On Going to Graceland

We here at M&NM HQ are quite blessed to know many talented and hilarious writers.  Every so often we get worn out from Momming and Not-Momming around the city, and at times such as these, we, your humble blogrunners, footsore and baby-sticky, turn pleading hands toward our aforementioned fellows of the page and cry “Help!”  

With that said, please welcome inaugural guest-blogger and for-reals Jeopardy Champion AMY WILSON, with a post-Mother’s Day rumination.

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Dear Amy and Annie,

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to work with some fifth-grade students who had been assigned the task of choosing an environment-themed song suitable for use in an Ira Glass-style radio piece. So naturally I was not going to let them have ALL the fun, I felt compelled to offer my opinion:

The song: Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”; 1971

When it began they started back and said “ugh!” and “this is the music my DAD listens to!” but they agreed in the end, begrudgingly, that it was a pretty good song about the environment and that maybe we should consider using it in our radio piece.

And now that I think about this I realize that these fifth-grade students, these ten-year-old boys, probably don’t have fathers who were alive in Marvin Gaye’s heyday — that perhaps even their fathers remember their own fathers listening to “Mercy Mercy Me” — that perhaps someday they will hear that song and not think “ugh! this is the music my DAD listens to!” but think “oh. this is the music my dad used to listen to,” with all the unique cocktail of emotions that implies.

The currency of Mother’s Day and the rest of its kingdom of Hallmark Holidays is emotion, grand sweeping displays of it in ecru-colored cards with tasteful bouquets on the front that say in gold embossed script lettering “To God’s Gift to Motherhood”

BUT

The meat of our relationship with our parents comes in the vicissitudes of everyday life, and there’s not a whole lot of that going on in the greeting card racks of Target, nothing that can tell our parents “I remember how you used to listen to Marvin Gaye sometimes after dinner” or “the taste of Coffee Nips reminds me of you picking me up from soccer practice” or “waking up in a cold, dewy tent is my least favorite part of camping, but you’d wake up before us and make us hot chocolate and that made it easier to bear.”

Unfortunately for the purposes of this post, popular music is also more concerned with the beginnings of things (I can’t help falling in love with you! Going to the chapel and we’re going to get married!) and their endings, with love and death, than with anything even resembling what real human relationships actually are. (Which is, to my observation, much more about soccer practice and instant hot chocolate than about the Heartbreak Hotel.)

Fortunately there is one pop musician with the skill to combine the emotional force of pop music with a clear-eyed view of reality, and it is toward him that I would like to direct your attention today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

MR.

PAUL

SIMON!

The song: Paul Simon, “Graceland”; 1986

Comes back to tell me she’s gone
as if I didn’t know that
as if I didn’t know my own bed
as if I’d never noticed
the way she brushed her hair from her forehead

I’m 24. I know there’s a lot I don’t know about life and love, but I’d really like to think that I can have learned something from roughly 16 conscious years on this planet (no really, I would really like to think that).

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned recently it’s that every mom was once a not-mom — that underneath the layers of our differing experiences there are experiences that are the same — that life, and love, is a lot less about can’t help falling in love and a lot more about the way they brush their hair from their forehead –

– that it’s about noticing the things that seem beneath notice, knowing that these are the fond memories of the future, and knowing that people are noticing these things about YOU too.

Yrs,
AW

In Bed With Amy Wilson (link: inbedwithamywilson.blogspot.com ) is a blog about pop music and matters related to pop music — in other words, a blog about everything.

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