Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hank and the hurricane

Something about those television images of Hurricane Katrina's devastation made me turn to Hank Williams today.
I scrolled down to Hank on the iPod when I left the house, and I have been listening to him since as I embarked on several assignments.
Was it the widespread misery that made me want to hear songs such as "Alone and Forsaken" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry?"
Or did the emerging stories of personal heroism -- borne in part by a stubborn disregard for danger -- trigger an impulse to hear such songs as "You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)?"
Whatever sent me his way, Hank Williams provided the perfect soundtrack for a day where the horrifying images seemed etched in my mind.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Music for sun-filled days

I feel slightly ashamed to be enjoying fine weather while the television continues to show rescue and recovery efforts in the storm-ravaged southeast.
Today it was simply brilliant here in Dubuque, with blue skies and warm sun and very little humidity. Doing the dishes this morning, then driving to work, I celebrated our idyllic weather with Jamaican party music.
I reveled in boastful DJs toasting over timeless rocksteady rhythms. Lizzy's "Love is a Treasure" followed by Cat Campbell's hilarious "Hammering Version" followed by Dennis Alcapone's "My Voice is Insured for Half a Million Dollars."
It was music made for celebration, and I enjoyed it, but in the back of my mind I felt uncomfortable by the contradictory images we have seen the past couple days.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I only have eyes for a cow wearing a blue floral-print dress

Life's a funny thing.
I know you don't need to read a music blog to learn that bit of wisdom, but here is a good example of life as a funny thing.
I had to work today, covering a best-dressed farm animal event at a local county fair ("that's why you got into journalism, right?" asked my newspaper's library manager as I headed out the newsroom door.
Well, no, actually. But that's another story. Today's story concerns the fact that I continue to listen to a pair of doo wop CDs a Scottish friend of mine sent me a couple years ago. During the 30-mile drive to the county fair, the classic sounds of the Orioles, the Monotones and other nearly forgotten R & B bands were blasting out of my car-stereo speakers.
By the time I got to the fair, the Flamingoes' absolutely brilliant version of "I Only Have Eyes For You" is completely stuck in my head. "Are there stars out tonight?" You know how the song goes, it's a classic.
So, this unforgettable song of blind love is replaying itself continually in my head as a succession of cows wearing dresses, rabbits dressed as high-school cheerleaders and sheep hobbling on boots parades past me.
I only have eyes for you? Cow wearing a toga?
See, life is a funny thing!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Just me and my satin jacket

I don't really have a satin jacket.
I do, however, have the sonic equivalent.
Several years ago a Scottish music fan and I traded some CD mixes we had crafted.
Two of the discs I received were 30-track doo wop compilations. They are absolutely wonderful!
I am alone at home tonight, as my wife and girls are visiting my father-in-law, and these wonderful doo wop tunes of the early 1950s are pouring out of the stereo speakers. Some of the stuff -- such as "White Cliffs of Dover" by the Blue Jays -- is true doo wop. Some of the other selections -- such as The Dukays' classic "The Girl's a Devil" -- seem more like early R & B. I'm not complaining, though. All these songs are great.
Take "Three Little Words" by The Spaniels (pictured), for example. Lead singer Pookie Hudson sounds like he is singing from some better, more sublime world, where everybody is in love and the stars are always twinkling above.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Musical equivalent of "say cheese"

