Out of touch is when you turn on the Emmys and don’t know anybody
But then you see it’s just the different hair or the different clothes and it’s shocking almost like running into an ex at the coffee shop
Nice little surprise mini-storm last night on the way home from work and then the sky got all moody and very dark except for a perfect rainbow that nobody else seemed to notice so I gently elbowed the woman beside me on the train who looked up startled and confused and I said there’s a rainbow which she obligingly looked at for an instant.
But I’m here to tell you about something else.
There’s an eight-part documentary called Country Music on PBS and last night we watched the fifth episode because my brother who knows music was over on Sunday and told me how good it was and now I’m telling you.
So good and not hic at all
If only Dave had come for dinner last Sunday because then I would have started watching at episode one. I mean it’s not hopeless because I have Fibe and I think I can go backwards except I need somebody to figure it out so if you’re inclined that way pm me although I still don’t know what that means.
But I do know what if only means and although it’s not in any of the lyrics, if only is what all the songs say, and there’s something delicious and longing and deeply lonesome about those two words. They’re beautiful together, aren’t they?
Last night’s episode concentrated on 1968 to 1972.
Johnny Cash had a weekly TV show during those years and he always did exactly what he wanted in spite of getting in trouble with the executives all the time like when he sang Kris Kristofferson’s Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down – which btw I just played three times at the gym with my eyes closed on the rowing machine – and they told him to change the word stoned to something else, but because Kris was in the audience, he couldn’t do it and instead, he sort of emphasized the word, which was beautiful. Also he had a gospel choir on every week which the execs didn’t approve of, but he did it because he promised his mom he would.
Then after he played at San Quentin, he invited Merle Haggard on his show and it was later revealed that Merle had been in the audience at San Quentin but Johnny Cash didn’t care about that kind of thing and set a pretty good example of tolerance back when many people weren’t.
A great moment was when Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan sang Girl From The North Country – which I always used to dream was about me and while we’re on the subject (of me) I also liked to think The Girl With Faraway Eyes was based on me and while I’m at it, here’s one more – perhaps less ridiculous but maybe moreso, which autocorrect is on the fence about – I always thought The Sleeping Giant in Lake Superior near Thunder Bay could have been me, too.
Just look at her profile next time and you’ll see what I mean
Anyway. You gotta watch it tonight at 8 on PBS.
It kinda changed me. I mean it’s beautiful stuff. George Jones and Tammy Wynette and I can’t get over Kris Kristofferson who many people think is the best song writer ever and I’m one of them now and I can’t wait to walk to the GO train later and listen.
Also Johnny Cash was a remarkable guy. So funny with a real generosity about him. And Dylan who was full of hope and happiness. And so many more, too, presented in really engaging 2-hour segments so you know what I’ll be doing tonight at 8 and you might want to think about joining me. Figuratively please. Unless you have popcorn, homemade buttered or Chicago Chicago.
Most of these great songs, and I mean great, just sort of happened it seems. Hank Williams, for instance, claimed he was not responsible for the deeply emotional lyrics he wrote. And that Sunday Mornin’ song sort of wrote itself, Kris said, as well as the Jesus is a Capricorn one, the story of which he is barely able to tell because of the emotional wallop it gave him, and apparently still does.
I’m drawing no comparisons here, obviously, but what I said in my last blog, Sometimes it feels like I am just taking dictation when I write if that makes any sense to anybody, just might make sense to him
So Kris Kristofferson, who had graduated from Oxford where he studied Literature, and was a former Army captain and helicopter pilot turned songwriter, was the janitor at the studio Johnny Cash was recording at and they got to talking and that’s how that happened.
Later, when Johnny Cash heard Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down, he said it felt like he had written it himself which is funny because I felt that too in a small way, like a little piece of me had written it, which has happened with other songs, too, like The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Funeral For a Friend by Elton John, and Waltzing Matilda – and it’s because there’s something organic about these songs, as if theirs is a common lament, and maybe they come from our collective human experience, you know, and they are something sort of otherworldly and wonderful that we can all share.
Kind of like rainbows. If you will.
Patsy Cline’s runaway hit Crazy was written by Willie Nelson and pretty much everybody knows that already but what this show is so great at is the surprises. Like this one:
Willie originally titled that song Stupid
The production is smooth and the content is fascinating and inspiring. It’s directed by Ken Burns. It unfolds in the most beautiful, natural way and gets you right in the heart and makes you feel happy in a sad kind of way or sad in a happy kind of way. Just like country music which I guess is what he was going for.
Here’s a link so you can get your stink on you hillbilly you.