This was my favorite Bo Carter song, mostly for its easy swing, but I probably wouldn’t have learned it if I had just been playing on my own. As it happened, though, the summer after my year in New York I was back in Cambridge, planning to head to Europe and be a ramblin’ guitar player, and my high school friend Rob Forbes had decided to go with me, and his mother happened to have a washboard — heaven knows why — so we became a duo.
We played four nights a week on the street in Harvard Square, in front of Woolworth’s, and I was damn lucky to have Rob because solo guitar players were and are a penny a dozen but washboard players were and are a novelty.
As leader of a duo, it behooved me to come up with some material that suited two voices, and this was one of the first songs I thought of — Carter did it alone, but there was an obvious place for call and response:
“What you say, Gin?”
And then, both voices together: “Let’s both drink and get drunk again.”
The second verse even mentioned a washboard. So we did this one regularly as long as we were playing together.
As a commentary on how the world has changed, although we played on the street together four nights a week, five hours a night, from June through October, 1977, then went on to play for several months in Spain, I do not have a single picture of us. In fact, I can’t even find a picture of the Woolworth’s that used to be in Harvard Square — which was so much our musical home that when another guy tried to set up there once, the store manager came out and told him that they already had some regular musicians. (Which surprised the hell out of us — we thought we were barely being tolerated.) Anyway, here’s a photo of Rob from a few months later, when we’d headed down to Spain and he’d hitched up to Rotterdam in search of a job on a freighter. I don’t know the circumstances, but it was taken on December 28, before he gave up on seafaring and hitched back south to spend the rest of the winter playing with me in Torremolinos.