A Playlist Series

For the Grads

Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on our lives in more damn ways than any of us can count. I won’t go into the people we’ve lost, some of them close, some of them so far away. In my family, things are stable, and we’ve managed to get through this so far without serious illness, though some of us did have mild-to-moderate symptoms.

I have taught from home since April 2020, and I’m wondering what standing in a classroom again will feel like. This past year, I’ve taught from my writing study while my wife has seen clients from our basement studio…


Weeds and Wildflowers May Prompt

“Home,” that is

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

“Alabama, Arkansas
I do love my ma and pa
Not the way I do love you.”

My daughter kept playing this song one summer in the not-too-distant past. I like to stay up on current music, but I had missed this one (just the tip of that submerged iceberg of sounds I don’t know that I don’t know about). So as she played it, I started whistling and singing. And she smiled at me.

My original home is Alabama, and aside from Arkansas, the rest is true, too.

My daughter (we’re talking about my almost 27-year-old younger daughter) is on…


Diving into Against Me!

Photo by Jessie Clark on Unsplash

Last week at this time I had fallen deep into the alternative/folk duo, The Handsome Family. I couldn’t get enough of them and downloaded every record I could find. They’re still near the top of my playing heap, but they’ve had to move over a bit and leave a bit of my virtual couch for Lara Jane Grace’s Against Me!

On some level, I’m sure the two bands share an aesthetic about doing things their way, but when you first open their doors, you’re liable to see the woods densely for one, while for the other, you’ll feel yourself sweating…


And…you really got me (Image courtesy Hitparade.ch)

It’s hard to tell a college-aged guy what to do and not to do, whom to date and not to date. I know I wouldn’t listen to anyone, especially not to my friends. No, I had to learn the hard way, and drive the long way, too.
I lived in the college town of Montevallo, Alabama, twenty-five miles from my home in Bessemer, and fifty miles from Clanton. Clanton isn’t an important town to me, never was. Like Bessemer, it’s just one of those places that you wouldn’t pull off an interstate for, except to wonder how and why its…


Waiting for Lefty (Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

I can still hear her slamming into the back screen door when I wouldn’t let her inside the house. Lefty. She was used to having the run of my friends’ place, of coming inside whenever she wanted and jumping all over whomever got in her pathway.

It’s funny that I have no problem today with Max’s jumping. It drives my wife nuts, but I think Max is priming us for being grandparents one day, you know, the kind who let their grandchildren get by with all the things they would have never let their own children do.

Like the time…


Still confused after all these years

Photo by Dinis Bazgutdinov on Unsplash

As I walk my dog Max through residential streets, I notice things about my neighbors and about houses and other dogs — people I don’t know very well or at all.

There’s the woman with the gorgeous rose bushes, all labeled and bounteous, whose pale pink house is as neatly ordered as any HGTV model. That she has a red, white, and blue “T***p 2020 For God & Country” sign prominently displayed alongside her formal garden must be, to her, not one bit incongruous. Though I inwardly shudder at its sight — a sight I’ve passed daily since last August.


Blowing upwards and softly

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

In that other galaxy, the one several lifetimes ago
A band called Night Wind played in a former armory,
adjoined to an old tarnished diamond where we’d shag flies
on languishing summer days, without water or closing times.

On the night like this one, or maybe another one,
Night Wind, culling old Deep Purple, reached shrilling stoned heights
but brought it all back down as the electricity softly ebbed
and that girl I once knew cried, “Play ‘Stairway To Heaven.’”

Winding paths through overturned tables and grass,
each mate played every note as if they always had, as if they were…


“I don’t want him to…”

Max, wondering when the next walk will happen (Author’s photo)

My wife and I have an ongoing debate about our dog’s behavior. For instance, just as soon as I put my dog’s collar on him, he runs around like crazy — out the back door, around the back yard, and back in through the dog door in the basement.

He knows that we’re going for a walk, and he’s so excited that he runs the other way for whatever doggy reason he has, and sometimes I’m just afraid he’s going to hyperventilate or something before I can harness him up to the complicated leash that…


A course I hope to teach, Pt. 1

Teaching the Pop/Rock/Soul I love

Photo by Ana Grave on Unsplash

In my Film and American Culture class this week (focusing on the Culture of Fear), I played a few songs to get us started, as I do in every course I teach. This day I played Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, and asked if any of the fourteen students knew this band. None of them did, though a few said the songs sounded familiar. When I revealed the name of the band, one young woman finally spoke up:

“Is that the band who does ‘I Was a Teenage Anarchist?’”

“Yes! How did you know?”

“Well, my dad made me listen…


Weekly Knob Power Prompt 248-”Jeans”

Or at least he tried to

Photo by Daniela Dávila on Unsplash

Back in first grade, my mother bought me my first pair of blue jeans, the Farah brand. There’s an entire history of Farah — from Texas to London — that you should look up. I did. It made me kind of nostalgic for a pair of their jeans, and I didn’t know they were founded by a person of Lebanese ancestry. I did know that Levi’s, Inc. …

Terry Barr

I write about music, lit culture, sports, food, and my Alabama past in One Table One World, MuddyUm, Indelible Ink, Literally Literate, and The Weekly Knob.

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