Saturday, October 27, 2007


I grew up listening to two different kinds of music: classical (my mother's influence) and country (my father's influence). It makes sense if you think about it... I was, after all, a music teacher's daughter growing up in Texas.

When we moved down to the Hill Country the summer I turned twelve, I fell out of touch with country music. We never did manage to tune in to any radio stations at home because the hills made the reception so spotty. Then I moved to Vermont for college, and against all the odds, my teeny New England town had a good country station. But the music on the air at the time just didn't do anything for me, and I fell out of touch with country again when I moved to France.

I moved back home to Texas for the summer of 2004. Late one night I was flipping channels on the TV, looking for some background noise to scrapbook to, and what I found blew my mind. CMT was playing "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" by a group I'd never seen before called Big & Rich. Then Gretchen Wilson came on, and then Little Big Town after that. In the span of 15 minutes, I'd found 3 very good reasons to be excited about country music again.

"Boondocks" was the Little Big Town song playing that night, and it really struck a chord with me. It brings back a lot of good memories... from running off during recess to eat from the honeysuckle bush growing over the fence of my 4th-grade school, to falling asleep to the sound of rain on the tin roof at my grandmother's house (you could hear it particularly well in my room because of the rattly drain pipe on the roof over the bathroom across the hall, which leaked and had to be replaced the same week that a scorpion crawled up out of the bathtub drain, nearly stinging my feet during my shower). When I was three or four, before my parents divorced, I used to wake up before dawn and sneak into their room (I must say that I'm proud of myself, I never once woke them) to listen to the train whistle in the distance. I still dream about that train to this day. And the summer we moved even farther south, I split my time between watching the Summer Olympics in Atlanta on my grandmother's television and swimming in the Guadeloupe River, staring through the murky brown water at the fish nibbling on my toes, and making the terrifying (exhilarating!) slide down the dam over and over, relying on the nice, handsome young men there to help me back up to the top, as I wasn't strong enough to pull myself up the slippery, mossy rope.

I have a professor here who had never heard a country song in her life until I emailed her Alabama's "Song of the South" last year (she was teaching a lesson on the stock market crash in '29, Roosevelt's New Deal, the Dust Bowl and the alphabet agencies, and I thought the song might come in handy to demonstrate to her European students that these things are still referenced in pop culture today). It has been quite interesting to discover her perceptions of what America is because they're so different from my own. She grew up in the North, and I grew up in the South. We have different socioeconomic backgrounds, grew up in families with different political views, and came of age 30 years apart. So you can see how we see things from a different point of view.

At any rate, in class last week she shared some of her memories associated with the song "Teen Angel" (which none of us had ever heard before), so I reciprocated by sending her "Boondocks" and sharing some of my memories. I have no idea what her reaction to the song will be, but I sure would like to be a fly on the wall when she listens to it, just to see the look on her face.

(About that scorpion, by the way... I was 20 years old and living in the back bedroom of my grandmother's house. It was 11:30 at night and my grandmother and her 3.1 pound white (not albino!) chihuahua had already been asleep for quite some time. I started running the water for my shower and noticed that the drain was a little clogged. I figured that it was because of my waist-length hair, some of which my stepfather had fished out of my mother's bathtub drain the week before. Suddenly, wavy auburn tendrils began floating up out of the drain. I watched them, fascinated, thinking how odd it was that the bathtub drain would burp up my hair. As they slowly emerged, I began to realize that something was very wrong--these tendrils seemed to be alive, and they were attached to a... scorpion!!! I jumped out of the bathtub, screaming bloody murder, waking the dog, who proceeded to bark his dang fool head off and wake my grandmother. "What is going on?!" I heard her exclaim from across the house. I ran to her bedroom, stark raving naked, and screamed, "Mee-Maw! Come quick! There's a scorpion in my bathtub!" "Hold on," she said, slipping on her houseshoes, straightening her nightcap, scooping up the dog under her left arm and yanking the flimsy, yellow plastic flyswatter off the top of the refrigerator with her right hand. I ran back into my bedroom, shutting the door, waiting for the all-clear. Then I heard, THWACK! whacksplashpowcrunch THWACK! THWACK! THWACK! Then silence. Then, "Get in here and help me! Lift up the toilet seat so I can flush it down." And she dumped the thoroughly flattened scorpion in the toilet and flushed. And flushed again. And again. It took three tries to flush it away, and it wasn't until many weeks had passed that I finally felt safe enough to sit down on that toilet without worrying about getting stung in the behind.)

1 comment:

Terri said...

You know, if you're still around in Texas, and looking for a great place to find the best in Country, Alternative Country, and Classic Rock, you should really check out Lonestar 92.5. They are the best radio station, in my opinion, and they dont have too many commercials. Also, they always have great info for the latest music happenings in Texas. You can check them out at , and I'm not just saying that cause I work with them, you just seem like you would really enjoy it.