The phrase ‘bum leg’ came into my head the other night while watching The Wire (yep, I’ve finally joined that huge club – only 10 years late!). It’s not very PC, and probably ableist, so it’s not one I’d recommend adding to your vernacular… but thankfully it’s also the name of this wonderful Joe Pernice track from his solo album Big Tobacco.
The greatest songwriters are those who can make individual songs feel like multi-paged epics, with deftly-written characters, a mesmerising plot, and edge-of-the-seat mystery. This is one of those songs. You’re left wondering who this person is, the man with the ‘bum leg’; who the shifty little robber is that injured him; and how long he has left until he becomes a ghost.
Sometimes, it’s nicer not the get the answers; that way, you can imagine a story all of your own. It’s that sense of intrigue that keeps you on edge during Bum Leg, and why it’s so good to return to it again and again.
Here’s a great live version of the track: