Archive for the History Category

We lost John Prine

Posted in History, Music, Uncategorized with tags , on April 8, 2020 by macmystery
John-Prine-ASC-600x350

John Prine

There is absolutely nothing I can write in this space that will do my subject justice.

The world lost John Prine tonight.

I don’t have a plan for this, I’m just going to get a lot of thoughts down. I am heartbroken.

At this point, he had been ill two weeks or so. He and his wife, Fiona, had caught the coronavirus. She recovered. John, a two-time cancer survivor, did not.

I can’t tell you exactly when I discovered his music. I would tell you it was sometime during my teen years in the late 1980s. I was aware and a fan of Bonnie Raitt. And of course to be a fan of Bonnie Raitt means you had to have heard Angel From Montgomery, one of John’s best songs.

Grandpa Was A Carpenter made an appearance on the second Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Will The Circle Be Unbroken album. I had seen him on Austin City Limits. My hero, Bruce Springsteen, had appeared on Jesus, The Missing Years.

I’m not sure which of those happened first. It doesn’t matter. Once you realized how good he was, you were hooked. There aren’t many songwriters in this world that Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan revere. John Prine was one.

My current favorite, Jason Isbell, revered Prine.

“Well a question ain’t really a question if you know the answer, too.”

I was lucky enough to see Prine twice. The first time at the Peace Center in Greenville. Old Crow Medicine Show opened. My ex-wife and I saw him with my friends Chris and Bridget. He was at his best. He sang all the songs I really loved. You can see your favorite artists a handful of times and never be lucky enough to see a show like we saw that night.

The second time, Jason Isbell opened for him in Savannah. My friend Justin had seen Isbell but not Prine. I had seen Prine, of course, but it was my first Isbell show. I was really late getting off work, then we were sidetracked between Bluffton and Savannah by a huge wreck. By the time we got there, I got to hear four Jason Isbell songs. But Jjustin got to hear the whole Prine set. And I’m certain he’s thankful.

His songs were filled with honesty and a dry wit and somehow, they always seemed familiar. And generous.

I wrote just the other day that John’s 1971 self-titled debut was the greatest debut album ever. Fight me. The track listing reads like a greatest hits package. But it wasn’t. Just a perfect record.

Sam Stone. Spanish Pipedream. Illegal Smile. Hello In There. Paradise. Donald and Lydia. Angel From Montgomery. Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.

Damn.

Over the next couple of days, we’re going to hear a lot of artists, a lot of writers, a lot of fans talk about how great John Prine was. I’m glad that he got to hear a little of this toward the end of his life.

While Prine was content to make great music in the shadows of the big record labels, it’s only right that at thend he got the Grammys and the Americana awards he deserved. And it’s good there were artists like Isbell, who revered John and sought him out and made him their friend. I hope there was something satisfying in it for John.

I am devastated. John Prine was an artist. Not a family member or a friend. But on so many lonely nights or long car trips, he was one of the people there talking to me. And I will forever cherish what he had to say.

The world is a slightly less good place than it was a few hours ago.

 

Dylan drops 17-minute ballad about JFK assassination

Posted in History, Music, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2020 by macmystery

Nine Inch Nails pulled off a surprise album drop Thursday. If you’re into them, that’s a pretty big deal.

To me, this was much bigger news. Bob Dylan released his first original work in 8 years on Friday, a sparse, rambling 17-minute ballad about the JFK assassination entitled “Murder Most Foul.”

It may not be what your in to, but I’d suggest listening at lease once.

You can’t have it both ways

Posted in History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2020 by macmystery
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Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” — Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you spent second one bitching about Colin Kaepernick or any NFL player kneeling, yet you’re posting quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on your Facebook profile today, you’re full of shit.

And if you don’t understand why, you’re ignorant, too.

I’m sorry, that’s blunt. That’s not the most painful statement, though.

The most painful statement is that most who quote King once a year while opposing what he stood for the other 364 days know exactly what they are doing. And why they are doing it. And I don’t have to spell it out.

I would suggest today giving King’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail a read today. It’s truly one of the single-most important American writings in our history.

It’s something that shouldn’t be reserved for King’s birthday, but something we should be familiar with year round. But quite frankly, I’m sure it makes white people, particularly white Christians, uncomfortable. Particularly when you apply his premise to the current situation in our nation.

But reading, being conscious of and addressing King’s concerns contained within would make us all better people, better Americans and, most decidedly, better Christians.

 

 

Memorial Day … why just one day?

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2019 by macmystery
MikeMug

I look like a disgruntled something or other.

 

In my relatively new gig as the editor of The Island News, I wrote a column last week about the way we celebrate Memorial Day and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might be free.

I figured I might as well start sharing my columns here. And this is the first one.

The premise is this … why do we celebrate our fallen patriots only one day a year? Shouldn’t we do better to honor them?

I make that argument here …

Henry Damn Kissinger!

Posted in History, Humor, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2019 by macmystery
HenryKissinger

Henry Kissinger once dated Murphy Brown.

I took the Jeopardy online test tonight. This marks the third year in a row I’ve taken the test in an effort to compete on the show.

I wish I could say I felt like I was progressing. The first time I took it was a disaster. Last year was better, but obviously not good enough to move on to the second step in the process.

This time, I feel like I may have gotten half of the questions. I just can’t see that being good enough.

Each year, there have been questions I knew the answer to that I have failed to get the correct response typed in the 15 seconds provided for each of the 50 questions. And I know I have just dropped the ball on questions.

Tonight, I simply could not remember Henry Kissinger’s name. I knew he was the answer. I could see his face. But the name was a blank.

So as a response, as I often do when I miss a question at trivia or don’t know something for some reason, I spent some time reading about Mr. Kissinger.

Most of it is and was old hat for me.

He was a German-born Jewish refugee who fled to the United States with his family when Hitler took power. Harvard educated. Advisor to Lyndon B. Johnson. Secretary of State for both Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford. Crafted détente with China. Supported coup in Chile. Supported Pakistan in Bangladesh war despite genocide. Won 1973 Nobel Prize for peace  process in Vietnam. Still alive.

But as I was reading about Kissinger on the wonderful World Wide Web, there were three facts I had never known that I found quite interesting.

  1. In his younger years, Kissinger was quite a ladies man before marrying. Among his celebrity girlfriends was Candice Bergen. That’s right, … Henry Kissinger dated Murphy Brown.
  2. After being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, Kissinger completed his basic military training at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, S.C. This fact may not be stunning for most, but I lived in Spartanburg for 15 years. Camp Croft was an important U.S. Army training post in World War II that has not existed for decades. It is gone. There are no remains. It’s a state park, and if you’ve been there, you’d be hard-pressed to prove thee was a military base there. I’m always a little surprised anytime I find out someone did their basic training there.
  3. And last but not least, in 1976, Kissinger became the first honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters. An obvious choice, I think. If you had Kissinger in the pool, enjoy the spoils.

And that’s all I’ve got. I mean, it’s Henry Kissinger.