Poet, Civil War re-enactor, and songwriter Joe Glasgow, a single, 26-year-old self-professed “commitment-junkie,” lives with his parents on a small (“And I mean small,” he says) family farm near Phillipsburg, Ohio, a town where he’s seen only one woman his age.
JOE: I know some people would be saying, “Quit being a bum and get an apartment!” But it’s nothing like that at all. I have a nice sized living space to sleep and work, and I have my duties about the farm – landscaping, yard care and things. But I also do cooking, baking, cleaning and such. I’m good enough around the household chores that my mother say’s I’ll make a young woman a good house husband. Kind of a reversal of traditional gender rules, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter. Traditions are meant to be broken.
Joe writes music (influences are Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, The Pogues, KT Tunstall, Ed Harcourt, Johnny Cash, The Clash and some others—“If you notice,” he says, “all but two are from Britain”), and poetry (influences are Robert Burns and Dylan Thomas, “kindred poetic spirits”), and he also draws. He’s actually drawn one of the Paper Rats, and the other one is jealous.
JOE: Oh, I’ve had plans in the works for a while now to draw the other Rat! Both Paper Rats are so lovely, after all.
Joe has been drawing and painting since he was little, and he’s also dipped into carpentry, tailoring, geology, construction, teaching, cooking, farming, and more.
RATS: Would you call yourself a renaissance man?
JOE: I like anything that indulges my creativity. I hate that feeling of boredom. All-in-all, I’ll liken to call myself a man of many interests. You can call me a Renaissance Man.
In high school, Joe, whose name is not Joe but Joel (Joel Robert Phipps), grew tired of hearing “You can’t do this, you can’t do that. Do it this way, instead,” and became determined to do his own thing in his own style. “And that philosophy has branched out into my other interests,” he says.
RATS: Why do you call yourself Joe Glasgow, Joel Robert Phipps?
JOE: I always thought it’d be really cool to have a shorter, catchy name. I experimented in 2006 with “Robert Eachann,” but that was rubbish and wasn’t catchy at all. I didn’t suit me, really. Then I thought I’d drop a letter from my first name and adopt the last name of a city that always captivated my interest: Glasgow, Scotland. Plus, Joe Glasgow rhymes.
RATS: Your blog page says you’re a man with “Irish blood and a Scottish heart.” What’s that mean?
JOE: My family is predominantly Irish and Scottish. Ever since I was little, I had an interest in my Irish and Scottish heritage, this why I wear the green on St Patrick’s Day and wear the kilt on St Andrew’s Day. (And I wear the kilt other times, too. It’s very comfortable! But I don’t wear my clan tartans.)
RATS: Speaking of clan tartans, how did you get into Civil War re-enacting?
JOE: My love of history came from my mother. She has always had a special love for history, mostly Civil War and studying Native Americans. (My great-great grandmother on my father’s side was a full-blooded Cherokee, so my mother gave my older brother and me secondary names in Cherokee.) But when I was little, I saw the movie “Glory” and I was blown away by it. Then when I saw “Gettysburg” in the early 90s, I knew I wanted to be a re-enactor.
RATS: Are there any female re-enactors where you live?
JOE: Sadly, no. It’d be great if there were.
Joe’s facebook postings don’t lament a lack of love, but they do often indicate he may be obsessed with finding his life’s love.
JOE: I guess you can say that. It’s something I’ve always wanted. I always wanted to be a husband and a father. I’m all for love and commitment because I’m a born romantic.
RATS: Have you ever been in love?
JOE: Oh yeah. A few times, and it shows up in my work. Robert burns, Scotland’s bard, once said: “I never had the least thought or inclination of turning poet till I got once heartily in love, and then rhyme and song were, in a manner, the spontaneous language of my heart.” And that quote has always been very true with me.
RATS: What’s the best way to meet women where you live?
He goes on to say that that’s a lie, and that there are very few places to meet women at all. So, he relies on his muse to help him with his writing.
JOE: My Muse is the most beautiful and wonderful thing in the whole wide world! Tall, a wee bit taller than me; long dark hair, gorgeous brown eyes and a smile to die for.
RATS: What would she wear?
JOE: Well, it wouldn’t really matter what she’d wear. However, a black dress sure goes a long way. Just saying.
Joe hasn’t yet recorded a full CD of songs, even though he’d love to—“Most of what I write is poetry and my idea of the difference between a song and a poem is that a song is something I can sing, a poem isn’t”—but he’s thought about recording his poems onto CD. We wondered if he was getting much written this month, seeing as how it’s NaNo. (We know about NaPo, but people will take whatever motivation they can get.)
RATS: So, Joe, do you NaNo?
JOE: I strive to do as much writing with my songs and poetry during this month. However, I’ve been extra busy with side jobs that I haven’t had a chance to write as much as I like. I’m about three days behind on my personal schedule of writing. But I’m not going to worry about it. (So far, my total word count is 4, 877. Hoping to catch up this week!)
Somewhere in those 4,877 words are the words to the following ballad, which Joe gave us permission to post. (The written lyrics follow the video.)
“I First Met You On A Sunday”
I’ve been in love with you forever
For so many days, so many years
And I’ve prayed for your all successes
Cried for every one of your tears
I first met you on a Sunday
And I fell for you then and there
But you have always been so lovely
From your eyes to your chocolate hair
I prayed to God so high above
That you could always be mine
And that I could then become yours
Way on beyond the spans of time
I’ve written you in poems
I’ve composed you many songs
Won’t you see the love I give you?
Please don’t tell me that it’s wrong
I can’t help but sing your praises
You’ll always be my Miss Perfect
You’re my angel, my lovely Muse
My love for you is no secret
I won’t worry about the future
As long as you’re here with me
You’re the only one who I’ll love
You’re perfect, my dearest lady
I’ll bid you the sweetest of dreams
Because I love you more than life
You are the very light of my world
You’re the one I want as my wife
The one I want as my wife
(© Joe Glasgow)
[Interview conducted by Kris]