“Faster Horses” and Leaving a Legacy

 

Tom T. Hall passed away yesterday. His passing has a me a bit melancholy, and mindful of something I wrote down about 10 years ago (the content of which comprises most of this post). The album in the picture here is one of the first records I ever owned. It was given to me by my great-uncle Lew on a trip I took as a young child to the northwest. My memories of that trip are very sketchy: I have only fleeting images within my recall. Yet somehow I remember that “Faster Horses” a time was my favorite song.

Over the years, I listened to this record over and over again, before it got put away somewhere. I still have it. In fact, I was listening to a Tom T. Hall compilation album on my drive home from work just the other day. He was a noted singer, songwriter and storyteller, and it is the stories he tells through his songs that seemed to matter the most to him. It ties me to an aspect of my own history that I find difficult to articulate.

Stories. On the back of the “Faster Horses” album, there is a letter of sorts from the singer about a sabbatical he took in the winter of 1975. It isn’t a letter so much as a collection of entries, observations, and here and there a nugget of wisdom. I couldn’t help but think of my favorite future fantasy of owning a simple house on a lake, with a dock, boat, and canoe. That really has nothing to do with the point I’m slowly working towards here, but it does serve as a backdrop for the gentle melancholy I feel at times in our present reality. The stories of previous generations seem different as each one passes through this age of “progress.” This present era seems ever more confining, in the sense that more and more we relate to one another only through electronic mediums. We live in a cocoon defined by our digital interactions and preferences. Living in such a bubble, what stories can we tell? What narratives and legacy can we pass on that can go beyond the confines of our technology? The age of progress has resulted in a tangible retreat into a false reality of being. The internet is not the real world, and too often it serves not as a bridge, but as a barrier between us and other very real people. What stories can we tell, that will enliven the imagination of our children? Technology may “connect” us to the world, but it also isolates us to the point that intimate, substantive relationships become hard to develop. It is the relationships that enrich us most, that provide us the fertile material for the story of our lives.

My advice? Don’t let this digital representation of the world suck all the life out of you. It can do that. Seek out experiences, passive and active, that add flavor to your existence. Your kids want to know who you are, what you did, what you remember. Or if they don’t now, they will someday. I think it matters. Then take the next step and share the stories. Stories are our legacy.

RIP, sir.

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  1. Ole Summers Member
    Ole Summers
    @OleSummers

    I did not know he died. I will have to take some time to reflect on him myself. Great storyteller – I had all the albums (that certainly dates us doesnt it) and you picked a good song to remember that I can envision several I knew being the subject – but now for some reason the tune from Clayton Delany is hard to get out of my head :)

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  2. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    Ole Summers (View Comment):

    I did not know he died. I will have to take some time to reflect on him myself. Great storyteller – I had all the albums (that certainly dates us doesnt it) and you picked a good song to remember that I can envision several I knew being the subject – but now for some reason the tune from Clayton Delany is hard to get out of my head :)

    The Clayton Delany ballads are good.  The ones that get stuck in my head from time to time include “No New Friends” (from the Faster Horses album) and “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine”.  Well, and “Faster Horses” of course.

    What’s fascinating to me (I’m 50), is that these songs I sang along with as a youngster make a lot more sense now in my middle age. 

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  3. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Jim Chase (View Comment):
    What’s fascinating to me (I’m 50), is that these songs I sang along with as a youngster make a lot more sense now in my middle age.

    A few years older than you, I still remember listening to Tom T. Hall on the aftermarket 8-track player on my parent’s 1973 Datsun 510. I’m sure that one is still in the carrying case next to Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker, and Dueling Banjos but it is, at best, a 50/50 chance at this point as to whether dad’s 8 -track player on the shelf system still works. 

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  4. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    I’ll break my own rules and use the public Comments to suggest an edit. The rationale will become clear, if this post ends up being clear.*

    *<EDIT> I have just done a review of this post prior to mashing the blue button.  Sadly, this post doesn’t end up being clear.  It’s unreadable, if I’m honest. Then it tries to make up for being incomprehensible by being humorous.  But that fails, too: Nobody ever gets self-deprecating humor anymore–we take ourselves too seriously nowadays.  Even reading this edit is failing to get a smile out of your correspondent, and I’m usually the one guy in the audience who can be counted on to appreciate me, at least slightly.

    The key takeaway is, I cannot recommend reading this Comment to anyone but myself, and even that might be a mistake.

    Thank you all for your patience.

    </EDIT>

    Safe, conventional suggested edit:

    sub/the content of which comprises most of this post/the content of which makes up most of this post/

    The breathtakingly bold, risky edit that I’ve long dreamed of suggesting to address this common usage “issue”:

    sub/the content of which comprises most of this post/the content which is comprised by this post/

    Now, let me address the reflexive, shopworn complaint of the Communists, right away.

    Doesn’t this edit change an original sentence that everyone will immediately understand (even if it requires a quick, easy inline mental correction by the Puritans) into one that most people won’t understand at all, and even the Puritans will have to stop and think about for 90 seconds or so?  (Heck, it took me more than 3 minutes to formulate the suggested text, and I’m still not sure I got the logical relationships and grammar right!)

    The answer is, “well, okay…yes, it does do that.”

    But do you see what other thing it cunningly does?  It takes on the problem of “comprises” head on!  Stares the world right in the face and says “this is a beautiful word that leaves a logical gap or worse–a word that means one thing and its opposite at the same time–in the language if the Puritans are too embarrassed to use it, the public never learn to use it right, and the Alinskyites just use it to shame the Puritans.  If you don’t understand it, work on it till you do!”

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  5. She Member
    She
    @She

    A memory of the music of my youth.  My favorite?

     

     

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  6. Richard O'Shea Coolidge
    Richard O'Shea
    @RichardOShea

    I wore out the “Songs of Fox Hollow” LP when my kids were small.

    • #6
  7. Ole Summers Member
    Ole Summers
    @OleSummers

    Richard O'Shea (View Comment):

    I wore out the “Songs of Fox Hollow” LP when my kids were small.

    My girls may be approaching middle age but they are bummed today – Sneaky Snake’s voice is still….

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  8. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    And a great storyteller:

    • #8
  9. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    A lot of good songs.  This is my favorite.

    • #9
  10. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    It might be that the Good Lord

    Like a little pickin’ too

    • #10
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