I was going to do a vacation post sooner, but, well, you know, vacation.
My sister and I are at the house my brother and his wife built on 35 acres outside of Wimberley, Texas. They call the place Roadrunner Ranch, and they can sit on their deck and watch the deer congregate beneath the Live Oak Trees in what we would call a "yard" in Indiana but which abuts the wilderness so lovingly here it doesn't warrant such a civilized name. The deer gather there because once a day, brother Larry's wife Michelle takes down corn and other victuals for them.
Over in Wimberley is Cypress Creek, which feeds into the Blanco River, and it used to be the log highway for the timber operations that harvested, yes, all the Cypress trees in the area. I sat on its bank once years ago and wrote a song about it. Last verse: "Sometimes it's hard to get away when there's no place left to go, unless you jump into that creek and let the waters flow, just like a log from a Cypress tree that's leaving Wimberley, float on down the Blanco until you reach the sea." Little metaphysics there, Texas style.
This is vacation as it should be. No running around to see the sights and take a million pictures and sample the local cuisine, no trying to cram it all in, hurry, hurry, hurry. Just pick a place with a pleasant atmosphere and a good view and hang out with people you like and laugh and talk at reminisce in ways you don't usually have or take the time for.
This has ended up being a musical vacation for some reason. My sister Judy and I started it on Sunday night in Indianapolis before our Monday flight, calling up our favorite songs with Alexa (the Amazon Echo interface, which has a better speaker than most of the stereos I ever owned and access to millions of songs in the Amazon cloud). She'd call up her favorite pop song from the '80s, I'd call up my favorite Bob Dylan song. There was the song that makes me think of the summer I drove back to forth to the Children's Zoo ("Hot Town, Summer in the City") and the song . . . well, you get the idea.
We continued the exercise here on Monday night, with all four of us calling up songs on YouTube or Amazon with our smartphones. Eventually, my brother, sister-in-law and I called up so many country songs that my sister left the deck in a huff. I believe the hillbilly gene, still nurtured by my brother and I long after our Kentucky upbringing, is recessive in my sister. After she went inside, just to be perverse, I called up my favorite Beatles song, "In My Life."
I also told everybody what I think I learned about country music and the blues a few weeks ago. As genres, they don't sound much alike, and certainly not many people like both of them, but I do. What I figured out, while listening to the Muddy Waters album "Hard Again" (by far the most enjoyable blues album to listen to) is that both blues and country music are about and by people who have kicked around by life. In country music, the message is, "Life is hard, my life sucks, man am I screwed" In blues, though, the message is, "Life is hard, my life sucks, now get out of my way or screw you."
In Texas, I've learned, it can go either way, so it's a good place in which to appreciate both genres. Johnny Winter, meet Willie Nelson, and, then, boy, howdy.