I have my rough drafts of all my best of Nashvilles done. They suck. Not terribly, but you know, sometimes you write and everything is just perfect and you say just what you want to say how you want to say it and sometimes you put some words down on paper solely so that you’ve left a written record for yourself of what words to not use in which combinations. I am closer to the latter than the former.

But stuff with “Frank” is coming together really nicely and in ways that I won’t feel so jinxy about in a little bit. Just for now, in case something happens, I’m just trying to be happy and share excitement without leaving egg on my face if something terrible should happen. Because I am Midwestern and I cannot, apparently, just enjoy shit, but must always be prepared in case it is snatched back.

Oh well.

I need to come up with some discussion questions for my cousin’s book group.

And I got nothing written for Pith.

Ha, this isn’t even a post. It’s just a to do list. A long and dragging out to do list.

The book is A Century of Junes and I just can’t decide if I like it.

Also, I let the new kitty out, even though she’s not completely healed, because she asked so nice and cute. Ugh. I hope that doesn’t go poorly.

The Library is Trying to Kill Me

Folks, I am busy as fuck this week. I have to write my “Best of Nashville” entries. I have to do some shit with “Frank” because of good news I’m not quite ready to share publicly. But I attribute my good news to the fact that you can sum “Frank” up thusly–“An evil scientist’s zombie henchman teaches a woman to drive a truck.” Who does not want to read that story? But there will be “Frank” stuff that needs my attention when it’s called for, since I thought the good news was going to be taking place next September, when really, it’s like you know, next week. That’s September, right? Almost, anyway.

And the library gave me every book known to the history of humanity over the weekend. Six books all came up as ready for me to take home all at once. I’m through The Haunting of Hill House, as you know. I blew through The Color of Night last night which was fantastic, but not as good as it aspires to be. I’ve never read a book before that failed into an excellent book. It’s just like you could tell the author was aiming for Pluto and landed on Mars. It’s not like landing on Mars isn’t an accomplishment in itself. Of course it is. But it’s obvious he was aiming for Pluto. So, that’s kind of a weird thing.

And next I’m going to start a book the title of which I can’t remember, something like “A Century of Junes” or “A Summer of Junes.” Somehow it’s about the ghosts of American folktales or something. It’s either going to suck or be awesome. But I may have to just return some of these books. I can’t get to them all.

I am, however, even more convinced that zombies and vampires are the same thing–except that vampires have better PR. Reanimated corpses that bite you to turn you into them, who want to consume you? I’m not fooled, popular culture. They’re the same damn thing. There’s probably some class issue here. Vampires can afford good PR. Zombies are stuck sending out their own press releases. And, sure, the people at MyEmma are helpful, but all they can do is help you send out your “ARRGGHH! Brains! Brains!” emails. They can’t spin “We want to eat your brains, but really, it’s hot. It’s like the best sex ever. Come closer.” for you, like the vampires’ PR team can.

Is This the Greatest Music Writing You’re Going to Read Today?

I mean, other than when you scroll down and read my awesome take on the Dave Clark 5. But this takedown of the whole “Country Boy Can Survive” knock-off genre is pretty damn great. You know I blame Hank Jr. for all this nonsense, but I actually think considering what makes Hank Jr.’s “Country Boy Can Survive” work over the rest of these “we cart our dicks in wheelbarrows out here in the country; I don’t know how you do it, city slicker” songs is that Hank Jr. writes only deceptively simple songs. I mean, there’s always some bit of pain working its way out of Hank’s soul, like a long-forgotten splinter coming to the surface. Even “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” became “and the hangovers hurt more than they used to” in “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down.”

So, yes, “Country Boy Can Survive” does, indeed, seem like simply the progenitor of all these terrible songs, if you’re only focusing on the “we say grace and we say ma’am. If you ain’t into that, we don’t give a damn” part. But Williams, at his best, is not that simple. And so we know the singer has a friend in New York City and we know his friend never calls him by his name, just hillbilly. And, in the context of the song, we can imagine that a New Yorker calling the singer hillbilly would be cause for “fuck you, man” but the New Yorker is called only “friend” by the singer, twice, when we learn of him and when we learn what happens to him.

And isn’t that the meat of the song? It’s not that the country is so much better than the city, exactly. It’s that, in the country men don’t lose their lives for $43, at least not without being able to get a shot off themselves first. “Country Boy Can Survive” is a song about grief disguised as a song about how great rural America is, colored with the notion that we’re losing rural America.

All of Hank Jr.’s best songs are like that–the veneer of the seeming subject of the song covering the actual subject, which is always loss, always grief.

This, I would posit, is why the knock-offs don’t live up to the original–they don’t understand the feeling of things and people slipping away that causes people to cling to “simpler” times and places, to crow about them like they’re the best thing ever. The knock-offs think they’re telling the truth; Williams knows he’s got to build a myth he can live with.