Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Saturday, October 31, 2015


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

I passed John Mellenkamp on Kirkwood Avenue yesterday. A skinny blond was mauling him in order to get a selfie with him, much to the annoyance of the skinny blond who was actually with him, who, I am told, is Christie Brinkley, super model, his current squeeze, in lingo I think is cool and current and so must be hopelessly out of date. The “Small Town” boy, though, was being remarkably kind and accommodating, while giving me one of those man-to-man looks that say, “What can you do?”

He obviously recognized me as a guy who is used to being mauled by skinny blonds for selfies. That is because it happened at the Willie Nelson concert last week.

Willie is sort of the connection for this story. Not long ago he and Mellenkamp were on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” talking about Farm Aid. They also performed, “Night Life Ain’t No Good Life, but It’s My Life.”

For the occasion they should have “adjusted” it to be “Farm Life Ain’t No Good Life but It’s My Life,” but Willie, despite being a guitar virtuoso, a unique phraser, and an excellent writer/composer, is not an adjuster. How else can you account for the fact that I have now heard him twice do concerts in Hoagy Carmichael’s home town, with a statue of Hoagy right outside where Willie’s bus was parked, and yet not do “Stardust” as part of his set, which he obviously knows since he had a big hit with it? Once his play list is set, he can’t adjust.

I, on the other hand, being an accomplished lyrics adjustor, immediately began to do “Church life ain’t no good life but it’s my life,” but it didn’t work very well, because church life is a good life more often that it ain’t. I still have work to do on that one, although I’m almost finished with “Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be preachers. Don’t let ‘em read Bibles and go to prayer groups, make em’ be lawyers and financial dupes…” Well, yes, there’s more work to do on it.

Anyway, soon after I saw Willie and Cougar on The Late Show, both of them came to town, Willie to do a concert with Merle Haggard, and Mellenkamp because he lives here, out in the country, with Christie Brinkley, or Meg Ryan, or whatever skinny blond has his attention at the moment.

It was at the Willie concert that I got mauled by a skinny blond who wanted a selfie. She did not want me in the selfie. She wanted it with sports columnist supreme Bob Hammel, who is more famous in Bloomington even than Mellenkamp, but I was on the aisle, and Bob was in the seat next to me, and she had to climb over me to get to Bob, and, not satisfied with that, dragged him over me bodily to get him out into the aisle so she could get more and better selfies.

On the surface, these two men don’t have much in common. A generation apart, one is a rocker, the other is definitely not. One is a staunch Presbyterian, the other is definitely not. One is a smoker, the other is definitely not. One has a series of tall skinny blonds. One has been with the same short brunette for more than 50 years.

However, they are both small town boys. They both write and love music of all sorts. They both love sports. Most of all, they are both kind, publicly and personally. Maybe that is what defines anyone as “small town boy,” regardless of gender or size of city, that ethos of kindness.

Do be careful, though, if you are with one of them, and you see a skinny blond coming with a camera.

John Robert McFarland

I tweet as yooper1721.

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