Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Shut Up and Get On the Plane"

Sorry for the lack of blog lately. I made a few false starts at posting, but life has just been damn busy.

I bought myself a couple of CD's last weekend at Nice Price Books. One was an old familiar one, Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps. The other was a newish one I've been wanting to hear for a while, the Drive-By Truckers's Southern Rock Opera. I had no idea that the DBT album makes direct reference to Neil Young (by way of Young's relationship with Lynyrd Skynyrd).

I listened to Southern Rock Opera, read Gary Mairs's thoughts about it, and now need to give it another listen. For one thing, I'm slightly hung up on the paradox that the Drive-By Truckers may simply be better than Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band they are paying tribute to. For another thing, while I share the Truckers' dismay at the knee-jerk political demonization of the South, the kneejerk response to demonization, i.e. that Southerners are good folks albeit misunderstood, leaves me cold as well. Maybe the lyrics of a rock song just aren't going to resolve this one for me.

The album appeals to me most as a meditation on manhood, duty, and violent death. There was a New York Times piece the other day about NASCAR (this may be the subject of another post soon) and one of its arguments is that death on the highway is a more major feature of life in the South than in other parts of the country. This album certainly is haunted by vehicular mayhem, routine car wrecks as well as Skynyrd's fatal plane crash. Good-hearted duty-driven traveling men who meet their fate stoically.

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