Friday, April 21, 2006

We Ain't Wrong, We're Just Different

"Them that don't know him won't like him and them that do sometimes won't know how to take him. He ain't wrong, he's just different, and his pride won't let him do things to make you think he's right."

So sang two of America's scruffiest sages, Willie Nelson and the late great Waylon Jennings. While country music is often derided for cliched, simplistic lyrics, this duo's classic "Mamma's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" quite simply delivers one of the greatest lines in any song, ever. Subverting the tendency toward throwaway country kitsch, Jennings and Nelson captured the outlaw spirit that's almost always defined a variety of American enterprises. From breaching the Treaty Of Paris and spilling West to Woodrow Wilson's pledge to make the world safe for democracy to the resonating demand that a certain Mr. Gorbachov tear down a certain wall in our own time, Americans have made a national pastime of leaning headlong into prevailing social winds and being found on both sides of history. Like the cowboys our mothers are afraid of us becoming, we're not always polite and we're not always right, but our fortitude, passion and persistence doesn't make us wrong, either. It does make us different, and the grinning outlaw, the composite sinner/saint, hell, the Johnny Cash in us, well, he's content to let his words and deeds stand for themselves whether anyone else likes it or not.

This blog is written in that spirit and in certain debt to American sages of every generation who've said what they meant and damned the torpedoes. We owe them much.

Full Steam Ahead,


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