When I was an English major back in 1833 (or whenever, I can’t remember) we were in the middle (or at the end of) a long discussion about whether there was a canon, if there was a canon, if that was a good thing, and whether we should do away with the canon or expand the canon or what. I don’t know what they ever decided. Probably nothing. I don’t guess the resolution is the important part–it’s the questioning and trying something new that has the value.
But it still remains an interesting question. Is there some core set of knowledge people should try to have, at the least so that they can understand and refute what other people are saying?
I was thinking about that this morning because I have “Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down” by Bozie Sturdivant in my iPod just because I was, at some point, making some effort to know the things that people who know things talk about. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a song I like, though I think it’s an interesting song. Sturdivant is doing some interesting things with his voice that make me think more of what you would hear on the radio, not in church.
I wasn’t trying to listen to “Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down” this morning, though. I was actually trying to listen to the song that is 9 of 855 on my tiny iPod, not the one that is 8. Nine of 855 in alphabetical song order is “Ain’t No Sunshine.” And I mistook one “Ain’t No” for the other at the stop light.
And I would have cleared it up sooner if Sturdivant’s “Ain’t no” didn’t seem so much like Wither’s “Ain’t no.” Listen just to the opening two notes of each song and tell me if those aren’t close cousins of each other. And I keep listening to the songs back to back, trying to decide if the echo is intentional, one younger song nodding back to another, wondering what it might mean to find that the two songs were deliberate sonic siblings, and suspecting it’s just the kind of coincidence facilitated by modern technology.
Still, it’s kind of cool.