credit: Jim Herrington

Robert Finley

Mar 14, 2024

11:15pm – 11:55pm CT

Mohawk Outdoor

“I remember the first time my pawpaw took me down to the Black Bayou,” Robert Finley recalls on “Alligator Bait,” a talking blues that closes out his visceral and vibrant new record. As the guitars pop and crackle around him, coalescing into a slow rhythmic crawl like an airboat along muddy waters, the 70-year-old Louisiana native casts back in his memory for this harrowing story. Dressed in swamp boots and waders, the kid “stepped on a log and the log moved!” His grandfather shot the gator that snapped at him, but the boy quickly realized that he was intended as bait. There’s some humor to the outrageous incident, but the song emphasizes the tragedy of it: how he was never able to forgive his grandfather for risking his young life, how the incident drove a wedge through several generations of Finleys.
“A song should tell a good story,” says Robert Finley sixty years later. “By the time you hear it beginning to end, it should be like reading a short story or a novel. It should be more than just a laugh. It should leave some kind of impression on whoever’s listening to it. And it should stay as close to the truth as possible.”

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