Sunday, January 06, 2008

Talkin' Post-Holiday Stress Disorder Blues

     Well friends, it was an epic Xmas journey to VT for Frankie Lee and family.  Most of one whole day was spent behind the wheel (and that was just on the to part of the journey)--it turns out it really is 20-plus hours from Nash Vegas to the old home place.  By the last hour I was babbling incoherently and hallucinating--at least I think I was.  (Here's a travel tip:  Don't joke about missing an exit when you've been on the road for nineteen hours). But it was worth it!  There was snow, and lots of it.  At least one car got stuck & unstuck (thanks to Triple A) in the driveway.  We went sledding, and soon found out how out of shape we really are.  (Sliding down a snowy hill is one thing, but climbing back up is quite another).   There were twin babies & a puppy (ours) for maximum cuteness effect.  There was yet another chapter in a continuing family drama, and there was much consumption of substances both licit and illicit.  (There may be some kind of corollary between the two).  I learned what a Nureyev is, and enjoyed a few in the early morning hours of Mrs. Frankie Lee's birthday (the 24th).  (It's just champagne with a dollop of vodka--try it, you'll like it).   Of course, we had to tromp into the woods and find a poor, defenseless balsam tree and cut it down and drag it out of the woods and set it up in the living room and cover it with lights and decorations for some reason.  A bonfire was made using all the wrapping paper from all the Christmas presents, and a whole lot of wood that my brother and I collected.  There's something deeply satisfying about cutting down a bunch of trees with a hand saw, burning them in a big pile, and then going off into the woods in the dark (after many beers) and cutting down more trees, and burning them too.  After visiting a friend who raises goats and makes goat cheese, Mrs. F.L. became convinced that we could move to Vermont and live off the fat of the land.  Who knows?  We'll see.  In short, lots of good food was cooked and eaten, lots of drinks were made and drunk, and lots of good times were had by all.
     As I'm usually wont to do, at one point I found some time to paw through the stacks of records that we've all left behind for one reason or another, plus all the random ones that have accumulated over the years, from sources known & unknown.  A Utah Phillips record caught my eye, I think because I recently read the Steve Martin book and he mentions Mr. Phillips in passing.  Good Though was actually recorded in Vermont, and released on Philo records.  I know there's an Ani DiFranco connection, but just try to put that out of your mind.  This track starts with a joke that Bob Dylan would appreciate (it had me chortling), and ends with a killer punch line.
     Another record that I made off with is Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories, which I think actually belongs to my dad, so I probably should return it at some point.  He's been a Sandburg fan for many a year--in fact, he has a framed letter from the man, a response to one that my dad sent to him.  These are stories that Sandburg made up for his kids, full of great phrases, names, and playful language with some dark passages as well.  I don't know if he's been credited with inspiring the name "Google", but he should be.
      This isn't from a record I found in VT, but since his house was ransacked by drunken teenagers recently I thought I'd include this too.  I love the way his voice sounds at the very end.
     And finally, to a different kind of poet--John Denver.  What to do with poor old John?  I remember Lefty and I sort of half-heartedly mourning his untimely passing  back when I was living in Gotham.  I found this early disc--I think it came out in 1970--called Whose Garden Was This, with my sister's name and the year she got it--'75--written on the cover.  (I'm looking forward to ribbing her about that one).  It includes an unfortunate cover of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", which features some histrionic line-delivery and no harmonies, for some reason.  He also does "Mr. Bojangles".  I didn't listen to that track.  The one that I'm including is one that always cracked my brother and me up.  He wasn't actually at Woodstock, so he wrote a song about it?  It's one of those funny/sad things.

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