September 2010 Archives

"As [the soul] is present in all persons, so it is in every period of life. It is adult already in the infant man. In my dealing with my child, my Latin and Greek, my accomplishments and my money stead me nothing; but as much soul as I have avails. If I am wilful, he sets his will against mine, one for one, and leaves me, if I please, the degradation of beating him by my superiority of strength. But if I renounce my will, and act for the soul, setting that up as umpire between us two, out of his young eyes looks the same soul; he reveres and loves with me."

Ralph Waldo Emerson The Over-Soul

The smartest thing I ever did was put my email address in the back of my book about my mother. It's been four years since the book was published. I've received a steady flow of letters from readers talking about Mom and how she intersected with their lives. I just got one such letter the other day and I particularly liked it because it was all about how Mom sounded. This isn't the usual point people make. The author, Julie Young gave me permission to reprint it here.

Hello John,

I wish I could be more original than to say that your mother inspired me.
 How many times have you heard that?  Hopefully thousands of times!  I
have routinely listed your mother as one of my "influences" for several decades.
 Thank you for writing her story through your eyes.

What may be different for me compared to other women whom your mother
influenced, is that I grew up without television.   It wasn't until I had
left for college in 1967 that my parents got their first t.v.  

And yet Nancy Dickerson was a hero of mine.  Truly, until I saw the photos
in "On Her Trail," I'm not sure that I had ever seen pictures of your mother but
I knew her voice.  You see, I grew up listening to the
radio from dawn until midnight.  Nancy Dickerson was the fresh-air, exciting,
smart voice on Saturday's NBC Monitor programming.   

I had not known, until reading your book, that your parents were a "golden
couple," that she was beautiful, that she was personally close to Presidents and
other powerful men.  Now that I know this, I feel confident that your mother
would have liked knowing that for one adolescent girl at least,  it was her
journalistic excellence -- not her beauty nor designer wardrobe, which I
never saw -- that was emulated.   

When I read in the book your mother's reaction to Mrs. Thatcher's
conversation about fashion vs. "the substance of matters," I felt her deep
disappointment and loss.  You, John, did very well in recognizing and conveying
the struggle your mother endured for virtually all of her life.   She was a
trailblazer ... although you did not use that word.  

Your mother remains a powerful influence for me.  Thank you for telling me
more about her and the times in which she -- and I -- lived.

Best regards,

Julie Young

I've decided to give in to this. Obviously I have work to do. The idea is to write down 15 albums that moved you. The list below is almost criminally incomplete. But I decided I would list the first 15 that came to mind immediately. Some like John Prine Live I almost can't listen to any more. Some I listen to over and over again. The Richard Thompson compilation has songs I now listen to as sung by Thompson himself. But the point of this exercise is that you're supposed to speak from the top of your head, so I have. Later, I might annotate the list and explain myself.

    1. The World is a Wonderful Place - Various Artists Richard Thompson Compilation
    1. Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan
    1. The Basement Tapes - Bob Dylan and The Band
    1. Music From the Big Pink - The Band
    1. Darkness on the Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen
    1. At Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash
    2. John Prine Live - John Prine
    3. Dilate - Ani DiFranco
    4. Little Star - Girlyman
    5. Jimi Plays Monterey - Jimi Hendrix
    6. My Aim is True - Elvis Costello
    7. Eat a Peach - The Allman Brothers.
    8. History - Loudon Wainwright III
    9. Rain Dogs - Tom Waits
    10. Lonelyland - Bob Schneider