The Good Life

"So I don't mind saying
"This is how the good life's supposed to be,
"The good life
"For you, for me..."

-- Cracker, "The Good Life," Gentleman's Blues, 1998

A lot of the news in this country lately has been about how bad things are, about how economic conditions are the worst they've been since the Great Depression, about how many people are struggling to make ends meet. For those who are unemployed or are living from paycheck to paycheck, it probably feels that way. I suppose it's sort of like getting hit by a hurricane: It doesn't have to be a Category 5 to mess things up for a while; even a minimal hurricane is a disaster if it happens to you.

Still, the vast majority of Americans have it pretty good. I was having lunch with Dad today, and we talked about him growing up on a cotton farm in rural west Texas in the 1940s and 1950s. When he was a kid, there was no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no hot and cold running water, no central heating, let alone air conditioning. He was in elementary school when he saw his first flush toilet. His mother cooked on a pot-bellied stove that burned coal. When the family got a bit more affluent in the early '50s and electricity arrived, one luxury was an oscillating fan. And remember, folks, west Texas is as hot as the Devil's tail in the summertime, but the people who lived there then persevered without air conditioning. They were made of sterner stuff then. Even our poor people now live in luxury compared to the vast majority of Americans several decades ago.

We also have access to more information in more ways than we ever have had, and the vast majority of our recent cultural history is available to us at a very reasonable price. It wasn't that long ago that the music you could listen to was limited by what your local radio stations played and what was available for you to buy at your local record store. Today, you can go on Amazon.com or similar online stores and find just about any type of music you want to find, as well as vintage movies and television shows from recent to ancient. You have the ability to find most albums by most artists somewhere on the internet, and to discover "new" artists that sometimes may be decades old. If you haven't heard them before, they're new to you.

Case in point: I'm on a bit of a Gram Parsons kick lately. I'll write some reviews later, but suffice it to say that if you like Americana/alt-Country, then his solo albums as well as the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo are something you would want in your music collection. I've become more interested in the Americana music over the past several years, exploring my musical roots and discovering great music from decades past that I missed the first time around because it wasn't my style at the time. Times change, styles change, but those old albums are still out there, now digitized instead of on vinyl. And you can get them, often cheaper now than they were when they first came out.

Yes, life is pretty damn good.