Sunday, September 27, 2009

Let the Son Come In

Artists: Our Generation

Album: Praise and Prayer

Song: "Praise"

What church had Our Generation as the house band? I might not have become a lapsed Catholic had this rock show erupted every Sunday morning. If the Devil stole the beat from the Lord, God must've borrowed a riff from ol' Beelzebub himself. Behold this caustic example of stigmata for the ears.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Success Is Survival

Artist: Michael Murphey

Album: Blue Sky Night Thunder

Song: "Goodbye Old Desert Rat"

The Reverend Joshua Duncan Sloane's eulogy at the end of The Ballad of Cable Hogue stands as the profound resolution to a forgotten western. I like his words enough to share them here.

We are gathered here in the sight of God and all His glory to lay to rest Cable Hogue.

Now most funeral orations, Lord, lie about a man. Compare him to the angels, whitewash him with a really wide brush. But you know, Lord, and I know that it just is not true. Now a man is made out of bad as well as good, all of them. Cable Hogue was born into this world nobody knows when or where. He came stumbling out of the wilderness like a prophet of old. Out of the barren wastes he carved himself a one-man kingdom.

Some said he was ruthless. But you could do worse, Lord, than to take to your bosom Cable Hogue. He wasn't really a good man, he wasn't a bad man. But, Lord, he was a man!

He charged too much. He was as stingy as they come. Yes, he might have cheated, but he was square about it. Rich or poor, he gouged them all the same. When Cable Hogue died, there wasn't an animal in the desert he didn't know. There wasn't a star in the firmament he hadn't named. There wasn't a man he was afraid of.

Now the sand he fought and loved so long has covered him at last. Now he has gone into the whole torrent of the years, of the souls that pass and never stop. In some ways he was your dim reflection, Lord; and right or wrong, I feel he is worth consideration. But if you feel he is not, you should know that Hogue lived and died here in the desert, and I'm sure Hell will never be too hot for him.

He never went to church. He didn't need to. The whole desert was his cathedral. Hogue loved the desert, loved it deeper than he'd ever say. He built his empire, but was man enough to give it up for love when the time came.

Lord, as the day draws toward evening, this life grows to an end for us all. We say, "adieu" to our friend. Take him, Lord. But knowing Cable, I suggest you do not take him lightly.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

His Head Is Full of Diesel Smoke

Artist: Lonnie Mack

Album: The Hills of Indiana

Song: "Asphalt Outlaw Hero"

Sometimes you need a song to suffocate any air of ambiguity, subtlety, or interpretation. "Asphalt Outlaw Hero" does just that. This clobbering performance puts the hammer down and begs to be cranked while screaming down a deserted highway in the black of night.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Been Five Years But It Seems Like Yesterday

Artist: John Braden

Album: John Braden

Song: "Baptist Funeral"

MTV's Singled Out flickered on the silent Zenith screen, and a CDOasis, Everclear, or Bone Thugs N Harmonywould permeate the dorm room. Amid discussions that bled from late night to early morning, a quote from my friend Gweedo has followed me through the subsequent years:

"Life is a series of distractions before you die."

I have struggled more often than not to remember this thought while drifting through my daze. Recognizing life's finite window seems to only occur at great moments of loss or upheaval. That fiery epiphany roars for a moment. Much like the characters in Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru, routine is quick to extinguish the oxygen of clarity. Should we not strive to make those distractionshow ever many we getas interesting as possible?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ain't Nobody Say Amen

Artist: Larry Jon Wilson

Album: Let Me Sing My Song to You

Song: "Willoughby Grove"

A pile of dissected National Geographic magazines stands stacked in a crate on my closet floor. Dried glue remains stuck to the paper where I tore the perfect binding apart. Most of the issues I have collected were published between the late 1960s and late 1970s, the era where bellbottoms mingled with the boot cut. Perhaps inspired by the impending Bicentennial, most every month contained at least one article about the United States: a town, city, state, or region. There would be an economic analysis and an appreciation of the people. When I read these pieces and study the pictures, I am filled with conflicting fascination and ache. Fascination because the articles are inspirational for planning road trips; an ache for a time I can never visit. So I travel. To find any places time has left untouched, to discover what happened to Willoughby Grove.