“Sonny’s Blues” was a different taste of short fiction compared to the stories we have been reading. The main difference was its ability to relate to everyone. For most of us, we can only imagine and enjoy the past stories for their fictional content. Although none of us grew up in the streets of Harlem during the 60’s, we can relate to the trials and tribulations that everyday life can place upon us. In one form or another, we all have a way of coping, of dissolving the buildup of stress, whether it is drugs and alcohol, running four miles, or making an outlet through music, it is a part of everyone.
It was oddly coincidental that we read this story when we did because Friday nights I work at the Iron Gate here in town. And on Friday nights they have live music performed by some artist. They start at seven and end at eleven, and on this particular night I happened to wait on the guitarist for the small duo that was going to play. He was a large man with long, obviously thinning hair that shined with oil. He seemed unkempt, almost trashy. He wore a large navy t-shirt with several dark stains acting as dotted designs. He was a little late in arriving, thus he had to hustle a little in order to set up time. So, when he came to me, glistening with sweat, to order a beer, I was convinced he was the typical figure we, as outsiders to the thriving metropolis of Crawfordsville, elevate ourselves above when we refer to people as “Townies.”
After I brought him his first of several beers throughout the night, we began a casual conversation about his music. The reason he had to hustle, as it turned out, is that he had just got of a twelve hour shift at Donnelly’s, the local factory in town. Seven o’clock ended our conversation a little short. From their first set it was immediately apparent that this was his outlet, he picked and twanged the guitar in ways that made my night of work abnormally enjoyable; because you could hear and see his troubles dissolve into melodic harmony. And it had such a striking resemblance to the story that I was in awe. Because this was a story, just not one about “Sonny’s Blues,” it was Johnny’s.