I’m home from my trip to Memphis and I’m in a peculiar mood, brought on by a combination of factors but mainly initiated by an extended stay at the Civil Rights Museum, housed at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed. That experience is something of an onslaught; it’s still a lot to process. I still feel disconnected to that era and from the hardships it brought to those who lived through it. It feels completely foreign to me, even though I’ve lived my entire life in the South. I only catch impressions of what it left behind, pieces of some larger puzzle.
I can’t help but feel that Memphis as a whole has been something of a sad, cursed place since Dr. King died. We went to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music yesterday, and on the introductory video a couple of people interviewed said something similar – that the Stax record label itself is considered to have been a casualty of King’s death; as though it died a few years later of a broken heart. Add to that the fact that I previously knew the city to be a place of terrible musical tragedy – the town where a singular genius like Shawn Lane died too young and remains in a pauper’s grave, and where my friend Ross Rice struggled for so long against an industry that openly disdains talent and creativity.
Seeing the combined struggles of so many, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that in my life I’ve never truly known suffering. I have led an exceedingly charmed life with so many fantastic friends and relatives. I’ve certainly had my fair share of heartache (a constant companion these days), but it is miniscule when compared to the hardships others have had to endure.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I have a renewed sense of gratitude toward the universe for making my life so easy and pleasurable. I’ve had it as good as anyone has a right to expect. I’m also thankful for the vast cache of $1 vinyl at Shangri-La from which I purchased a significant lode. I’m listening to Keith Jarrett right now and am again dazzled by the various manifestations of beauty in this world.