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I was curious about the recurring theme of midgets during this “sociopolitically relevant” period in your career. What is it about midgets that encouraged you to sing about them so much?
Well, if you think about it, I love pudding, okay? And I’ll break it down to you this way: You look on the package of a box of pudding, and it tells you “Cook this and stir gently for 15 minutes.” Okay. And if you do that, and you stir that pudding for 15 minutes, you take it out, let it cool a little bit, you’ll have a pretty nice pudding, you know?
But if you cook that pudding 30 minutes, 45 minutes, stirring slowly, making sure you don’t let it stick to the bottom, and you let it get into a concentrated form, now that’s something.
And that’s the way I think of “little people” — it’s the proper thing to call the little people; I’ve made the mistake of referring to them as “midgets,” and it cost me a couple of shin bones [laughs] a couple times over the years. But I realized a little person is like concentrated pudding, and if you think of a whole person who stands up high, you think about the problems and issues and all the love and the things they’ve gone through, and you just cook them for another 45 minutes, you cook them down to a concentrated form, well then you have a little person.
So I feel like my interactions with my friends who are little people, it’s just that much more potent — it just tastes better to be with them.
Also, there’s something — I don’t know, I think about my brother a lot, when I see a man who’s half a man, or who’s have the size of a man. Somehow I see something about old Nate in that.
Do you see a bit of yourself in the midget, too?
Oh, I see myself in everything.
Is it possible that you yourself feel very small?
It’s not like that?
No, no. In fact, I feel enormous, and at times, omnipotent. So having a lot of little people around me just makes that sort of like after you’ve been drinking a bunch of champagne, then have a little bit of reefer and it makes it even that much more — if you’re feeling large and omnipotent, and you surround yourself with little guys, you’re like [laughs] the Colossus of Rhodes.
Can you tell us a little bit about Darlene? She’s been with you off and on for so long; at one point she walked out on you, because of your whoring, your —
Not so much the whoring. She was more the drug usage; that’s where she drew the line.
Oh, come on. She didn’t mind the whoring?
Well, I should say, in a strict sense, if it was a whore that I was with, one that I had paid, she did have a problem with that; she said, “Dewey, you will get diseases from people like that. But if it’s someone who’s just really into you and is moved by your music, well, I’m not gonna stand in the way of that.”
So, yeah, with the drugs, though, that pitched her over the edge, and I can’t blame her — if I was in her position, I might’ve done the same — or I might have supported my husband and stuck by him. But that was her choice. I was cawing like a dinosaur at the time, and screaming at the top of my lungs on the top of a building, wearing a dashiki diaper, so I can’t say I have a clear memory of the moment when Darlene left me that first time. But she had her reasons. And I have to believe her.
Was that rooftop episode prior to or after your trip to India?
That was after my trip to India. I got into a little bit of a squirrelly situation there in India. The maharishi and the boys from Liverpool introduced me to what they told me was headache medicine, and it turns out it was “head trip” medicine, I just misheard them. And of course I’m talking about LSD. And that began a love affair with LSD that lasted for quite a few years, and, you know, I can’t say it was all bad, because I did get some good musical ideas out of it; they never quite coalesced into a coherent record, but I got close, I got close, and in getting close I learned that maybe I was chasing my own tail.
And in the back of your mind you were no doubt conscious of not yet having written your masterpiece. True?