Sunday Mornings, music & musings…

I saw Susan Werner & Trina Hamlin at the Ark on Saturday night – I’d never seen Susan Werner in concert, although I was familiar with the uber talented Trina Hamlin. Trina is an amazing, amazing harmonica player, vocalist with a career of her own that extends beyond playing in Susan’s band.

I can’t stop listening to Susan Werner – over and over again.

I am from the midwest, I have always lived in the midwest, I am from a land of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, overcooked carrots and beans that were once green. My mother had a fear of anything raw – you could skim the pork chops across a river like skipping stones. I was sure vegetables all had a texture similar to slugs and were completely inedible. Beans were green until they were cooked down or throw in a large pot to cook forever with something called a ham hock.

I’m from the midwest, a middle class family one generation away from extreme poverty, the great depression and growing up in Indiana. Irish. Catholic – a long line of the self taught, hard working and hard playing, drinking and smoking hillbillies. My mother really was the only devote Catholic I think she chose to escape to stability, predictability something sacred and safe – the church.

My father was also one generation away from poverty and hard work – he was temperamentally my mother’s opposite and 10 years her senior. Scottish, stoic, stoic, stoic quiet..more inclined to sit at the table with a strong martini and smoking. Unless of course one was talking about Unions then he could get loud. My father was a Republican.

I am from a family where parents had “their chairs” – we all had a spot at the table and it never wavered. We had all the material things, we were civilized, friendly, polite – law abiding and looked like every other all American family.

I am from the midwest, catholic, hardworking, sacrificing – exuberance and reserve, a long lineage of addicts. That worked, that suppressed their dreams, that had another drink to their hard lives, or to those hard lives that they had finally escaped.

My mother was afraid of anything undercooked – the bottom pie crust was never done. She’d bit into a pie, register her disgust at another failure, and avoid it like a disease. “It’s not cooked” she’d say.

Raw was to be avoided. My parents didn’t approve of passion. Not in their lives or those of their children. My kin were racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, anti, anti, anti – life was very scary …different was dangerous.

And into this family I was born.

I was raw, raw…stubborn, different. Into a family of good people, solid people, mostly steady people, tax paying people, I was born. One intelligent, independent, questioning, quizzical, passionate child gender confused, introspective, artistic.

What does one do with that? My grandmother warned early on “that one will be a problem”.

I felt so different from all of them and I learned early on that no one was really interested in my opinions, thoughts, passions – not really. They’d be met with disapproving looks, stern warnings or a bar of soap in the bathroom. Spankings and whoopins.

So I learned suppression, how to lie, how to smile and then lie and then do and think whatever I wanted. How to not quite live the life they wanted for me but how to not quite live the life I wanted either.

But I’m not a victim, anymore then anyone else is a victim of receiving love, generous intentions that were simply not the gifts I needed.

And every Sunday was a struggle, every Sunday was a struggle of my mother dressing me up like a little Shirley Temple doll for church and my not wanting to go — as early as I can remember I did not believe, did not want to go. When I think of church I think of textured tights digging into my legs on the hard pews, dresses, white gloves and not being able to recite the lines at baptisms about rejecting Satan and embracing Christ. Her god and her religion did not make sense to me – it struck me as foolish from as tiny as I can remember.

So when I heard Susan Werner sing this song, entitled Sunday Mornings…it hit me like a punch in the gut, that was accompanied at the same time with a loving embrace. Like my upbringing -like the loss we feel – the gratitude we feel – all at once. Frustration and celebration. And how as adults we find our place in the world, reconciling those places we’re from, finding those places we are supposed to be.

I’m not quite there yet but I’m so much closer. Such a beautiful song, such a talented songwriter and musician – and music and my passions save me yet again.

“Sunday morning, there is someplace that I’m supposed to be, keeps returning, the feeling keeps coming over me,just like music, or the sunlight on a distant memory, Sunday morning, Sunday morning”.

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Sunday Mornings, music & musings…

I saw Susan Werner & Trina Hamlin at the Ark on Saturday night – I’d never seen Susan Werner in concert, although I was familiar with the uber talented Trina Hamlin. Trina is an amazing, amazing harmonica player, vocalist with a career of her own that extends beyond playing in Susan’s band.

I can’t stop listening to Susan Werner – over and over again.

I am from the midwest, I have always lived in the midwest, I am from a land of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, overcooked carrots and beans that were once green. My mother had a fear of anything raw – you could skim the pork chops across a river like skipping stones. I was sure vegetables all had a texture similar to slugs and were completely inedible. Beans were green until they were cooked down or throw in a large pot to cook forever with something called a ham hock.

I’m from the midwest, a middle class family one generation away from extreme poverty, the great depression and growing up in Indiana. Irish. Catholic – a long line of the self taught, hard working and hard playing, drinking and smoking hillbillies. My mother really was the only devote Catholic I think she chose to escape to stability, predictability something sacred and safe – the church.

