it’s only folk music, but we like it

what’s the sound of two edies talking?

Scene: The waiting room of yet another doctor’s office — “it might be nothing, but might be something.” Big Edie had popped an Ativan on the way over, for the claustrophobia of the MRI. She’d stared at the pill before swallowing it. It was small. Smaller than the Valium she usually gets for these things. Now, she flips through an issue of AARP Magazine, and stops on a photo of Stevie Nicks.


Big Edie: I don’t know any of people they’re talking about. They write for people in their 60s, not real old people.

Me:  You know him (Michael Caine), and him (Superman). (silence)  Today’s Mick Jagger’s birthday. He’s 70. Thirteen years younger than you, and 14 years old than me. You know him.

Big Edie:  He’s ugly.

Me He is.

Big Edie:  I don’t like this pill. What is it? The other one made me feel silly. Especially if I take two.

Me:  It’s for anxiety, Ma.

Big Edie:  I’m not anxious.

Me: Because you took the pill.

Big Edie:  Oh. He’s so ugly. How can anyone like him? I like Bruce Springsteen. (silence) He’s like the old folk singers. He likes the good charities. And he’s manly.  He is. He’s so…manly. (silence) I like the other pill better. And Lyle Lovett. I like Lyle Lovett.


Lyle Lovett. Bruce Springsteen. Peter, Paul & Mary. It’s all a left-wing, folk-singing, peace-marching, blue-collar musical salad for her. I don’t ask how she knows Lyle Lovett or Springsteen. Those questions are invariable met with, “I know stuff.” And she does, she knows Bruce is manly, Lyle is not, Mick is ugly, and Valium is more fun than Ativan.



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