Sidesteps

I think one of the greatest lines I’ve ever heard in a song comes from Guy Clark’s “Dublin Blues.” It’s the last line before the final chorus, and is sometimes repeated, depending on the version of the song:

I have seen the David
I’ve seen the Mona Lisa too
I have heard Doc Watson
Play Columbus Stockade Blues

It’s the last, desperate boast of a drying out drunk in Dublin, longing for Texas and Alcohol, and it’s some fine writing. Whether it’s in fiction, poetry, or song writing, I love little details like these–sidesteps, almost. Or maybe they’re more like little glimpses that you catch from a mirror that’s just out of your line of vision. Whatever they are, they’re beautiful. Little details like that can just make a piece of writing. That Mary Lambert song that was borrowed for the Macklemore Marriage Equality song? The “No more crying on Sundays” line that closes it out? That’s what makes the song for me–there’s a little echo of heartbreak and damage and RESISTANCE that serves as a perfect counterpoint for the almost syrupy devotion of “she keeps me warm…”

Just about every other line in a Ray Carver short story does that, too.

Someday I’ll write as fine a story as Guy Clark does a country song, and hopefully you’ll catch sight of something I’ve said out of the corner of your eye.

Channeling Natalie Goldberg again, folks. Do yourself a favor: Download Guy Clark’s “My Favorite Picture of You,” and grab the tissues.

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