The Grasshopper Lies Heavy
by Chad Beattie
Luck, goddammit, is sure a funny thing. It falls like an acorn. It bites you in the pecker. And then it sings softly away. Now I've seen many things in my day, heard many stories, saw many-a good men die, but I never saw anything as sad as what happened to Flipper Wilson, twenty-six year old songwriter with a heart of bronze and a liver full of chili rum. Now, sure as salt & sugar, true as teeth, listen real close and I'll tell you a story that'll grind your gristle grey.
Flipper Wilson – known simply as “Flip” to his bum nut friends – was no pickle in a piss pan. And by god he wasn't no fool drying from a clothesline. He was an American, a patriot, thru and thru. Though he talked real tuff and his eyes were mean as morning, he never hurt anything more than a fly on his meat bone. And he never once turned a carton-a milk sour. But poor ol' Flip Wilson had a knack of breakin a sweet girl's heart. It wasn't his fault, really, and it was never on purpose. Flip didn't like to see a lady cry any more than he liked squeezin a newborn's neck. Cruelty simply wasn't his bag. But poor ol' Flip had luck as loose as a walnut on a string of cheese. And he was just slippin and slidin down a dark dim path that led to nothing short of self-absorbed isolation.
Boo-hoo, pucker up and kiss my crotch. Kick my kids into a coma and color me blue. Flip Wilson once wrote a song called “I'll Kill Myself (If I Can't Kill You).” The two minute and thirty six second piece of backwards strumming and mortified vocal arrangements perplexed a crowd of seventeen bystanders on 25th and Greenmount as Flip sung, proud and poignant, into a yellow sea of city smog. Course the streets was no way to make a decent living, not in this day and age. One couldn't just busk his burdens into oblivious obliteration. One had to sign the seal of solitude, as strange and cynical as sin might be.
No, Flip Wilson never had a goddamned chance. That much was made certain by his number, “Writin' Songs to Forget About Writin' Songs.” Meager as a meat stick, the song flunked into a forgotten flood of fortitude. Bold and bloodied, the song was tight enough to zap the zipper off a zebra. But the hooch never found a home. Flip's fate was as fucked as a Filipino’s fart. No money to make, no mercy to mend, Flip fell foot-first into a flippant frenzy. He began acting out the demons that dwelled deep inside his dense dimensions. Thus, the thirst never thrusted. But Flip was never functioned to fluctuate. He was an individual aware of his visibility. And he was as divisible as individuality could devise.
So he put out an album in 1972 & called it The Grasshopper Lies Heavy & he gave it out as gifts to his companions & enemies & boy oh boy was it an earful. Disjointed sounds of loneliness erupting every which way which. Haphazard guitar riffs screeching blissfully along the woes of self-indulged ineptitude. Flip's greatest fear was the reflection that howled in the clear lakes of Baltimore's industrialized creaks. And when a flipper flops, it flops fast. Flip's sanity plummeted; that is, his mind deteriorated. The endless mounds of marijuana he molested, the luxurious amounts of liquor he lusted - it all caught up to him in a whirlwind. The shameful shock of dismal reality shook him like a shivering shear til he was shin deep in shit & had no way of galloping onward. That was the end of Flip Wilson's short and indignant career.
But Flip carried on as any soldier might. And after years of searching, he finally found someone he loved & continued loving her deeply until the day he died which was February 14th, 1976 at twenty-six years old from self-induced alcohol poisoning. Only trouble was the girl he loved never loved Flip back. Such is the way the world spins. Without reason and without hope. Poor ol' Flip. The only heart he couldn't break was the one he most wished to win.
The billboards didn't notice Flip Wilson until 1981 when his debut record The Grasshopper Lies Heavy was reissued by SlapDog Records and the lead single, “Don't Wanna Die (But Don't Wanna Keep On Livin' Without you)” hit the bigwig charts. Fans were dazzled, newcomers were unnerved. The popular public pursed their putrefied pupils. The song was an instant cult classic and remains so to this day. Only problem is the girl he wrote the song to never heard the damned thing. Isn't that a hoot and a half? Millions of monks and mopes made monuments over the muffled mix, yet the young lady he effervescently adored never cared to hear it. For she had once known Flip's truest colors & had no wish to return to such a dark place. She was happy that poor ol' Flip was dead. She was happy that he was forever gone. Now she could finally move on. Such was Flip's rotten god-given luck.
Flipper “Flip” Wilson