Been thinkin’ about…
I remember it like it was yesterday. But then, I remember everything like it was yesterday, both my blessing and my curse. Alannah Myles’ Black Velvet came on the radio. It was summer and the leaves crowded out the sun, even at midday.
I only listened to country music back then. This was the country music radio station but, as the cicadas sang outside my window screen, the DJ took a chance. A hurried intro, then the song began. I hit record on the empty cassette in the stereo, captivated. I was 14.
Perhaps ironic it took three Canadian artists to fully awaken in me — a middle class Midwestern boy — a deep passion for the South, and not just the Atlanta skyline, the catfish fried in cornmeal (instead of flour), or a dialect which seemed strangely familiar.
The sun is settin’ like molasses in the sky…
Here there was also mystery. Darkness. That unknown called to me in ways that cornfields and pale blue Great Lakes’ skies could never really compete.
Black velvet with that slow southern style
A new religion that’ll bring you to your knees…
Here there were questions. Questions I wanted to ask.
Here thoughts and hearts and minds could be dark — dark like the bayous I’d seen, cypresses towering. Red, red like the hazy sun setting, so unlike the dry Illinois sunsets I had known. Deep down, I knew there were answers in the dark.
For far too long we’ve pretended civility and called it politically correct. We have overthought with our heads and underfelt from our hearts, learning all we thought we needed from string after string of humorless sitcoms. We’ve no understanding of our own passion, our own savagery, our own power, even as it blindsides us with news of shootings and brutality. Man’s inhumanity against man.
For humanity demands balance.
Love Me Tender leaves ’em cryin’ in the aisle
The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true…
Pretend to be perfect too long? The pendulum swings too far.
Better to embrace our darker natures honestly, unlearn what we have learned. Embrace the darkness of the mountains’ shadow, the deepness of the holler within our own heart. Walk the shadowed forest of the soul and smell the earth, bitterly reminded of our own mortality. It is better to learn those uncomfortable things in the honest poetry of the soul — uncensored — and live out our short time on earth in honest passion.
It is far worse to allow ourselves to be forced into a box — held down by expectation — only to dry up and blow away, or ride the pendulum to the far side of humanity’s darkness.
We must learn it’s okay to be offended. To be uncomfortable. That the greatest gift we can give another is safety in that human expression. That life is far too short but never cheap. And that, in the end, the hard part isn’t the dying.
It’s the living.
Black velvet if you please.
As always… thanks for readin’.
Joshua Heston, editor