Sitting on the front porch this evening, playing music, waiting for the sun to go down – Classical, Jazz, R&B, C&W, Western Swing, Instrumental, and just stuff.
That’s a music category label in my iTunes, ‘Just Stuff.” It holds music to get me going in the morning, music for a bad mood, a good mood, sometimes a little melancholy. It’s music to work by, get me to sleep, and wake me up. I have favorites that fall off the list occasionally, and others that surprise me when I happen to choose them inadvertently. I have a lot of music.
It’s 9:00 here in the middle of Idaho, an evening cooled, finally, by clouds overhead and wildfire smoke that chokes out the sunset. In the middle of the night the burnt smell of it wafts in through the open window and I lay there, wondering at those firefighters in heavy, hot turnout gear in the 100-degree daytime heat. I expect God will bless those guys and gals. I play a little George Winston to ease the work of it in my mind, maybe Living Without You from his Summer album.
Earlier, when the neighbor was watering his thirsty, parched lawn I turned up the volume on Gene Watson’s Love In The Hot Afternoon. Fitting, considering the attention he was giving his grass. I thought so, at least. And there was no complaint; he watered with rhythm til the song ended.
This is the second trip to Idaho this year, once in January and now in August. Growing up, I spent summers in eastern Oregon and remember it just like this – hot, dry, rattlesnake weather. I’m glad I spent most of my life then and spend the majority of it now in Alaska. That is, except when I’m down here or with family in eastern Oregon or Washington. Gotta have music to drive here and there, so I bring the laptop and plug in the ear phones, and hit the road. The miles roll away beneath me and the scenery passes alongside me, and I play music.
Miles of Taj Mahal, John Mayer, The Kingston Trio. Valleys might be filled with Gaithers and David Phelps’ Hide Thou Me, those long drawn-out tenor notes reverberating from the hillsides. I roll the windows down for that one – what a wonderful voice. Straight stretches call for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Mac Wiseman, a little Carl Smith, and Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way.
Then, when I’m tired, out come Leonard Cohen, Amos Lee, Gordon Lightfoot, a little Mozart and Eduard Brunner or Esther Golton. They’ll force me to pull over, find a bed, and put the miles to rest for a few hours.
The temperatures and leaves are falling at home, and darkness has returned to define each day. Soon, the evenings will be long, and once again candlelight will dance on the walls. Leela, Patsy, Bonnie and a whole lot of good women will fill the long nights with beautiful music until the men take over – Marty, Keb, Ottmar, Chet, Kix & Ronnie and others. And then? Then starts contra dance, and all the blues, the melancholy, the sleepiness, the kitchen broom dancing consolidate into swinging, stomping, passing, high-energy, calorie-burning, bright-eyed DANCING to put all those indoor hours to good use. Music, music everywhere. Right now, Mr. Sandman is rippling up and down the neck of Chet Atkins’ guitar so it must be time to end this…