A Constant Reader says country music was "made" for me. I answered privately, and the reply got overheated. Con permisos ustead
, I am reprinting an edited version of my reply. I am lazy, and my friends kick me into high gear when I reply to them.Thanks, B---, you know who you are.
Subject: "Made" for me?
Not to disappoint or anything, but I hate
country music. Not all of it, but the majority, and certainly the modern rock 'n roll that wears cowboy hats and tries to pass. Exceptions to the loathing would include Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Pride and the red-headed stranger his own self, Mr. Willie. The only post-modern "rocker" I cared for is the occasional song by Travis Tritt, mostly when my old schoolmate Eddie Grey played drums for him. Eddie got fired for developing a drug problem that affected his playing. C&W people are not quite as "pure" as the ethos would have you believe.
I can get my cranium going like a bobble-head by listening to people like Wagner, Mussogorsky, Aaron Copland and Rimsky-Korsakov. Have you ever heard Copland's "Hoedown" from his "Billy the Kid" opera by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, or an orchestra that was really going full-tilt boogie on it? Everyone knows Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyrie" from the chopper attack in "Apocalypse Now". A powerful rendition of "The Flying Dutchman" makes me want to get up and dance like a hippie.
I won't even get into swing jazz music. I used to be a graceful ballroom dancer, and at 6'3" with a 4'11" partner, we had some wild moves on such classics as "Flying Home", "Skyliner" and Count Basie's "One O'Clock Jump". We were better than anything in Spielberg's awful "1941" film dance sequences.
It says in my Blogger profile that I like Russian classical music for the passion, and that's straightforward. They have such a sad history, and their music composers knew it, caught it, and often said things through their works that would have been suppressed or outright punished during the Soviet regime. Western Europeans, like Bach and Beethoven, only imagined what Russian composers lived.
I know the roots of country music: Celtic and Irish folk songs especially. Linguists have determined that what the PC crowd scornfully refers to as a "Southern accent" is actually a variation on the Irish and Welsh speech that was brought to Appalachia by the pioneers in this region. Somebody sitting on their back porch, strumming the stringed instrument of their choice and singing wildly out-of-key, is much more entertaining and fulfilling than a stadium full of people cheering a country-rocker hiding his pattern baldness under a cowboy hat. A symphony orchestra going speed-metal pace on "Hoedown" or the aforementioned "Flying Dutchman Overture" is preferable to some bald-as-an-egg poseur singing about dogs, horses, pickup trucks, divorce, and regretting one's past. Most of them are being condescending; they are playing to an audience they might think they understand, but they have never attended that school of hard knocks, and they will never understand the dignity of people of who live the C&W life that they sing about.
I'm a guy with one foot in either world, so I might be qualified to speak of such things. A secretive "service-related" cripple, with long hair, strong conservative convictions, and a taste for fast cars, drugs, booze, firearms, and headbanger rock like Megadeth is certainly an enigma to my neighbors. The few who get closer are even more surprised to learn about my Master's in Political Science. Not to engage in hubris
, but I am a man of many parts, or at least someone of many influences. Country music wasn't "made" for me, but I know the genuine people that country music was made for.
I love "Smoke That Cigarette". I think it originated with Kinky Friedman & The Texas Jewboys--the name of his band--before he later made his unsuccessful run for governor of Texas as a conservative. He now turns up on FOX News from time-to-time as a commentator, and is always insightful, although I suspect a lot of the PC crowd doesn't know what the hell he's talking about or referring to...kind of like Dennis Miller and Larry the Cable Guy. We seem to talk above their emotion-driven heads, because we have classical education and wider perspectives. Larry is a smart guy who gets written off by his general audience as a dumb redneck. He is, in fact, smarter and possessed of more insight than a lot of us college graduates.
Trust me, the used car salesman said; Try classical music; you'll like it.
BTW, Loretta Lynn's maiden name is Webb, and yes, some of those who followed Captain Duncan Webb, an Irish-Welsh volunteer of the British Army, settled in that region of America. Ours is the South Carolina faction, through my father's generation. He went west, and returned from FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC] to Georgia before a lovely maiden with the enigmatic name of "Retta" (No "L") enticed him into marriage. Lynn is my third cousin, and has graced family reunions with her presence when her schedule allows.
Because yours is the first e-mail I have answered since being in the throes of spring-fever- clean-up @ The Possum Den since my last mail, there is a lot of personal stuff in here.
I think, because I am so lazy about thinking, that I may have written my latest blog post at one fell swoop by editing this e-mail for content.
(Please don't be offended by this. Don Henley, the former Eagle, has a a great line in one of his songs that we "often get the best light from a burning bridge". Raised and educated on people like Blaise Paschal, Aristotle, and Ayn Rand, I find a lot of truth and profundity in certain rock 'n roll lyrics.)
Also mentioned in my Blogger profile is mention of a liking of an obscure musical artist named Roy Harper. He taught Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin
fame to play the guitar, but that isn't relevant. Roy's father was a minister for Jehovah's Witnesses, and his rebellious reply was a 13-minute song; an entire record album by old 70's record standards before the encoding of CDs. It was originally released as "The Lord's Prayer"; American record companies balked, and it was re-titled "The Game, Parts 1-5". It runs 13 minutes, 50 seconds, and is the musical equivalent to Atlas Shrugged
as a book; one of the most powerful statements of my lifetime. Few Americans have heard of him, but if I want to get "country", I'd like for this obscure, bitter man to sit on my deck, have a pint of Guinness Stout, and simply talk to me about raising sheep in Australia. "The Game" can be found as an entire side of the re-released CD "HQ" by Roy Harper.
I may have been born for C&W, but it wasn't born for me. It may be part of God's curse on me, or it may be as down-to-earth as the answers to "Occam's Razor": the simplest answer is usually the best. I still proclaim myself to be Lynrd Skynrd's "Simple Man", my favorite rock anthem and Mary and mine's "song" for the romantic slow-dance waltz. I have a special relationship with music; it can make me feel, like the Russian classicists, or it can make me think, like certain rock 'n rollers from Jefferson Airplane to the aforementioned Roy Harper.
It is stipulated in what remains of my will, minus codicils, that the entire work "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd be played as incidental music at my funeral/cremation.
Meanwhile, I' ll continue to "Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette", and given a nickle, I'd be out there driving my "Hot Rod Lincoln". (Another R&R classic.)
I'm so lazy, all this eloquent language may be edited and slapped up at UPI as an interim post. Blogs demand a certain amount of input and material, like those newspapers I freelanced for. I ain't always original. Comments can triggers replies, but sometimes not as you'd hope. I'm so tired of B.S. politics
Working for a living as a freeelancer, I learned that if your fevered, young, creative mind might occasionally hit upon a Zen frame of mind, you go with it. It goes back to that "best light from a burning bridge" thing.
The e-mail is threatening to lock up and purge before I can "Get 'er done", as my hero Larry the Cable Guy would say. Who was it who wrote that song that "I was Country Before Country Was Cool"?
I'll go easy on you, as always, if I reproduce your thoughts as a blog post. Truly edifying insights most often burn through as thoughts to my friends.
The lag on the e-mail and computer is significant. Before I go into ether-hell, I remain,