Iris DeMent has a better home-run ratio than Babe Ruth.
She has issued only a handful of albums, as we still call them, containing some of the most profound songs ever written, ever sung – “Our Town,” “My Life,” "No Time to Cry, and “When My Morning Comes Around," which is more than a song, it is a hymn.
I have raved about her before, The Prophet Iris and her song "Living in the Wasteland of the Free," never more relevant.
DeMent does not come around that often, but she is currently wending her way toward Port Washington, Long Island. On Saturday at 8 PM, she will appear at the Landmark on Main Street. to be introduced by John Platt of WFUV.
The building used to be the Main Street School, high on a hill -- a landmark, one could say.
All three of our children attended Main Street. One daughter played the flute and the other played the cello and our son had a notable cameo in a class play. Now the building has been converted into apartments for seniors, with the old auditorium hosting a music series ranging from doo wop to folk.
Iris DeMent fans await that rare swing, that rare album, that rare tour. In 2012 she issued "Sing the Delta," 12 of her songs, rooted in Arkansas, where she was born, the youngest of 14 children.
“Some of these songs I’ve had around awhile but I needed time to grow into them,” she has said. “I guess you could say I just wasn’t ready to deliver them in the way that they de-served. I’m glad I waited. It’s taught me to surrender…to trust the natural flow and order of things and not worry about it.”
On Saturday Iris DeMent is performing a mile from our house. I'll be there.
More and More, I Talk to the Dead--Margaret Renkl
NASHVILLE — After my mother died so suddenly — laughing at a rerun of “JAG” at 10 p.m., dying of a hemorrhagic stroke by dawn — I dreamed about her night after night. In every dream she was willfully, outrageously alive, unaware of the grief her death had caused. In every dream relief poured through me like a flash flood. Oh, thank God!
Then I would wake into keening grief all over again.
Years earlier, when my father learned he had advanced esophageal cancer, his doctor told him he had perhaps six months to live. He lived far longer than that, though I never thought of it as “living” once I learned how little time he really had. For six months my father was dying, and then he kept dying for two years more. I was still working and raising a family, but running beneath the thin soil of my own life was a river of death. My father’s dying governed my days.
After he died, I wept and kept weeping, but I rarely dreamed about my father the way I would dream about my mother nearly a decade later. Even in the midst of calamitous grief, I understood the difference: My father’s long illness had given me time to work death into the daily patterns of my life. My mother’s sudden death had obliterated any illusion that daily patterns are trustworthy.
Years have passed now, and it’s the ordinariness of grief itself that governs my days. The very air around me thrums with absence. I grieve the beloved high-school teacher I lost the summer after graduation and the beloved college professor who was my friend for more than two decades. I grieve the father I lost nearly 20 years ago and the father-in-law I lost during the pandemic. I grieve the great-grandmother who died my junior year of college and the grandmother who lived until I was deep into my 40s.
Some of those I grieve are people I didn’t even know. How can John Prine be gone? I hear his haunting last song, “I Remember Everything,” and I still can’t quite believe that John Prine is gone.
Jan. 30, 2023