One can easily conjure the scene. It involves one of the inventors of the ska rhythm—the man whom Skatalite Tommy McCook called “Skavoovie”—a pianist who hasn’t been paid for his last record date and subsequently confronts his producer and draws a line in the studio’s dirt floor. “That’s me,” on this side, and “that’s you,” on the other. We’re not the same, and therefore you owe me: “I want my money” and, when you’re ready, “call me about it.” One might call this trax crass and materialistic (and perhaps it’s no more than a studio afterthought, since it ended up as a b-side), but there’s also something about this crude form of spacing that cannot be wished away. If we could replace “me” and “you” with just “us” or “one,” we might be able to eliminate the daily dilemmas of communication, obligation, and economy. But “we” remain differently-related: even as “I” try to indebt “you,” “I” remain fatally dependent upon “you” to hear my call. Our mortal differences, no matter how slight they seem, are not expungeable, and even when “me” and “you” converts to “I and I” a decade later in rasta-talk, attempting a drastic and equalitarian pronominal reduction, each speaker still necessarily leaves some space open for the conjunction and the second iteration of “I.”
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