Friday, April 28, 2006

My Heart Belongs to the Mountains…

(sorry for always being so long, but I do not know how to be ... short ...)

"In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, there's a land that's fair and bright,
The handouts grow on bushes and you sleep out every night
Where the boxcars all are empty and the sun shines every day
On the birds and the bees and the cigarette trees,
The lemonade springs where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

The farmer's trees are full of fruit and the barns are full of hay
Oh I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall, the wind don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, you never change your socks
And little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too
And you can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains...
There ain't no short-handled shovels, no axes, saws or picks,
I'm a-goin' to stay where you sleep all day
Where they hung the jerk that invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

I'll see you all this comin' fall in the Big Rock Candy Mountains!"
I grew up half the time, in the mountains of Romania... The story of that civilization is fit for a novel so, I'm not even going to attempt to describe it... And although I am, by any Romanian or American standards, a "city girl", I will forever be a "Mountain Girl" at heart... All you need to know about this hidden civilization is: to this day, it's my symbol of supreme freedom and of unbounded self-expression.
Up there, we used to be very close to the land, and very close to the most primitive way of living: we made a fire in the stove if we needed heat, or to heat up food; we made hay every summer, gave thanks to the Lord every night, went to church every Sunday to which we walked for at least 3 miles one way, or if we were lucky, we'd ride a horse drawn carriage, we would pick fresh eggs from the stables at the end of every day, we would start every day with a shot of homemade liquor, just for strength and stamina, I guess,we went to the woods to pick mushrooms and wild berries for dinner, milked the cows up in the pastures every morning and night, raised and ate the chicken and ducks, and the lambs and the pigs...
For fun, we listened to the "people's" music, Romanian folk music, which here to me has the correspondent very much in the bluegrass and Americana music, or sometimes even in zydeco, too... Simple and yet such complex songs of love, life, good times, and bad, growing up, and growing old, and growing dead... Just the basic rites of passage that we ALL as humans can relate to, songs that are done with the power of the instrument and human voice alone, none of this computer, synthesizer stuff of today...
On Sundays and holidays, we'd gather up and tell stories, about what happens in the cities, what happens in far away worlds, the violence and "strangeness" and how happy we were there, inside the mountain circle, to be so far away from it all! Then, in the evening, we'd listen to music, and dance all night...The home-made alcohol was pouring, and the people were dancing, and the food was plenty and delicious and fresh, all home-made and eaten with our dirty and tired fingers, and the songs were telling a happy story of an idyllic time ... We laughed and at the end of the party, deep in the night, we all had found a "pair" and we would be sitting in the dark, under a tree, listening to crickets and kissing ...tired, drunk and happy... In the winter, it was the fire pit that we sat around, and kissed and enjoyed warmth and close quarters... It was in one of those nights that I got my first kiss, under a sky full of billions of stars, and in the grass loaded with dew, no electricity and no candle light, just the light of the stars and the moon, and the chillness of the forest wind and the mountain crisp air... and I would not trade that moment (me, a "city" girl!!!) for the world and 3 Americas put together! That, to me, is Paradise!
The passions were intense and brutal, be it love or hate; the words were simple and the sentences short; people were simple and beautiful ... There were no surprises, the time stood still and it just repeated the same old traditions that spiraled around for centuries... It was (still is) a gut-feeling sort of world...
And today, some of these feelings come back, again and again, when I happen to listen to blue grass, folk, some old country (the "real country", as I call it), and whatever they call "Americana" music... The same feverish giddiness and happiness, the same sense of freedom... I have always considered myself, a rock-n-roll, hippie child, grown up on Hendrix, and Joplin, and Jim Morrison, and Creedence, and the Beatles, but this music I discovered when I moved to the States (which has NO ambassadors in Romania, unfortunately) stirs up the deep emotional pot in my heart... I can hear the mountain brook behind our house trickling, cold, on rocks, in these songs, and people folding the dry hay, and children laughing in the pastures, and teenagers chasing each other for a kiss, or two... It's freedom and love... And I can hear and see the liquor pouring and the fresh bread being torn and divided amongst all, as friends... In this world of paranoia and terrorism, I can feel the human closeness, yet again ... It's the basic, most simple things in life all condensed in one memory which I feed off of for strength every day ...
These feelings came back to me last night, while listening to "Johnny's Middle Finger" ("And it's nothing personal"- as Sam says! ) ... They played at The Rhino, and they did it with love and fun, not because the audience was particularly attentive... If any of you, "Mountain People" (at heart, especially, and I know you're out there, 'cause I've met you) can relate to what I relate with in this music, you should go check them out next time...They're pretty good and they can even make you cry! They can really make you dream, and isn't that preferred in this world of crudeness?! They can make you stop for a minute, relax, breathe, and find that basic, primitive, gut-feeling of joy we all too often miss in today's world! Just a nice oasis of unconditional peace and love ... Go enjoy, and drink and cry if you wish! It's all good... and all very human ...
And as the song goes: "life's a pleasure, but love's no dream " ...

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