There are weeks when the news contains stories that force you to shake your head in disbelief. However, this isn’t all there is. Newscasts don’t lead with “Another plane took off from National Airport this morning.” Bad news sells, and the loss of civility and the misbehavior of powerful individuals are serious issues today.
But there are kindnesses and civility all around us as well, if we’ll look for them.
As I’ve been thinking of how I can move more intentionally to respond to our times, a song has been stuck in my head. Kris Kristofferson wrote the song, which was inspired by the lunch counter scene in Chapter 15 of John Steinbeck’s Dust Bowl novel Grapes of Wrath. Kristofferson was born in Texas during the 1930s, and mentioned that he read Steinbeck’s book in high school or college (probably the latter, since he was a Pomona College graduate, just like our Claire!) Years later, he was reminded of the scene and wrote this work which Johnny Cash, who also made a recording of it, said might be his favorite song by any writer of our time.
In the intro to this video, Kristofferson says, “I kind of wrote it with John Steinbeck…only he was dead at the time.”
It is a simple song, with the following lyrics:
The scene was a small roadside café
The waitress was sweeping the floor
Two truck drivers drinking their coffee
And two Okie kids by the door
“How much are them candies?” They asked her
“How much have you got?” She replied
“We’ve only a penny between us”
“Them’s two for a penny,” She lied.
And the daylight grew heavy with thunder
With the smell of rain on the wind
Ain’t it just like a human
Here comes that rainbow again
One truck driver called to the waitress
After the kids went outside
“Them candies ain’t two for a penny”
“So what’s it to you,” she replied
In silence they finished their coffee
And got up and nodded goodbye
She called, “Hey, you left too much money”
“So what’s it to you,” they replied
And the daylight…(Chorus)
Let’s do our best, in these times, to be good to one another.
Have a good week.
More to come…