Thursday, June 3, 2010

He worked the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico . . .

I much prefer Nanci Griffith's original over all other versions of the song, but the videos at youtube featuring her have poor sound quality. I thought this group, Windfall, performed the song well in a beautifully-produced video.

Gulf Coast Highway has been on my mind for weeks now, but especially so since NBC Nightly News on Wednesday featured an interview with the widow of one of the oil rig workers killed in the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Their poignant story follows the lyrics.

Gulf Coast Highway
    ~by Nanci Griffith, James Hooker, Danny Flowers

Gulf coast highway, he worked the rails
He worked the rice fields with their cold dark wells
He worked the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico
The only thing we've owned is this old house here by the road

And when he dies he says he'll catch some blackbird's wing
And he will fly away to heaven
Come some sweet blue bonnet spring

She walked through springtime when I was home
The days were sweet, our nights were warm
The seasons changed, the jobs would come
The flowers fade, and this old house felt so alone
When the work took me away

And when she dies she says she'll catch some blackbird's wing
And she will fly away to heaven
Come some sweet blue bonnet spring

Highway 90, the jobs are gone
We kept our garden, we set the sun
This is the only place on Earth blue bonnets grow
And once a year they come and go
At this old house here by the road

And when we die we say we'll catch some blackbird's wing
And we will fly away to heaven
Come some sweet blue bonnet spring

Yes when we die we say we'll catch some blackbird's wing
And we will fly away together
Come some sweet blue bonnet spring



the watercats said...

What can I say!.. the situation in the Gulf of Mexico is just gut wrenching!.. I can't fully wrap my head around why it has been allowed to go on.. you'd think the industries that drill for oil would be enforced to develope techniques and machinery to deal with these situations before they are even allowed to drill?.. oh, I forgot.. common sense is not high on the agenda to these people!... It just beggars belief!

Hattie said...

Isn't it sad that we reduce people to the jobs they do. We destroy life and hope in the name of profit.

Amy said...

Lydia, I loved the song video and thank you for printing the lyrics. The news video points out as others I have seen, that there is much to this story that we have yet to learn. It's completely unfathomable to me how arrogant and self-serving some of the parties are (and I say "some" purposefully - it seems to me like it was the "perfect storm" scenario). It is a disgrace and a horrific shame that this "accident" occurred. Thanks for the sensitive and thoughtful post!

Lydia said...

the watercats~ It is gut-wrenching, as you say, and a real war on the planet in every sense of the word. :(

Hattie~ Interesting that you mention the destruction of hope. No one else has said it quite like that and you are so right.

Amy~ Perfect storm scenario, I agree. Did you see the report that the CEO of BP said last Sunday that no one wants to have this ended more than he does, adding "I want my life back." OMG, what an insensitive A..hole. He has since apologized but still...

Rhiannon said...

This is all just so heartbreaking and at the same time I wonder if we reap what we sew "drill baby drill" quotes echo in my head these days...lesson to still be learned...will we ever learn them? Because those lessons keep coming back to us it seems until we do. We've jus really must move along much more quickly with working on using other energy resources for transportation and many other things, other than energy. We are so behind other countries that always used to think we were always "ahead" of the times way back longer are we. We are so "Stuck" in the past, it's time to face the harsh reality that we "MUST" move on and change, or else!

Though (as you mentioned) this video song is not sung by Nanci Griffith, lately I often think of her version of "From a Distance" which I find more deep and beautiful than Bette Midler's...though I do love Bette Midler's "You got to have friends, la la la la la"...if you know what I mean?..:o)

My heart goes out to this widow and all the others(including fish and mammals) who have lost their lives in one form or another through this tragic and huge toxic mistake!



Lydia said...

Rhi~ The loss of life and resources and a way of life itself in the Gulf is breaking my heart. I think we are a broken-hearted country now.
Interesting you would mention Nanci Griffith's version of "From a Distance" because I prefer it too and was surprised to learn that it was a big hit in Britain when she released it there. I have the cd that is her retrospective of the MCA years and love it more than I can say. We saw her in the early 2000s at the Oregon Garden and she was stupendous.

distracted by shiny objects said...

This is all so incredibly sad. I got nothing to add, except perhaps our best help may come from spending our tourist dollars in that region. Or, consumer dollars--anything they ship out, other than fish?? I'll have to ponder on this. But, my prayers are with those families, and with the BP workers--I don't imagine the workers down there cleaning up this mess are the ones who created it--if it's anything like any job that I've worked...

Jennifer said...

I started to leave a comment here a couple of days ago and now I'm back.

Thank you for sharing the video of the widow of one of the oil rig workers. This whole oil gush is something that I can't even fathom. It makes me angry and I feel so helpless. Since I don't watch television, I've been exposed to less, but the NYTs had some photos of oil-covered birds that were so heartbreaking. Heartbreaking for the animals, for the people, all because of our thirst for oil and easy profits.

Lydia said...

dustracted by shiny objects~ Good point on spending tourist dollars in the areas hit. I am going to search online for merchants who market goods from the area...any gift ideas should be considered there. Thanks.

Jennifer~ Even with seeing it on tv it remains hard to fathom for me too. Have you seen the live BP underwater feed available online? A miserable sight (site too).

bfk said...

What a poignant interview. The end of it would have been disturbing, but this is exactly why we have trial lawyers. They'll do VERY well for her and her family.

Lydia said...

bfk~ Thank you for emphasizing what will undoubtedly be a good financial outcome for her and the kids. Thank you for the positive twist.

-K- said...

Yes, a very beautiful sonf becomes a verypoigant on. I looked for but couldn't the Emmyou Harruis/Willie Nelson version, which is my personal favorite.

Lydia said...

-K-~ It really does now take on a poignancy beyond what it already had. I am unfamiliar with the Emmylou/Willie version. I saw a vid of Emmylou and Dave Matthews singing this song but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. Thank you for your visit and welcome back anytime.



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