Sunday, April 20, 2008

Just Me N' Rod McNeil

Tonight at the end of another busy and, in spots, troubling week I closed it all down, and picked up a book. Didn't feel right. So I pulled out my mandolin, which I haven't done in so long it was out of tune as if my kids had been fooling with it when I wasn't looking. But I tuned it up and started to goof off and welcome the strings back into my fingers and I made up a little tune. Then my fingers wandered around and found another tune that was familiar but it took me a while to realize what it was.

"Rod McNeil" has always been a favorite Tim O'Brien song of mine, and just one of my favorite tunes in general. It comes off of Tim's The Crossing release, which was my introduction to Tim's work. At the time I was just taken with all the music so fast. It was like being hit by the bluegrass train. There was no time to recover or really take it all in but I just kept gobbling it up like I'd found the one true thing that actually would sustain me through whatever life I had left. Through the years since then some of the tunes have nestled their way into my fibers. Some of them, like this one, just have a way of reminding me that the world can pretty much go to hell in a handcart and take all the wingnuts with it, but certain things and realities and people will always remain true.

"Rod McNeil" is sweet and generous, with a beautiful melody that swells in a sort of traditional ballad-like way in all the right spots. It's really a beautiful paean to the subject, who offered up a place to play music to an adoring if small crowd. These people are everywhere, and they are champions of the musical stuff we hold dear. And they help along a lot of relative unknowns, and give the rest of us a place to sit and listen to the unknown greatness that populates the world of acoustic music. I think it's a pretty cool job. I sure wouldn't mind being one of them folks someday.

On the release, the tune goes directly into an instrumental "Cumberland Gap," a good old tune from back before the days of bluegrass. It's a nice segue that doesn't allow us to linger too long waxing nostalgic, but rather get right back to the business of music at hand.

Whatever brings you peace of mind and heart, I hope you have both tonight.

Rod McNeil


At April 21, 2008 8:12 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Definitely didn't have piece of mind or heart Sunday night. Reflecting on it, it's been a while since I've truly had either. Not to sound conceited but I'd like to believe I'm a thoughtful person and while at times that gives me great comfort, I think that thoughtful people rarely experience piece of mind or heart. It's probably what keeps us moving and us what makes us so hard to live with. Glad you were able to have a nice night. Playing an instrument certainly can help sometimes.

At April 21, 2008 5:31 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

True enough. Peace for thinking folks can be pretty short lived. But believe it or not, some of the reasoned, if somewhat grim, observations you’ve made have helped me tune in to the fact that some things and people will never change, no matter what I do, say, or write. It’s one of the truths that I’ve started to live by. The result is that I spend less time, energy, and emotion on getting frustrated by people or situations I can’t change, and pour my attention instead on more positive stuff and people, or at least finding the positive in the situation and determining whether there is something I can do.

I'm sorry to hear peace is evasive for you. Something must be gnawing at you and I hope it doesn't get the better of you in the end. Or, the better end of you. Or, something like that.



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