Female

 

 

I watched the CMA’s again this year. A child of the 1970’s and 80’s, I grew up watching country music shows, beauty pageants, variety shows, the Oscars, and yes, I watched the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy because that’s how you’d get to see all the really big name stars on television, you know, Steve and Eydie, Bob Goulet, Sammy Davis Jr. and the lot and the like. Could also be that my own experiences with illness made me particularly empathetic to the plight of kids dealing with illness. Hollywood was still a glamorous place back then. I used to like to see the movie stars on the red carpet, see those incredible dresses, so elegant, so refined, how the other half lived. I’ve read a few celebrity biographies over the years, of old Hollywood stars, the Golden Age, when the studio system still kept things in check, stars were groomed, presented like products, image wasn’t everything, it was the only thing, and the likes of most of us never knew of anything untoward happening, most of the time. Watchers of the Showtime series, “Ray Donovan”, about a man who is paid very well to clean up the biggest messes for the most powerful people in the game, are apt to wonder these days how much truth there is to it. ( Word to the wise, “Ray Donovan” is a rough, dirty, show, however exceptionally well acted, every episode should open with a trigger warning, and I’m not saying that lightly. I can barely get through episodes of that show sometimes, however the characters are compelling.) Acceptance speeches didn’t go on for three days, generally weren’t political, but rather they were polite, gracious, and humble, recognizing with every breath that it was rarefied air they were taking in, that everybody didn’t get to where they were and that it was a privilege to be where they were. Actors and actresses didn’t want the world to know about their private lives, their job, after all, is to convince you that they are someone else, and so they said, “Thank you, this is a long way from that small town in Iowa where I started out. I really appreciate this. God Bless.” And they got off the stage. The standing ovation really meant something. Politicians are the men and women who run the world, ostensibly so that the rest of us can go about our business, seems to me that probably isn’t an easy job. There was a time when celebrities understood that it could even be considered to be irresponsible to openly discuss their politics or who they were voting for. Imagine if elections were swayed by the passionate youth who are voting for whoever because that’s who the Beatles said to vote for. (  “I’m a fan of old movies, but I never say to myself “I wonder if Fred Astaire supported Roosevelt?” or “I wonder if Audrey Hepburn favored economic reform?” ~ Taylor Swift) I’ve wondered lately, and I’ve wondered it before, if our society is imploding. People are cracking, and yet statistically, generally speaking, we’re safer than ever before, depending on which source you want to believe.   They Keystone Pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil. We can’t seem to figure out clean water here on Earth, still, yet we’ve begun looking for it on other planets. It occurred to me recently that perhaps the story we keep retelling ourselves about extraterrestrials seeking a new planet with plentiful resources for harvesting, is really something we’re trying to grasp about ourselves, perhaps we are the parasitic alien race we’re so afraid of. In the midst of the seemingly continuous turmoil streaming to us on the internet, on the news, and for some, outside their windows, I’ve found myself longing for a time when discord didn’t seem to be the order of the day. Watching the CMA’s delivered a little bit of that, a respite. A show on national television, watched by over fourteen million people, where they openly talked about, sang about, God, church, Jesus, America, small towns and being from them, coming together and being good, kind, decent, people to one another. Carrie Underwood delivered a tribute over seven minutes long singing about Jesus, and it was amazing. It felt familiar, it felt like, “I remember this place, I know this place, it’s America.” For a minute I thought I might still find John Tesh and Mary Hart hosting “Entertainment Tonight” the next evening, telling us all about it, like waking up safe in my bed back in Kansas.

Link to Tyler Perry on CMA’s talking about country legend Charley Pride, and how we are all more alike, than unalike.

I was trying to think of what they, we, used to call that kind of entertainment, family entertainment, where the kids could watch it but there might be one or two subtle, sly, asides for the grown-ups, or where even the sexuality was presented in a certain way, inoffensively, the word I think I was looking for to describe those old- timey shows, is “wholesome.”  When did “wholesome” become a bad thing? When did the appearance of wholesomeness, become a bad thing? Did we peak as a country, as a society, in 1986, with the likes of The Cosby Show and Family Ties, America’s Funniest Home Videos, when Miami Vice was cutting edge for network television? I don’t know. I say this as a writer, an adult woman, who believes in freedom of speech, individual freedom and rights, respect, you be you, I’ll be me, who has written unwholesome things, will likely write such things again at some point,  that anyone may choose or not choose to read, as a person who reads and views, or has viewed, a variety of material with ratings from G to none of your business, it sure was nice to watch the County Music Association Awards and be treated to three hours of great music during which everyone behaved with dignity, decency, a sense of decorum and respect not only for their fellow humans, but for themselves. The CMA’s is the classiest show on television, hands down, no contest. My opinion, the world needs more of that, common decency, respectfulness, particularly within areas that could be considered shared spaces, the public arena.

