Wednesday, February 21, 2007

whole-hog dawn

Let's keep with the music theme, shall we? It really works for me. Hopefully it will for you, my readers. Both of you. That's supposed to be a joke.

I remember seeing Dickey Betts and Great Southern at B.B. Kings a year or so ago. If you live in Florida half your life (I don't mean Palm Beach. I mean Florida), you learn to appreciate its culture: 90/90 days (that's 90 degrees/90% humidity), conch fritters and gator tail (entire gators, for that matter, hanging around retention ponds like they own the place), and Southern Rock. Dickey Betts rocks. In that unique, Gator-country way.

And he rocked BB's in the Big Apple that Gator-country way, too. I could go on and on about how the calamari sucked, how I went all alone and how that sucked, or about how cool it was when Mr. Betts introduced his second guitarist as his son, Duane Betts. That would send chills down one's back. I'd been watching the second guitar closely, because my friend Nelson Norwood played alongside Dickey at a benefit in St. Petersburg a half-a-lifetime ago. I remember Mr. Betts was paid for his work with a crossbow, because, like any good Florida boy, he likes to hunt hogs (also charmingly known as "feral pigs"). So I was totally tuned into his playing and wondering, "so who is this kid?" Well, it was Dickey's own.

But this post was given, in typically whimsical fashion, the title of "Whole-Hog Dawn," and that's what I wanted to write about. When the band unceremoniously drifted onto the stage that night, Mr. Betts grabbed his microphone and in a drawl that nearly slurred (or was it the other way around?), declared, "wuh-we're goan-uh try to ply you a sun-rahz."

And they went at it with gusto. If you closed your eyes you might have felt yourself carried by a wild cacophony of sonic beauty into the midst of creation springing to life all around you, just like C.S. Lewis describes it. The cool misty air pregnant with energy and life and potential and joy and no end of possibilities. Beauty upon breathtaking beauty exploding to life all around you, like fireworks; so incomprehensible one could only bow to its Maker and laugh with joy. It made you feel young, pure and alive. Just like life.

Dawn is as relentless and inevitable as it is devastatingly beautiful and life-giving. It doesn't matter how dark and cold and long the night was.

Love comes over you like a sunrise. You can run. (Why would you?) You can lock yourself in a cave and insist that the sun doesn't exist. Why would someone starve himself? Imagine, trying to run from the sunrise.

picture credits:
Mt. Washington Pictures;
A-One Tadixermy;
Father and son Betts (in Charlotte, NC, 06/03/06):


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