Monday, June 11, 2012

On the 9th day of "pre CD release" Eric gave to me

In the 12 Days of Christmas song , Day 9 involved Ladies dancing. Here on Day 9 blog of the 12 days of pre release CD party, I'll be discussing 1 lady forsaking.

"If Alabama Is Not Good Enough For You"

"We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget."
-Joan Didion

"Daybreak in Alabama"

When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama.

-Langston Hughes

I am a deeply nostalgic person. I always have been. It's true that I heavily relish the present and get very excited about the future, but nostalgia is ever present. I wear it proudly like a tattoo. It defines and reminds me of who I am. When I say "I am Eric Erdman" it may sound like the most independent , isolationist statement I could make. But that's not how I see it. When I say "I am Eric Erdman" I am making a statement of identity. Sure. I am proclaiming to world that this human you are looking at should be labeled and subsequently called Eric Erdman.
But a label alone means nothing. The words of the label have to be given meaning in order to serve a function. Well to me the term "Eric Erdman" wouldn't mean much as just a label for a hairy biped. What gives the name meaning is past experiences. Due to that fact I easily and regularly get drawn into reflecting on how much my friends and family have helped form me. Without trying to be overly grandiose and Hallmarky, I wouldn't be the person I am without them. That's a simple fact.

Another important thing to remember though is that what gives names meaning is all past experiences. Past experiences require more than people. There are also places that heavily influence who we are and become.

I've travelled the world for a large portion of my life so there are lots of places that have changed me. I've been in the foothills of the Himalayas. I have watched the Seine flow passed the Eiffel Tower. I've seen the impossibly blue waters that surround the Kwajalein Atoll. I've seen the Grand Canyon. As much as I have been changed forever by these and other unbelievable sights, None have had the impact on me that my glorious homeland of Alabama has had on me.

I love the rolling hills of north Alabama , I love Lake Martin, I love the lush green blanket of pines, oaks, and magnolias, I love the smell of honeysuckle, and of course I love my Mobile Bay.

The geography resonates with me on a level that's deeper than just being something pretty to look at. Those field daisies, that red clay and swamp mist that Langston Hughes refers to in the poem above are a huge part of what I mean when I say "I am Eric Erdman".

It is this fact (the fact that I am at least partially "comprised" of Alabama clay and Mobile Bay water) that makes me take personal offense when I hear anyone bad mouthing our beautiful state.

Of course there are social and political problem in Alabama (as there is any where). Those of us who live here know that better than anyone. But as a proud Alabamian I feel like I should take part in making Alabama better by addressing its flaws. We are definitely not going to fix anything by only ridiculing it for its flaws. People that choose to do the latter personally offend me (once again because Alabama is part of the fabric of who I am).

The most offensive of these are people who were born and raised in Alabama yet choose to forsake it. These people should understand Alabama's charm better than anyone. They were lulled to sleep by that one of a kind Alabama Moon and the sound of wind through the Spanish moss. They grew into their indentity just as I did mine: being nourished on gumbo and Mardi Gras.

These folks think that in order to grow they need to outgrow where they came from. We Alabamians have a phrase for that. We say those folks are "too big for their britches".

"If Alabama Is Not Good Enough For You" is a song about one of the people who has forsaken Alabama. The neighbor's girl was gritty as they come. She'd race dirt roads and take gulps of life from a Mason Jar. But once she got a little taste of the world she thought she had become too sophisticated for Alabama. Well to me that looks a lot less like sophistication and a lot more like subtracting a lot of the meaning when someone calls your name.

Or, if you'd prefer

Getting too big for your britches.


  1. Just one more reason you are awesome. Great words, sir.

  2. When have you been to Paris? I'm extremely jealous as that is my dream. :)

  3. Thank you very very much Wendi. That's sweet of you to say.

    And Nikki I went to Paris 5-6 years ago. Had a blast. One of my all time best musical moments was in Paris. I will have to write a blog about it (once we are done with release and such).

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