This week's FRIDAY QUESTION asked readers to identify a song that always makes them smile...
Mike D. -- Several songs from the early 1980s, including "Holiday Road" by Lindsay Buckingham, "Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby and "Freeze Frame" by the J. Geils Band, put me in a good mood because they remind me of the fun family vacations we took at the time.
Inger H. -- The confluence of "I've got no right to lay claim to her frame/She's not my possession" followed closely by "Get your hands off of my woman motherf***er" in the Darkness' "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" always makes me smile. It's, like, *ironic* or something.
Rick T. -- "Wabash Cannonball" by Roy Acuff. Hearing that song makes you smile and tap your toes.
Diane H. -- I am not ashamed to say I love the song "To Be With You" by Mr. Big. It reminds me of my freshman year in college, drinking cheap beer at a party in some guy's dorm room, as we all sing along, probably off key. Plus, you don't hear it ont he radio much anymore, so when I do it's a treat.
Ann S. -- "One Love" by Bob Marley. I smile when I hear this or any reggae song because reggae music makes me feel irie!
Shannon H. -- This sounds super lame, I know. But it's that Justin Timberlake song, "Rock Your Body."
Two weeks ago I was literally sitting out at a landfill in the stinking heat. Investigators were trying to find the body of a little boy who was missing. Noble cause, but come on. I'm a journalist. So I focused on the lameness of my stories, the lack of a bathroom, the smell and the intolerable heat. I just had to sit there all day and watch them work. I got in the car to head back to the office one day. I was sweaty, tired and crabby. But then I became happy. The air conditioning blasting out of my vents was coupled with Justin Timberlake coming out of the speakers. And I couldn't help finding myself dancing. I'm not sure why. Other than it's unbelievably catchy.
Tom J. -- "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N Roses. College road trip.
Steve M. -- "Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys. Because it is so beautiful.
Mary N.-P. -- "Put the Lime in the Coconut" by Harry Nilsson. Just try keeping a straight face when Nilsson is chanting "You drink 'em both together, etc, etc."
Ellen B. -- "Red Red Wine" by UB40. It reminds me of my honeymoon.
Kerstin H. -- "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by the Darkness. Both the music video and the song make me smile because of all the shouting and the giant squid.
Mary Rae B. -- "Singing in the Rain" by Gene Kelly. It's one that I find myself humming when things are going well.
Annika H. -- "Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson. Because it is *MY* song!
Rob K. -- "To Emily Wherever I May Find Her" by Simon & Garfunkel. I sang that to my wife on our wedding day.
Erik H. -- The day I stop smiling when I hear "It's a Great Life (If You Don't Weaken)" by Faron Young is the day you can quit reading this blog, because I won't be around to write about music anymore. This song's ironic passages will make me smile until the day I die.
After telling listeners "Well I don't guess I'll ever make a million/I just want enough to get by," Faron sings "Like a checking account, in two or three banks and a yellow Cadillac to drive." I have heard him sing those lones hundreds of times and I always smile.
Later, after singing that "it's the simple things in life that really matter and I'm a pretty simple guy," Faron lists the "simple" things he requires: "Just give me a house with a swimming pool and a little sport plane to fly."
By then, I am smiling and singing along: "It's a great life if you don't weaken, but who-ooooh wants to be strong!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I've Got a Tiger By The Tail

I took my daily walk in delightful sunshine this morning before work.
The weather seemed timeless, so I decided to listen to the equally timeless (and delightful) songs of Buck Owens as I walked.
Owens has emerged over the years as one of my favorite artists, particularly when the mood turns celebratory.
As a California native, I might be biased in favor of the "Bakersfield Sound" that Owens helped popularize.
I like to think, however, that I enjoy Owens' work for its sheer quality.
Owens released 15 consecutive No. 1 records between 1963 and 1967, a fact that never fails to astonish. Chart-topping hits such as "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail," "Act Naturally," "Together Again" and "My Heart Skips a Beat" never seem to age. That music seemed so appropriate for a beautiful day like today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My sunny one shines so sincere

I returned to work yesterday after nine days off, but delightfully (and unseasonably) cool weather and a song stuck in my head helped soften the blow.
I have been listening to "Night Train to Nashville" lately.
The two-disc compilation chronicles the "other" Nashville sound: From 1945 to 1970, Music City served as a hub of southern R & B. The CDs are packed with classic or should-be-classic songs, from Arthur Alexander's original "Anna (Go to Him)" to Audrey Bryant's "Let's Trade a Little." Etta James' live version of "What'd I Say" is fabulous, but the song spinning in my head came from the year I was born -- 1966 -- and seemed perfectly suited for a sun-splashed day with high temperatures in the mid-70s.
Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" bounces along, spreading a message of unbridled positivity. "You gave to me your all in all, and now I feel 10 feet tall -- sunny one so true, I love you."
How could I fret about returning to work with that stuck in my head?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Schoolyard serenade

