I am in Chicago on business, drinking $4-a-sixpack beer and looking out at the Perrier-sipping shoppers on the Magnificent Mile from my fourteenth-floor hotel room.
I should probably be out enjoying the nightlife. But I am a solitary sort; and besides, a severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for Cook and surrounding counties, and I have no special desire to get soaked.
While out and about today, I did see a street sign for the Maxwell Street Sunday Market.
The famous open-air market has been moved twice in the past two decades or so. So it’s no longer in exactly the same place it was in the summer of 1979, when John Landis filmed John Lee Hooker and a band of Chicago blues veterans performing “Boom Boom” for the movie The Blues Brothers.
That scene confused the hell out of me when I first saw it as a kid. I couldn’t get my head around this sleepy-looking old guy mumbling about “that baby talk” in between vulpine growls of “a-how how how how!”
It seemed remarkable that two guys could drive so smoothly through a street thronged with foot traffic and not hit anybody, too.
Watching that scene through an adult’s eyes, Elwood Blues’ driving is still pretty unlikely, but I have a little better handle on “Boom Boom” than I did when I was 10.
Here’s the scene: