Not a Cover Song

So, hey, listen, I’m going to talk about the Hozier song “Take Me to Church” and I’m including the video because I’m assuming not all of us have heard it. But the video is really affecting. Like you’re going to watch it and then you’re not going to feel like talking about what I want to talk about. You may want to cry. So, fair warning.

Anyway, so Lightning 100 has been playing this song:

And I have been insisting to the Butcher that it’s a cover of a Rihanna song. He insists I’m nuts. So, today at lunch I found the Rihanna song and they aren’t the same song, at all.

But, my people, they are the same song. You’ll probably be asked to sit through a commercial on the Rihanna one, but as soon as it finishes, hit play on the Hozier song. Just let them play together. See if I’m not right.

Here We Go Oh-oh-oh

Tomorrow is my official first day, but my boss said she’d see me about eleven today, so… yeah…. I think today is it. The new me doesn’t start until May 1, so there will just be a lot to do. And I don’t know if or how I’ll get it all done. I tell everyone I’m excited because it seems so ungrateful to just be stressed. But, honestly, I’m just stressed. I think I’ll feel excited later. But this month? I’m expecting long hours and just feeling like crying most of the time.

So, my dad wants us all to go down to my brother’s for Easter because my brother doesn’t yet feel like traveling with the baby–which I think really means that the car seat only fits in his girlfriend’s car and his girlfriend’s car isn’t sound enough to make the trip to our house. Which is fine. Except that this somehow translates from Mom and Dad going to my brother’s for Easter to my dad trying to figure out how we can all go. And I’m feeling a little unheard. Like all my talk about how busy and stressed I am must just be bullshit. Can’t we drive down there after work on Friday and drive back late Sunday and the Butcher and I could still get to work? And these questions come up and I just feel this kind of split reality where my brain is rushing ahead thinking “You haven’t listened to or taken seriously a damn thing either I or the Butcher has said to you about how crazy this month is for me.” and my mouth is just exasperatedly saying “And what about the dog?” which is supposed to mean, “Have you at all considered the logistics of this from our end?” Because, frankly, I feel like he hasn’t. The only logistics to be considered, always and forever, are my brother’s. He’s the one constantly in crisis, so let’s all constantly rearrange our lives to meet his needs.

I mean, for sure, let’s go down on Friday so that he can ignore us all of Saturday like he did at Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I finished David Cantwells Merle Haggard: The Running Kind, which is pretty breathtaking on quite a few levels. But the thing that stuck with me and seems of a theme to this post is how Haggard would find these really talented women singers and then marry them and then hoist himself up on top of their talent and they would find their careers as anything other than duet partners with him stalling out. And then we find out that he’s in hot pursuit of Dolly Parton and I swear, it’s just about as harrowing as anything in a thriller. Will he get her and thus stall her career out?

And it’s not like he’s purposefully doing that. He’s not some intentional career serial killer. It just seems like he has an idea about how the world works–that he should get to have a great career and a great partner both singing and romantic and that he should also get to do whatever the fuck he wants while they raise kids and tolerate it–which is an idea about how the world works that the record companies are glad to go along with. And there’s no point at which Haggard seems to step back and say “Wow, the way I am in the world really curtails the lives of these artists I really admire. In fact, I couldn’t be how I am in the world without curtailing these artists I admire.”

Which is understandable. Holy shit. Who wants to look in the mirror and wonder if they’re some inadvertent Madame Bathory career-wise to the women you love?

What was my point? Oh, right. I sometimes think that my family expects from me a certain stalling out. Like I’m cheating the family if I have a job or ambitions that take me away from whatever drama we’re all supposed to be giving a shit about at the moment. But what can I do except feel hurt and keep on keeping on?

Which, ha ha, also, joke’s on them. Because I am terrified of stalling out. Afraid I have. Afraid all the writer I’ll ever be is “Frank.” But stalling out in that way doesn’t benefit them in the least.

But man, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard.