Every time I watch the CMA’s, I remind myself that I miss those roots and to listen to that music again on the regular, this time, I think that took, and I can’t say that the state of the world has nothing to do with that. I was flatly floored by Keith Urban’s song, “Female”, and can tell you I’m going to listen to that one a lot. A beautiful song that sends a message while honoring what it is to be female, it’s a new anthem for some of us ladies, I am sure of that. It was also kind of neat to catch the show that marked the induction of Alan Jackson into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Lately I notice that my attitude, and perspective, about a lot of things has changed, that I catch myself not being able to relate to some things, or understand some things, in popular culture, more than that though, I sometimes find myself not wanting to. Maybe I’m getting old. Nobody wants anyone to say that either, that they’re getting old, but with any luck, God willing, I’m about to turn forty-nine years old, and I guess I’m starting not to much care what anyone thinks I should and shouldn’t say, or how I should say it. Forty-nine used to be old, that used to be middle-aged as in when people started to slow down. Now it’s when we re-up our vitamins and hit the gym, determine to make the most of these years. I work out as much as my body will allow it, use it or lose it, that’s what middle age is about too. We can also thank the longevity of the Baby Boomers for that, their refusal to be done and relinquish the stage has made it necessary for us Gen X-ers to stay in shape, or try to, but I don’t want to digress down that road right now.  I didn’t get a cake this year, didn’t want one. I got one last year, it was good, though I don’t usually have much of a sweet-tooth.  I was thinking about how I expected my forties to be some of the best years of my life, how I was looking so forward to it, and how everything in my life fell apart when I turned forty, I mean everything. How the beginning of my forties turned out to be some of the hardest years I’ve had, and that’s saying something because I’ve had some tough times. But it also speaks volumes as to how good my life was during most of the years immediately preceding that time, that I expected that my forties were just going to be completely, amazingly, good. So now there’s this last year of my forties, forty-nine, and I’m not quite sure what to say about it.  I have been sober now for over a year, that has been a vast, huge, phenomenal, improvement in my life. ( Not to shock anyone but I’m never going to stand in front of anyone and claim perfection, only, hopefully myself, and perhaps a little dignity and God willing, redemption.) Life is generally pretty good again. I think I am at a place of taking things as they come, doing the best I can to make the best of everything, the most of it all, and some days, that’s better than others, but still, so good to still be here on the planet kicking around and living. I didn’t think I’d still be coloring my hair at this point, though I don’t know how much longer I can believably stave off the grey. I am beginning to embrace the wrinkles and laugh lines under my eyes, God knows I earned every one of them. What do I expect the future, my fifties to be like? Right now I’m thinking I’m going to do my best to be glad for those years happening at all if they do, because for some people, they don’t.  I am glad of my life and living, being alive, and I thank God for getting me this far.

In addition to currently listening to Keith Urban’s song “Female” repeatedly, and watching the CMA’s, I recently watched the two-part HBO series, “Rolling Stone: Stories From the Edge” and though it was a puff piece, it was also quite good and interesting in that it didn’t hold back from some things I would have expected it to. I had to smile when Cameron Crowe revealed that his overly flattering profile of Led Zeppelin was criticized by editor Jann Wenner, and that Wenner gave Crowe a copy of Joan Didion’s “Slouching Toward Bethlehem”, telling him that if he wanted to be a writer, he should read her book.  I’m still reading from The Big Book Of Joan, and I’m still completely digging it. There are things Didion wrote in the sixties and into the seventies that couldn’t have been written about today, observant, philosophical, verging on prophetic at times, her work has caused me to reevaluate a great many things with regard to the importance of a writer’s voice. Reading Didion is soul satisfying for me, whatever it is that she does or doesn’t understand about the world, she understands what it is to be a writer in it. We’ve also begun watching the History Channel’s new series about the Zodiac Killer. It’s been quite good so far though I wonder what the conclusion will be as it seems they’ve got a main suspect narrowed down in the first episode. I am reminded here of a quote, somehow relevant to all of this, and not.

