Outside, autumn begins its cool whispers of peace and decay. Inside, Emmylou Harris rises gently above the quiet murmur of the shop. She echoes a sound from fifty years ago, splices of it mixed into the interludes of the music. The music is achy with longing; white soul for those who acknowledge neither concept.

The acoustic guitars thump and sing, fat and gray in the company of angelic harmonies and archetypal melodies. We all know this music. It is written in the celtic, anglo-saxon souls of Caucasians. We have strayed and betrayed ourselves, attempting to leverage ourselves into the gladiatorial arenas of hip-hop and "modern" music, but we need to face it.

We are mountain people. Even the most mixed breed of us is stuck with the pipes and the drums from the highlands, pounding wild and distant in our hearts. The grouse and heather cling to our thighs as we run, as we flail to flee our past.

Emmylou, and artists like her bring those pasts back to confront our empty, unanchored eyes. We have drifted, for we have forgotten who we are, and when you can’t remember who you are, it’s even more difficult to latch on to who you’d like to be. It recedes in the distance, fleeing your reaching, outstretched hand.

Emmylou touches the soul in our stomachs. She reminds of us the essentials of life, that we—like her songs—are uncategorized, brilliant as a flower, and luminous in our mortality. We cultivate beautiful deaths so that our stories can be told in their aching, seductive beauty.

She has soul. She has country. She has modern rock and roll. She has gospel. It is not “country” music, it is human music. She is a psalmist.

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At 5:54 PM , Blogger beth said...

Lord have mercy.

This is the best thing you have ever written.

Every word is perfect.

Good job, brother. I'm proud. Probably going to reprint this on my blog...

At 4:12 PM , Blogger Kelley said...

I just wanted to stop by and say... as one of your sister's closest friends...that MAN...your parents had some powerful creative genes. WOW. You both are just amazingly, talented people.

Oh. That AND your sister is proud of you. In case you didn't know.


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