(NOTE: I wrote the post below around this post a year ago today, but didn’t post it. Not sure why, but I found it as I was looking through the unpublished draft posts a week or two ago, and figured it was still worth posting. I scheduled it for the anniversary of when I wrote it, just for the hell of it.)
Something about these guys, guys like Mississippi Fred McDowell, equipped them to sing what is just the absolute music of our lives. It’s the music of missed planes, the music of trains that leave on time, the music of ships that go over the horizon without you on them, and cars we get into even when we know we shouldn’t.
It’s the music of souls bared, telling the truth, and luxuriating in the act of decrying and defying the universe, while embracing little things within it: memories, people, hopes, fears, resentments. They are songs of a world where theodicy is a pending and relevant problem, and songs of making one’s way on through the discomfort nonetheless.
And though this may be a baptism song — going to the river and having one’s troubles washed away tends to imply immersion baptism — it says something to me anyhow.