Hello Stranger from Issue #46
“This was a mistake,” my co-editor wrote in the e-mail that prefaced his Drive-By Truckers cover story for this issue, referring to his decision to tackle a 6,000-word feature during the same few weeks he and his wife Susan welcomed their first child into the world.
Grant was worried the work may have suffered from his understandably divided attention, but I beg to differ. In hindsight, yeah, it would’ve saved him some sleep deprivation to have someone else write about the Truckers; maybe me, for instance, as it was largely on my insistence that we assigned Baker Maultsby to write about the band two years ago when the Southern Rock Opera was released (an outgrowth of seeing Patterson Hood play a solo show to about a dozen die-hards in Raleigh one winter evening).
Things have a way of turning around over time, though. With Decoration Day, it was Grant who had became steadfastly sold on the Truckers, and although it made him busier than anyone should be these past few weeks, the proof that he was the right person to write about them rests in these pages, methinks.
Margaret Elizabeth arrived just in time to have spent a couple weeks in a world that was blessed with the presence of June Carter Cash. While Margaret’s birth is a very personal gain to Grant and the rest of us at No Depression, June’s death somehow seems a personal loss, even if none of us really knew her ourselves.
Which is, perhaps, simply a testament to June’s character and charm. My first encounter with her was at a Johnny Cash show in Oregon in 1992; she made the audience guffaw when she told a tale about how “Dolly Parton swallered my harmonica!”
I must confess, however, never having given much thought to June’s music until she released Press On in 1999. Her humor was prevalent on the track “Tiffany Anastasia Lowe”, but it was the simple grace and beauty with which she delivered songs such as “I Used To Be Somebody” and (with Johnny) “The Far Side Banks Of Jordan” that left their mark this time.
We were fortunate enough to get to hear June do a few songs with Johnny and other members of her family last September at the Americana Music Association’s inaugural awards show in Nashville. Of course no one knew it would be our last chance to see her, but hopefully she knew how much we appreciated everything she has given to country music. It is immeasurable.
Our sincere thanks go out to Rodney Crowell for sharing his personal memories of June with us in these pages. My own final memory of her is forever be tied to the heavens; moments after hearing of June’s passing on May 15, my beloved and I watched the shadow of the earth pass ever so slowly across the shining surface of a full moon in the southern sky. In my mind’s eye, the lunar eclipse served as a celestial salutation to the soul of June Carter Cash.
Letters from all sides persist on matters of politics (a handful printed within), and on whether such concerns belong in our pages.
True, No Depression is a music magazine, and granted, the views of the editors and publishers may differ from those held by some of our readers (or, for that matter, some of our writers and staffers).
But it’s difficult to view music in a vacuum. What’s expressed in song inevitably is informed by the events and environment that contextualize their creation. While we don’t expect ever to shift our focus from musical artistry, neither can we, in good conscience, ignore the obvious overlap between politics and culture.
The discourse is of value to us, and that includes the comments of those who disagree with what we may print, as well as those who agree. That goes for our political opinions just as it does with our musical opinions. We don’t inherently expect our audience to agree with either; rather, it is our aim to present thoughts that are worth contributing to the conversation.