Up to Amsterdam.

Editor’s note: I realize the following is disjointed, themeless and makes little sense. I’m tired. Also, you get what you pay for.

We are not churchgoing people, and as a Michigander of very little body fat, Kate is not one to have a closet full of dresses. And so, on the rare occasion that she is required to wear one, we tend to react like the Three Stooges: I usually run straight into a wall going whoop-whoop-whoop the hour before she’s supposed to get dressed, and I realize the last skirt still on the “possibles” closet bar now hits her at mid-buttock, and her tights might make it to her knees. Might.

The occasion: A piano recital. The shopping: Sears and Target. The take: One pair of tights. I found a still-decent plaid flannel skort from last year, crossed my fingers and hoped the beauty of her musicianship would sweep the audience away. It was all fine. I’d post pictures, but they weren’t that good. One of the other players did a vocal number, too — “Memory.” Kate didn’t know it; I barely did. What was I saying last week about showtunes? We need to beef up our CDs in that regard; it pains me to think my child may graduate from high school not knowing the words to “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

Certainly, my digital music collection is lacking. My primitive third-generation iPod doesn’t have a shuffle function, but it does have Browse, and if you put it into the Songs menu, close your eyes, give the tracking wheel a few whirls and then hit “play,” you can find yourself in an approximation of shuffling, in that it throws up songs from the library you’d forgotten you had, albeit in alphabetical order.

(Was that one sentence? Man. Do not attempt this at home. Remember, I am a professional.)

Anyway, today I was in the A’s, and heard “Athens County,” one of the also-ran tracks from the eponymous album of Jonathan Edwards. (Poor J.E. He had to settle for a .net domain, the .com taken by fans of the 18th-century preacher who wrote “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”)

Anyway, as an alumnus of Ohio University, I guess I’m required to own this record. O.U. is located in None Other, and Jonathan Edwards came to Athens regularly during my time there, and for a brief shining moment we were all bluegrass fans. Bluegrass is the indigenous music of southeastern Ohio — a thousand tragic stories in search of a 24-verse tune. A little goes a long way, but one of the happiest musical memories of my life was driving through the Appalachian counties of Ohio early on a Sunday morning, listening to local radio play its weekly allotment of religious programming in the form of bluegrass gospel music.

It was…heavenly.

Athens County is — or was — full of hollers and back roads and other places offering excellent privacy and marijuana-growing possibilities. We used to go to parties out there, carrying on a long tradition of mischief in the foothills. Good times, good times.

That’s what oldies do for us, I guess — take us somewhere else for about two and a half minutes. When I woke up, I was back in Grosse Pointe, and George Clinton was singing “Atomic Dog,” followed by Billie Holiday and “Autumn in New York.” Alphabetical order, the great equalizer.

That was the better part of the weekend. The worse was the time I spent on Sunday, cleaning the drains on all the bathroom sinks and tubs. I dismantled the traps and removed great wads of hair from each of them. If women were required to do this job regularly, we’d all shave our heads. On the other hand, there’s something about cleaning out a drain, having it go from slow-running to fast under your very own hands, that’s deeply satisfying. No wonder plumbers don’t care that their cracks show; they’re happy!

Not much bloggage today — still working my way through my late-coming NYT — but for now, try Lance on teaching the Bible as literature.

Posted at 11:02 pm in Uncategorized |

8 responses to “Up to Amsterdam.”

  1. basset said on October 3, 2005 at 1:07 am

    played Jonathan Edwards’ “Lucky Day” live album, and they were indeed albums in those days, quite often back in college radio.

    doesn’t have a whole lot to do with bluegrass, though, where’d that come from?

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  2. jcburns said on October 3, 2005 at 1:13 am

    Gee, my first-generation iPod has a shuffle function…

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  3. mary said on October 3, 2005 at 1:51 am

    I remember hearing Jonathan Edwards quite often when I lived in Philadelphia. Not much after that. When I moved to Denver from Philly, I noticed the music on the radio seemed to start sucking (Saturday in the Park by Chicago, feh). I thought it was something local to Denver. Then I realized, music was entering a very sucky period. John Denver. That song about Being to Paradise by Never Being to Me. Neil Sedaka redux. Bad times.

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  4. Dorothy said on October 3, 2005 at 5:54 am

    I don’t know the real words to “Memory” (Cats – big Broadway show back in the day), but I do remember David Letterman used to sing his own words to it. Went something like “Midnight – and the kitties are sleeeeeeep-inggggg.”

    Take my word for it, it was hilarious. I’m sure you had to be there, though.

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  5. Nance said on October 3, 2005 at 7:39 am

    Actually, after the recital, Alan asked, “Where was the line about the kitties sleeeeeping?” He thought it was part of the lyrics.

    And J.E. isn’t really a bluegrass artist — he’s more from the sensitive-70s-dude singer/songwriter mode — but that track had a banjo. It seemed in keeping with the local groove, which included bands like the New Vinton County Frogwhompers. (As opposed to the old ones, I guess.)

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  6. basset said on October 3, 2005 at 8:29 am

    no, you couldn’t call J.E. bluegrass at all – even though nobody has come up with a definition of bluegrass that everyone in that part of the musical world can agree on.

    you oughta see the recurring arguments on bgrass-l… if it doesn’t have a banjo, it’s not bluegrass… oh yes it is… if the bass is electric, it’s not bluegrass… how can you possibly say that and what do you know anyway… so on, so forth.

    and it’s not exactly Athens County, but have you noticed that one of the former Jefferson Airplane has a music camp and resort in the next county south of there? a weekend workshop there and a visit to the land of Mothman across the river from Gallipolis would make a good road trip.

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  7. jcburns said on October 3, 2005 at 8:43 am

    Ah yes, the group’s full title: The New Vinton County Frogwhompers Marching Singing Strumming and Plucking Society.

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  8. Dave said on October 3, 2005 at 5:29 pm

    I thought, and could be wrong, that Jonathan Edwards was actually a OU student once upon a time, circa 1968-69, or so. Almost positive he was a member of a campus bar band named Headstone Circus, before he ever made “Sunshine”.

    “Athens County”. I remember that song but I couldn’t put a tune to it today.

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