Kamis, 05 November 2009

Memphis or Nebraska

I started my morning with a walk and I came home to a sunny kitchen, which spurred me, somehow, to clear old newspapers from the table. I can't do this without flipping through each section and making sure I didn't miss something good. "Something good" often means something from Verlyn Klinkenborg, who often contributes a short editorial at the back of section A in The New York Times. I found one of his pieces in Monday's paper. Most of his editorials concern "The Rural Life," but Monday's is titled "Memphis" and falls into the miscellaneous category. It begins with this statement, "If I had to name the best short story in the form of a song lyric, I suspect the winner would be Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee," first released as a B-side in 1959."

This might be my first disagreement with Verlyn Klinkenbourg. Berry's lyrics reveal a desperate man, and they are sad and haunting. But in the genre of the two-minute song (give or take), the 10 songs on Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska tell some of the finest, and saddest, tales. It's hard to pick a favorite among them. "Highway Patrolman," "Used Cars," "Open all Night," "My Father's House, " "Reason to Believe"....these songs straddle hopelessness and hope so deftly that one can sink into a deep meditative funk during one listening.

I listened to Nebraska over and over in my senior year of high school, and despite the violence, loneliness and despair depicted on that album, I did not depart for the badlands with a sawed off .410 or mess with the gamblin' commission in Atlantic City. I smiled at customers when I scooped their ice cream and I headed off to college with a sunny take on life. I think this will be a useful memory to keep in mind in the years ahead, when Tom will, most likely, slink off to his room to sink into that deep, ruminative space we all sometimes need when we listen to music. And I think I'll always feel fiercely loyal to Bruce Springsteen and Nebraska.

Tidak ada komentar:

Posting Komentar