Wine, Writing and a Woman Named Lucinda

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Lucinda Williams Little HoneyLast night Amy and I attended the Lucinda Williams show in downtown Houston. She was amazing, and a lot of her lyrics have been running through my head ever since. One song in particular seems to be playing on a loop in my cranium, maybe because it seems to strike a chord with me for a variety of reasons. More on that after the lyrics to the song.

I think I lost it
Let me know if you come across it
Let me know if I let it fall
Along a back road somewhere
Money can’t replace it
No memory can erase it
And I know I’m never gonna find
Another one to compare
Give me some love to fill me up

Give me some time give me some stuff
Give me a sign give me some kind of reason
Are you heavy enough to make me stay
I feel like I might blow away
I thought I was in heaven
But I was only dreamin
I think I lost it
Let me know if you come across it
Let me know if I let it fall
Along a back road somewhere
Money can’t replace it
No memory can erase it
And I know I’m never gonna find
Another one to compare

I just wanna live the life I please
I don’t want no enemies
I don’t want nothin if I have to fake it
Never take nothin don’t belong to me

Everything’s paid for nothing free
If I give my heart
Will you promise not to break it
I think I lost it
Let me know if you come across it
Let me know if I let it fall
Along a back road somewhere
Money can’t replace it
No memory can erase it
And I know I’m never gonna find
Another one to compare
Money can’t replace it
No memory can erase it
And I know I’m never gonna find
Another one to compare

I Lost It
- Lucinda Williams from Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

Before playing the song she said that she wrote it as a joking response to the old “I Found It” bumper stickers that were popular some time back. I love this song because it seems to encompass so much of what I think makes her great. Although she claims to have written it jokingly, and it certainly has a whimsical element, it also combines intelligence, sweetness, toughness, sadness, longing and tenderness to almost heartbreaking effect. In other words, a typical Lucinda Williams song.

It also describes how I was feeling around the time I began this blog. I had, and thankfully still have, a wonderful family and a great job but I felt adrift. I had lost IT. I couldn’t have told you what IT was, but I had definitely lost it. Looking back, I think maybe IT was a combination of things.

Moving from NW Ohio to Texas took me away from friends and family as well as disconnecting me from my beloved sports teams. Being an old punk from the heart of, and I hate this term no matter how apropos these days, the Rust Belt, I actually like gloomy weather and industrial landscapes. The palm trees and perpetual sunshine, at least when hurricanes aren’t laying siege, of Houston sometimes wear on my soul. I like my dark side sometimes, and as much as I love Texas most of the time, it is always trying to give my dark side a tan, some BBQ, and a drink with some fruit in it.

But the lost IT that I think was leaving the biggest hole was music. One of my earliest memories is of sitting under my mother’s kitchen table and hearing The Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” coming from the cheap radio on the counter. I saw my first rock concert at age six, and countless others in the years since. I tried my hand at guitar at a very early age, showed no aptitude for it, and by the time I was nine had switched to drums.

I played in a variety of bands from about 14 until well into my 30′s, playing everything from Prog Rock to Punk, although mostly Blues, 50′s and 60′s stuff, and Rockabilly. I loved it all. The only types of music that I professed a dislike for were Country and Opera, and there were even exceptions to those genres. There were periods when music wasn’t just a big part of my life, it was my whole life and almost anything else was an intrusion.

In the Summer of 1977 one of my friends went to Ireland to spend a couple of months with relatives. When he came back to school the next year we had questions about whether he had seen much violence or if he had gotten the chance to see Rory Gallagher play, but that wasn’t what he wanted to talk about. He had traveled far and the exotic thing he brought back to us was something wholly American, something that we already owned but didn’t even know existed. He had albums by Television, Patti Smith, Mink Deville, and most importantly, The Ramones. Life changed.

For decades that music, our music, MY music, like the musicians who made it, struggled to survive. It started with a few of us weirdos and misfits, but we found more and more of our tribe of outcasts, passed them copies of copies of a copy of a cassette someone had given us. Like drug dealers we would hand these tapes out hoping to hook someone new, and it worked. The music and the movement grew until there was a huge, churning, volatile underground that wouldn’t be force fed their culture. Screw that, and screw them, we would make our OWN!

It took almost two decades of being ignored before the underground could no longer be contained and it erupted in an explosion of flannel, unwashed hair, irony and heavily distorted guitars. The day that MTV aired “Smells Like Teen Spirit” everything changed again. I remember walking past the TV and sneering at whatever crap they were playing right before and stopping dead in my tracks as Nirvana came on. My jaw dropped and I think that I forgot to breathe for a long time. We had won.