There are many couplings I like to imagine (not in a lewd way, but…). I mean, my god, when you read about Loretta Lynn’s life with her shit-stain husband, don’t you hope that she and Conway Twitty were getting it on? And looking at Merle Haggard in his prime? Shoot, I hope Parton took him for a couple of test drives before deciding he wasn’t right for her.

Songs for Belting Out

Both of these songs are the kinds of songs you have to sing, loudly, in your car with the windows down. But I’m not quite sure why. It’s something in the musical arrangements, where there’s a kind of swelling grandeousness.

But, if I knew more about music, I’d wonder if they’re not in the same key and, if so, if this key, for some reason, just screams to me “Sing this, loudly.”

Also, the beginning of the Miranda song is “Norwegian Wood,” isn’t it? Tell me I’m not hearing things.

Me and Venus

It was so dark on my walk this morning. And yet, somehow I still missed it when the stars faded and only Venus was left.

So, that was the end of True Detective. I liked it but I didn’t love it. The hallucination could not have been cheesier. And I feel pretty sure that those injuries were life-ending. But the maze was creepy as fuck and so sad.

I don’t know. I just really felt like, in part, we were being lead toward Hart’s daughter being at least tangentially involved–girls from school talking about it and upsetting her, at least.

But I was glad to have my walk. It’s very dark out there, but noisy. Someone was snorting in the bushes when I walked by.

Songs for Sewing

So, I think I’ve come across a weak spot in the world wide web. I’m still working on my story and the main character sings, a lot. In the beginning of the story, he’s moping around singing “Ohio” by CSN&Y and then some “This Land is Your Land” and the whole family sings “The Rock Island Line” and one baby gets the Dead’s “Casey Jones” as a lullaby and another baby gets that Everlast song “What It’s Like” sung to her and then there’s a whole part in which the main character is singing a stream of American music at his granddaughter. Anyway, we’re just now at the point where the villain gives the narrator Betsy Ross’s thimble (did I mention how much I love this world?!), which she heretofore has been unable to make work.

And the main character sings a sewing song. So, I’m all, “refresh my memory, internet! What are some good songs to sing while sewing?” And all I could really find was “O Can Ye Sew Cushions?” that sounded like a song someone might actually sing while sewing, which is also about sewing.

This is weird to me. I feel pretty confident in saying that any task, like sewing or weaving or spinning or doing the dishes or whatever, would be greatly improved by singing. So, where are those work songs?

I modified “O Can Ye Sew Cushions?” for my purposes, but come on! Betsy Ross’s mom did not sing her a Scottish song. So, that sucks. I don’t know if the songs just don’t exist or if my Google skills have failed me in finding them.

I did learn that there’s some doubt that “Sarasponda” is an actual spinning song, though, so that’s cool/depressing.

True Detective

Are y’all watching this? We watch it with the Red-Headed Kid on Mondays or Tuesdays, but I swear, I am about to tell him he needs to get over here on Sunday nights or lose the right to watch along. This waiting is killing me. Luckily, we got to watch it last night and, damn. I sometimes have a hard time believing this is even a real TV show. It’s just so smart and beautiful. I can’t remember the last time I sat around theorizing about what was going on in a show and I felt confident that the show creators had given as much thought to the clues in the show as we were. I’m convinced that every show I loved for having an overarching mythology was ruined by the fact that the writers, even though they promised to have carefully thought shit through, actually never had. They weren’t writing a grand conspiracy theory but a great game of improv. Tell me, honestly, that X-Files or Lost couldn’t have been mightily improved if they were given, say, four seasons right off the bat and allowed no more. Knowing the length of your story when your story is a conspiracy is important.

