Harvest Home

Bluegrass roots must be exceptionally strong and tenacious. Though our family moved to Ohio when he was quite young, my father never fully lost a Kentucky accent, or a fondness for his birthplace. He subscribed to his hometown paper for years, and despite some health problems, he went back “down home” for a local festival only a few weeks ago. His lifelong nickname references the county where he was born, and that’s the only name most people know him by. So we had to include it in his obituary.
My dad died this week, on a sunny afternoon while he was out mowing and bush-hogging. For him, that was probably a good way to wrap things up. Personally, I’d rather have root canal than run a noisy, smelly tractor all day. And I can’t stand bluegrass music by the hour either. But Dad loved them both.
That’s always been our relationship. I think we liked one another well enough, but with little understanding and few interests in common. Though we’re both talkers at times, we’d soon run out of conversation, when we even got as far as phone calls. We absolutely never discussed our feelings or philosophies … which was no doubt just as well. I would never say so out loud, but … I don’t even LIKE grass! … while my dad would rather mow than eat. I’ve love to read since I was four, but I have no memory of my dad ever reading anything for pleasure. He still loved collard greens, and wanted sorgham molasses on biscuits or pancakes. Let’s just say … I’d as soon eat dirt as either one.
Despite our distance and differences, my dad and I have had considerable lingering affection, from our time together when I was little, and our shared weakness for a good joke, and a few really dreadful ones. He brought me my first puppy, taught me to read maps, made a thorough job of pulling splinters and bandaging scrapes, gave me an enduring love for small planes, and quizzed me on state capitals … which I still know. Though Dad was not an enthusiastic early riser, he got up early for six long school years to wait with me for my ride, and after tiring workdays he watched cartoons (Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Quick-Draw McGraw) with me, when he wasn’t … resting his eyes. Which was not to be confused with napping. Busy men never nap, you know. I think Dad got his first job at twelve or so, and never stopped working for long, even in his so-called retirement.
Now it seems odd to realize that Dad isn’t still hard at work on something, somewhere. Maybe he is just resting his eyes for a spell.

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Saturday Serenade

Wow, we do have lots of Saturday songs! But then we have such diverse attitudes and approaches to the day itself. Some of us tackle a daunting list of Saturday chores, while others relax and calm themselves after a hectic week. The juvenile cultural emphasis on ‘Saturday night’ can stir feelings ranging from party-time exuberance to misery and loneliness. Maybe we should take things easier … it is our weekend … Louis Jordan might tell us, let the joy begin! Just remember, after Saturday night comes Sunday Morning. And maybe we need them both.

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Fantasia for Friday

I was born on a Friday, I’m told, though I can’t swear to it. For sure, I never live up to the nursery rhyme characterization of my day-mates as “loving and giving”. Far from it, I fear. Maybe someday! But never mind, it’s finally Friday, and time to … do our Friday stuff. And time for a few Friday songs!

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Thursday Themes

Well how embarrassing, I didn’t expect this — my luck’s run out. Despite years spent or misspent listening to music, I couldn’t come up with a single ‘Thursday’ song title or lyric on my own. So, as is my wont, I cheated and looked some up. It’s too soon to claim any new favorites here, but these should get us through the day.

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Waltzing Through Wednesday

Wednesday’s child is full of woe? Maybe so. You do sense some melancholy running through today’s selections. This is the emotional ebb tide of the week in a way, before the hopeful surge toward the weekend. With no good rhymes for it either. Or is that just lazy me, rationalizing throwing in an ash wednesday song? Not to mention the extra tune that just feels like Wednesday to me, and seems to follow from John Lee Hooker’s stark, sad musings.

Searching Youtube for songs is a definite downer these days, a less than subtle reminder of our place in the imperial corporate capitalist pecking order. At rock bottom, that is, good little serfs patiently skipping or sitting through ads ad tedium before our videos run. Ad nauseum as well, with insulting in-your-face campaign spots everywhere. Even in the middle of a movie I watched the other day, don’t remember that happening before. Guess we’re just lucky they can’t yet tap into all the tunes playing in our heads! Not yet … as far as I know.

Also, I meant to include the Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’ for its “Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins” opening line. But guess what? No Beatles. At least not in the first twelve pages of search results. Sure, we can choose from:
Vocal covers by everyone from anonymous uploaders to Bryan Ferry and Kate Bush. I didn’t see any by Kathryn Hepburn or Louis Armstrong, but who knows.
Plenty of how-to lessons for playing it on guitar, piano, and (probably) xylophone.
One supposed to be a Motown version — Paul’s vocal over a Barry White-ish backing.
Another called a Bee Gees (or Alvin & the Chipmunks) rendition — simply played at double speed. How cute.
Saw one titled ‘She’s Leaving Home Backwards’ … I didn’t check, it might be demon-possessed.
Several syrupy lullaby versions … about a kid leaving home? What’s that, wishful thinking for parents with a squalling little wide-awake monster?
Karaoke versions … the very thing to liven up your next party.
Instrumentals, everything from harp to bagpipe to ukulele. Okay, I made up the bagpipes, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere!
But no Beatles. Nada. ‘All You Need Is Love’ was sarcasm, I guess. Hell, I don’t even like the damn song much, especially now! Intellectual property owners have rights, not us. Oh well, hope you enjoy some of the music, anyway. At least, we’re more than halfway through the week now!

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Tunes on Tuesday

I notice there may not be so many songs about Tuesday. Perhaps it’s like a middle child, getting ignored in a large family? And music is pretty much geared for the weekend, while Tuesday is just there to slog through. Seems like there might be a blues for that, but I can’t think of one, except ‘Stormy Monday’ … they call me stormy Monday / but Tuesday’s just as bad … and I’ve already used it. Today’s pick may be ‘Taco Tuesday’– who could resist lyrics like:

“It’s taco Tuesday / So we say hooray!
As the kazoos play / Because it’s taco Tuesday!
It doesn’t matter if you’re from Peru / Or maybe Timbuktu, or Kalamazoo
Here’s the thing to do / Go invite your crew
And grab a taco or two / For you to bite or chew.”

Getting hungry yet? It’s done by (I’m not making this up) Transylvania Petting Zoo … so, would they have vampire bats in one of those? … Ahem. Sorry about that — time to get on to the music.

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Monday Medley … Or Muddle?

This is awkward. Here I’ve found a bushel of Monday-themed music to post, even ‘Welcome to the Working Week’. And then it kicked in … Linda, this is Labor Day, not just another Monday! I did know that, yet it somehow slipped my so-called mind for a while. Though like most of our holidays it’s far more of a cheap political gesture, and a handy prop to help sell us more shlock we don’t need. As I understand it, Labor Day was intended from the beginning to appease widespread unhappiness and unrest among working people, to forestall European-style “radical” revolt against Gilded-Age oppression. It also gave the bosses and their tame politicians a chance to show up at company picnics and say how great ordinary americans were, the backbone of the nation, the salt of the earth, blah-blah-blah. And of course to extol the value and dignity of hard work. Never mind, that’s another rant.

So now what do I do? Wait for next Monday to continue my lame music series? Nah … I’ll just add a Labor Day song to the mix. Funny thing though, I couldn’t find any good ones. Ah, but I know several about work and the working class, they’ll do. Isn’t that what Mondays are for, getting on with the job?


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