Thought I would forget about the FRIDAY QUESTION because I was on vacation?!
Wrong! Well, almost... Good thing soon-to-be-fourth-grade student Kerstin reminded me.
Speaking of school, here is the question: What is a song you associate with your elementary school days and why?
Kerstin H. -- "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams. That's the greatest song I've ever heard.
Dave B. -- "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?" Any Schoolhouse Rock song. When being in elementary school meant that you lived for Saturday Morning cartoons and Schoolhouse Rock.
Rick T. -- "Bury Me Beneath the Willow," the first song I ever learned in grade school.
Jill H. -- Def Leppard's first tape. My brother blasted it in the kitchen while we did dishes together.
Scout S. -- "We Got the Beat" by the Go-Gos was the first 45 I ever bought with my own money. I went down to Tried and True Records and bought it for 3.49 and played the crap out of it during the summer of 1981. And it's been downhill ever since.
Ellen B. -- "The Rose." My sister loved that song and played it over and over.
Brian C. -- I was midway through elementary school when the British Invasion began. Whenever I hear The Beatles' cover of the Chuck Berry hit, "Roll Over Beethoven," an association with grade school occurs. The song was the first cut on the first Beatles album I ever owned, "The Beatles' Second Album." That was 1964. I still own it.
Jim S. -- "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" by the 5th Dimension. I was in about sixth grade and this song seemed to signify a new, futuristic and exciting era when everyone would get along. "The age of Aquarius..."
Mike D. -- Our grade-school music teacher, a Franciscan sister, used to put lyrics to pop songs on the overhead for us to sing along with. One that I recall is "Daniel" by Elton John, because a friend and I used to sing our own lyrics to that one.
Madelin F. -- "Pilot of the Airways" by Air Supply or "Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd, because every kid in my class knew these songs and if we were on a school bus going on a field trip, inevitably, a group of girls would break out the lyrics and we'd all join in. Man, we were too young (fifth and sixth grade) to be singing Floyd songs. But "Hey, teacher! Leave them kids alone!" was too irresistible.
Diane H. -- "Centerfield" by John Fogerty. The summer that was popular (1985?), my Little League softball team would sing it on the bus rides to games.
Clint A. -- "Jump" by Van Halen sticks in my mind because I asked for the album for Christmas, and my dad was angry because there was a baby smoking a pack of cigarettes on the cover of 1984.
Inger H. -- When I was little, my bedroom was in a converted closet. That put me right next to the living room, just the other side of the wall from the big console hi-fi. I fell asleep many nights to the soothing sounds of Roberta Flack crooning "Killing Me Softly."
Erik H. -- The late, great Top-40 station KFRC blanketed my youth with songs that have become irrevocably tied to memories of sun-filled days in the suburbs of San Francisco. During elementary school, KFRC always seemed to be playing Elton John. I remember hearing "Philadelphia Freedom" and wondering why a British singer-songwriter would be singing about American Independence. Perhaps I did not understand the lyrical context. Perhaps it didn't matter, because that song sounded so cool to a grade-school music geek. Yeah, that's it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Vacation sounds and singalongs

Ahh... Vacation!
My mom and step-dad are visiting from Reno, Nev. and so I took a vacation this week. We have done a fair amount of driving and the car stereo has been featuring the sounds of:
BOOKER T. & THE MG's -- Classic, catchy and cool soul instrumentals
JIMMY SMITH -- This greatest of all jazz organists died earlier this year, his soulful music lives on
HANK SNOW -- Canadian country star who possessed one of the greatest voices of the 1950s, 60s
THE SUPREMES -- Their songs never seem to age.
It was while listening to the Supremes that my 10- and 6-year-old daughters began singing along in earnest.
I experienced a sudden flashback: I remembered myself singing along to the Supremes when I was an elementary school lad!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Skies look brighter

No offense to work, but have you ever noticed that the skies look brighter when you are on vacation?
Food tastes better... Flowers smell better... Hard cider produces a quicker, longer-lasting buzz...
I am on vacation this week, and I just seem happier.
The same effect occurs when I hear Hank Snow.
Canadian-born Snow is one of my heroes. By all accounts a nice guy, Snow was also one of music's greatest vocalists.
His "I've Been Everywhere," a No. 1 country smash in 1962, simply takes my breath away as he lists the various places he has been.
His first American hit, "I'm Moving On," roars along like a great night out. Even his ballads, such as "Confused With the Blues," bring a smile to my face.
My favorite Hank Snow, though, is "My Nova Scotia Home." He sings the praises of his homeland with such a heartfelt emotion in his voice that I feel like I really love the place, too.
Hank Snow provided a perfect soundtrack to my vacation today.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Coolest... animal... ever...