Anyway, let’s speculate:

We’re all of the opinion that Cohle is deep undercover in the present and that Hart is probably in on it. Something, we think, comes out about Hart’s daughters (maybe the visibly troubled one, maybe not) and Hart, though prone to violence against people who hurt children, can’t get at the guy who did it (perhaps his father-in-law molested them?) or he can get at that guy, but can’t get at all his friends, so Cohle, having nothing to lose and wanting to finally end this whole Yellow King (in other words, what’s going on with Hart’s family ties into the Yellow King) goes after them.

We’re all sure that Cohle would not be being interviewed if he didn’t want to be.

Our outlier possibility is that Hart is the Yellow King and Cohle figures that out.

I would love if we got some honest-to-god supernatural shit. But it fucks with my brain the way we don’t. So, I like it.

Wayne White

I finally got the Butcher to watch the Wayne White documentary on Netflix, which was even better than I’d hoped it would be and, of course, he loved it.

But the most important thing we realized is that, if ever someone makes a fictional movie about Wayne White, we have the perfect actor: Timothy Omundson. Yes, Lassiter from Psych.

Incoherent Thoughts about Jimmy Page

I won’t watch Woody Allen movies. I don’t intentionally listen to R. Kelly. Michael Jackson, who played such a formative part of my youth, is out.

I still listen to Led Zeppelin.

Which is why, really, I’m not going to look down on you for listening to R. Kelly.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think you can seek social justice through elaborate rule-writing and prohibition-enacting. Yes, in part, it’s the change/exchange problem. Deciding our problems are solved by careful enactment of proper rules of behavior means someone gets to put herself in charge of those rules of behavior. But, more than that, in terms of changing people’s minds, rule-making short-circuits that. It puts in place a practice rather than a change.

(I’m trying to thread a needle here, so let me be clear that I think rule-making serves many a useful purpose, especially in terms of drawing and maintaining healthy boundaries.)

But what I mean is that, I don’t think “If you’re a feminist, you don’t watch Woody Allen movies” is a useful thing for feminists. Sure, it gives a way to police all feminists and make sure that they’re “following the rules,” which, sure, we can disguise as “being supportive enough of victims” but really, it’s just about keeping other women’s behavior in check. “How can a feminist watch a Woody Allen movie?” once you get over the initial “with her eyes” part, is a useful question.

“How can I keep listening to Led Zeppelin, knowing what I know?” is a hard question. But a useful one.

I don’t, honestly, give a shit at this point if people think I’m a good feminist. I am, at best, an imperfect ally. And I’m not interested in signaling to others that my politics are right and getting the signal back from them that they have found my politics acceptable, because I just can’t get over the feeling that it’s a lie, a performance.

I care that, when I settle down in my bed at night, and it’s just me and my thoughts, that I can make sense of and make peace with my thoughts.

Last night, some twitter account started just to harass my friend tweeted at him and me and this other dude about what’s it like to know your wife is sleeping with a murderer. I tweeted back that I was shocked to learn my wife was cheating on me.

So, here’s the thing. I still don’t know how to deal with this. Do I still consider myself his friend? Yes. What does that mean for my friendships with folks who are directly impacted by his behavior, because they now, still, have to deal with the fall out from this? I don’t know. I feel weird about it.

But being tweeted at by an anonymous account didn’t make me feel ashamed to be found associating with him or something. Which I think was supposed to be the intended outcome. It made me feel like I’m already lumped in with the bad guys, so fuck wrestling with how to be a good guy. Which, I have to tell you, in this case, would be a mighty convenient way to view the situation.

I just don’t think it’s the right way. I don’t know if there’s a right way.

I guess the thing I’m trying to get at is that, for me, in all these cases, there’s a line, a moment when you’ve gone too far and you can’t get back to your familiar shore, so you have to stake out some new position. Like, you kind of knew about the Woody Allen thing, but you didn’t really pay too much attention, and you loved his movies, but then, maybe, you read Dylan Farrows account and it just rang true. And maybe you read all the other counter-arguments, hoping that they’d convince you that you could, once more, feel okay about watching Woody Allen movies, but they all seemed to be making excuses or missing the point.

