Monday, March 4, 43 A.B.
Daniel Decatur Emmett & The Law Of Unintended Consequences
I've been wanting to write and post an entry for days now (really - I have!) but Daniel Decatur Emmett has been preventing me.
Well, his story has been preventing me, anyway. Daniel died almost 98 years ago, but his story - ah, his story lives on.
He was born in 1815 just about 40 miles northeast of my present location*. Most people probably wouldn't recognize Daniel or his birthplace these days, but nearly everyone is familiar with at least one or two of his creations.
You see, Daniel just happens to be the one who wrote Turkey in the Straw. And Old Dan Tucker. And The Blue Tail Fly.
The thing I'm haunted by, though, is that he also just happens to be the one who wrote Dixie.
If I had had to guess a week or two ago who wrote Dixie, I would have said some Alabama dandy all hepped up on cottonseed oil and Southern humidity, but no - it was written by an Ohio guy. In fact, Daniel (hey, that's my name!) wrote it in 1859 when he was 45 (hey, that's about my age!).
Dixie was an immediate hit even though Daniel seems never to have performed it with a group of scantily-clad female dancers gyrating wildly behind him. When the Civil War broke out, both Northern and Southern troops sang it as they marched, but by 1862 it had become identified as the unofficial national anthem of the Confederacy.
This greatly annoyed Daniel, who was neither a Southerner nor a Southern sympathizer.
All of which has been weighing heavily on my mind lately.
What if I posted an entry which somehow became wildly popular?
What if soldiers started marching off to war chanting that entry to themselves to keep their spirits up and their marching synchronized?
What if some of those soldiers were fighting for a cause I detested - like the right of big oil companies to keep Dick Cheney enslaved? Or the right of conservative commentators to secede entirely from the world of reason?
How could I ever live with myself knowing that these soldiers had made MY entry their anthem??
My mind reels, my blood runs cold, my ability to resist cliches disappears faster than greased lightning just thinking about it.
And yet it's been almost a week since I posted and I know there's at least one elderly woman in a Montana asylum who goes into blather withdrawal if I don't post at least once every 191 hours.
What to do??
I suppose I could put on a brave front, post a purposely awful collection of words, and then DARE the forces of evil to turn those words into an anthem of ANY kind, but... isn't that how we got stuck with The Star Spangled Banner?
I simply can't risk it. I can't!
So instead I'll just say that you can read more about poor Daniel here.
And then I'll remind everyone that it's March - time for a new Bug of the Month - wooo-hooooo!
And THEN I'm going to bed.
If any soldiers get the urge to march off to war chanting "Webbing clothes moth" as a result of this, don't you DARE wake me!
Last Home Next
(©Now by DJ Birtcher - the Ohioan whose life will NOT
be celebrated by a special performance of The Lettermen come August)
A WORD ON PROPER BED REST: I recently encountered the claim that northerners with a tendency to suffer from Seasonal Adjustment Disorder in the winter do better if they sleep facing east. I was skeptical - very skeptical. But I tried it all the same. And you know what? I feel so much better! Not because the morning sun hits me smack in the face every single non-cloudy day now (though it does) but because I'm now travelling through space feet first as the earth rotates. For years I slept with my head to the north and was consequently sliding through space, left side first. This resulted in my feeling as if I was still sliding through space during my waking hours. I felt out of control - like I was in a permanent leftward skid. ACK! Now I simply feel as if I'm falling feet first down a bottomless pit. What a relief!
*Daniel Decatur Emmett's birthplace is actually about 40 miles to my northeast AND about 220 feet higher in elevation. If you're ever here and you want to go to his birthplace and you just go 40 miles to the northeast, you're going to end up about twenty-two stories underground. Don't say I didn't warn you!