April 24, 2015 - Dust

It's springtime in Edmonton: geese are goosing, rabbits rutting, squirrels seem squirrellier, and the magpies are flapping and fluffing about it all. The snow has been replaced by mounds and vast skids of grit and Depressionesque dust storms. 

Despite the extremes of the season, I am really enjoying my customary walks these days. You will often find me rattling on about how much I loved living in Glasgow but no matter how much that remains true, I have dearly missed the prairies' seasons these past seven years. I always love how the seasons lend atmospheric substance to the contradictions that constantly trouble, amuse, and amaze me; I particularly admire the seasons just as they change, before they settle into their smug dominance, before they begin their fall into the next.

Spring here is not green; it holds the promise of green, but mostly it simply reveals all the crap that winter left behind. (A quick tip of the hat here to Edmontonians whose civic spirit ensures that a minimum of general rubbish and dogshit emerges). Snow mould, neglected Fall chores, and lost bicycles begin to dominate the landscape but mostly there's dust.

Spring here is brown and this colour suits me fine, The Brown Monk. Brown is not really even a colour is it? It's something on its way to either black or white, or (hopefully) in this case, green.

Spring here is dust-coloured and just as luck might have it, the song I will share with you today is:

Dust

He came in the summer with the railway crew
Just a farm boy with no farm to go to
‘Cause his dad kept gambling ‘till he finally found a rope to hang on to
And he hated everybody in that dirty little town
Their spit-shined chevys looked like highway clowns
A truck was made for working not for polishing and driving around
 
The dust don’t worry ‘bout the day the rain will wash it away
Here on the prairies it’ll soon cover everything again
 
She walked so determined in those high-heeled shoes
She’d walk right out of town when she finished high school
Leave her reputation for the gossips in the coffee shops to cling to
But it wasn’t much better in those bright city lights
The moon disappeared in the vanity lights
And her eyes were the stars, no need to look far for the sky
 
The dust don’t worry ‘bout the day the rain will wash it away
Here on the prairies it’ll soon cover everything again
The dust don’t worry ‘bout the day the rain will wash it away
 
He broke every cliché in his final year
Aced all the parties, never bought the beer
Always got the girl but never really took the time to meet her
Then he worked for his daddy in the hardware store
Selling BBQs and mopping up the floor
And it was clear that he wasn’t the town hero anymore
 
The dust don’t worry ‘bout the day the rain will wash it away
Here on the prairies it’ll soon cover everything again
The dust don’t worry ‘bout the day the rain will wash it away
Here on the prairies it’ll soon cover everything again
 
The rain tastes like the sweat from my brow
Let it wash all over me
I’m drifting again but wherever I’m found
I am bound to the lonely prairie

Unlike the last few songs I shared, this one's lyric did not start with a poem. I wrote it while living in Glasgow and while feeling particularly homesick. Its structure is a bit on the formulaic side but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I recall once years ago seeing one of my all-time favourite Canadian performers and songwriters Willie P Bennett give a workshop at the Regina Folk Festival. In this workshop he advised the curious that they should do all they can to write a song, to not allow themselves to get waylaid by the potential end product. If this means using a thesaurus or applying a formula, then so be it. Once the song is done, you can choose to keep it or toss it aside for future song fodder. It's good advice.

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