For another decade the diverse music which came to be stupidly labeled “Alternative” that ranged from Reggae to Thrash , Hip Hop to Punk blessedly blew away the mediocrity of Corporate Rock and Hair Metal. Record companies, initially caught off guard, sent out armies of guys with slick ponytails and MBAs to sign as many of these upstart bands as they could, they even invented a few of their own. Eventually the true believers were gone. Cobain disconnected, and Nirvana was replaced by spectacularly untalented imitators like Stone Temple Pilots. The Replacements drank and fought themselves apart, only to have their sound watered down and co-opted by the Goo Goo Dolls to great success. Eventually everything became as homogenized as the garbage that “my” music had come to destroy.

I remember sitting at my desk one morning around 2000 listening to the radio that Amy had left playing when she headed off to suffer through another day of attempts to erode her soul at Law School. It was an AM station that gave a lot of news, traffic and weather updates in the morning with a semi-entertaining group of obnoxious DJ’s, but it had given way to secretary music, and I was too lazy to get up and turn it off or hit it with a hammer. The song “Kryptonite” by Three Doors Down came on and I kind of snorted to myself and thought that “Alternative” had infiltrated even the most mundane areas of the radio dial, the kind of stations that get played in offices and waiting rooms everywhere. As I listened to the calculated mediocrity of the song, though, it hit me that it was the other way around. The music had been infiltrated by the mundane, and it was over. Things changed again, only I was less ecstatic this time.

I had quit playing in bands by then, and my drums were gathering dust in a corner of my parents’ basement. Now the music I loved was relegated to nostalgia. Since it was such a big part of my life, was I too becoming irrelevant? This was in 2000, and soon so many other world changing events would occur that hit, hurt and changed us all. In some ways, though, I missed the music most of all. Perhaps it would have helped us through the dark times that were to come.

So when I hear Lucinda’s wonderfully brash, abrasive, in your face yet achingly sweet voice sing:

I think I lost it
Let me know if you come across it
Let me know if I let it fall
Along a back road somewhere
Money can’t replace it
No memory can erase it
And I know I’m never gonna find
Another one to compare
Give me some love to fill me up

I may not know exactly what she meant, but I know what it means to me. Despite being blessed with so much, I had lost it, and it was not coming back. The hole that it left was further eroded and grew like a sinkhole by seeing the country that I love attacked and then horribly botch everything that followed. Without straying too far into the political, I saw the American Dream seemingly following my music into the past.

That is a lot of  “it” to lose, and a big hole to fill. Like the song says, I know I’m never gonna find another one to compare, but I have found some love to fill me up. This blog, begun on a whim, has given me something to be passionate about again. I gives me some love to fill me up. I rediscovered my love of creating something, working hard to make those creations better.

I love food and wine and writing about them. I love helping people become better at cooking, or encouraging them to try something new. I love the idea that I might be helping the neophyte wine drinker to enjoy it even more. Who knows? Maybe they think they lost it too, and I could be giving them what they need to be filled up some too.

In return I am being rewarded in so many wonderful and unexpected ways. New friends, new experiences and new opportunities keep presenting themselves. My solitary pursuit has become something I can share with my wife, who has in turn helping me take things to ever higher levels. At a time when so much is down it is a joy to be part of something that is heading up. I don’t just mean this particular blog, but the food and wine blogging community, even the young but burgeoning food and wine culture of America.

Sure, compared to momentous world events, or how some people make the world a better place by their courage, sacrifice or generousity, babbling about food and wine is pretty far down the list of worthwhile endevours. But it is what I am good at, what I love, it fuels my passion, and it is slowly beginning to fill me up.

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com WineWonkette

    An excellent expression of what joining the blogging world, and being a part of the changing of the guard in Washington has done for me. Thanks to Jyl for encouraging me to write again, and Joe, wine and WBC08 for giving me the courage and the space to do it.

  • Michael Cole

    Hi Joe, this was easy to relate to being of similar backgrounds. I admire the seemingly ease with which you are able to take what you're feeling and communicate that via the English language. Feelings don't always translate well.

    Anyway, it's been awhile since I've checked in so it makes it hard to read everything but I'm glad I found this one.

    Peace my friend, MC.

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com jpower

      Hey Mike, glad to see that you are still reading. Hope all is well up your way.

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com jpower

    Hey Mike, glad to see that you are still reading. Hope all is well up your way.

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Houstonwino

    Hey Mike, glad to see that you are still reading. Hope all is well up your way.