Saturday, April 9, 2011
Put My Little Shoes Away
This picture is how things were for many Americans back when the song, "Put My Little Shoes Away," was first written and recorded. The song depicted American reality, the facts of life as it were.
It's a beautiful song. It's been recorded many times, mostly back in the '30s and '40s, by a range of artists. I have an early version by the Chuck Wagon Gang. It was a staple in Bill Monroe's repertoire, and many versions have picked up that swing lilt that bluegrass tends to impart to ballads. As times got better, that lilt was a way to counter the tragedy many of the old songs confront head on. Bluegrass started in the '30s, before it even had a name, but it flowered in the '50s. Times were some better by then, although there was still a common awareness of things like polio. Although Roosevelt had been dead a decade before polio began to be conquered, there's a kind of poetic justice in his association with the March of Dimes (his face was on the dime)--which helped to defeat a disease which might have been what was killing the little voice in Put My Little Shoes Away.
Of course there were many possibilities back when the song was written. And of course most of these possibilities are still quite with us. Mumps, measles, tuberculosis, all the rest (except maybe polio), they're just as "natural" as anything else in this world, and they wait, patiently. Time, to a killing childhood disease, is measured in the same increments that measure the epochs of the universe. It is only us humans who think that time is measured in the microscopic units that fit our relatvely microscopic lifespans. We keep nature at bay with great effort. It's just that much of the effort is so constant that it's like our ability to manage with gravity.
If the Tea Party really has it's way we will before long see how much effort it really takes to live a modern, reasonably safe, life. Many people, of course, already know this truth in full measure. Quite a few--millions--live here in the richest country on the planet. Millions more live in more "interesting" places.
A few years back my daughter was saved by a visit to Planned Parenthood. It was just one of those lucky things. It had nothing to do at all with abortion, and that's all I'll say about it. But if Planned Parenthood is destroyed by the fanatics who seem to be taking over Congress, many many women will lose their only link to medical attention they can afford. People frequently "make do." They always have. People lived through the worst of times--the ones that survived I mean. Then they wrote songs about their grief. Here's what the Tea Party's vision of the future amounts to:
Mr. Ryan and the rest of these fanatics are as protected as possible from death and grief. As members of Congress, they have the best health care on the planet. So do their patrons, the corporate billionaires who are driving these draconian policy proposals. They're all one big happy family. And basically, they're killing Planned Parenthood so that David Koch can have an even bigger tax cut. That's really the equation.
We may perhaps recall that just last December Mr. Obama went along with the Republican idea of keeping the "Bush Tax Cuts" in place instead of letting them expire, as was intended. This decision created an even bigger deficit problem than existed before. Yet it was only after this decision that Republicans in the new Congress began to rant about a crisis to end all crises--to talk of even shutting the government down if they didn't get their way. And yet the sticking point of the moment seems to be the funding of Planned Parenthood--which everyone admits is literally a drop in the ocean of the budget.
So listen to the song a few times. Because this is the world the Tea Party wants to bring back to life. And why the Democratic Party won't stand up to this absurdity is really beyond me.