CANNERY ROW

 

    LHMT @ Kalisas.JPG (31172 bytes)I began my life as a musician in the 1960's singing folk music at Kalisa's, a wee bistro on the Row.  In Steinbeck's book , Cannery Row, it was known as La Ida's.  Kalisa came here from Latvia, but is otherwise a grand Bohemian of the first order.  Nowadays known as The Queen Of Cannery Row, she once told me the story of her meeting with John at the time he came through the area on his travels with Charley.  He was still a prophet without honor in his own backyard, e.g.; when she took him to visit the Steinbeck Theater, he was obliged to buy a ticket to inspect the place.

 

    Palace Flophouse.JPG (40274 bytes)Though they'd never met, John straight away recognized her artsy-folksy, unconventional approach to life as being apropos of the odd-o denizens of the Row of whom he had so cleverly written .  It tickled him to know there were, "Still a few survivors."  Taelen, Lo, Kalisa.jpg (19848 bytes)Throwbacks.  Keepers of the Flame.  Passers of the torch.  And to this day Queen Kalisa Moore is precisely that.

 

    This story, as I say, comes by way of The Queen herself.  I just sorta made it rhyme.  I know John was never called Johnny, but I don't care.  How 'bout that?  I did have my doubts, however, about the appropriateness of using the Okie idiom, "knowed", in this ditty, til I happened across a book dedication in which John spoke of a friendship that, "just sorta growed."

 

********** 

 

CANNERY ROW

Larry Hosford

 

Johnny was a resident, back before the war,

Roosevelt was president, and sweet Kalisa Moore,

Was far away in Europe, dreaming of escape,

To a land of milk and honey, of artichokes and grapes,

But Johnny left before she showed, so they never knowed each other,

Down on Cannery Row.

 

Johnny had a way with words for such a simple lad,

He had a love for people's hearts, and all Kalisa had,

Was a heart as big as Monterey Bay, and the ocean to the west,

I have to think they would have hit it off, but Johnny, as I say, had left.

Johnny left before she showed, so they never knowed each other,

Down on Cannery Row.

 

But not to worry, not to weep, not to be upset,

I promise by the fourth verse, I'll get 'em together yet.

 

Johnny left to see the world which lay there at his feet,

Kalisa came to Cannery Row, said, "There's nothin' here to eat!"

Kalisa started cookin' and the lines began to form,

But Johnny missed it all, 'cause you'll recall, ol' John was gone.

Johnny left before she showed, and they never knowed each other,

Down on Cannery Row.

 

Now as the fates would have it, Johnny wandered back to town,

Saw the crowds over there at Kalisa's place, sat his literary self right down,

Kalisa brought some brews around, and Johnny says, "You know,"

"You remind me, dear, of someone here I knew some time ago,

But I think I left before you showed; don't see how I could have knowed you,

 Down here on Cannery Row."

 

But not to worry, not to weep, not to be in doubt,

I promise by the end of the song, they will have figured this out.

 

"Johnny-boy," Kalisa said, "Who might you think I'd be?

All my friends are bohemians, and toilers of the sea,

And poets, yes, and prophets without honor in their home,"

Johnny stroked his beard, says, "That's got a real familiar tone,

But I think I left before you showed, I don't see how I could have knowed you,

 Down here on Cannery Row."

 

"I knew servicemen, and chinamen, and ladies of the night,

Philosophers, and ne'er-do-wells," and Kalisa says, "That's right!"

"Were there indigents?" "Yep." "Dissidents?" "Yep." "Lovers of the Arts?"
Johnny smacked his head, and said, "I knew it from the start!"

"Although I left before you showed, I most certainly and absolutely must always have knowed you

Down here on Cannery Row."

"And it's good to know before I go, there's still a few survivors,

Down here on Cannery Row."

 

**********

 

Return To "SC" Lyrics

Return To Larry Hosford