I’ve always loved “Red River Valley.” Last December, I pulled out my banjo and decided to learn it. Now, as a non-musician, and non-singer, I’m presenting you with the best I have to offer. The song is painfully sorrowful, and full of longing. Here I also share what I’ve learned about its history. Hope you like it.
To hear a version of Red River Valley that may make you cry, look up a performance by Stevie Nicks and Chris Isaak. Back up singers, accordion – the whole deal.
Red River Valley
How To Becum Reeeely Stuupid
Heroes or Victims?
Let’s stop calling grocery clerks, delivery truck drivers, postal workers, and hospital orderlies and janitors “heroes.” Firefighters who run into burning buildings? Yes. I am finding all this “hero” talk to be condescending, disingenuous, and phony. Who is calling all these people heroes? Well, mostly us well-healed suburbanites who can afford to “work from home” with our white collar jobs. Yes, these are the people who make our “sheltering in place” possible. But they are not doing this out of service, voluntarily to aid humanity. They have no goddamn choice. That cashier with no 401K, no retirement, no stock portfolio, no healthcare, and three kids in a crowded apartment would, most likely, trade places with you in a heartbeat.
The hypocrisy of all this came clear to me recently with an article in the Atlantic by a cashier at Trader Joe’s, Karleigh Frisbie Brogan.
Cashiers and shelf-stockers and delivery-truck drivers aren’t heroes. They’re victims. To call them heroes is to justify their exploitation. By praising the blue-collar worker’s public service, the progressive consumer is assuaged of her cognitive dissonance. When the world isn’t falling apart, we know the view of us is usually as faceless, throwaway citizens. The wealthy CEO telling his thousands of employees that they are vital, brave, and noble is a manipulative strategy to keep them churning out profits.
Instead of banging on pots and pans, and calling these victims heroes, how about getting them a living wage (not just a “minimum” wage.) Healthcare. Sick leave. Union representation. Harvard with its $40.9 billion endowment decided the best way to handle all this was to lay off its contract employees. The ensuing uproar caused the school to reconsider. And Harvard is ground zero for progressive thinking?
Maybe the next time the delivery guy comes to the door, or the cashier checks you out, you give them a $20 tip. You can afford it. It would mean more to them than banging on pots and pans.
Let’s keep Voltaire’s quote in mind:
“The comfort of the rich depends on an abundant supply of the poor.”