In the car this morning, listening to my daughter’s “mixed tape” (a CD, actually) that includes Jack Hardy’s song, “Blackberry Pie,” I got sad again about Jack’s passing. Since he died, I haven’t not been sad about it, but there are moments when there’s an upwelling I can’t ignore or fake my way out of. I told my daughter that it makes me happy and sad to hear Jack’s songs. After she informed me that I should not sing the song because, “I’m Jack Hardy and I get to decide who sings my songs,” we had an interesting conversation about how he wrote those songs, and how they are his, but he also gave them to us, so they are also ours. She agreed.
Here are the lyrics:
i stopped all day to pick wildflowers down by the banks where the blackberry grows all in the shadows of the late autumn hours all in the brambles and the late blooming rose i picked all of the white ones and picked all the blues for those are the ones that would go with her dress and i'll dance tonight, wear holes in my shoes 'til i am the one that she loves the best (chorus:) so dally down where the river runs where the forest bathes the senses clean dally down where the fiery sun and the rhythm moon makes a faery dream and you might think that my heart would lie that many a girl had caught my eye but my heart all along belongs to the girl who baked me a blackberry pie though i've stayed single all of these years 'tween the twisting rope and the wounding wind never staying long enough to see the spring where i had seen the harvest in and i don't give a tinker's damn for the road though many they say i'm bound to roam and i just might be the last one in though i will be coming home (repeat chorus) and many a glass i'll drink tonight where the wine-red hand is from work or fight there is no judge more fair than time for there is no one to change his mind each time i look in the parting glass those years that look both ways to know i'll sing the last song of my youth but i'll sing it again tomorrow (repeat chorus)
Today the line, “I’ll dance tonight, wear holes in my shoes/till I am the one that she loves the best,” made me think about writing. About what I’m willing to do, what I even want to do when I write. I am willing, I want to wear holes in my shoes so the thing (the novel, the essay, the story) is good, is good enough. To extend the metaphor, I was thinking an editor might be the “she” in that phrase, but more than that, the “she” is also me. So I’m the dancer, and I’m also the “she” who the dancer wants to impress, from whom the dancer want to earn love. Crazy geometry. An illustration of how Jack’s songs are about so many more things than what appears on the surface. And how they belong to him, but they also belong to us.
And the sadness comes from my pushing against this: I know that no one lives forever, but I always thought he would “sing it again tomorrow.”