And that’s it. This thing you loved? You can’t love it easily anymore.

Someday that’s going to happen to me about Led Zeppelin. Maybe it will be when one of my friends has a 14 year old daughter and I have to stare right in the face of how young that is. Or maybe it will come when my niece turns 14 and I try to imagine what it would be like to learn some rockstar asshole had his roadie kidnap her so that he could rape her.

I don’t know. Putting it that way, it makes me wonder if today might be the day, when one of their songs comes up on shuffle and I don’t say “Wow,” but instead say “Yuck.”

And, you know, fuck Jimmie Page for that.

Don’t Know What It Means

I wasn’t a very happy teenager. I don’t know when I started being unhappy, probably seventh grade, but then it stuck with me, that unhappiness, down a long dark way and then, back out again, but still with me. I don’t know when I finally wasn’t just operating at a baseline of unhappiness, but eventually it happened.

The times, then, that I was happy felt like deep breaths of fresh air. Like the thing that would have to sustain me when I went back into the dark.

We watched that Wonderstone movie… Burt Wonderstone…. ? Obviously, it wasn’t that great (though not that bad). It suffers even moreso than a lot of movies from “boy meets girl, they fall in love, even though it makes no sense.” But Jim Carrey plays this Cris Angel-type magician who looks like some kind of evil Kurt Cobain.

And it’s hard for me to describe how much that portrayal both pissed me off and had me in awe. It’s like, somehow, in that one performance, Jim Carrey is exactly the kind of Nirvana fan Cobain hated, the guy who likes all their pretty songs and he likes to sing along, but he don’t know what it means. But man, fuck those dudes.

I can’t help, though, wondering sometimes if I was those dudes. Sometimes you need a song before you’re the kind of person the song was intended for. You need the song to work on you, even if you don’t know it yet.

I remember hearing Nirvana for the first time and feeling like it was a transmission from an alien place where I might be understood, if I could get there, if only understood by myself.

I don’t really have a point. I just thought Carrey’s performance was brilliant and uncomfortable.

When They Are Who You Know They Must Be

This and this.

I have this fantasy that we can all just get along, that we can see people living different lives than us and say “Hey, butt-fucking is not for me, but you guys are obviously in love so, carry on, my fellow Americans!” Or maybe we say, “Oh, you know, I don’t really get the duck hunting part, but I get the part where the family clearly loves each other, so I’m just going to trust that the duck hunting is not for me but is not something I need to worry about.”

And I really like watching Duck Dynasty. I don’t need the Robertsons to be like me in order to recognize that they’re a loving family who’s living their values. But I do, in order to keep watching, need to feel like they respect my not being like them. And they don’t, so fuck ‘em.

But I still fucking hate it.

Here’s another thing, and I admit that it strikes so close to home that I have a hard time thinking about it rationally. I get the idea of a man being the head of his household. Again, it’s not for me and not how I would organize my life or my family, but I get it.

Here’s the thing I don’t get. If you said to me, “Betsy, I’m putting you in charge of this group of people I deeply care about, some of whom are going to be incredibly dependent on you, and not only are you in charge of their physical well-being, you’re in charge of their spiritual well-being,” I’d be nervous as fuck and I’d be not only studying the guidebook, but I’d be humbled by the responsibility. I might fuck up but you know it wouldn’t be from lack of over-thinking every part of it. The weight of that kind of responsibility would weigh on me. And the weight of knowing that you’re going to come back and ask for an accounting of how I treated your loved ones? I’d be constantly going over the ways I’d fucked up in my head. I would strive so hard to be the kind of person who deserved the trust you showed in me and the responsibility you’d given me.

And you’re not God.

But I keep butting heads with this attitude that is all the “God put me in charge” with none of the commiserate “So, I should act like the kind of person who deserves this responsibility.”

