Yesterday was a bright, sunny, splendid day here in Madison, and the car’s CD player came up with The List by Rosanne Cash. I love love love that album, but it didn’t really work for me yesterday. When you’re cranking the windows down and the volume up, “The Long Black Veil” is not the first thing you’d reach for. But this morning, when the day came up rainy and gray, “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow” was as perfect a riding companion as I’ve had in a long time. Just a guess: The List is going to get played a lot come October.
Further semi-random thoughts on a rainy day:
Rosanne’s Twitter feed is still the best thing on Twitter—she’s figured out how to be consistently interesting in 140 characters or less, which I can tell you from experience is plenty damn hard to do. I have been following Grace Potter, too, although every once in a while she shares a bit too much information about her life and the life of the Nocturnals during their current tour. I have recommended Tweets of Old and former Chicago radio legend Fred Winston to you before. Also recommended: Fake AP Stylebook.
One’s own Twitter stream becomes a very personal space, populated by people you like and/or people you find interesting. The feed takes on its own particular vibe. In addition to those noted above, I’m following some friends, both real-world and Internet, most of whom are very literate, and several bloggers I like, political and otherwise. So I am surrounded on Twitter by people who can, for the most part, think straight and compose complete sentences. But remember this: The most-followed people on Twitter are Britney Spears, Ashton Kutcher, and Lady Gaga, and Sarah Palin is the most influential political figure on it, so Twitter in the aggregate is not exactly the Algonquin Round Table. Beyond my over-educated little cocoon, there’s an awful lot of dreck out there that does not reflect well on its authors.
Take country singer Blake Shelton, whose feed I’m not going to link to. While no one’s Twitter feed can be their soul in its entirety, Twitter’s drive-by nature means you can learn about people’s impulses from it. What you learn from Shelton’s is that his impulses are frequently racist, sexist, homophobic, and alcoholic. It’s surprising to me that Shelton and his handlers would want him to come off like he does, but then again, maybe it’s good marketing. The man has 106,000 followers.
But if you don’t care about Twitter, let me give you something so that your time here isn’t wasted today.
As I sit here in my office listening to it rain, planning to head out for an appointment in a little while, I can think of a song on my Desert Island list that would be especially good company for the ride. Danny O’Keefe was from Washington state, but a sketchy bio at Allmusic.com indicates that he first came to prominence playing Minnesota coffeehouses in the middle of the 1960s, and he got his record deal after auditioning for Atlantic honcho Ahmet Ertegun over the telephone. In 1972, for his second album, O’Keefe, he wrote and recorded “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues,” which made the Billboard Top Ten in November of that year. At the tender age of 12, I heard “Good Time Charlie” as just another catchy tune. Only years later did I grasp the weariness in the voice, and in the lyric: “You know my heart keeps telling me/You’re not a kid at 33.” And it was years after that before it made the Desert Island list. As I drove to work at a job I hated, on a rainy morning much like this one, it came on. “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues” made me want to get out of the car, stand by the side of the road in the rain, and look up into the sky until I drowned.
But in a good way.
“Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow” (live 2009)/Rosanne Cash (buy The List here)