“We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything more.” ~ Carl Jung

All this has got me to thinking again about how I use music for fuel sometimes when I’m writing. ( I could kick myself for recently accidentally permanently deleting and not backing up anywhere except in my notes, an essay that I wrote about “grunge” music, the music that my generation created. Update: I did back it up and here is a link to it!) I just added I don’t know how many documentaries, about music, among other things, to the Netflix. ( I will likely report on them as I watch them.) Courtney Love said recently in an interview with Vanity Fair, talking about writing her memoir, “I’ve been both Hollywood and rock . . . ah . . . well . . . the rockers don’t care. It’s all been out there anyway. The feuds. The fighting. The fucking. But with the Hollywood stuff, you have to be really careful. I’m not going to omit much, but there are definitely secrets I will keep and not write about. But Hollywood is very different than the rock’n’roll world. Hollywood people you just have to be careful about.” I think, again, the reason for that is that it is an actor’s job to convince you that they are someone else, if the facade falls away, actors aren’t left with much to work with and then they’ve got to overcome whatever you know about them in order to convince you that they are really the part they are playing while they are reading the words of someone else, inhabiting a character that isn’t who they are, trying to convince you of it, play acting unreality for entertainment, so that you/we might escape reality for a time. Knowing so much about them personally, possibly makes it tougher to believe the make-believe on the big screen. I wonder if Hollywood kind of forgot that.  Musicians, artists, writers, don’t bear the same burden, and I think that is, in some part, because we create a product that is, generally speaking, separate from the image of our physical selves. To that end, those stories have become more interesting to me than were the celebrity biographies that I consumed in my youth. I was buying Hollywood as a dreamland of glamor and elegance, not anymore.

Anyone following this webpage may have noticed that I’ve changed the color scheme quite frequently. I don’t know, maybe it’s like rearranging furniture, or anything else, I guess. Sometimes you know right away, “It goes like this,” and that’s it. Other times you’ve got to move things around and put the couch over here and the chair over there until it you find where it belongs. Turns out I like chintz. However long ago, when I was first starting to chase my own tail about how I wanted my webpage to look, wallpaper was at the crux of the thing, it seemed. I wanted something that was strong, inherently female, elegant and yet, kind of kitschy though not quite, vintage/retro/modern and that’s kind of nearly steampunk Victorian, darkly beautiful, strangely wondrous possibly whimsical, that would work with the fact that I write some of everything and I intend to keep doing exactly that, with the only parameters being those I set for myself. Will I change it again? I don’t know, but hopefully not for a good while.

I started this post with a Keith Urban song, and I’m going to end it with the lyrics to that song, really resonating with me,  but I’m going to put something else right here, and call it my open love letter to one of my first crushes, and something that was a big part of the landscape of the popular culture of my youth, “Dear Keith Partridge…” just because.

 

So, forty-nine, thank you, God, ( and knock on wood),  and God willing, here we go.

Teri

Previously on music :

That 70’s Sound,

Sunday Morning Coming Down,  

It Is Still Beautiful: Chris Cornell

Note here about sources: These days, if you’re only checking one “news” source for anything, chances are you aren’t giving yourself the benefit of the larger picture. I watch Fox News, CNN, I follow the BBC online, Reuters, etc. In the olden days, if you were researching water buffalo for a report, a teacher would tell you to get your information from five completely different sources, and you’d have to site those sources in your bibliography, and to compare and contrast that information and then formulate your own report. It is an essential part of the process of thinking for one’s self.

 

“Female”
lyrics by Shane McAnally, Nicole Galyon, Ross Copperman

When you hear somebody say somebody hits like a girl
How does that hit you?
Is that such a bad thing?
When you hear a song that they play saying you run the world
Do you believe it?
Will you live to see it?
Sister, shoulder, daughter, lover
Healer, broken halo, mother
Nature, fire, suit of armor
Soul survivor, holy water
Secret keeper, fortune teller
Virgin Mary, scarlet letter
Technicolor, river wild
Baby girl, woman child
Female
When somebody laughs and implies that she asked for it
Just ’cause she was wearin’ a skirt
Oh, is that how that works?
When somebody talks about how it was Adam first
Does that make Eve second best
Or did He save the best for last?
Sister, shoulder, daughter, lover
Healer, broken halo, mother
Nature, fire, suit of armor
Soul survivor, holy water
Secret keeper, fortune teller
Virgin Mary, scarlet letter
Technicolor, river wild
Baby girl, woman child
Female
Yeah, female
She’s the heart of life
She’s the dreamer’s dream
She’s the hands of time
She’s the queen of kings
Sister, shoulder, daughter, lover
Healer, broken halo, mother
Nature, fire, suit of armor
Soul survivor, holy water
Secret keeper, fortune teller
Virgin Mary, scarlet letter
Technicolor, river wild
Baby girl, woman child
Female
female



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