My father was also one generation away from poverty and hard work – he was temperamentally my mother’s opposite and 10 years her senior. Scottish, stoic, stoic, stoic quiet..more inclined to sit at the table with a strong martini and smoking. Unless of course one was talking about Unions then he could get loud. My father was a Republican.

I am from a family where parents had “their chairs” – we all had a spot at the table and it never wavered. We had all the material things, we were civilized, friendly, polite – law abiding and looked like every other all American family.

I am from the midwest, catholic, hardworking, sacrificing – exuberance and reserve, a long lineage of addicts. That worked, that suppressed their dreams, that had another drink to their hard lives, or to those hard lives that they had finally escaped.

My mother was afraid of anything undercooked – the bottom pie crust was never done. She’d bit into a pie, register her disgust at another failure, and avoid it like a disease. “It’s not cooked” she’d say.

Raw was to be avoided. My parents didn’t approve of passion. Not in their lives or those of their children. My kin were racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, anti, anti, anti – life was very scary …different was dangerous.

And into this family I was born.

I was raw, raw…stubborn, different. Into a family of good people, solid people, mostly steady people, tax paying people, I was born. One intelligent, independent, questioning, quizzical, passionate child gender confused, introspective, artistic.

What does one do with that? My grandmother warned early on “that one will be a problem”.

I felt so different from all of them and I learned early on that no one was really interested in my opinions, thoughts, passions – not really. They’d be met with disapproving looks, stern warnings or a bar of soap in the bathroom. Spankings and whoopins.

So I learned suppression, how to lie, how to smile and then lie and then do and think whatever I wanted. How to not quite live the life they wanted for me but how to not quite live the life I wanted either.

But I’m not a victim, anymore then anyone else is a victim of receiving love, generous intentions that were simply not the gifts I needed.

And every Sunday was a struggle, every Sunday was a struggle of my mother dressing me up like a little Shirley Temple doll for church and my not wanting to go — as early as I can remember I did not believe, did not want to go. When I think of church I think of textured tights digging into my legs on the hard pews, dresses, white gloves and not being able to recite the lines at baptisms about rejecting Satan and embracing Christ. Her god and her religion did not make sense to me – it struck me as foolish from as tiny as I can remember.

So when I heard Susan Werner sing this song, entitled Sunday Mornings…it hit me like a punch in the gut, that was accompanied at the same time with a loving embrace. Like my upbringing -like the loss we feel – the gratitude we feel – all at once. Frustration and celebration. And how as adults we find our place in the world, reconciling those places we’re from, finding those places we are supposed to be.

I’m not quite there yet but I’m so much closer. Such a beautiful song, such a talented songwriter and musician – and music and my passions save me yet again.

“Sunday morning, there is someplace that I’m supposed to be, keeps returning, the feeling keeps coming over me,just like music, or the sunlight on a distant memory, Sunday morning, Sunday morning”.

10 Responses to “Sunday Mornings, music & musings…”

  1. This is an amazing blog post. If it was the opening page of a novel written in the first person it would approach the level of great literature. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I loved this post. I too remember having to dress in party dresses, etc. for church. Worse for me were Saturday afternoons when all my Catholic friends had to go to communion (with doilies on their heads). I hated that hour alone. And then Julia Sherman moved in – and I had someone play with again : )

    I will be thinking of this post and the song for a long time. Obviously, something of that sunlight on a distant memory has stayed with me.

  3. Ruby…just approach? THANKS and thank you so much for visiting. I will be visiting your blog soon.

    and Jan you are going to love, love the album especially with the struggles with your church that you are having. It’s a smart, inspired and spiritual piece of work.

    love-
    janet

  4. What a beautiful self-disclosing post, and the song was one that I will listen to repeatedly. Isn’t it amazing that we can grow up in a family that has such diametrically opposing ideas than we do while at the same time that family helped shape us into the person we are?
    I went to church every Sunday until I was 13 as it wasn’t something that was an option. When the beautiful female piano/organ player left I refused to go back. I should of know then…..oh yeah, I did.

  5. You are inspiring. Thank you for this amazing post.

  6. God, our lives ran right along parallel tracks, except I lived in small town Iowa…

  7. All very well said. This music moves me too..

  8. Thanks for visiting Wendy! I need to get a link to your blog on the site!

    j.

  9. Great post. I feel like i know you, even though i don’t. But the description of your mother’s cooking leaves me craving red beans slowcooked with ham hocks, the ultimate comfort food. Perhaps on this thing, and only this thing, your mother was right — smoked pork products make everything taste better.

  10. Reading this is like reading a page out of my childhood. Apparently there is not much different between Michigan Irish Catholics and Illinois ones.

    And the sad thing is, I too never left. But I will.

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