The Thrill is Gone. Goodbye, BB King. Goodbye, Lucille.

The last time I saw BB King play his homecoming in Indianola, MS, 2008…

“BB’s cousins slopped BBQ on plates, we sucked at rancid bottles, sinking deep in overgrown grass. He called his grandkids onstage so they danced for 10 dollars, and BB could stand then, and play his guitar. My friend Amelia waved her round ass, her hippie skirt and brown hair tangled in the music of her own Delta legacy—a girl with porcelain skin and a coming out ball, but she shares BB’s hometown hubris. And afterwards we’d parked downtown, tossed the kid a twenty to watch our car, paid another twenty at the door, plus a fiver-bribe for being underage. BB tore it up the way he used to know, the aunties moving truer than Amelia could, and I knew, I am of this but mostly, I am a footnote.

Now Club Ebony’s an easy hundred and BB’s blood chugs tired, a yellow dog called Type 2, so he’s a figurehead in a folding chair, tappin’ knees and nursin’ juice, guitar mostly resting in his lap while the band carries the show.The kids onstage dance crunk and there’s more, so this time they get singles and fives, and BB says I can’t see nuthin’ but that boy’s stomach, so the fat kid steps back, and they play The Thrill is Gone, open and close, because it’s a radio hit, and it’s pretty much true. The whole world can see how BB’s softened with success. (He’s still doing it. That’s the thrill.)

Read the whole piece if you want.


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