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With Veeck there to join in it was most certainly a party now and in Chicago there was just so much music to swirl up from all these winds---Muddy Waters yielded stage in this street shrine to an elf of a man who reached to about John Coltrane’s waist---Steve Goodman walks up to Coltrane and says, “Hey, how’s weather up there.?” And once again a miracle. Coltrane laughs! Then Goodman strums:
“The streetlights are on in Chicago tonight And lovers are gazin at stars The stores are all closing and Daley is dozing And fat man is counting his cars!”
And when crowd gets to chorus of “Lincoln Park Pirates” (He, hey blow um away! The Lincoln Park Pirates are we! A new line forms underneath that bridge with Virgin on wall: and a parade begins to form!
Deep under Kennedy Expressway above: every single St Patrick’s Day Parade---all politicians, all floats. All marching bands. It’s a parade!
And on reviewing stand—there he stands---The Mayor. Richard J Daley! Look him straight in eye and all political power is no where to be found. Look him straight in eye and what do you see? You see a kid. A great big kid who gets to watch a parade!
Now place is jammed!
The parade marches thru then back then around every square inch of that underpass with Virgin on wall. But just when you think it is about to wind down---still another voice. This one lifts up corn fields of Iowa, woods of Wisconsin, rich farmland of southern Illinois, pure crystal tones and unlimited range of Bonnie Koloc joining those who come before with those here now. She sings
“I’ve got to believe In all my love songs”
And as that voice soars up and out encompassing everything and everyone who even thought about what was going on underneath expressway next to image of Virgin Mary---Bonnie Koloc gives way to a voice who’s origin is now off with Coltrane. From very deepest part of faith, from very kernel of faith, a gospel sound of Mahalia Jackson:
“We are travelin in footsteps Of those who come before And we’ll all be re-united.”
Then she is surrounded by Pops Staples, Mavis Staples and her sisters there too
Oh when saint Go marchin in Oh when saints go marchin in!
And as they all parade together, swirling in and around expressway underpass, dancing Chicago spirits all, it is same song, same “When Saints Go Marchin In” segued over to Weavers, a crazy haired Woody Guthrie marching along right next to Pete Seeger, Fred Hellerman, Lee Hays, and Look, there’s Win Strache up leading everyone who ever even thought about picking up a guitar at Old Town School of Folk Music. . . .
Some say this world of trouble Is only world we’ll know. . But we’ll all be re-united. .
All hands clapping now music and words just resounding! That white haired crazy man in fedora---Saul Bellow right in middle of it all still writing, drawing out some grand idea. Royko holding a softball, looking for a game.
Pete Seeger leads crowd!
Oh when saints! Go marchin in!
Pete and Woody having slept previous night on kitchen floor of grey haired, stooped over man in red checkered shirt who comes along at end of this parade. . .the last man in line. . .
Studs Terkel walks over to where Obdulia is praying, cocks his head and smiles, then he walks to east, out from underneath where Kennedy Expressway crosses over Fullerton Parkway, Studs Terkel walks into light of sun coming up over lake to east---waves his arm motioning us all inside underneath that bridge and in that grizzled old voice of time and what’s best about Chicago, Studs Terkel, says:
C’mon in. Join us!
Roger Wright can be found on the blog Church Food Chicago.