Today’s my last day in the office until after the new year, so I spent the afternoon downtown listening to Brenda Lee talk about recording “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” It was a riot, since she’s smart and funny and knows how to tell a good story.
But the most interesting part of the afternoon was the music, both hers and the stuff that was playing as folks were milling about waiting for it to start. It occurs to me that when most people say that they don’t like country music, they have no idea what they’re talking about. The stuff you hear on the radio, even the old stuff, is just the calm surface of a strange, deep sea.
Everyone thinks the old stuff is Hank and Patsy and Johnny Cash. And that’s true, but it’s not the whole truth. There’s some really weird shit out there and you don’t have to dig very deep to hear it. Take Brenda Lee, for instance, who, as a young girl was singing lines like “Sitting in my dress, trying to read my book / My baby gives me that special look.” When she’s growling those lines, you don’t have any doubts as to what that look is, but when you see her back then, this 13 year old, you sure wonder if she knows what that look means.
Anyway, going down to the Hall of Fame is always an adventure. The most difficult part is that they usually let me park in this secure, free area; but you have to press this button on the call box to tell security that you’re there so they can open the gate for you. And I don’t know what it is–somehow the whole thing is set up hinky–but I can never get close enough to the box to hit the button. And I have long arms!
So, today, I felt brilliant because I used my window scraper as a poking device. However, just as I hit the button, I thought of that Simpson’s episode where Lisa imagines that she’s married to Ralph Wiggums and she tells her kids to go get her prying stick, because here I was with my poking stick, that I started laughing and the security guy couldn’t understand me.
Then, I went and signed in and promptly got lost in the underbelly of the Hall of Fame. I swear to god, I’m just one wrong turn away from ending up the Hall’s own Phantom, drifting through the corridors scaring the shit out of the employees. I’ll be a legend, like Bloody Mary, and the younger staff members will go into the bathroom with no light but one small candle and say my name 100 times in front of the mirror and I will, because I think someone is coming to show me the way to the Ford Theater, appear before them.
Well, being the Phantom of the Hall of Fame would have certain advantages, as I would get to spend many late nights after the museum was closed sitting in the archives listening to old music. And I’d be the first person at the restaurant every day, so I wouldn’t have to wait that long for my food.