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post #152
bio: stu

first post
that week
my links

Favorite Things
· The Flaming R. Kelly
· Malfatti
· Johnny Cash
· Chuck Klosterman
· Deadwood, Seasons 1 & 2

Previous Posts
Notes on a Pandemic
Notes on Sobriety
Republicans Are Tough Guys
Brain Fog
Clown Posse
Uber, but For Wrong Numbers

Category List
February Smackdown
Literary Shit
Mad Craziness
Random 10


Sins of the Father
I love my dad, but at times he can really be a moron.

One of the great injustices of the world is that stupidities of the parents get passed down and become the stupidities of the sons. It's as close to karma as we get on this planet--the sins of the fathers live on not in their next lives, but in their next of kin. Somehow, my mom's foibles mostly skipped me over--if they had, the Friday Random Ten would be suspiciously full of Dan Fogelberg, Bette Midler, Air Supply, and Art Garfunkel (but just his solo work).

My dad's dislikes, however, did live me for quite awhile--primarily in my visceral dislike for country music. My dad doesn't listen to music, but country music is the only genre he actively doesn't listen to.

Decades later, his example of why he hates country music still mystifies me. I can still hear him demonstrate how dumb it can be, singing off-key, with this fake twang so out of place in his Scottish-Norwegian frame.
"I fell yin to a bah-yurning ring of fee-yire. I fell down down down down down down down and the flames, they went a ha-yigher..."
He repeated that line over and over. And I was convinced. It stuck with me. Country music is not only irritating, it's stupid. And that song, oh, that "Ring of Fire," that was especially stupid.

Except it's not. It really isn't. June Carter wasn't the greatest lyricist, but even the original recording of the song by her sister Anita conveys pain and unease in a way atypical to music, much less country music. Johnny Cash's version from a year later really cements its place in music history, with the mariachi horn section and Cash's vocals.

Sarah Vowell, in the course of calling the relationship between Johnny Cash and June Carter "The Greatest American Love Story of the 20th Century" on an episode of This American Life*, describes how deeply disturbing a song "Ring of Fire" truly is: a song, written by a married woman about a married man, then sung by that same married man on stage, all about how their love is burning them up--not in a Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers sort of way, but in a flames-of-hell sort of way.

These were deeply religious people, who believed adultery was a mortal sin. And yet they fell in love in such a deep and real fashion that they were willing to risk an eternity in hell to be with each other. That's love. Vowell compares it to Huck Finn deciding not to turn in Jim, "All right, I'll go to hell!"--which, ironically, was the one book in my entire life my dad made me read, rather than just recommended.

I didn't like it at the time. I don't know why.

My dad loves me, but at times, I can really be a moron.

*Go about 50 minutes into the streaming broadcast--Sarah Vowell's bit is about ten minutes long, and she's always worth listening to.

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