Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Things that make me smile

I've noticed when I'm listening to the literally hundreds of songs on my Ipod when it's on "shuffle" that if it plays for even fifteen minutes, three artists are sure to fall in there somewhere: Johnny Cash, John Prine, and Iris Dement. Obviously I have more of their music on my computer than all the others put together.

I've always been a diehard Cash fan. I listen to anything he ever sang, from his early songs in the '60's right down through the American recordings where you can almost hear death in his voice. All of them are precious to me. One of the best purchases I ever made was the DVD with some of the best portions of The Johnny Cash Show; I watch it a couple of times a year. It's impossible for me to see it without smiling; it takes me back to a time when I was a young wife with two babies and a big garden and several Jersey cows, when anything was possible.

I really don't know why I like Iris Dement's music so much, but even though we once drove three hundred miles to see her and she was a no-show, I still listen. She doesn't make me smile, though. She makes me a little sad.

Ah, but there's John Prine! I'll be on the computer or mopping a floor or cooking a meal, and I'll hear lyrics like these:

That's the way that the world goes 'round.
You're up one day and the next you're down.
It's half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown.
That's the way that the world goes 'round.

I was sitting in the bathtub counting my toes,
when the radiator broke, water all froze.
I got stuck in the ice without my clothes,
naked as the eyes of a clown.
I was crying ice cubes hoping I'd croak,
when the sun come through the window, the ice all broke.
I stood up and laughed thought it was a joke
That's the way that the world goes 'round.

And I smile.

Then there's this one, which I never understood until I saw John live and heard him explain that he had set out to write the worst song ever, because the guy producing his album insisted he write one more song.

Father forgive us for what we must do
You forgive us we'll forgive you
We'll forgive each other till we both turn blue
Then we'll whistle and go fishing in heaven.

I was in the army but I never dug a trench
I used to bust my knuckles on a monkey wrench
Then I'd go to town and drink and give the girls a pinch
But I don't think they ever even noticed me.

Fish and whistle, whistle and fish
Eat everything that they put on your dish
And when we get through we'll make a big wish
That we never have to do this again again? again????

On my very first job I said thank you and please
They made me scrub a parking lot down on my knees
Then I got fired for being scared of bees
And they only give me fifty cents an hour.

He said after he sang it a couple hundred times, he sorta got to liking it. I just can't keep from smiling when I hear those lyrics. Every once in awhile I chuckle aloud, listening.

On gloomy days like these, any cause to smile is pure gold. Because it seems like the world around us is going to hell in a hand-basket.

1 comment:

Lori said...

I like Johnny Cash, and I have an Iris Dement version of Wildwood Flower on my own iPod.