Friday, January 28, 2011

I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby (Charlie Louvin: July 7, 1927 – January 26, 2011)


Last night, my dear, the rain was falling,
I went to bed so sad and blue.
Then I had a dream of you.

I dreamed I was strolling in the evening,
Underneath the harvest moon.
I was thinking about you.

And then you met me in the moonlight,
The stars were shining in your eyes.
But Another was there too.

I don't believe you've met my baby --
You looked at him, you looked at me.
I wondered who you were talking to?

I shook the hand of your stranger,
But I was shaking more inside.
I was still wondering who?

Your arm was resting on his shoulder,
You smiled at him, he smiled at you.
His eyes were filled with Victory!

He said "My sister wants to marry",
And then my heart was filled with ease.
I knew that you would marry me.

        I was wondering all last night what one could possibly say about the passing of Charlie Louvin?  I'm still lost in that process.  
        The first Louvin Brothers song I ever heard was The Byrds' performance of The Christian Life on their 1968 Sweetheart Of The Rodeo album.  The group's vocal and instrumental mastery aside (it is a great  track on an astonishing record), most of the Byrds' Vietnam-era audience undoubtedly felt a sort of sarcastic, spoof-y aspect to the performance. But, as great art will do, the meaning of the whole sunk in, unforgettably, later.


        I really broke through on the Louvins when I first heard I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby, the surrealist "dream song", whose lyrics are inscribed above, performed by Peter Blegvad (accompanied by his own brother Kristoffer) on his album Downtime.  Read the lyrics, listen to the performance, there's nothing more to say.  The Blegvads were brave to essay it, and the song fits perfectly with Peter's original art and perspective, but it is very, very difficult to "cover" perfection.

        Wondering how to respond to Charlie's death, I thought -- do I dedicate something to When I Stop Dreaming, River Of Jordan, We're Just Rehearsing, Broadminded -- something else?  No, for me it's this one, always.

        I listen to the Louvin Brothers every day of my life.  I won't rehearse their importance, their influence (i.e., the things that never could have been if they hadn't been who they were, been there first and blazed the path).  

        The only thing I can say is "thank you" to Charlie and Ira.    Let others read and recount the story of your lives and your penetrating, sometimes shocking, always uplifting art.  Let us all play your records forever and ever.

        You will always remain shiny, diamond-bright and diamond-hard, and eternally young. 


Charlie Louvin photographed in the Grand Ol' Opry parking lot 2010 by Jamie Jemes Medina (borrowed from Andrew McLenon's Facebook page).

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