Monday, July 21, 2014

Miranda Socrates

            As I noted when I last wrote here, one of my resolutions for this new year was to read more poetry.  My poetry reading has slowed, though I was delighted by William Stafford’s Sound of the Ax: aphorisms and poetry.  Here are a couple of gems.

Everything has meaning.  Be a total receiver. (35)
Before you hear the music, you do the dance. (8)

            I don’t know about making resolutions mid-year, but here’s one.  I will write on this blog at least once a month.  I need to find time to put some thoughts together in this space, while not neglecting all the other places where I need to bring ideas together.
            Over the course of my lifetime, I have tried to grow as a receiver.  I have grown in the music I listen to.  When I was younger, it was pretty strictly pop and rock.  I was much like my peers.  I have since grown to love jazz, appreciate classical and opera, and I have developed a fondness for country.  To have even said such a thing when I was in high school or college was to invite social ostracism.  Yet there is a certain beauty and truth that gets expressed well in country music.
            To be sure, there are a lot of clichés – honky tonk angels, good loving women who put up with a bit of cheating and boozing in their men (though there are limits).  Yet many country women portray rare strength and determination.
            Recently I have been listening to the music of Miranda Lambert.  O.K. not an original discovery by any means.  Rolling Stone did a big write up of her in a recent issue on country music.  Anyway, I decided to give a listen.
            One finds a generous portion of country music clichés on her albums.  In her songs there are cheating men, though she doesn’t put up with much.  Guns play a role in the music (“Time to Get a Gun” from Revolution). 
There are times when Miranda Lambert’s music digs a little deeper.  That’s the way the world goes ‘round, One minute your up, the next you’re down, It’s half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown, That’s the way the world goes round.  I have to appreciate that image of half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown.  I have been there.  I have had days like that.  That’s the way the world goes round, at least sometimes.
Jesus shows up, too.  Now Jesus can be a country music cliché, but sometimes you can encounter something a little more real.  I ain’t the kind you take home to mama.  I ain’t the kind to wear no ring.  Somehow I always get stronger when I’m on my second drink.  Even though I hate to admit it, sometimes I smoke cigarettes.  Christian folks say I should quit.  I just smile and say God bless. “Cause I heard Jesus He drank wine, and I bet we’d get along just fine.  He could calm a storm and heal the blind, and I bet he’d understand a heart like mine.  A Jesus who reached outside the bounds of respectability seems more akin to the Jesus of the New Testament than a Jesus who likes us in our Sunday best.
This isn’t the most profound stuff around, but it is delivered with a music that swings and a voice that has melody and meaning.  There is something to dance to here, on many levels.  To be sure, Miranda Lambert is no Socrates, but it will never be said of Miranda Lambert what was said of Socrates – He had wide-se, bulging eyes that darted sideways and enabled him, like a crab, to see not only what was straight ahead, but what was beside him as well; a flat, upturned nose with flaring nostrils; and large fleshy lips like an ass.  (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
With Faith and With Feathers,