovies; to his work as a producer for artists as varied as Big Star, Toots and the Maytalls, The Replacements, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, The Sugar Cube Blues Band, Screaming Jay Hawkins and Mudhoney.

Jim Dickinson saw sound as the vibration that would and could bring us all together. He believed that some of the finest music is that which we cannot hear. He believed some of his best production was done in absentia. He talked about the red and dark green sounds that vibrated the warmest through the soul. Jim Dickinson literally saw music… smelled music, and created his own world—a studio in Independence, Mississippi—where he could capture the music….if only for a brief second….and revel in its piety. Over the past few years, as he felt the burden of his own finite time on this planet, he would weigh heavily every time he punched the RED button—that magic portal to recording the molecules vibrating in the room—because he had but a limited number of punches left, and each one had to count. Jim lived his life ferociously fighting for the truth and purity that well-intentioned music promotes; he did not have patience for anyone or any sound that did not fall in line with his mission.

In Jim’s final note, he wrote: “I will not be gone as long as the music lingers.” And with that, he has left an amazing body of work, a family that is continuing his pursuit of world boogie, wonderful stories (many of which can be found in Robert Gordon’s book It Came From Memphis) and the extensive memoirs that his wife Mary Lindsey, his son Luther and I will be compiling.

I became a disciple of James Luther Dickinson a long time ago, believing wholeheartedly that there would be FREE BEER TOMORROW and that world boogie was just around the corner. Working with him on records was such an incredible experience for me that I would contrive projects for us to do together, whether it was sending ex-Spacemen 3er Sonic Boom to Mississippi to collaborate (cf. Spectrum Meets Captain Memphis—”Indian Giver”)…or having him do a spoken word record where he read from passages written by his favorite Southern writers. And while the latter experiment might seem the most eclectic, check out the following track, a reading of American singing poet Vachel Lindsay‘s “The Congo,” and hear the might of the man they called DICKINSON.

World Boogie IS coming, and when it does come, the mountains WILL come together and Jim will be the first soul to be flying towards the party…

Stream: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/01-The-Congo.mp3%5D

Download: Jim Dickinson — “The Congo” (mp3)

Purchase mp3: ilike.com

From Fishing with Charlie & Other Selected Readings by Jim Dickinson, available on cd direct from Birdman Records and Amazon