#62 I Could Be Wrong I Could Be Right-Cracker. Just your usual southern rock track set on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Member of the Lewis and Clark expedition the explorer York. The Arikara Indians of South Dakota called him “Big Medicine” and the nickname stuck.

07 I Could Be Wrong I Could Be Right

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I stated before some songs are coherent stories that can be explained easily. Some are just collections of words that sound good together that evoke a mood or sentiment. And others are somewhere in between. I Could Be Wrong I Could Be Right is one of the the latter.

On one level it’s a playful jab at my wife and manager Velena, and our very complex personal and business relationship. We’ve known each other since 1989 but finally got together in 2006. On another level it is about Sacagawea and York the only African American member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In my song they have a volatile and semi-secret affair.

York was Clark’s slave. But on the expedition York was purportedly treated the same as any other member of the expedition. Given weapons, full voice and voting rights on all major decisions made by the explorers. By all accounts a very intelligent man and superb outdoorsman he was also of quite large stature. The Arikara Indians were duly impressed and gave him the Nickname “Big Medicine” and this name stuck.

Other accounts portray “Big Medicine” as being quite the stud. Fathering many Indian children along the way. Some of these reports seem quite fanciful or at least exaggerated. They would seem to me to be products of racial stereotypes of the age. But there does seem to be some consensus this is at least partially true.

The sad thing about York is that when he returned to the United States he lost all of his freedoms and returned to being a slave. He petitioned Clark for his freedom but it took at least 10 years (if at all. accounts vary) before he was finally granted his freedom. While he was on the Lewis and Clark expedition his wife was “sold” to another family in Kentucky. He supposedly died of Cholera in Tennessee while on his way to rejoin Clark’s household after his business in Tennessee failed.

But there is also a fictional ending that made the rounds. A bit of folklore it would seem. But the fictional ending is that he is freed and he makes his way back to Wyoming where he lives out his days with the Crow Indians. (Another ex-slave may have lived with the Crows about the this time)

But what’s interesting about this story is what it says about “us”. That is our ancestors of the 19th century. We knew that the voyage of discovery was the only time that York was truly free and treated as an equal. And in some way we were ashamed of that.

So “Sacagawea and Big Medicine” in the song is a big messy composite: forbidden love, unrequited love, freedom, a crowning achievement, one’s zenith, and a sad slow fall, the fictional happy ending like a fevered dream.

The Agency Group’s Proposed Routing For Camper Van Beethoven / Built to Spill 1806 Tour.

Like Lewis,Clark and Big Medicine returning home, Camper Van Beethoven was working their way from Portland Oregon back into Montana. At some point we crossed the bitterroots and Velena was wearing tall brown boots and I made the rhyme connection in my head. I wrote it down somewhere. I keep a collection of overheard things and phrases in a notebook, or sticky notes on my desktop. They sometimes become a songs.

Later that year Johnny and Sal were playing this lick at soundcheck. We were in Berlin. (Note to self: this is the 3rd song created at sound check in germany. must tour there more often.). I thought it was cool so i recorded it into my macbook as usual.

blue berlin riff

But it wasn’t until late 2007 that we actually made this into a song.

Oh and the chant over the riff? I think subliminally I was influenced by the theme song to The Wire. ”Way Down in the Hole”. I didn’t even think about it till much later. But this was around the same time I was watching a lot of The Wire.

Snoop is an excellent carpenter. Especially with a nail gun.

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I Could Be Wrong I Could Be Right.

[E] Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
[A] Darling don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
[E] Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole
‘Cause the[D] devil come out and keep you[G] for[D] his[E] own

Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Darling don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole
‘Cause the devil come out and keep you for his own

[E] Long brown hair and tall brown boots
[D] You came across the bitterroots
[A] To finally take what you knew was always[E] yours

I was glad to go along
I didn’t think it’d be too long
‘Fore you were bored and on to the next big thing

CHORUS:
[C] I could be wrong, I could be right
[G] You and I so much alike
[D] The devil tried to keep us far a-[E]-part
[C] Now i was stoned and i was high
[G] But everything it felt so right
[D] I could be wrong, I could be could be[E] right

Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Darling don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole
‘Cause the devil come out and keep you for his own

Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Darling don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole
‘Cause the devil come out

Sacawagea big medicine
Had a thing they knew must end
When they finally saw the western sea

I was glad to go along
‘Cause the best laid plans are always wrong
They come apart they always end in misery

I could be wrong, I could be right
What’s wrong with you is also right
There should be laws to keep us far apart
Now i was high and i was stoned
I didn’t want to be alone
Is that so wrong, is that so wrong
It must be right

[BREAK - CHORDS AS CHORUS]

I could be wrong, I could be right.

Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Darling don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole
‘Cause the devil come out and keep you for his own

Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Darling don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole please
Baby don’t you go don’t you look down in that hole
‘Cause the devil come out and keep you for his own

I could be wrong, I could be right
You and I so much alike
The devil tried to keep us far apart
Now i was high and i was stoned
I didn’t want to be alone
Is that so wrong, is that so wrong
It must be right

[CHORDS CONTINUE AS CHORUS TO FADE]
I could be wrong, I could be right
I could be wrong, I could be right
I could be wrong, I could be
I could be right

 


1 comment

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous

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    Thanks for sharing this blog. Me too have some business intelligence blog please add this too.

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