Wednesday, June 07, 2006

No Use Weeping Over Spilt Milk (or other valuables)

Yesterday I finally went to iTunes and purchased “We Shall Overcome”, the new Bruce Springsteen recording of old songs that have been championed by American folk guardian Pete Seeger. It’s one of those things I had been planning to do but just needed a little nudge, which I got, and which I will share more about in a future post.

As I said in my previous post about the album, I’ve never been a Springsteen fan per se, but wow, I didn’t expect this recording to be as solid and impressive as it is. He’s really mastered these tunes and given them his own touch without stealing them away from their roots completely. I highly recommend it.

Meanwhile, during the course of the last 24 hours, a lot of people I care about got some pretty bad news. It was as if all that hullabaloo about “6606” came crashing down around our heads, but since I don’t believe in that garbage, I can only assume that a lot of people I know just happened to have a really bad day all at the same time, and for some of them, it’s still going.

I had spent some downtime enjoying my walk and thinking about how some people just will never be about the right things. It’s just the way it is, and we can’t change those people. You can’t turn a regular bad, smelly egg into a golden one. It’s not fair, but that’s life. Look at the asshats running the country, and what they’re doing to hurt people, without a second thought. It’s not too hard to imagine that can happen on the micro level, person to person, mother to daughter, father to son, brother to sister, and it does, every day. And that is not accounting for some of the unforeseen and emergent life events I see family and friends dealing with on a moment-to-moment basis.

Pretty much, it’s all the same. Life is not easy, but it’s also what you make of it, what you put into it, what you give back to it, not, what you personally can get out of it. Some people run up against a little adversity, or a lot, and either roll over and play dead or spend the rest of their lives whining about it. Some people, like my family or my boss’s family, meet adversity head on and roll right through it, because it’s what to do. But nonetheless it can be challenging. As in a line from the track, “Erie Canal,” “How can a poor man take such times and live?” Well, he just does.

One of the other “Seeger Session” tracks that grabbed me and had me replaying a time or two was “O Mary Don’t You Weep,” probably because of the overarching conditions within my little network. Pete Seeger recorded it in 1961. Alan Lomax collected a version by Leadbelly in the late 1950s, and bless-his-heart blues great Mississippi John Hurt gave us his rendition on at least one recording in the 1960s as well. (For a really long list of just how many people have recorded this song, click here. )

And here comes Bruce Springsteen, paying tribute to the heritage of this one gospel tune in 2006. And, in the Springsteen version, true to the tradition, another line, “Sister Mary wears a golden chain/And on each link is Jesus’ name,” another shoutback to other tunes, including the lead track on Tim O’Brien’s 2005 release, Cornbread Nation.

So to those of you on my heart, take heart. Life is temporary. Enjoy its sweetness. Make it sweeter. The rest will come out in the wash and go down the drain not unlike the biblical folktale we’re reminded of in the chorus of this song. As Mother was fond of reminding us, there’s a reason for everything.

O Mary, Don’t You Weep

Well if I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

Well Mary wore three links and chains
On every link was Jesus' name
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

Well one of these nights bout 12 o'clock
This old world is gonna rock
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

Well Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
Smote' the water with a two by four
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

Well O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep


Well old Mr. Satan he got mad
Missed that soul that he thought he had
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

Brothers and sisters don't you cry
There'll be good times by and by
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

Well O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

God gave Noah the rainbow sign
"No more water but fire next time"
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
O Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep
O Mary don't you weep

1 Comments:

At June 11, 2006 10:00 AM, Anonymous Janice said...

Jennie, my reaction to "We Shall Overcome" was similar to yours. I loved each of the songs on the first listen. My music-loving redhead comes running anytime I play the songs, and even gave "O Mary Don't You Weep" the honor of joining his folder, which is filled mainly with Nirvana and Who songs. Interestingly, this is the only Springsteen music Xavy likes--and he likes it a lot.
I'm so glad you keep a blog and I can check in with you! Hugs.

 

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