You can hear everything happening in the muscles, in the beard, in the beady eyes, in the brains and heart of the self-made man, when the song of the same name is performed by San Francisco outfit, Howlin' Rain. It's a song that is an undeniable triumph of strength and inquisitiveness. It goes to all four corners of a living room, of a bedroom, of the woodshed, of the yard, as well as all four chambers of the thumping heart and gives a report from each. There are quickened beats and there are lulls to hear. There are remarkable moments of doubt and questions about "who will love your self-made man?" We hear that question before a bleary-eyed couple of guitars burst into the room and assert themselves, as if shooing the question away, for things are getting to emotional in the house. There needs to be more broken glass and burps, more confidence and pride. It was there earlier and it's going to be here again.
Howlin' Rain makes these kinds of moments frequently. They put their backs into hefty songs of man becoming man, or discovering what being a man might be all about. It inevitably involves shoveling snow and walking the streets during the coldest of days. It involves looking up at the hills raised like bumpy surveillance all around them and thinking that there's no way those sons of bitches aren't going to get scaled someday. It's about shooting from the hip and aiming for the moon, believing that you could bring it completely to the ground, in a thundering heap, somewhere out there in the salt flats. It's a song that has sweet wine on its breath and comes in the words of the most inconspicuous of poets, those with ripped trousers and burnt eyes - those men that we choose to believe in, those who know the difference between a fool and a wise man when they see them.