I know what you're thinking. Squirrel?
Well, this morning we watched a documentary on the craftiness of squirrels. Based on that documentary, here are FIVE GOOD REASONS why squirrels reign o'er the animal kingdom:
1. They can leap 8 feet with ease.
2. They can fall 40 feet and generall survive.
3. The cleanest of the rodents, they spend much of their time grooming.
4. Squirrels utilize memory (scientists believe they can create a 3-D location map) and a keen sense of smell to retrieve the thousands of nuts they hide each fall. Some scientists theorize that a squirrel's brain actually expands during the autumn to increase memory capacity.
5. Two weeks ago, Kerstin and I watched a squirrel scurry up a brick wall. How cool is that?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to watch Everton host Manchester United live on television in the opening match of the new Premiership campaign. Stupid mistakes by the hosts gave Manchester United a 2-0 win.
I honored United during my subsequent walk by listening to Manchester legends The Fall on the iPod.
Now, I am watching Middlesbrough vs. Liverpool. The music I listen to en route to a family reunion this afternoon will depend upon the outcome.
Therein lies the problem.
If Liverpool win, I will probably listen to the Beatles. That's an easy choice.
What happens if Middlesbrough win?
Musical acts from the Teesside region of Britain are a bit thin on the ground, as they would say.
Paul Rogers of Free ("All Right Now") is from Middlesbrough, but I don't have any Free on the iPod. David Coverdale of Deep Purple and Whitesnake is also from Teesside, but I don't have any music of his, either.
Jannick Gers, guitarist of Iron Maiden, is from Hartlepool. Hartlepool have their own football club, however, so I won't listen to Maiden if 'Boro beat Liverpool.
That really only leaves me one choice: Wendy Smith, co-vocalist on Prefab Sprout's "King of Rock and Roll" is from Teesside.
So, if Middlesbrough happen to win:
"Hot Dog, Jumping Frog, Albuquerque!"
If the match finishes as a draw, I'll probably just listen to news on the radio.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I'll be right out... as soon as this song is done!

It never fails. You are almost home after a long drive when THAT song comes on the radio or stereo. You know, THAT song you love so much you must hear in its entirety. So you wait and listen, either driving around the block or sitting in the driveway. We call THAT song a "driveway song."
This week's FRIDAY QUESTION asks readers to identify their own driveway songs...
Mary N.P. -- "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry. Always loved it (came out in my high school graduation year) and I don't hear it often. But I wonder to this day what got thrown off that Tallahachee Bridge.
Rick T. -- I can't shut the car off yet... If a George Jones song is playing!
Dave B. -- I can't shut the car off yet because Ron Santo is becoming unglued about how bad the Cubs suck. I love it!
Mike D. -- "Call Me the Breeze" by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a fun and jumpy song that keeps me in the driveway (or parking stall at work), but I have also gotten plenty of guitar solos out of my steering wheel while jamming The Eagles' "Hotel California." You can't beat the wailing, harmonized guitars that carry you to the song's end.
Steve M. -- It's gotta be "Burnin' for You" by Blue Oyster Cult.
Angie A. -- "In the End" by Linkin Park, "Chariot" by Gavin DeGraw, "Yeah" by Usher, "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera, "Vogue" by Madonna and every song by *NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys.

Jill H. -- Kerstin and I always wait in the car to hear "Live Like You Were Dying" (by Tim McGraw) because we love singing it together.
Erik H. -- I have many driveway songs. The single pictured above, however, might be the one that never fails to keep me in the car. "Up the Junction" by Squeeze is one of the great narrative songs of British pop. It's lyrics sound like a novel, dispensing with the usual verse and chorus combination to tell the tale of a young family destroyed by alcohol and emotional inertia. I always stop to listen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Cleaning with Mud

