The last thing I made was my bed. Soon I will make some toast, and later today I will make plans for this weekend. We all make things, abstract and actual, every day. Some people just make do and others make deals, but we all make believe. That capacity for fiction serves us well, though sometimes too well.
One of my favorite songs from the fifties is about that beautiful but beguiling ability to pretend things are other than the way they are. Why accept the end of a relationship when you can pretend it never happened? I've listened to many covers of "Making Believe," one of [...]
Rock and roll has its Mustangs; easy listening has its Volvos; rap its Beamers, Benzs and Bentleys, but country music has always had its trucks. Big rigs and long-haul truckers got some airtime, but country has always seemed especially enamored with pickups; I grew up hearing Joe Diffe sing that “there’s something women like about a pickup man.”
There’s been a little surge of truck love in the last few years: Lee Brice’s melancholic “I Drive Your Truck,” Luke Bryan’s melodramatic “We Rode in Trucks,” and Tim McGraw’s hillbilly rockish “Truck Yeah” to name a few. Even Taylor Swift has ridden shotgun, having fallen in one of her [...]
The year was 1968. In May, Wynette sang courageously about the heartbreak of “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” Then, in September, she offered the heart-aching advice to “Stand By Your Man.” Both songs topped the charts, but she’s remembered mostly for the staying, and not for the going—which is odd, since Wynette divorced five different husbands.
It’s odder still since “Stand By Your Man” is not so much revered as reviled. Women are accused of standing by their men, not applauded for it. Political wives are almost always judged by this standard, at least since 1992, when Hillary Clinton invoked the song during an interview with 60 Minutes. She and [...]
Dolly Parton does it all in only two hundred and two words. Eighty-four fewer than the Gettysburg Address; one hundred and thirty-six more than the Lord’s Prayer. Two hundred and two words, one of which is repeated thirty-one times: Jolene. Parton wails her name like a banshee. Five times Jolene; once Jolene, Jolene; six times Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene. Parton says the name Jolene thirty-one times in less than three minutes. It’s a story song, and the story is as familiar as they come. Where there was happiness, now there is heartache. A woman loves a man, but that man loves Jolene; the woman confronts Jolene and pleads with [...]