And there’s fucking Phil Robertson talking about drinking and drugging it up and THROWING HIS WIFE AND KIDS OUT OF THE HOUSE. And then he finds God and now he’s all back in charge and the past is in the past. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that, in his worldview, he still has to be in charge. It’s how it works. But is there any sense of what a huge second chance he’s gotten? Any remorse for how that had to fuck up his kids? Any sense that, knowing he’s the kind of guy that could fuck up that bad, maybe he shouldn’t be too comfortable being seen as an authority on anything?

No.

There’s no sense that Phil doesn’t think he’s got a God-given right to do whatever the fuck he wants, damn the consequences, and it’s cool, because that’s just how things are. No sense that he’s got a God-given responsibility that he has already royally screwed the pooch on once.

It doesn’t make me angry. It makes me really, really anxious. Okay, think of submission this way. We are trapeze artists. I am the leaper who tumbles through the air and you, my head-of-household partner, are the one who must catch me. I do what you say how you say to do it when we’re performing the trick (marriage in this analogy) because I need you to keep me from plummeting to the floor.

Phil dropped his wife and kids. They hit the ground. And, yeah, he recommitted to paying closer attention to the guidelines of trapeze use. But he dropped them.

Maybe being a little humble about whether the trapeze act is for everyone is in order, when you know what can happen when it goes wrong.

But, not just in Phil’s case, but in other cases, I see a lot of an attitude that, if the women and children fall, well, it’s their own faults or that’s what women and children do, so what does that have to do with the heads-of-household? No indication of the proper sense of fear you’d think a person in that situation would have, if they truly understood the responsibility that comes with the authority they want to have.

MMMmmmmm

I wish I had something profound to say about Johnny Cash’s hum in “I Walk the Line.” But I don’t. I just love how it seems to sneak in there out of nowhere, like you think you hear something, but you’re not sure and then, mmmmmmm, there it is, loud and buzzy in your ear.

Ooo, Ooo, Ooo

The other day, the Butcher and I were talking about the new Billie Joe Armstrong/Norah Jones Everly Brothers tribute album. He and I were both pretty sure that it would rise or fall as a good album on the basis of whether Armstrong could not suck as a straight-up singer and how their voices would fit. I felt slightly optimistic. The Butcher felt slightly pessimistic.

I think I’m right.

 

You’re So Cute, Amos Lee

Regarding this song, Amos Lee told Rolling Stone, ‘The Man Who Wants You’ was written more as a straight-on country kinda tune, but I wanted to stretch it out of that scene a bit, so I played everyone ‘Snatching It Back’ by Clarence Carter and it fell into place easily. I always saw that tune as more of a country R&B flavor.’

And I’m glad to see the acknowledgement of the song’s debt to Carter.

But I think he’s left out the song’s obvious grandfather.

It’s cool, Amos Lee. It’s cool. We know.

Taught Me To Pray

I have mixed feelings about The Civil Wars, but I like this song a lot. I think there’s something really nice about the way the song is put together geographically. You’ve got all the electric guitars loud, but sounding way far back. Then the acoustic guitar and the vocals are closer to you, and it sounds like there might be a tambourine in there at singer distance. But check out the weird moment right at 2:30, which may be why I love this song so much. Dude’s singing “I had me a girl/ like cigarette smoke/ she came and she went” which is very lovely imagery.

But right up close in the mix, like someone is knocking slowly and deliberately on a door right near you. It’s great. It’s like you hear this knocking, the temptation is there to open it, and yet, we both know, there’s only going to be emptiness behind that door.

Think Progress Pieces

Oh, I suck. I should be linking to my Think Progress pieces. Okay, here we go.

I wrote about Elementary.

I wrote about Jesse Babcock Ferguson.

I wrote about the line from Sid Hemphill to Valerie June.

And I wrote about “Long Black Veil.”

And while doing all that, I’m writing a piece on the history of Thanksgiving in Nashville and doing my Pith blogging. You can see why I’m a little frazzled. But the Thanksgiving thing is sad and hilarious, so I hope that works out.