For the past 10 years I have written a column for the magazine Country Standard Time. It doesn't pay much but I also do reviews and features so I get free CDs and videos and press kits, and the deadlines do keep me writing, since God knows I'm not very self-disciplined. (And I may be getting a raise, since one of the CDs I had to review this month was the soundtrack to the Dukes of Hazzard TV show and I told my editor if he expected me to listen to crap like that he was going to have to pay me more.)
Anyway I finshed my column today and I thought I'd give you loyal readers of this blog a chance to check it out before it gets published.
Be careful now, I can see you're on the edge of your seat:
REVISITING OLD FRIENDS
One of the good things about country radio stations playing more of the classics or legends or “moldy oldies,” whatever you want to call them, is that sometimes you’ll hear a song that you haven’t heard in a long, long time. The experience can be very enlightening, sort of like running into an old schoolmate and seeing how much each of you has changed.
I ran into two such old friends this week, with mixed results.
One of them was Earl Thomas Conley’s “Holding Her and Loving You” which in 1983 I thought was an insightful look at a complex love-triangle with no clear-cut good or bad guys or easy solution. I welcomed it with a hearty turn of the volume knob.
Unfortunately, this old friend now seems to be obsessed with arranging the hard things he has had to do in life in order of difficulty. He wants me to feel sorry for him even though it turns out the hardest thing this skunk has ever had to do is cheat on his wife who, in his own words “ain't done one thing wrong” and who was “good to (him) when things were going rough.” It was great to hear E.T.’s beautiful baritone again, but this is not a friend I want to spend any time with in the future.
Consequently, I was more than a little wary when I ran into another alumni of the class of ’83. The Nitty-Gritty Dirt Band’s “Dance, Little Jean” was my favorite song for a long time. It never failed to put a lump in my throat every time I heard it. I broke up with the girl I was dating around that time solely because she did not like this song.
What a relief to discover that this companion of my youth has aged so well. It was actually in better shape than I remembered, judging from the size of the new lump in my throat. I can honestly say I have read 400-page novels with less character development and emotional resonance, and that for three or four minutes I felt like a young man again.
Now you can’t ask for much more than that from an old friend.