|[a] Painholder RF|
We began to explore a little bit about the Gisaro ceremony among the Kaluli of New Guinea, and found some parallels to our country music elicitation of melancholy. Today, I would like to consider a further angle. The classic ethnographic work on the Gisaro ceremony is Edward Schieffelin's The Sorrow of the Lonely and the Burning of the Dancers. It is well worth reading from cover-to-cover, whether or not you are an aspiring anthropologist (or a grizzled one who somehow missed it in your batches of reading). Last week we focused on The Sorry of the Lonely, and I would like to spend a few paragraphs here cementing that theme before proceeding to all that burning stuff. Here is what Scheiffelin has to say about the matter.
|[c] Ceremonial RF|
I sincerely hope that you did not skip over the quotations (a bad habit, made even worse when reading history or anthropology...or literary analysis). If you did read the passages above, you understand something about the emotional fury and sobbing anxiety caused by song, dance, and appeals to lost and gone loved ones.
|[d] Pastflash RF|
I am thinking about something even more intense than sobbing quietly in the corner of a bar and nursing a stale beer while listening to echoes of Merle Haggard or Patsy Cline. I am thinking about burning the singers with torches to relieve my pain—something like the Gisaro ceremony you read about, above.
Do we have any parallels to that in the annals of country music?
Yes. Indeed, we do. You see, Bubba was sitting in Margie's Bar one evening when a song came onto the jukebox and roiled up a big ol' stew of misery. There were tears...and then there was anger. Finally, Bubba ran out to his truck and got his, er, torch, so he could "burn the dancer." Take a listen. This is my favorite kind of video. There is nothing on it. Just listen to the rather strange mix of reflexive lyrics and country rage. Please note that the person who posted the song mistook "Joe Diffie" for "Mark Chesnutt."
|[e] Target RF|
Bubba Shot the Jukebox
Telling stories if we had one
Someone fired the old jukebox up
The song it sure was a sad one
A teardrop rolled down Bubba's nose
From the pain the song was inflicting
And all at once he jumped to his feet
Just like somebody kicked him
|[f] Mired RF|
Said it played a sad song, it made him cry
Went to his truck and got a forty five
Bubba shot the juke box last night
Bubba ain't never been accused
Of bein' mentally stable
So we did not draw an easy breath
Until he laid that Colt on the table
He hung his head till the cops showed up
They dragged him right out of Margie's
Told him, "Don't you play dumb with us, son
You know damn well what the charge is"
|[g] Aim RF|
Well, the Sheriff arrived with his bathrobe on
The confrontation was a tense one
Shook his head and said, "Bubba Boy
You was always a dense one"
"Reckless discharge of a gun"
That's what the officers are claiming
Bubba hollered out, "Reckless, hell
I hit just where I was aiming"
Repeat Chorus +
Well, he shot the juke box, stopped it with one shot
Bubba shot the jukebox last night
Well, he could not tell right from wrong
Through the tear drops in his eyes
Beyond a shadow of a doubt
It was a justifiable homicide
Bubba shot the juke box, stopped it with one shot
Bubba shot the jukebox last night
Songs of Depression, Two Selections
Yang Wanli (1124-1206)
I don't feel like reading another book,
and I'm tired of poetry—that's not what I want to do.
But my mind is restless, unsettled—
I'll try counting raindrop stains
on the oilcloth window.
I finish chanting my new poems,
and fall asleep—
I am a butterfly, journeying to the eight corners
of the universe.
Outside the boat, waves crash like thunder,
but it is silent in the world of sleep.
|[h] Wistful RF|
 Edward Scheiffelin, The Sorrow of the Lonely and the Burning of the Dancers Second Edition (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 171
 Schieffelin, 176-177.
 Schieffelin, 191-192. Quoted from Schieffelin's fieldnotes.
 Wu-chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo, Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry (Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press, 1974), 150.
Liu Wu-chi and Irving Yucheng Lo. Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry. Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press, 1974.
What Mattered Most
There are lessons in life, love, and...historiography in next Sunday's ode to cluelessness and loss.