Hobbs Comes Out Against Equal Pay for Equal Work

See?  I can spin a story just like Bill Hobbs.  Apparently he thinks there’s something wrong with recognizing the reality that women are already in combat zones and deserve to have that recognized and to be paid appropriately.

Plus, I love how, when backed into a corner, Republicans like Hobbs cannot help but let the fact that they hate men show.  Oh, men have to go off to war and die?  Well, whoop-dee-doo.  But our precious women?!  No, don’t take them!

A more cynical person than me would note that there are quite a few people who support the wars we’re in who aren’t fighting them and who might benefit in ways they otherwise could not if all the brave men are overseas, and the women are not.

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Two White Horses

So, I was all prepared to write you a review of “One Kind Favor” which I’m really enjoying, and mull over some NM’s thoughts about cover songs, when I had to stop and get distracted about whether I’m the only person in the whole world who realizes that Beck’s “Farewell Ride” is a reworking of “See That My Grave is Kept Clean.”

And I was all like “Holy shit!  I am!  I am!  I’m the only person who sees that Beck’s reworked ‘See That My Grave is Kept Clean’ and then I listened to the remix of the song from Guerolito and realized that it’s not just me, but Beck, too.

The trick in seeing this, at first, is to ignore Bob Dylan’s version, even though it’s awesome, and go back to Blind Lemon Jefferson’s.

Let’s remember how we got here.  BB King’s got a new album full of old songs that had a tremendous influence on him as an artist and, on the album, he includes a cut of “See that My Grave is Kept Clean,” and calls the album “One Kind Favor,” which is in reference to the opening stanza of that song–“There’s one kind favor I’ll ask of you/See that my grave is kept clean.”  But it was this phrase–“Wll, it’s two white horses in a line/goin’ take me to my burying ground” that first put the notion in my head.  That phrase, “Two white horses in a line” sticks with you, you know?

(And now you see why Dylan is a problem.  Because he’s got “two white horses following me,” which won’t get you to make the connection with that satisfactory crackle that goes “oh, yeah”.)

In fact, it’s that “two white horses in a line” that really stuck out for me in Beck’s “Farewell Ride”–same phrase, “two white horses in a line/ carrying to my burying ground.”

Let’s look at the lyrics side by side.  First, Blind Lemon Jefferson, (from the Black Snake Moan soundtrack, clean up of these lyrics here [which are Dylan’s not Jefferson’s], mine):

Well there’s one kind of favor I’ll ask of you
Well there’s one kind of favor I’ll ask of you
There’s just one kind of favor I’ll ask for you
You can see that my grave is kept clean

It’s a long lane that’s got no end.

It’s a long lane that’s got no end.

It’s a long lane that’s got no end,

There’s a bad wind […] the Devil gave/brang/Devil’s gate.

There’s two white horses in a line
Well, there’s two white horses in a line
Well, it’s two white horses in a line
What take me to my burying ground

My heart stopped beating and my hands turned cold
My heart stopped beating and my hands turned cold

Well, my heart stopped beating and my hands turned cold
It was long [something something] what the Bible told

Have you ever heard a coffin sound
Have you ever heard a coffin sound
Have you ever heard a coffin sound
Then you know that the poor boy is in the ground.

Dig my grave with a silver spade

Dig my grave with a silver spade

Well, dig my grave with a silver spade

You may leave [lay] me down with a golden chain.

Did you ever hear a church bell toll?
Have you ever hear a church bell toll?
Have you ever hear a church bell toll?
Then you know ‘nother poor boy is dead and gone

And here you can get the two versions of Beck’s song.

So, we’ve got the two songs, which are dealing with the exact same thing–a man in the middle of dying, articulating his last thoughts.  And Beck is using Jefferson’s lyrics–about the horses, about the coffin sound.

But it’s not just another version of Jefferson’s song.  It’s a response to it.

Jefferson says there’s one kind favor he’ll ask of you, a favor he expects, seemingly, to have met.  Beck, however, can’t see the face of kindess.  Jefferson asks if you can hear the church bell toll.  Beck can’t hear the mission bell.  Jefferson is talking about having his grave dug with a silver spade and being laid down with a golden chain (which I suspect must be an old phrase–in this song it’s

Old Blue died and I dug his grave
I dug his grave with a silver spade
I let him down with a golden chain
And every link I called his name

and it is hard not to hear “Mary wore three links of chain/ on every link was Jesus’ name” echoed in there).

But Beck doesn’t need these things that symbolize wealth–diamonds, money, etc.–though what he does need is left unarticulated, because, I think, it’s too late for him to want anything anyway.  He’s dead.

Beck’s song, then, I think ends up being sadder than Jefferson’s, since at least Jefferson has someone who’s going to miss him when he’s gone and who might do stuff in memory of Jefferson.  Beck’s got nothing but two white horses in a line, carrying him to his burying ground.

Whew, folks, whew.  This is exactly why I love and listen to old music like there’s some great secret to America in it, because when I’m listening to someone sing something and it reminds me of something else, I feel like… like I’m outside in the dark and it’s raining and the lightning flashes and all of a sudden, for just a brief second, I can see the whole landscape clearly before me.  Just for a second.  But damn, wow.  And I want to see it again.

Or, maybe, when I’m shooting through those lyrics, jumping from one song to the next, I am searching for ground, looking for the hope of discharge and dissipation.  CRRAAACK.  Pow.

I feel like I’m hearing and discovering something mysterious and important.

Forget Us, How About the Secret Service?

I saw this story over at Mag’s about this “art” making the rounds of the internet.  Pam is also talking about it and you can see the whole thing over at Washington Scandal.  Obviously, this kind of stuff is a problem, just from a rhetorical position.  And yes, seeing people making “art” that portrays someone punching Palin is disturbing and evil.  But two wrongs don’t make a right and amping up, being the person that takes it from violence to death, doesn’t make you most right.

I know y’all know all this.

But my question is not whether it’s up to us alone to speak out on this.  We should speak out when we see wrong.

But this is a line crossed and I’d like to hear that the Secret Service is looking into this.