Jackie gonna dance.

July 25, 2015 § 7 Comments


Most of the songs I write begin on the drive home from practice with Craig Reeder, the other half of Hot Tamale.

After singing for three or four hours, it takes a while to go back to not singing.

I clutch the wheel, singing randomly, but with great intensity. Sometimes I find a loop of melody. If I pull on that short thread I often discover it is attached to a song.

Jackie is the name of one of my library kids. Driving home the name just fit that moment’s little bit of found melody…Jackie gonna dance all night long.

But the picture in my mind was of an old man dancing in a neighborhood bar, the kind where everyone knows everyone and the jukebox plays.

An old guy dancing? This is going to be a silly song, I thought.

Silly is one of my two general songwriting categories.

The other is Serious, as in heartbreaking, life-affirming, truth-revealing.

I gave Jackie lots of traits selected off the silly pile, but as the song took shape I realized this was a serious song dressed in silly clothes.

Jackie is an old guy, old to the point of being humorous, even pitiful to anyone watching him dance. He is also brave, alive, and persistent–traits worth hanging onto even if it means losing his dignity in the shuffle.

When I sang Jackie to Craig he said it sounded not too bad as a poem. So here it is, stripped of melody, one improbable dancer who, despite significant losses refuses to be written out of life.

 Read it aloud like you have a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. Do not use your fancy Poetry voice.


Jackie gonna dance all night long

he don’t give a flip if you dance along

might drop him a tip cause he’s goin’ strong

Jackie gonna dance all night


He lookin’ mighty funny in that high silk hat

His legs be skinny but the rest be fat

He’s no cool cat but he don’t care ‘bout that

Cause Jackie gonna dance all night, all night.

Jackie gonna dance all night.


Some say he lost that ear in WWII

But the rest of the man don’t look that new.

One sock’s red the other’s blue

Jackie gonna dance all night.


He used to dance with Miss Yvonne

He’s shabby and flabby now the old girl’s gone

Says she’d want him to go on so

Jackie gonna dance all night, all night.

Jackie gonna dance all night.


He may be old and shot to hell

His heart is on the fritz, and his gut as well

See him on the dance floor you never could tell

Cause Jackie gonna dance all night.


Some folks laugh at a man his age

Hogging the floor going center stage

Dancing like the Lindy’s still the rage

But when my time comes gonna take a page

And like Jackie gonna dance all night, all night.

Like Jackie gonna dance all night.

Note: Writing this, I realize that when it comes to making music, I’m Jackie. I expect to embarrass myself thoroughly before I die–death being the only guaranteed silencer of my constant singing.  

This is part of why I write. Putting words on paper slows me down long enough to figure things out–especially things almost too close to see, like myself.

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§ 7 Responses to Jackie gonna dance.

  • craig reeder says:

    Songwriting (or poetry writing, for that matter) was once defined as communicating our emotions and celebrating our common humanity. You are the world’s best at doing that, and you can quote me on it.


  • KM Huber says:

    As I will soon be seeing both halves of Hot Tamale, perhaps I will hear this poem with the music you have given it???? If all of us had more of Jackie in us, we would never die. There would be songs, poems, maybe even stories for like Jackie, we would have lived as best we knew how, never passing up a moment to dance. I am borrowing from Craig’s quote: you’re the world’s best in reminding us to be our best.


  • ammaponders says:

    I want the bumper sticker! And more Jackie in myself.


  • Paul of Flowerland Mountains says:

    Ms Adrian,
    I really like how you separate the kinds of song you do:
    but more & more (watch out, hold your head so it doesn’t swell!) you remind me of the ephemeral wise fool that the yogi’s and prophets and others of more than mediocre wisdom strive for:
    … and Jackie’s song has both of that in it, somehow, greatly!
    You also epitomize the following as well:
    Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water…
    After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water …
    (not that I think you are perfect, just pretty far along the path…)


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