Friday, September 15, 2006

Girl Friday: The Most Inconvenient of Times

The last couple of weeks I’ve been mixing it up a bit in terms of what I have been listening to. Last Friday I talked about a singer I used to listen to constantly, Mary-Chapin Carpenter. This Girl Friday is dedicated to another woman with whom I credit a substantial part of my musical shift – and for helping me make some sense of a nutty time in my life. Ok, again, not a bluegrass or trad person, but if you don’t know the work of Nanci Griffith you just aren’t dialed in to the roots scene. And besides, it’s my blog, garshdarnit, so I’m gonna write about what I want, got it? Ok.

Griffith is a Texan, born and raised near Austin. She’s a gifted songwriter as well as one of my favorite singers. Her first professional gig was at the age of 14, and she kept right on singing and writing songs even through her early career as an elementary school teacher. Today, she has recorded 25 albums, performed all over the world, served as a leader in antiwar and pro-Veteran causes, and continues to write and record songs of great depth, honesty, and simple beauty.

This song, from her album, Flyer, captures a lot of what I and my friends are feeling these days. These are hard days. It’s nearly impossible to explain anything to my kids about the world. More and more, I just draw them closer to me and hope they have the inner resources to survive when they go out in the world.

And on that note, you know, it’s been a big year of change so far in my family. My kids, and probably yours too, are growing more independent. But earlier this week while driving at 5:30 in the morning to Pittsburgh with one of my bosses, we were listening to the BBC. There was a report about the alarming rise in cases of depression among children. The likely culprits? Isolation – increasingly brought on my so much time spent in front of the tv, or with handheld games, or simply spent alone without much interaction with others.

This is not surprising news. We have delegated child rearing to our children. We want them up and out the door so that we can get on with the important business of our own self-serving initiatives. Our interactions with them are relegated to managing their homework, transporting them to and from after school activities, and overseeing their meals. Some parents don’t even bother to get up to send their kids out the door with a pat on the back and a wish for a good day – and yet, they expect the world of them.

That just stinks.

The fact that even on the darkest days and in the toughest times my mom was there starting the day with us was so important. And she was there when the day was over. I’m certain it wasn’t always convenient. But kids these days aren’t as lucky as I was. This is a time of inconvenience, in which too many parents are just young people inside who never were able to satisfy their need for instant gratification. Couple that with the confusing and frightening messages kids constantly receive through their increasing exposure to all forms of media, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the legacy can’t be good. Take it from Nanci Griffith, a former school teacher and today’s Girl Friday.


We're living in a time of inconvenience
Compassion fails me with this meanness in the air
Our city streets are filled with violence
So we close our doors to the city
And pretend that it's not there
Here I go again
Back out on these mean streets
The evil seems to cling to the soles of my feet
Cuz' I'm living in a time of inconvenience
At an inconvenient time

We're living in the age of communication
Where the only voices heard have money in their hands
Where greed has become a sophisticationA
nd if you ain't got money
You ain't got nothin' in this land
An' here I am one lonely woman
On these mean streets
Where the right to life man has become my enemy
Cuz' I'm living in his time of inconvenience
At an inconvenient time(bridge)

I've turned my cheek
As my history fades
While the clock ticks away
Any progress we've made
I never thought
I'd be ashamed to be human
Afraid to say
My time has seen it's day
Cuz' I'm living in a time of inconvenience, living in a time of inconvenience living in a time of inconvenience
It's an inconvenient time

This is the time of greed and power
Where everyone needs to have someone to shove around
Our children come to us for answers
Listening for freedom but they don't know the sound
And there they are, our children
Dumped out in these mean streets
The evil sweeps them up
And brings them to their knees
Cuz' they're living in our time of inconvenience
They're living in the age of communication
This is the time of greed and power
This is the time that I wish was not mine
Cuz' it's an inconvenient time


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