Billie D. Stonecipher

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American folksinger and guitarist in Denmark, in the 1969 novel Great Heads by Kenneth Tindall. The novel was originally published in a Danish translation as Vindharpen in 1967.

Herman introduced him.

"And now, Folk Treat has the pleasure of a visit from an outstanding musician whom most of you remember from last autumn. Since then he's made a second recording in England, and has spent the winter with the Lapps in Norway, herding reindeer and picking lice. He's learned gann, so you better be careful that he doesn't put a hex on you, heh heh. Let's give a big hand to the American folk singer and guitarist, Billie D. Stonecipher,"

He tuned his guitar while the mikes were being adjusted. People enjoyed listening to him tune up as much as to an actual number. He sat there twiddling the pegs and moving his capo up and down when ZING, the E string broke.

"It's these here dadblamed silver strings," he apologized. "Hope you don't mind."

He removed the pieces and dropped them on the floor of the stage. A haberdashing lefthanded goldsmith darted up and deftly snatched them away. The silver wire would be used in creating a pair of avant-garde earrings. Stonecipher took a new string from inside his chambray workshirt. It was black, patina'd from contact with his person. The new tuning-up took another five minutes of the set.

"I think I'll start with an instrumental number. It's a sort of hopeful blues, and it's called 'Cats As Only Cats Can.'"

The public got noisy before he could really get started. They were young and a little drunk. So Herman had to clamber back up again and give them the word.

"Now, we'll have to have a little more quiet in here. Anybody who can't keep quiet while the artists are performing will he asked to leave and come back on Wednesday, when Club Creole will have 'Pig' Svendsen and his Hot Trotters playing Dixieland, because nobody can make more noise than them. In case you don't already know it, Billie D. Stonecipher is rising fast in the folk-music scene, and in a year or two he'll be completely out of our price range. So enjoy him while you can."

That did it.

A long road unraveled out of his fingers and papered the inside of their skulls. His modal playing, with lots of bell-like flageolets, kept them stilled. Bittersweet, unplaccable, it raised the hackles on some, and brought tears to the eyes of girls.

They didn't clap much. He looked out over the crowd. The spots and his shades made it hard for him to see anything out there. But Ida and Lena were standing back by the wall. He could just make them out. He tuned his guitar again.

"Now I think I'll sing a song. It's a sort of a request." He strummed a little. "It's probably the kind of song that'll be sung pretty often once the women have taken over. I made it up today. It's called 'Chick From Up North.'"

So it don't come no more

and all your mornings roar,

so you wring your hands

and curse your glands.

Well quit your bellyachin, babe,

and go away,

I ain't got nothin to say.

Got a monkey on your front,

you're on a doctor hunt,

you spread your legs and wheedle,

try douche and knitting needle.

Just quit your bellyachin, babe,

and go your way,

you'll never make me pay.

There ain't room in you

for cock and heart too.

I loved you like a fool

but you just wanted my tool.

So quit your bellyachin, babe,

now don't get sore,

just quit your bellyachin

and don't slam the door.

They ate it up. Big applause, guffaws, discussion. Then, in a more serious vein, he sang his "Final Whale Floating Bloating Blues," which was pretty long so they started fidgeting again. The last number was a rousing sing-along "Good Night Irene."

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