The reclusive and enigmatic childhood friend of Truman Capote, Harper Lee, celebrated a birthday yesterday. She was born Nelle Harper Lee on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama…
She is best known for her one and only book, which just happened to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” published in (July 11,) 1960, when she was 34 years old.
Ms. Lee and “Mockingbird” come to mind for a number of reasons which I thoroughly do not understand; and that’s just fine with me.
I’ve been told artists dream of castles in the clouds, writers live in them and psychologists are the landlords that charge rent.
At my advanced age, I’m comfortable with the concept that my cloud is my castle, and I own it and I’m too tight to pay rent.
From those long-gone lazy days, I usually associate “Mockingbird” with short stories like Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” “Rain” by W. Somerset Maugham and “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth – and why I’m still traumatized by the word spatula – except when Rachel Ray says it on her cooking show.
I think of the film “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” by Robert Altman. I was initially introduced to him when he directed a number of episodes of “Bonanza.”
“McCabe” introduced me to Leonard Cohen – and later his song “Famous Blue Raincoat.” Remember: “It’s four in the morning, the end of December. I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better…”
(An outtake: “Many of the “summer anthems” also come to mind when I recall those childhood summers. Who can forget “Summer in the City” by the “Lovin’ Spoonful,” “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry, “Summertime Blues” by “The Who,” or one of my favorites, “Red Rubber Ball” by “The Cyrkle.”)
I think of Carole King’s “It’s too late,” and Carly Simon’s “That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be” – “My father sits at night with no lights on. His cigarette glows in the dark…”
It was over 40 years ago in the summer of 1967 that I first heard the song, “Ode to Billy Joe,” by Bobbie Gentry on WCAO on the AM dial of the car radio.
“Ode to Billy Joe,” by Bobbie Gentry
Famous Blue Raincoat Leonard Cohen
Carole King “It’s Too Late” released April 1971
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) Directed by Robert Altman
Carly Simon’s “That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be”
20090429 Music that came up in my Apr 29 2009 Tentacle column
Kevin Dayhoff: www.westgov.net Westminster Maryland Online www.westminstermarylandonline.net http://kevindayhoffwestgov-net.blogspot.com/