The Words

I’m fascinated/confused by this idea that people listen to music without giving a fuck what the words are. It came up at the Hooded Utilitarian and it still blows my mind. What, then, do people sing in the shower, if they don’t know the words to songs?

This morning I sang in the shower “Can I Sleep in Your Arms Tonight, Lady?”

And I thought about how our parents would always put on “The Red-Headed Stranger” in the trailer while we were camping so that we would fall asleep while they were out talking or playing cards.

And then I was kind of bummed that I didn’t know the words to “Can I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight, Mister?”

Because I would have sung that. Ha, you know, it’s kind of beside the point I’m trying to make (which is a meandering point anyway), but you know that Charles Wolfe would have known who the fiddler on this recording was, either just because he knew who Charlie Poole’s fiddler was, or because he’d listen to it and be able to make a guess just by sound (Wikipedia suggests it’s Posey Rorer). I really like Poole’s version because I feel like we’re listening to something that is recognizable as proto-bluegrass–the heavy fiddle, the plinky, show-off-y banjo, the nasal singing.

But I would not have sung “Red River Valley,” because it’s so sad.

Anyway, if you don’t know the words, aren’t those the same song?

Plausibility–Project X

Project X ends with a fictionalized me going to see a fictionalized Tom, who is drinking freezing tea while sitting out front of The Church of the Holy Trinity, that Episcopal church by the homeless mission. Tomorrow.

They/we meet up tomorrow.

And I have been checking the weather all week to see if it’s going to be warm enough for them/us to meet outside and have an awkward conversation while he sits in a church-basement folding chair drinking his tea. It’s, at best, going to be in the mid-50s.

The thing about this type of fantasy that intrigues me is that I like feeling like I’m creating something that’s almost, not quite, implausible. Like you know it’s not real. That’s a given because there’s a werewolf. So, there’s a line, obviously, that the book crosses into “not-real.” But what I like is the discomfort of knowing we’re straddling some real/not-real line. Of course there is no werewolf. But did the Allens really have seances? (Yes.) Is there really a black dog that haunts the Almaville Cemetery? (No.)

Still, it’s funny–that line. Here I am all “Oh no! It’s going to be way too cold for them to hang out in the churchyard tomorrow!” As if there’s ever a plausible time when Tom and I would hang out in an Episcopal Churchyard hedging about werewolves. No one is going to be all “I totally would have bought that conversation except I know for a fact that it was too cold for them to have it.”