My appreciation for John Prine bloomed late but furiously. After my tough winter in 2011, I stayed with my parents at their house in Arkansas for a while to regroup. When it was time to head back North, my dad and I took the long way home, following Highway 61 like a couple of less cool Dylans. The route meandered, our thoughts meandered, and of course, of course, our music meandered.
Dad popped in a cassette tape—dads are the purest, most heartful hipsters—and we listened to the scratchy, scruffy stories of a man who could have been from Appalachia, from Nebraska, from Salinas, from home; it didn’t matter. I think the track Dad was most excite for me to hear was the lighthearted Dear Abby and the heavy Sam Stone, both of which I’ve carried with me ever since. That’s how John Prine’s song work—like crumpled dollars you find in your pocket when you think you’ve spent your last dime. Continue reading
There is a question I have feared to answer: if I had been alive at the time, would I have gone to Woodstock? It’s easy to give the answer you would like to be true for these sorts of things, isn’t it? It’s easy to be like “duh, I would be there before you could say ‘Jefferson Airplane and I both want somebody to love, we both need somebody to love, we would both love somebody to love’.” It’s easy, yes, but is it true? I didn’t know. Here is what I did know: I knew that I love taking showers. I knew that I love drinking my coffee in the morning. I knew that I feel sometimes an irrepressible need to follow rules. I knew I am not in love with the idea of looking at the poop of strangers whenever I enter a portable bathroom. I knew that I run out of social power and require long sips of solitude to get some life back into me. I knew that my sense of direction is the worst in the history of humankind and that I get easily lost while driving which may have prevented me from ever finding the field. I knew that if I don’t eat at regular intervals, I become a cross between the Incredible Hulk and a teething honey badger with a salty hangnail. Continue reading
Of all human experiences, I think we will all agree that there is one in particular that ties us all together most perfectly: that time you were young and an older person told you to look out the car window or at some pile of rocks or some signpost by a scenic overlook and was like “this is important—you need to look at this because it’s history and you might never see it again.” Continue reading
It’s not easy to talk about the connection between art and pain without coming across like a trite parrot who is only saying what everyone has already said for a long time on the subject. But then, I am not Neko Case. Continue reading
When I was in high school, I was most definitely uncool. A legit pituitary malfunction left me locked in perpetual soprano range, and a love of comic books left me so far away from the popular circles that I was not even in their suburbs—my address would have instead been a rural route number, probably with an empty mailbox. But I had a secret weapon: rock and roll, the official language of the uncool. Continue reading