“I kissed you ’cause I’ve never beenan angelI learned to say hosannas on my knees But they threw me out of Sunday school when I was nineAnd the sisters said I did just as I pleased”
But this is a beautiful Monday a.m. and I am relishing the rural ride as La Brucherie becomes Ferrell on what may be the county’s prettiest road, all the while wallowing in the voice of Welch, best known to the public for her contributions to the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack.
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I want to soak it all in, the singing and playing, the desert and the farmland, Mount Signal beaconing in the distance.
“Even so I try to be a good girl It’s only what I want that makes me weak I had no desire to be a child of sin Then you went and pressed your whiskers to my cheek”
Like Gillian Welch’s music, Ferrell Road is a mix of the harsh and the breathtaking, the lovely and the desolate, the cruel and the kind.
I love this drive. And I don’t even like driving.
As I approach a ravine I slow as I see some shepherds moving a flock of sheep across the road. Men on foot with flags guide the sheep, as does a diminutive black-and-white border collie, who, it is obvious, is in his, or her, own little workplace heaven.
To me the arrival of the sheep symbolizes good times coming to the Valley, cool days, cold nights and fun months. When the sheep start leaving, so do the good times, and so does the bearable weather. When the sheep leave, in fact, hell, in all its Fahrenheit fury, is on its way to our Valley.
“Now I’ve tried drinking rye and gamblin’ Dancing with damnation is a ball But of all the little ways I’ve found to hurt myself Well you might be my favorite one of all”
What makes America great is not be-suited millionaires, with strategies straight from Washington think tanks, focus groups and pollsters, telling us what they believe will get them elected president or senator or radio host of the year. What makes America great is not this side hating that side in connection with this person or that, or this issue or that.
“Why can’t I go and live the life Riley?
Why can’t I go back home to apple pie?
‘Cause your affront to my virtue was a touch too much But you left a little twinkle in my eye”
No, wondrous American roots music, and working men and a working dog doing their work on a crisp winter morning, those are things that make America great.
“Now let me go, my honey oh Back to Tennessee It’s beefsteak when I’m working Whiskey when I’m dry Sweet heaven when I die”
Bret Kofford teaches writing and communication at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus. His opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of SDSU or its employees. Kofford can be reached at Kofford@roadrunner.com