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Posts Tagged ‘Mermaid Avenue’

I am grateful for this day and that I have decided to push myself to give thanks each Thursday (more or less each Thursday and more or less thanks)

Glad that Hubby helped me fix yesterday’s poem’s formatting, which I had screwed up when left to my own devices, Mac and me. I needs my Mac Daddy.

How about lack of pretension and a sense of humility? It sounds pretentious to say it, but I love a lack of pretension. Innocence, the naif. Humility, humus, the dirt, the ground, the earth, what is lowly and below, what lacks ego. I am loving Jeff Tweedy’s old school lack of pretension, but also love knowing what a complicated person he seems to be.

Grateful for Woody Guthrie’s words channeled through Jeff Tweedy’s music and voice. I chose this version because it’s so like Woody. The studio version and the many live versions are often great (how can you fail with those lyrics and Tweedy’s voice?), but this is the most simple, humble, and lovely to me.

Woody had me already, for many years, and Wilco had me a bit, but this? It’s beautiful, so beautiful.

Here’s another. I always forget how plainly sexual Woody Guthrie’s words often are, but how in their simplicity, they are often much more –broad and encompassing, clear and honest; never missing. It’s the Garden of Eden, maybe without the shame, isn’t it?


“Remember The Mountain Bed”

Do you still sing of the mountain bed we made of limbs and leaves?
Do you still sigh there near the sky where the holly berry bleeds?
You laughed as I covered you over with leaves
Face, breast, hips, and thighs
You smiled when I said the leaves were just the color of your eyes

Rosin smells and turpentine smells from eucalyptus and pine
Bitter tastes of twigs we chewed where tangled wood vines twine
Trees held us in on all four sides so thick we could not see
I could not see any wrong in you, and you saw none in me

Your arm was brown against the ground, your cheeks part of the sky
Your fingers played with grassy moss, as limber you did lie
Your stomach moved beneath your shirt and your knees were in the air
Your feet played games with mountain roots as you lay thinking there

Below us the trees grew clumps of trees, raised families of trees, and they
As proud as we tossed their heads in the wind and flung good seeds away
The sun was hot and the sun was bright down in the valley below
Where people starved and hungry for life so empty come and go

There in the shade and hid from the sun we freed our minds and learned
Our greatest reason for being here, our bodies moved and burned
There on our mountain bed of leaves we learned life’s reason why
The people laugh and love and dream, they fight, they hate to die

The smell of your hair I know is still there, if most of our leaves are blown
Our words still ring in the brush and the trees where singing seeds are sown
Your shape and form is dim but plain, there on our mountain bed
I see my life was brightest where you laughed and laid your head…

I learned the reason why man must work and how to dream big dreams
To conquer time and space and fight the rivers and the seas
I stand here filled with my emptiness now and look at city and land
And I know why farms and cities are built by hot, warm, nervous hands

I crossed many states just to stand here now, my face all hot with tears
I crossed city, and valley, desert, and stream, to bring my body here
My history and future blaze bright in me and all my joy and pain
Go through my head on our mountain bed where I smell your hair again.

All this day long I linger here and on in through the night
My greeds, desires, my cravings, hopes, my dreams inside me fight:
My loneliness healed, my emptiness filled, I walk above all pain
Back to the breast of my woman and child to scatter my seeds again

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Obviously, we’re not in the realm of sexiest songs any more (fear not, I have a few in my pocket for future use). However, if you count romance as sexy, then this one goes way up on the list. It’s sexy in its own way, including the lyrics that hint at domesticity (“tell me why I must keep working on”), in typical Woody fashion. Or maybe they hint at his lefty politics. I don’t care either way and then some. To me, Woody was a great poet and his Voice will always contain the pulse of something human and whole. It’s all fine with me.

I grew up listening to one half of Woody Guthrie’s album Songs to Grow On. I still have it, and sort of can’t bear to part with it. It’s an old 10″ record, the vinyl so thick and heavy you could practically chop ice with it; not like the flippy-floppy albums that came later, all bendy and pliable. Of course, it’s full of pocks and skips and scratches. Something my kids will never know about, that sound.

It was an album that apparently drove my mother crazy from overplay. But my dad got a kick out of it and he would sing the songs to me, and laugh.

When my girls were babies, I sang the same songs to them, too. Waking up, middle of the day, driving in the car, taking a bath, bedtime. Woody Guthrie was a real influence in my life. One of my heroes from way back to wee child-dom.

A CD came out of Songs to Grow On, with Arlo Guthrie and a slew of Woody’s clan singing along to the old, taped voice of Woody. But I didn’t really care for it and finally, the original recording of Songs to Grow On came out on disc. It was then that I realized that my 10″ record was only half of what Woody had recorded. I should have known since the cover stated right on the front “Vol. I.”

When my second daughter was born, I, for the second time, got into a severe depression. Mermaid Avenue came out the same year and we were all in love with California Stars, right away. You knew it was a classic, with a pedigree to boot. We can all be grateful that Tweedy (and Jay Bennett, not sure who did what) got a hold of it.

I was going to print the lyrics here, but thought the better of it because the music and the lyrics seem so well married (ah, I have come back to the 20-year anniversary after all).

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