America has many things to be proud of, but I have always felt that it is our rich heritage of folk lore that makes us truly stand out among peoples. I treasure beyond all else those moments in time that magically transform something American into something much greater... Americana. This war that we're starting may seem pointless on all levels, but indirectly, we may be fighting to preserve the great American art of storytelling. The more I think about it, the more I want to head down to my local Army recruiter this afternoon and get a pamphlet.
Few characters in American folk lore still hold as much notoriety and charm as the Great Mermule of Mississippi. Those of you who didn't grow up in the South may only know the Mermule as a side character in the Paul Bunyan saga. (If I remember correctly, Paul Bunyan catches the Mermule disturbing a log jam. They wrestle for 6 days and 6 nights, but they're too evenly matched, so they eventually call a truce and build a giant windmill together.)
It would be wrongheaded to assert that I was the first person to put the Mermule's adventures into song. Alan Lomax recorded Woody Guthrie doing a version of "Let's Hee the Haw My Darling Only," which chronicles the brief romance between the Mermule and one of the girls who sold Johnny Cakes to the longshoremen. I also seem to remember a song about the Mermule helping a family keep their apartment during The Depression but I haven't been able to find any reference to it on Google. (If anyone remembers the title, let me know.)
Anyway, this month's Hard Taco song will be a welcome trip down The Nostalgia River for those of you who grew up listening to stories of the Great Mermule. For those of you meeting the Mermule for the first time, I hope you're hungry for a healthy serving of delicious Americana. Remember, if we don't invade Iraq right away, there may be no more Mermule stories someday!
With warmest regards,