Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A little fish in a big pond

When I interviewed for this job, the creative director told me that he came to this agency because he was tired of being the most talented person in the shop. Some people, but not all, like to be pushed. They like to stretch. They like to be challenged and put out of their comfort zone. To be a big fish in a little pond is an embarrassment to them. Some people's ego needs that big stroking. Being stroked is more important than the what's being learned or done.

I was always on the young side. My birthday's at the end of September, so when I started first grade I was still five while the rest of the kids were six. So all my life I've had to reach and stretch. Luckily that worked fine for me, though it's not for every kid. I'm used to challenges and being the little guy and the underdog. I've had to fight and scrap a lot.

I bring this up because I started music lessons last night with Janet Feld. I was a bit worried about going into Cambridge and dealing with the hippies at Club Passim, but I have to say I was kind of laughing inside. Everybody was so nice and friendly, I swear once or twice I thought they were going to give me the peace sign.

One of the students, one of them that seems to have quite a bit of musical experience, said he was there because he's always loved music and what it does for him. Janet smiled and said, well, you've found your tribe. And I wondered if that included me, too.

And I got a long way to go, this pretty much self-taught guitar picker, and Janet in her funny, smart way starting straightening me out from the get-go, from how I hold my pick to how I play G. She said I play bluegrass G, because the pattern I play is so easy to go to C or G, and she's right, all those country songs I've been playing are CF&G. She said play big girl's G, the only reason she called it that is because one of her girlfriends called it that.

And she passed out sheet music, and what do you know, I looked down and saw the chord chart for Nanci Griffith's Trouble in the Field, one of my all-time favorites and I always wanted to play it but couldn't master that darn barre chord.

So, I'm stretching. And reaching. And hopefully, that means growing.

And here's one of the most beautiful love songs anyone's ever written.

Baby I know that we've got trouble in the fields
When the bankers swarm like locust out there turning away our yield
The trains roll by our silos, silver in the rain
They leave our pockets full of nothing
But our dreams and the golden grain

Have you seen the folks in line downtown at the station
They're all buying their ticket out and talking the great depression
Our parents had their hard times fifty years ago
When they stood out in these empty fields in dust as deep as snow

And all this trouble in our fields
If this rain can fall, these wounds can heal
They'll never take our native soil
But if we sell that new John Deere
And then we'll work these crops with sweat and tears
You'll be the mule I'll be the plow
Come harvest time we'll work it out
There's still a lotta love, here in these troubled fields

There's a book up on the shelf about the dust bowl days
And there's a little bit of you and a little bit of me
In the photos on every page
Now our children live in the city and they rest upon our shoulders
They never want the rain to fall or the weather to get colder


You'll be the mule I'll be the plow
Come harvest time we'll work it out
There's still a lotta love, here in these troubled field

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