I Fall to Pieces
Song written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard, performed by Patsy Cline
I was just reading Philip José Farmer. He was talking about when he wrote a book using a pseudonym taken from Kurt Vonnegut’s writings. As a toss-away comment, Farmer notes that he has grown surprised to learn that not everyone remembers Kilgore Trout anymore. Mind you, he mentioned this back before we had reached overload in pop culture availability.
In 2016, among other overriding themes that could be gleaned from social media, society obsessed over the seemingly endless litany of notable deaths. Surely, it had to be an ill portent of something. Yet, here we are sixty years removed from the initial explosion of mass communication. Add to that remarkable advances in commerce, marketing, and transportation, we have a seemingly endless list of potential celebrities. That first wave is hitting 70 and well beyond. Making it out of those first flowerings of fame does the survivors credit, but no one gets out of here alive.
Patsy Cline does not get to be a social media sensation for dying. So, a lot of people get to run around and say, “who’s that?” She’s not exceptional in that regard. A good percentage of folks had to google Kurt Vonnegut, no doubt. I’m not faulting anyone for having the brain capacity of a human being. It’s just weird what we value. We’re not wrong for liking Megan Trainor. Trainor is conversation fodder while Patsy Cline can only be approached with an explanation already in hand (“great country and western singer from around 1960,” for example).
Patsy Cline has always been there in a way that new artists never will be. Just like Kurt Vonnegut and Philip José Farmer. For people forty years younger, they will say the same about Megan Trainor, as they should.
As it looks now, the future is going to be a very interesting place. Current technology promises the availability of “everything” in unimaginable formats. For me, I had to come to Patsy Cline in the quiet spaces between the noise of modern life. Like Sam Cooke, she taught me to slow down and take a listen. I don’t know if the future will allow for that. It feels like the volume is always being turned up a little louder every year, just to see how much people can tolerate.
In my daily life, I forget to make time for an artist of Cline’s caliber, and I now realize that it’s truly my devotional. It’s easy to forget the spaces that she provides for peace of mind.
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You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 164 more to go.
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