I’ve been “all over the map” with my writing lately and haven’t responded to prompts for some time. So when I saw something about “Prompts for the Promptless” over at rarasaur I thought, “Wow, she’s writing this just for me!” (Which, is a little like a pre-pubescent girl sitting in the back row at a Justin Bieber concert thinking he’s singing for her.) As touched as I was, I nonetheless was too busy meditating on Jesus and Spring cleaning my blog to respond.
Then two serendipitous things happened.
First, I finally paid attention to the lyrics of a song that has rapidly become one of my all-time favorites – “If I Can’t Trust You With a Quarter (How Can I Trust You With My Heart)” by Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers. The chorus of the song is classic –
You know I’m a jukebox honey,
But I ain’t got much money.
Said you had a song that you wanted to hear so I gave my change to you.
When I heard that jukebox start I knew the cupid’s dart had missed its mark.
If I can’t trust you with a quarter how can I trust you with my heart?
But the lyrics that grabbed me were at the end of the second verse –
When you said you’d never heard of John Prine,
Well I knew right away you weren’t worth my time.
And I’m sorry to say hon before we’d begun,
We were already through.
Then, I found myself back at rarasaur’s blog, where I read her take on the “prompt for the promptless” (the prompt is, by the way “The Litmus Test”). I was thus inspired, nay, compelled, to write this post.
I conduct a sort of “litmus test” every time I send someone an e-mail. You see, my e-mail address is – firstname.lastname@example.org . Though I begin e-mails to new recipients with the words – “My name is Tony Roberts (John Prine is my muse).” – I can’t tell you how many responses I’ve gotten that begin – “Dear John,” Fittingly, I consider this the end of our relationship.
On the other hand, I received an e-mail reply from a prospective employer that began “I’m a big Prine fan, too. I saw him at the Murat last year.” (I was in McDonald’s when I read that and I think the gentleman sitting beside me thought I had just won the lottery as he watched me jump up and down, spin around in circles and wave my hands in the air.)
When I first became a John Prine fan (in 1982, in case you haven’t picked up the hint in my e-mail address), I was hard pressed to find even a single soul who knew of his work. When I started going to his concerts (around 1986), I encountered many people even more fanatical than I (but I’m not sure they came out of their parents’ basements except to attend Prine concerts).
I set my “litmus test” low when I started dating. Basically, if a woman would feign interest in Prine and not just say, “Huh?” when I quoted his songs to make a point in conversation, I would consider her dating material. Once I hit the jackpot and dated a young woman who became quite a Prine fan. I made a mix tape for her filled with his music. She dumped me. But she still listens to Prine.
I took a huge leap of faith when I married my wife, who is not a Prine fan at all. Without going into details you’d have to charge me $100/hour to unload, I’ll just say we are separated now.
So tonight, when I heard Zoe Muth singing these litmus-test lyrics about John Prine, the thought occurred to me – “I think I finally found my soul mate.”
Zoe, if you’re reading this, I’m not looking for any sort of commitment (I’m still married, for Christ’s sake).
I just want you to know – you’re okay in my book. Anytime you want to drop by for a distilled water and peanut M&Ms, it’s fine by me.
Bring your guitar. I’ll leave the light on for you. Heck, I’ll even brew some decafe and let you use my favorite mug.
Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers from charliebay