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Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

Let There Be Rock

As a study break on Friday, I drove with a bunch of hooligans to see the Drive By Truckers at the Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, NC. Drinking and rowdiness ensued. The show, as far as I can recall through the alcoholic haze, was great, and the photos I took seem to corroborate this, as do the hangover and ringing ears that lasted for all of Saturday. At one point, Eddie and I were actually scolded by the band for near-moshing down front. This is not something that I expect from a rock and roll show.
In other news, the semester is winding down, which means that I have little left to do but grade and write papers. After a couple of intense weeks, I’ll be on summer vacation. And this year, it will be a real vacation — the kind I haven’t had since high school. Four months of no school, no work, no motivation, and no money. My schedule should look something like this:
Morning: Work on thesis.
Afternoon: Paint, play banjo. Gin and tonics.
Evening: Play with cat and girlfriend. Beer.
Repeat until September.
All of the irresponsibility of high school, plus a driver’s license and a savings account. It gets no better than this.

40 Greatest Hits

Hank Williams
40 Greatest Hits

Hank
One of my more recent projects in life is to get an alt-country band off the ground. I answered an ad from a fellow looking for musicians, due primarily to the John Prine quote in his sig file (“Your flag decal won’t get you into heaven any more.”) Many e-mails and a few phone calls later, I’m now fronting an alt-country band. The catch, of course, is that I don’t really know anything about alt-country. I’m not even sure that I know what alt-country is. My perception thus far is that it mostly involves southern kids who rebel against the southern “thing”, move to the city for a few years to be punk rockers, and then eventually make peace with their roots and write songs about it.
Hank Williams
As for me — well, fuck it. I never really had the chance to have roots. I was a military brat, and I could just as easily be from California as from Pennsylvania. What kind of band this qualifies me to front, I don’t exactly know. But, given my current lot, I’ve decided to do my homework. If I’m to participate in the southern “thing”, then I might as well do it right. On Tuesday nights, I go to old-time slow jams, and spent two to four hours working on learning banjo tunes. A couple of other nights during the week, I practice with the band, and sing songs about whiskey and dirt bikes. The rest of the time, I’ve got my head in music. Not the quirky indie rock with which I’ve been identified at times, but front porch music. Doc Watson, Hank Williams, and Bill Monroe. And it’s good. Good enough that I’d like to be able to claim it as my own. In the absence of having any genuine cultural identity (I’ve traversed from Irish folk to NYC punk to suburban indie rocker to alt-country songwriter, none with any more or less legitimacy than the others), I’m quite happy to adopt this one for a while.
As for Hank — well, what can I say? He sings, he plays, he yodels. He soaks himself in whiskey, loves Jesus, and plays guitar, all at the same time. These are good things. Whatever world Hank is from, it’s one that I’m willing to share for a while.