I believe I first became aware of the song Talking Wheelchair Blues during this past summer — probably while running a search on wheelchairs and cushions. I remember playing a link I found at the time — I seem to recall the singer was a woman, but I haven’t found her since. I didn’t do anything else about it at the time, except I told my wife about the song.
Recently, a friend lost her father, following a lengthy illness. My wife has been requesting my help in finding humorous, light-hearted, songs to play and leave as messages on the friend’s cellphone. So, as I was digging around on Rhapsody, my wife remembered the Wheelchair song and asked me if I could find it. Not only did I find the song on Rhapsody, I searched Google and found the lyrics, which I’m posting below.
I feel a close connection to events in this song — I recall times, from my personal experiences, when I had to use service entrances or service doors (as described in the song) in order to gain access to a building. Even today, more than 15 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if you are in a wheelchair you may still have to travel through the kitchen, housekeeping or delivery areas to get into/out-of a specific building. I’ve also had many parents and waiters (waitresses also) react to me like those in the song.
Talking Wheelchair Blues by Fred Small — from his album, “The Heart Of The Appaloosa”:
I went for a jog in the city air
I met a woman in a wheelchair
I said “I’m sorry to see you’re handicapped.”
She says “What makes you think a thing like that?”
And she looks at me real steady
And she says, “You want to drag?”
So she starts to roll and I start to run
And she beat the pants off my aching buns
You know going uphill I’d hit my stride
But coming down she’d sail on by!
When I finally caught up with her
She says “Not bad for somebody able-bodied.
You know, with adequate care and supervision
You could be taught simple tasks.
So how about something to eat?”
I said, “that’d suit me fine,
We’re near a favorite place of mine.”
So we mosied on over there,
But the only way in was up a flight of stairs.
“Gee, I never noticed that,” says I.
“No problem,” the maitre d’ replies;
“There’s a service elevator around the back.”
So we made it upstairs on the elevator
With the garbage, flies, and last week’s potatoes.
I said “I’d like a table for my friend and me.”
He says “I’ll try to find one out of the way.”
Then he whispers, “Uh, is she gonna be sick,
I mean, pee on the floor or throw some kind of fit?”
I said “No, I don’t think so,
I think she once had polio.
But that was twenty years ago.
You see, the fact of the matter is,
If the truth be told,
She can’t walk.”
So he points to a table, she wheels her chair.
Some people look down and others stare.
And a mother grabs her little girl,
Says “Keep away, honey, that woman’s ill.”
We felt right welcome.
Then a fella walks up and starts to babble
About the devil and the holy bible;
Says “Woman, though marked with flesh’s sin —
Pray to Jesus, you’ll walk again!”
Then the waiter says “What can I get for you?”
I said “I’ll have your best imported brew.”
And he says “What about her?”
I say “Who?” He says “Her.”
“Oh, you mean my friend here.”
He says “Yeah.” I say “What about her?”
“Well, what does she want?”
“Well, why don’t you ask her?”
Then he apologizes.
Says he “never waited on a cripple before.”
We immediately nominated him for Secretary of the Interior.
Well, she talked to the manager when we were through.
She says “There’re some things you could do
To make it easier for folks in wheelchairs.”
He says “Oh, it’s not necessary.
Handicapped never come here anyway!”
Well, I said “goodnight” to my new-found friend.
I said, “I’m beginning to understand
A little bit of how it feels
To roll through life on a set of wheels.”
She says “Don’t feel sorry, don’t feel sad,
I take the good along with the bad.
I was arrested once at a protest demo
And the police had to let me go.
See, we were protesting the fact
That public buildings weren’t wheelchair accessible.
Turned out the jail was the same way.
Anyway, I look at it this way —
In fifty years you’ll be in worse shape than I am now.
See, we’re all the same, this human race.
Some of us are called disabled. And the rest–
Well, the rest of you are just temporarily able-bodied!”
Rhapsody music service offers a trial program which does not require any sign-up. If you’d like to hear Fred’s song, clicking the link below should give you that opportunity!
Talking Wheelchair Blues