For those in America, Thursday marks Thanksgiving Day, usually a time of joining together with friends and family. For the second straight year, however, many of us remain apart, still isolating our way through this seemingly never-ending pandemic. Optimism earlier this year has turned into a resigned acknowledgement that we still have a long way to go. Early 2022 meetings in the UK and Europe that seemed a distinct possibility for in-person gatherings are looking increasingly doubtful.
As with last year, Thanksgiving will be a bittersweet holiday once again. There’s so much to be thankful for, starting with effective vaccines and new treatments, but we’re still not yet where we want to be nor with everyone we want to be with. This has been a traumatic and difficult period for so many, and we could all use a little relief. If you can, find some time to take care of yourself — you deserve it.
Below find an old favorite, Opelousas (Sweet Relief) from Maria McKee. McKee was the lead singer for a band called Lone Justice, one of the leaders as the Los Angeles punk rock scene morphed into something much greater, encompassing many different types of music, from X and the Go-Go’s to the Blasters, Los Lobos, and Dwight Yoakum, to The Bangles and The Dream Syndicate. Years later the term “Alt. Country” would be invented to describe the kind of music Lone Justice played, a mix of roots-rock, country, and gospel, but at the time we just lumped it all under the term “cowpunk“. Dolly Parton once described McKee as, “The greatest girl singer any band could ever have.”
The song here was written by Victoria Williams, and is from a benefit album titled Sweet Relief. In the early 1990s, Williams was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and her musician friends put the album together as a benefit to help pay her medical bills. Since then, the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund has become a support organization for musicians in need.
It strikes me that our non-American readers may be baffled by this post, but I’m not sure which is more confusing, the Thanksgiving holiday or the notion that in America, so many people go broke or die because they can’t afford to pay for the basic human right of medical care. As the man said, “So it goes…”
Regardless, Opelousas is a burst of joy, and for this holiday I wish you all find your own sweet relief. We’ll be back with new posts next week.
4 Thoughts on "Some Sweet Relief for Thanksgiving"
Thanks David, a very welcome reprieve from an otherwise bleak and, as you said, a “never ending epidemic”. Having lived in the US, I remember Thanksgiving as a holiday that really epitomizes the American way of life with its sharing , helping and caring .
Thanks for that. They had a sound. Something invigorating and horrifying to see what those cowpunk rebels got away with producing a video in the 80s. Dancing on a moving train, after a clear shot of a ‘railroad property, no trespassing’ sign. My guess is those scofflaws skipped over a lot of tedious permissions from those Union Pacific/Santa Fe railroad suits. (Kinda like authors on sticking to copyright terms with global publishers?)
Railroads are curious legal entities in the US and with private police powers, railroad bulls are still a thing, in a way.
David, thanks for highlighting Maria McKee– brilliant songwriter, unforgettable performer, and gifted vocalist. Linda Ronstadt, who was inspired to advocate for a Lone Justice record deal immediately after hearing Maria sing, was another prominent fan. If your post inspires a few readers of the The Scholarly Kitchen to discover this publicly underrated but industry-revered artist, you will have added some additional enjoyment to this Thanksgiving holiday. For those who are curious, here are some recommended tracks: “Panic Beach”, “Only Once”, “More Than a Heart Can Hold”; and for Lone Justice cowpunk era, “Working Late”, “Soap, Soup, and Salvation”, “Nothing Can Stop My Loving You”, and “Rattlesnake Mama”. While a career in this marketplace produces many unexpected moments, I never would have imagined a circumstance in which I would have cause to post about Maria McKee in this forum! Thanks again, David!
Those are great choices — many may know McKee from her song “If Love Is A Red Dress” from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. The compilation “This World Is Not My Home” is a great starting place for those interested in Lone Justice — it contains some of their best songs plus “Go Away Little Boy”, the song Bob Dylan wrote for McKee and covers of Merle Haggard’s “Working Man Blues” and The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” (a duet with Bono no less).