Dolly Parton Wig by Christine Neacole Kanownik
This is all something that I have inherited from my father. This obsessive, lazy nature.
We watched Country Music Television all day when he was visiting me in California. When I suggested changing the channel, he lost his shit. But I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I’m a caged animal at this point and cannot be held responsible for my actions. Do you know 90s country music? Have you any idea? I switch to Comedy Central and we watch it for the rest of the day.
When I recently listened to the same song for the 32nd consecutive time, I got concerned. It was like looking into a mirror and seeing my father’s stupid face instead of my own. I also worried that my Spotify followers would think I’d gone nuts. So I started listening to it on YouTube. YouTube won’t rat me out.
The song I like so much rose to fame through a Taco Bell commercial, an episode of the new Teen Wolf, and the promo for the HBO show Looking. I found most of that out by reading the comments.
If you take this song away from me, I will be nothing. I will just be some idiot walking. Just some idiot staying inside on my bed or at my desk. My emotions cannot then be properly and precisely displayed to you. I cannot be protected in my vulnerability without this song. First I swim along and then I start running and without this song I start drowning.
No one thinks it is remarkable to be obsessive. Especially with such low stakes. My obsessions haven’t technically gotten in the way of my daily life. I go to work in the morning and I mostly work until I leave work. I talk to people in real life. I think about skipping out on social engagements so I can drink whiskey in my room and watch Travis Tritt videos, but I don’t. I sometimes regret my decision.
Regret is a natural and wasted emotion.
It was while reading I Love Dick that it all snapped back to that time, to my father, to my childhood. And suddenly my own obsession shifted to the Obsession of my Father. We aligned and had a single obsession. Wherever he is now, we are One.
Chris Kraus makes a passing reference to an oldish country song “Trashy Women.” I was on the train then but I remembered it all: “Pardon me, son, that ain’t no kid/ That’s a cocktail waitress in a Dolly Parton Wig.” I went home to watch the video and it was not nearly as funny as the singer thought it was.
But watching it, I also felt a connection to Kraus, beyond the fact that we have the same initials and I was once in the same room as her. I ask you, how many people who read that book would also be familiar with a 20 year old parody country song by a band called the Confederate Railroad? Not a ton, I’d wager. I felt like it was just me and her and all those years glued to CMT were not in vain.
If I am going to listen to anything else today, it is the album that Dick put on while having sex with Chris in the foreground.
When it is broken, and it is often broken, I start listening to 90s country music. I think of my father, who I haven’t seen in 10 years. I think about how I didn’t really understand the songs at the time and now there isn’t much to get.
“Maybe it was Memphis” does not stand the test of time, but “Don’t Tell Me What To Do” is catchy.
It is a common occurrence in 90s country music videos for the singer to get on a table in a crowded dinner or restaurant or a town hall type setting and sing the final, climactic verse of the song (with modulation and sometimes without musical accompaniment) in the midst of the confused restaurant patrons who drop their forks and gawk.
The singers are vulnerable since they are confessing their love, frustration, heartache to a group of strangers. Shouting from the rooftops, as it were. Meet Me in St. Louis, as they say. But they are protected in that vulnerability since the restaurant patrons are old ladies and truckers and the singers are glamorous country stars with little spangles on their boots and fancy red guitars.
I was going through my iPhone library yesterday and I found a video I had taken on accident. I hadn’t realized it existed. The visual is almost exactly what I’m looking at right now. The side of my desk, the lower corner of my laptop. It is two seconds long and shot on the morning after I started falling for you. You can’t make out what you are saying exactly. I think maybe you are saying “fun day,” but it is the sound of your voice, obscured, and then I laugh and then it is over.
“Don’t tell me what to do/ You’ve already said that we are through/ I’m a page you have turned/ I’m no longer your concern/ So, don’t tell me why to do/ I’ll love you forever if I want to,” Pam Tillis sings while looking straight at the camera with her pretty blue eyes. Then she hops down off the chair and puts her hat on defiantly while a kid sips on a soda pop. The last shot is Tillis driving off down a winding road in a light blue convertible.
And that’s that.
How can you move like this
your unfocused eyes
Herr Docktor, opening the fridge
one spore or two?
what? I don’t know
I know that there is ringing
and then there is RINGING
and also wringing if you
are counting but my heart
was never in the numbers
I see the sun there I see it
outside but I’m too numb to point
too tingly to feel rage
I opened the fridge
I forgot to check on my flowers
you’ll get cancer
what? I don’t know
I just repeat what I’m told
I just am the lamb and the light
Name the flowers that have started
growing, name them
in height and colour
I want to know the height
distracted from (and by) your beverage
who plays the circle cat?
the cercle rouge
the box filled to the brim
the scientific evidence
carrying on like a teenager
like love, like love
what do you know of it?
what? I said, what hand
does the the glove go go on?
each finger is a flower, my child
each ring is a thing you will sing
flinging the belt clear across
the field, now that’s a horse
now that’s a field, now that’s a window
now, the dusk, the lion
in the dusk, the filthy lion
and Herr Docktor has dry hands
dry hands, right? barely awake
Nodding left and right
nodding against the brain
how fast can we possibly go? and go?
and all the eyes are in field
of snow, snowy field, moving
field, my eyes on you in the
field, the seasons changing
when you change your name, articulatingf
oliage I SAID THE LEE-E-AV-ESS
I SAID THE WAY THE LEAVES FALL
where go leaves now?
Into the sky? leaves fall up sky fall up we fall up
into the sky the sky like a vacuum
cleaner the sun like a nozzle
Christine Neacole Kanownik is founding editor/curator of The Electric Pumas. You can find her work in such places as: The Huffington Post, jubilat, EOAGH, H_NGM_N and The Poetry Project Newsletter. She lives in Brooklyn.
Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints?
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