It all started a couple weeks ago when coworkers spontaneously burst into song:
You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store
I was born the same year Tennessee Ernie Ford's version of the 1946 Merle Travis song was recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood and sold over a million copies. Tennessee Ernie had a black and white tv show when I was little, and he had a mustache, and he looked a bit like my Uncle Swanee. I didn't understand why Ernie got to be "Tennessee Ernie". I thought I ought to be "Nebraska Nancy Lou" even if I didn't have a mustache. Tennessee Ernie Ford's signature sign-off was, "Bless your pea-pickin' heart!" In my youthful misconnected mind I thought "owing my soul" had something to do with shoe soles, and particularly with the Wells & Frost Shoe Store on "O" Street. I didn't shop at Wells and Frost. Brady's Juvenile Shoes was much closer to my dad's office, and to the Miller & Paine tea room with its famous macaroni and cheese and cinnamon rolls. Plus, Brady's store had giant rocking horses and funhouse mirrors .
I don't need an iPod, that's for sure! I've got entirely too many songs on constant tornadic rotation in my mental storm cellar. In Nebraska we head to the basement when tornado weather threatens. As kids in the era of Tennessee Ernie, my brother believed that a species of scary beings known as "The Gooeys" haunted our basement. Gooeys or no Gooeys, a basement is a good thing to have in tornado country when the sky turns that creepy green color.
A Cockeyed Optimist is the second song rattling around in my corn-popper brain:
When the skies are bright canary yellow
I forget ev'ry cloud I've ever seen,
So they called me a cockeyed optimist
Immature and incurably green.
I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
That we're done and we might as well be dead,
But I'm only a cockeyed optimist
And I can't get it into my head.
I hear the human race
Is fallin' on its face
And hasn't very far to go,
But ev'ry whippoorwill
Is sellin' me a bill,
And tellin' me it just ain't so.
I could say life is just a bowl of Jello
And appear more intelligent and smart,
But I'm stuck like a dope
With a thing called hope,
And I can't get it out of my heart!
I've got a full tank of things I can't get out of my head!
On my DART train trip to work a third song began to compete for attention with Tennessee Ernie and Kansas Nellie.
"Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms" seems to have been written by Charlie Monroe, and recorded by darn near everyone including Lester Flatt, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, and possibly Alvin and the Chipmunks performing with the Grateful Dead. I didn't realize it could be a square dance!
Sides face, grand square
I ain't gonna work on the railroad
I ain't gonna work on the farm
I'll lay around this shack
Till the mail train comes back
Allemande left & weave the ring
Rolling in my sweet baby's arms
Dosado and promenade
I'll lay around the shack,
till the mail train comes back
Rolling in my sweet baby's arms
Three songs in my DART-riding brain crisscross paths:
1432, "of the trivium," from M.L. trivialis, from trivium "first three of the seven liberal arts," from L., lit. "place where three roads meet," from tri- "three" + via "road." The basic notion is of "that which may be found anywhere, commonplace, vulgar." The meaning "ordinary" (1589) and "insignificant" (1593) were in L. trivialis "commonplace, vulgar," originally "of or belonging to the crossroads." The verb trivialize is attested from 1846.
Trivial fun is found on a particularly splendid page of the Online Etymology Dictionary that includes "pipsqueak", "pun", "bullshit", "penny-ante", "snookums", and "quibble".