Saturday, October 10, 2020

I Could Be Wrong

T Bone Burnett, a person
that helps me un-deceive
myself over and over
That title represents what for me is a first step towards shattering self-deception.  I've found that when spoken from the heart without resentment or sarcasm, those words can open doors into new worlds.  

But even if I cannot attain that state of mind, sometimes well crafted art can disarm my defense mechanisms and bring the ways I lie to myself into the light so I can surrender them as the nonsense that they are.

I can honestly say that no single recording artist has done that for me down through the decades more than James Henry (aka T Bone) Burnett.  I have listened intently to hundreds of artists so that is no small claim.  You probably know his work as a producer which is prolific, his fingerprints are all over American music for the past 30 years (click here to see what I mean).

I was about twenty-two years old in 1986 when I found myself putting the new vinyl LP of 'Truth Decay' on my buddy's record player.  I had bought the album that week because of a review I'd read and something in the lyrics more than the style had worked their way into my soul in that short time; I was hoping others in the room would hear it and affirm that  'Indescribable Wow' I felt in my gut.

The power of love can make a blind man see
Can bring a man to his knees
The power of love can make a sultan grieve
Can make a skeptic believe
The power of love is south of south
And scorches out all the doubt
The power of love is the name of names
And burns away all the pain
The power of love can make a gangster cry
Can make a loser try
The power of love can make a strong man weak
Can make a bigot meek

The next year 'The Talking Animals' was released and my world was changed again.  The mule kick of 'The Wild Truth' hit me squarely in the chest.  I started writing T Bone lyrics on everything, my lunch box, scraps of paper, box lids, anywhere people might see them and maybe affirm that they too saw this man's gift of eloquence in conveying raw truth.  

Are we supposed to take all this 
greed and fear and hatred seriously? 
It's like watching dust settle 
It never changes
It's too consistent

Mercy is not consistent it's like the wind
It goes where it will. 
Mercy is comic, and it's the only
Thing worth taking seriously

I need the wild truth

I don't know how to make any choices anymore I mean
Who do I vote for? I get the feeling that as soon as
Something appears in the paper it ceases to be true

The 1992 release 'The Criminal Under My Own Hat' was no different.  It was brimming over with amazing vignettes that pierced the soul and stripped away pretensions.

Which leads me to this latest work of art by Mr. Burnett which he released rather unconventionally through as one of their 'included' titles that is free to download for anyone with an active Audible subscription.  'The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation' alternates pieces of an essay written and read by T Bone with twelve of his songs he hand picked to say some of the same things from the right brain.  This alternating of poetic prose and songs about self-deception and delusion had a powerful effect on me.

A transcription of the entire work can be found online by clicking here.  It is definitely worth reflecting upon for those that don't have access to Audible, or for those that do, it may help to read along as they listen.  Just clicking on the embedded links in the document vastly increased my literacy in our nation's history, lessons I never received as a kid in school.

I'm hoping to discuss this work with some of my friends and family.  It may just be a way to detox from some of the insanity that is going on in our world right now and move forward with love and hope.  It may even facilitate authentic civil discourse for some who can say these four words and really mean them:






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