From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hurtin', Leavin' and Longin' (6)—The Heart That You Own

[a] "The (heart) that you own"   PD
 We meet today at the intersection of heartlessness and homelessness. Dwight Yoakam writes most of his own songs, and a strong plurality of them range in tone from the miserable to the despondent. There is also an undercurrent of resentment coursing through many of his works, and few show it more clearly than this ode to frustration and memory.

Yoakam is a fascinating guy, and if (as I did, at first) you typecast him as a Nashville "hat act," you are dead wrong. He is one of the best songwriters...ever, which is what it takes to make the Sunday Hurtin' page of Round and Square. We only seek excellent lyrics; average ones will rarely appear here. Beyond being a fine songwriter, though, Yoakam has found a way to channel grieving male bitterness into a blend that makes both men and women notice. Just listen to the opening notes—even before a word is sung. If you say "that is Nashville cliché," you (like I, many years ago) would be wrong again. No, this is cliché hammered onto an anvil into bitter irony. They are not the same thing.

[b] Dwight   RF
And that is all I have to say this week, since I am dangerously close to breaking my vow to keep from line-by-line analysis of the lyrics—Sunday only—in these posts. Oh, how I want to do so.  For that, tune in during the coming weeks for some of the analyses I will be posting in a related series linked to this one. Down the road, I really see these Hurtin' posts appearing in some kind of public offering. I just haven't figured out exactly (yet) how to market the anthropology of country music.

One last word before you listen, though. Note the richness (and ironic use) of the rhetoric of economics. It is not hard to see, but take note of the way that Yoakam weaves his various themes together to create a man without a very specific fashion.

Adam Smith and Karl Marx went to a bar with grieving hearts; they order doubles, and Adam says to Karl...("s/he's gone...")...

The Heart That You Own
—Dwight Yoakam
(Dwight Yoakam)

I pay rent on a run-down place
There ain't no view but there's lots of space
In my heart
The heart that you own

I pay the rent
Pay it right on time
Baby I pay you every single dime
For my heart
The heart that you own

Used to be I could love here for free
Way back before you bought the property
Now I pay daily on what once was mine
Lord I probably owe you
For these tears that I cry

'Cause I pay rent on a run-down place
There ain't no view but there's lots of space
In my heart
The heart that you own

I struggle each night to find a new way
To pay what I owe
Just so I can stay
I ain't overdue
So you can't throw me out
I've loved here for years
Don't know where I'd go now

'Cause I pay rent on a run-down place
There ain't no view but there's lots of space
In my heart
The heart that you own

***  ***
Our Chinese poem this week is again from my very favorite genre of Chinese writing (yes, even more than historiography)—the Song lyric (宋詞). That would be the lyric (詞) of the Song (宋) dynasty (960-1279), but the English phrase "Song lyric" works almost as well. As the introduction to the Hurtin' series discusses, these were lines that were set to a tune. It should not be surprising, then, that I choose many of these resonant Song songs for this series of posts filled with the lyrics of raw emotion.

As always, remember that the poems (Yoakam's and Wen's) are meant to be juxtaposed. They are not meant to strike exactly the same notes (that would—as I say every single week—be dull, indeed). Compare...contrast...

To the Tune: "Pusaman"
Wen Tingyun (812-870)

Evening arrives with a luminous moon; midnight is here
Behind the furled curtains there is silence; no one speaks
Deep within the quarters, musk vapors flow and cling
Finally slumbering, a thin foundation of cosmetics remains
Even now, the regret lingers
Thinking back, how can it be endured?
Petals fall; the moon's rays fade
Only the embroidered quilt knows the chill before sunrise [1]

菩薩蠻 (夜來皓月才當午)   

[c] Wen Tingyun   PD

溫庭筠  (唐 812-870)








錦衾知曉寒 [1]

[1]溫庭筠(唐)《全唐五代詞: 卷1.  Wen Tingyun (Tang) "To the Tune: Pusa Man: Evening Arrives"  Selected from The Complete Lyrics of the Tang and Five Dynasties: juan 1.  Translated (freely) by Robert André LaFleur.
Sunday, June 12th
Nobody's Home
If you thought today was bad, you had better brace yourself for Clint Black next week, when the hurtin' just gets more miserable than ever, on Round and Square.

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