I had a rare Wednesday off work today. How did I spend it? Cleaning house -- and it wasn't even my house!
It was OK, though, for two reasons.
1. It was my father-in-law's house, and my mom and step-dad will be staying there while they visit us beginning next week. Of course, we want the place to look nice for them!
2. While scrubbing away, I held the scrub brush in one (latex-gloved) hand and my iPod (cue music geek jokes) in the other hand. I scrubbed, while terrific but presently underrated British party band Mud serenaded me. It was fun. I think.
The grand cleaning day became decidedly less fun when we began cleaning the backyard: I slammed my shin into a wheelbarrow and the painful impact raised a knotted contusion. No amount of 1970s glam rock was going to help that!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Looonnnnnng Hot Day of Summer

It is so hot today, the sky seems bleached of its blue.
The ground seems scorched under the white, hazy sky. The heat feels like a palpable force, pressing against you as soon as you step outside.
Driving to an assignment today, I listened to a quintessential Texan singer on what felt like a "Texan" day in Dubuque.
Lefty Frizzell first made his name as a roadhouse singer in Roswell, N.M., but his elongated phrasing on songs such as "How Long Will it Take (to Stop Loving You)" and "Travelin' Blues" seem as much a part of the blazing plains of West Texas as the silently pumping oil rigs.
Lefty provided a perfect soundtrack to today's hot day.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Reading about... "Swoonatra"

This weekend I buried my nose in Chris Ingham's "The Rough Guide to Frank Sinatra." This book offers fascinating insight into one of the great figures of music.
Fans of the Rough Guides know that the British guidebook series takes comprehensive looks at their subject matter. The Sinatra edition is no exception.
In addition to in-depth views of each Sinatra musical era -- singing with Tommy Dorsey, the Columbia years, the Capitol years and the Reprise years -- the book also delves into Frank's films, explores his suspected mob connections and details some of his tumultuous relationships (Ava Gardner immediately comes to mind).
Yesterday, while waiting for my wife Jill to return from a week in Florida, I sat down with a glass of red wine, read my Sinatra book, and listened to some of his classics on CD, including a four-disc "Best of the Columbia Years" that forms one of the cornerstones of my music collection. What a great way to spend a day!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Utterly fantastic!

This week I stumbled (not literally!... oh, OK, I admit I fell) upon the recently released T.Rex DVD "Born to Boogie."
It is simply amazing. At the height of his Beatlemania-like fame in 1972, Marc Bolan was recorded for posterity in a film by a Beatle -- Ringo Starr!
Based on a legendary concert at London's Wembley Pool, "Born to Boogie" also includes Fellini-esque segments -- some featuring Elton John -- that prefigured the rise of music videos.
The real triumph of the film, however, was the capture of T.Rex in concert.
Bolan struts across the stage like an iconic rock star, which is exactly what he was in Britain circa 1970-72.
I cringe when I hear Power Station's flimsy remake of "Get it On (Bang a Gong)." On "Born to Boogie," Bolan invigorates his already stomping original of this classic song with palpable energy. He even plays a guitar solo with a tambourine, showering the crowd with a fountain of feedback.
Simply marvelous. I am so grateful I found this DVD.
* * *
Not so marvelous... Sheffield Wednesday opened the English football season today by drawing, 0-0, at Stoke. Stoke missed a penalty, so the Owls were oh-so-close to defeat. Eeek!

Friday, August 05, 2005

and ACTION! "La-la-la-la" CUT!

Sometimes, the music makes the film. This week, Route 1's FRIDAY QUESTION seeks readers' most memorable song from a film.
Survey said...
Dave B. -- "I'll Stop the World and Melt With You" by Modern English. From "Valley Girl."
Roseanne H. -- "Moon River" comes to my mind. From "Breakfast at Tiffanys."
Mike D. -- When the thieves in "Die Hard" finally crack the vault they've been trying to open during the course of the movie, they are greeted with a chorus of "Ode to Joy," a.k.a. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It seemed a bit tongue-in-cheek, yet appropriate to that moment in the film.
Steve M. -- "O Lucky Man!" in the movie of the same name. By former Animal Alan Price. Great lyrics.
Ellen B. -- The theme to "Footloose!" Cause you gotta cut loose, footloose!
Rick T. -- "Unchained Melody" from the movie "Ghost."
Diane H. -- I'm going to say the "Indiana Jones" theme. It fits the films so well and I find myself humming it whenever I hear it. Admit it, it's going through your head right now, right?
Jim S. -- This is such a tough one, because there are so many. Just a few memorable ones for me: "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Bros. in the movie "Ghost." "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel in "The Graduate." And, of course, "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher in "Groundhog Day."
Bob H. -- "Moonglow" and the theme from "Picnic" danced by William Holden and Kim Novak. The sexiest and most memorable scene in all filmdom. The 1955 "Picnic" is a must for fans of romance.
Erik H. -- I have a pair of memorable film songs, from two distinct periods in my life -- impressionable youth and (a little) wiser adulthood.
The first song, "Don't You (Forget About Me)," opened "The Breakfast Club." It just sounded great -- a big booming sound and the song that finally broke my then-favorite band, Simple Minds, big in America.
The second song, "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)," opened "Old School" and came as a big, wonderful surprise. I approached "Old School" prepared to laugh my head off. I did that, but only after applauding the filmmakers for including Ryan Adams' opener from "Heartbreaker" as their theme. "To Be Young" is a swaggering country rock tune that probably sounds best if belted out slightly drunk. Hmm... so, perhaps its inclusion on "Old School" should not have been such a surprise.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

