One last post about songs about rain

Can you tell it’s been raining on and off all week in Nashville?

Anyway, I was thinking about how Waylon Jennings’ “Rainy Day Woman” and The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” are basically two takes on the same subject–the woman who takes care of you in rough patches, but who is not your main squeeze.

I love how Jennings is all like “You have been a friend of mine, rainy day woman.” Maybe it’s just seeing him sing in the Cowboy Jack documentary, but I have a little crush on him (no, my crushes know no bounds, not gender, not sexual orientation, not death).

But then I was thinking about The Band, going up to see Ole Bessie again and, damn if there’s not another kick-ass Bessie. Seriously, is that name guaranteed to turn a woman kick-ass?

Bessie.

Speaking of B names, when my mom was pregnant with the Butcher, we were all under the mistaken impression that he’d be a girl. Mom and Dad wanted to name him Becky, but the recalcitrant brother and I were wrangling for Bubbles.

That would have been great. I wish we’d won that fight.

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This is interesting…

The Butcher usually only cleans if he’s trying to lure some girl over.

Today our place is clean. Even the televottoman has vanished and the dead fish has been tossed out.

The Professor is finally back in town today, with a case of wine for the Butcher.

Is this merely a coincidence?

So, what brings you to Nashville?

For me, it went a little something like this:

I moved to New York City–yes, New York City–to become a famous acquisitions editor. Never mind that there aren’t any famous acquisitions editors, except maybe Judith Regan, that’s what I was going to do.

Never mind that I love my car and the open sky and grass and trees and that I hate people. Never mind that I grew up in towns with populations like 2,700 or 3,600 or less.

You can see how this could not work. Unfortunately, I had never failed at anything I really, really wanted to do and I never considered that I wouldn’t be able to live in New York.

So, after a short six weeks, I left New York City and hid in my aunt’s basement in New Jersey and hoped that I would just die or something so that I would not have to move back in with my parents yet again.

While I was in New York, one nice thing happened to me. The Divine Ms. B. and Miss J.’s dad came up for a convention and he took me out to dinner. It was the kindest thing. Once I was in New Jersey, another nice thing happened. Miss J and Ms. B’s mom called and said that I should just come and stay with them in Columbia, Tennessee for a little bit, just to get my bearings.

So, it wouldn’t be like I was going home to live with my parents forever. I’d just be dropping my stuff off there before I headed down south to recuperate.

On a whim, I sent my resume around to some places here in town and this place called me in for a couple of interviews and hired me. It was all very fortunate.

Now, I have a very cool job where I read for a living. Some of the stuff I read won’t get read by anyone else. And some of it will. When I tell you about things I’ve read, keep that in mind. I’m bound to be a little biased.

Ray Price

Y’all, digital cable is the biggest waste of money (after the cell phones) in our house. I’m always so tempted to just cut us off and revert back to some kind of cable that would not have eight million channels. We don’t need HBO or Cinemax. I could almost do without “Jewelry Making” with my tv girlfriend Jackie Guerra or “Knitty Gritty.”

But every day, I’m listening to channel 203, classic country and just letting it blow my mind. I don’t know how I would do without it.

(I was recently skimming Heartaches by the Number: Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles, which I both love and want to throw across the room every time I pick it up. But it’s been a while since I’d opened it, and I was surprised to find how big an influence it’s been on my own feelings about country music. Not that I agree with Cantwell or Friskics-Warren on much. I don’t. But I adore the way they talk about music. And I can see how that books has deeply influenced how I write about country music, even though I wasn’t really aware of it before. So, credit where credit is due.)

Anyway, back to Ray Price. He has this song, “For the Good Times” that I’d probably heard a million times, but the other day, I really heard it. I was doing the dishes and he was singing his verse, which is fine and sounds just like a country song should, but doesn’t really stand out.

But then he sings “Lay your head on my pillow. Hold your warm and tender body close to mine. Hear the whisper of the rain blowing soft against the window and make believe you love me one more time. For the good times.”

Folks, it’s unbelievable. It’s so tender and heartbroken and resigned. Is there music behind it? There must be. No producer is going to say “And here, Ray, you’ll just be singing a cappella,” but the way he sings that first part–“Lay your head on my pillow. Hold your warm and tender body close to mine.”–I just don’t hear anything but the way he delivers those words.

It’s like a lullaby.

I was thinking about how you’d transcribe his performance and I just don’t know how. You know how when Willie Nelson sings, he lets that beat get so far out in front of him, just to the point where he can barely see it and then he comes in and just lets his notes tumble all over the measure, but somehow it works?

Well, when Ray Price sings these lines, it’s as if the beats are made of concrete and his notes are helium balloons, tied with long string to those anchors, and so you can kind of imagine how what he’s singing relates to what might be written on the page, but it’s so far up there, soft and smooth and light, that it doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with the beat.

Let’s just take the first sentence. I think it’d be tempting for anyone to sing “Lay your head on my pillow” by really giving emphasis to “lay” and “your” because they are big open words you can really give some oomph to. But Price is singing you a song about wanting one last time with someone he’s already lost. And so there’s that complicated feeling of not quite being able to look at her. So, when he delivers the line, he puts the emphasis on the inanimate object–“on my pillow.” He does the same thing on the next part. A man seducing a woman for the first time hits “put” “your” “body” hard. Price lingers on warm and tender and mine.

It’s really genius.

"How Can This Possibly Go Wrong?"

So, as I’ve said, the Butcher and I have this rule that you can laugh about something that can only go terribly wrong before hand, so that you have the laughing out of your system before someone gets hurt.

Right now, the Butcher is trying to figure out how to use his recently acquired free TV as an ottoman. Yes, something with a big glass face. He’s trying out different footstool possibilities right now and ridiculing me about blogging about such a nonevent event.

It can only end badly, but it’s pretty funny ahead of time.