Wildwood Flower

The Briar Philosopher in her youth. Photograph by Warren Brunner. Painting by Billy Ed Wheeler. 

Let there be Music

Well, as I mentioned last week, the Boy and I had our second vaccination. Very few side effects and we’re happy that in just another week or so we will be as protected as it is possible to be right now.  We’ll be continuing to mask up in public. Though the most recent studies show that both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccine protect against infection to about 90%, we wouldn’t want to be the 10% that might have it and pass it along without knowing. For us it has always been about protecting other people, not just ourselves.

But that’s not really what I want to talk about this week. What I want to talk about is music.  Other than hugs, it has been making music with our family and friends that we have missed the most.  It is a big part of our lives and is our family therapy. We had to cut out all practices and performances last year because it was just too dangerous but now that we, and most of our band mates, are vaccinated we can resume practice and make a joyful noise once again.  We are excited and grateful.

Music has been a part of the culture of these hills for as long as anyone can remember and, undoubtedly, longer. Both the boy and I come from families that had their fair share of musical talent. That’s true of most families from this area if you go back in time very far at all.  It wasn’t unusual when I was growing up for people to gather on front porches and in front yards or around campfires and make a little music. From bluegrass and gospel to Johnny Cash and the Beatles, music was part of my early education. It is unusual for me not to have a tune in my head and anyone who has been around me very much knows that I’m always humming something. I have a ridiculously good memory for lyrics and melodies, probably as a result of my brain practicing them all the time, even when I’m not paying attention.

The Boy, whose actual name is Jerry Sparks in case anyone didn’t know that, has a real talent for the guitar and a very good voice. He won enough money playing pool at his mother’s old store to buy his first guitar and was playing before he even knew what a chord was. In the intervening 45 years or so he’s gotten really good at it. It is not unusual for us to spend the evening just learning and singing new songs. In fact, a great deal of our winter was spent doing just that. We even recorded a few. It was a good way to spend the time but we really, really missed being able to bring the rest of the band into the living room and make a bigger sound. In the next few weeks we will be able to do just that and the ridge will once again resonate with the sound of music.

I said earlier that music is family therapy for us and that’s true. It gives us a reason to get together with the people we love, to catch up with one another’s lives, to share a meal and stories, to touch base on where our hearts and heads have been and just enjoy one another’s company. Families and friends didn’t get together like they used to, even before the pandemic hit. I believe the necessity to isolate from one another over the last year has made us appreciate one another more and expect to see more people getting together again when it’s safe than had been usual for years and years. I think we all have come to understand the importance of our connections to other people after having to do without one another for so long.

So, this Spring will bring not only the music of song birds but of Sparrow Hawks as well.  Sparrow Hawks is our band name. If you see we’re going to be out playing somewhere this year I hope you’ll consider stopping by. I also hope you will all consider getting vaccinated so we can all enjoy one another’s company without worry again.  Happy Spring, y’all. Let there be Music! 

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