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Smooth Mouth & Other Conditions of Old Cows

May 11, 2006

There's an interesting condition in cattle of a certain age called, "smooth mouth". When cows get to be "past their prime", their teeth have chewed all that they can handle and become worn down and smooth, thus making it increasingly difficult to masticate grasses or grains properly, to chew their cud well, or to glean proper nutrition from their feed. At this point, they become redundant for the breeding and production program, retired, and if they're lucky, get "put out to pasture".

I was considering this, and how many human animals are deemed redundant in their dotage when it comes to usefulness in their particular areas of expertice in the eyes of current society. Many times these individuals' vast knowledge and experience is looked upon as outdated or old fashioned and unnessesary for the bold new way of things. It's not fair, and it's not right, and most times is unwarranted, but often the way of the world as we know it. I can think of more than several dozen professions, just off the top of my head, which, if allowed to maintain their wise old crows, would flourish in ways unimagined. Thoughtful societies revere their elders for their wisdom and vast experiencial knowledge, give them well deserved Mentor status, and are richer for it.

When I consider the careers of musicians and song writers, however, no matter the condition of their pearly chompers, time and long history only seems to sweeten their gift, in that their perception of life and what it all means becomes more acute. Or, could it be that they simply have lived long enough, if they're observant, to have the mind to ask all of the right questions? As Poets, they are the heart and conscience of the people. Although their hands and voices may be a little stiff as casualty to aging, their creative expression and delivery grow richer and more finely tuned as the years go by. There is no danger of being 'put out to pasture' for these gifted wonders, however, how are we to hear of these jewels? Where can we go to learn from them? Certainly not from the commercial mass media - that venue is paved like a grotesque Luge track, a well worn groove tuned to the monster of commerce.

Too often, when a song writer has passed on, we suddenly "discover" his/her work. That's the way it's been done since time immemorial, and I don't like it. At that point we are left to clamber to find everything, ANYthing we can which may have been recorded or put to paper. Sometimes, because of the artist's limited pocketbookablilties, there just isn't much available. One can only hope that they had made enough friends along the way for their work to be remembered acurately.

I recall viewing a program on television some years ago, about individuals who were adept in certain arts and who were tops at their craft. These jewels were recognized as "National Treasures". We were given a peek into the daily practices and expression of these Masters. This recognition is similar to our "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the Acadamy Awards, given to actors who have had a lifetime of doing their craft, and doing it well. About the only thing like this that we have in place for our artists is word-of-mouth popularity on the grass roots level, it seems. For this, I am grateful to Folk Alley for listing news of happenings with little known, as well as well known artists in the "Folk News" listings on the web page. Plus, if an artist is amenable to share, "Open Mic" is the place to hear much talent.

Often enough though, when a song writer dies, we are left to hear personal memories by those who were closest to him, or those who wish they had been; bijou, discovered too late. Is there no other way for these gifted artists to be heard while they are living, and to be appreciated by society at large? They have so much to give. I don't want to miss any of it!

Posted by JoLynn Braswell at May 11, 2006 4:48 AM


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