It's trans-plendid!

The fashions, the heavy emphasis on psychoanalysis and the novelty of coke snorting Californians have aged, but the emotional heart of "Annie Hall" still resonates nearly 30 years later.
With the wife and kids gone, I continued my de facto "film festival" celebration of TELEVISION REMOTE CONTROL DOMINATION tonight with Woody Allen's Oscar-winning masterpiece, "Annie Hall."
For all the moments when you laugh out loud (Christopher Walken's admission of head-on collision fantasies is simply one of the squeamishly hilarious moments in celluloid history), there are plenty of times during the film when Alvy Singer and Annie Hall sound like every couple on Earth... including you and your partner.
Some people say Allen's earlier comedies were too slapstick and his later comedies (if indeed, they were "comedies") were too brainy. Maybe.
There can be no disputing, I think, that with "Annie Hall" he got the balance just right.

If she weighs the same as a duck...

Of course, one of the consolations of being alone this week is that I have COMPLETE CONTROL of the television.
I am going to celebrate my newly installed REMOTE CONTROL DICTATORSHIP by enjoying my favorite films each night.
It's my own little film festival.
Last night I watched "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." I must have seen this film nearly 50 times and it has never lost its comedic luster.
There are so many uproarious moments -- the killer rabbit, the Knights Who Say "Ni," Lancelot slaying the wedding guests, etc. -- that one viewing simply is not enough.
After watching it last night, I viewed a documentary contained on disc 2 of the DVD.
Michael Palin and Terry Jones returned to the Scottish locations of the film in 2001. All the castle scenes -- bar the Castle Auggh scene at the film's conclusion -- were shot at one location, Doune.
It was fun to hear the old Pythons reminisce about the making of a film that has remained among my very favorites for year upon year.
Oh, and if she weighs the same as a duck, she must be made of wood. And if she is made of wood, she burns... so she must be a witch! It's a fair cop.

Monday, August 01, 2005

My Baby Done Left Me

Heck, the whole clan has left me -- for this week only.
My wife is attending a corporate sales meeting in Florida this week and our two girls are visiting their cousin in central Iowa this week.
I began missing them before they had even left, which is actually a bit pathetic when you think about it. I am not cut out for the solitary life, I think, and it is only a matter of time before I begin holding extended conversations with my daughters' stuffed animals.
Before descending into full-scale despondency, I decided to listen to some good ol'fashioned country music as I drove around today.
I selected the "George Jones Definitive Collection, 1955-62" CD, one of my favorite CDs.
In the years before he specialized in string-laden, alcohol-fueled pathos, Jones produced a varied body of work. In "White Lightning," for example, he helped create a template for a type of redneck comedy record that has remained a good-time staple of the Nashville scene. With "Cup of Loneliness" and similar songs, Jones produced works of genuine sadness... not the overly maudlin stuff of his latter career.
Then, there's "You're Still on My Mind," one of my favorite songs of all-time in any genre of music. The anguished classicism of its lyrics and slowed tempo conjure a vision of a man sitting alone at a table in a tavern, happiness having seemingly passed him by.
I adore George Jones for that song alone, and his music today proved the perfect soundtrack for a sad-sack who apparently can't even last a single day without his family.