Tomorrow I’ll drive alone through rural east Alabama, Georgia, and north Florida to head to a wedding. I am strangely looking forward to the long drive there and back. A few of my favorite country driving and thinking songs:
I just stood and looked out at the open space and a farmhouse out a ways. And I wondered about the people who lived in it and I wondered if they were happy and content.
I saw your face so clear and bright, I must have been crazy but it sure felt right.
Will you take me as I am, strung out on another man?
I see my light come shinin’ from the west down to the east.
This month’s starred trax playlist asks, bluntly, can a listener rapidly ping-pong between punk, pop, folk, country and ‘other’, and still be sane? Answer unclear. It’s unétrangemélange. Try for yourself.
April was painful—overwrought, full of deadlines, flash floods, a stress-compromised immune system, the end of the semester, et cetera. One of those months when people who are really not close enough to you to ask start asking, Are you okay? And you think, is it that obvious? So much for practiced southern poise.
(There were some bright spots, too. The insane gray-green beauty of the Alabama spring. Some long, clarifying talks with my dad. The arrival of old friends in town. The support of the previously-mentioned folks who cared enough to ask.)
But, out of sheer necessity, some of the escapism of March departed, replaced by a grim persistence and an acknowledgment that the work must get done. And so, this playlist is filled with songs to keep me afloat. Love songs sweet and sad (Willie Nelson, Dave Childers), spirit-bolstering kiss-off songs (new Bobby Bare Jr.), and reminders to take song-length karaoke dance breaks from the endless monotony of the computer screen every once in a while (Dixieland Delight, Touch Your Woman, Yalira, all the Blackfoot Gypsies). A farewell transmission one year old (rest, Jason Molina). A little darkness to keep things true to life (Jessica Lea Mayfield, Robert Ellis).
Lord have mercy, there are still six days left in this godforsaken month. But May will come, and with it, tequila holidays and horse races and wedding weekends and summer clothes.
"Cause no matter if they dress real nice and sit up straight and stiff,
And say their prayers in quiet ancient tongues,
They’re no different than the ones who close their eyes and fall down to the ground,
Twitch like all their nerves have come undone."
— "Made Up English Oceans," Drive-By Truckers. This song could be featured on True Detective.