Saturday, November 12, 2005

Hank and Tennessee

Chris Dillow's normblog profile is unsurprisingly a pleasure to read - the answer to one of his questions caught my eye; asked who are his cultural heroes, he responds with a list starting "Hank Williams, Dar Williams,...". A nice rhetorical flourish and a good signal of some eclecticism.
I have been working my way through my CD collection of late, hoping to find ways to donate old CDs to local charities, and reduce the space they consume in my home. Right now I am sampling in my car a CD from yet another Williams, Don, who sings a great song on it from Bob McDill, "Good Ole Boys Like Me", which has as its chorus line the very witty:
And I still hear the soft southern wind in the live oak trees
And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me, Hank and Tennessee
It is a very interesting song, I think about "identity" - this is one of those words I have never understood and still do not, rather like "spiritual". McDill's lyrics are in the song are full of contradictions, all very believeable - one nice example of the tension he creates:
Then Daddy came in to kiss his little man
With gin on his breath and the Bible in his hand
And in the end you discover why he is a songwriter and not in jail:
I was smarter than most and I could choose
learned to talk like the man on the six o'clock news
Now in the song he never forgets the smell of live oak. Well, I lived a while in a climate with live oak and that smell still hits me. In fact my work travel schedule has me looking forward to inhaling under a live oak tree (one I know) in Austin, Texas, in January. There is no question I view that as a sensual pleasure of some significance.

McDill's point is, of course, that he is a southern boy, but that even that means a broad variety of things, both Hank and Tennessee. His "identity" is broader than any simple classification, though many of the stereotypes are correct.

So add Don Williams to the list of Williams', and expand your identity by sharing in the spiritual experience of listening to all of them performing.


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