Rebels Regardless, With or Without A Cause

Still trying to kick this cold so I slept in a whole hour today.  Doesn’t seem to have done much. I’m still coughing a little and really just tired.

I woke up with the song “Rebels” in my head, which is a really unheard of sort of thing. I never find myself singing that song. And now I can’t think of anything else. (It was a hit off of Tom Petty’s 1985 album, Southern Accents.)

So I wondered why I would be singing that song this morning — I really believe that when we wake up singing certain songs, our Inner Being is trying to communicate something to us — symbolically. Almost like how dreams communicate with us. Privately giving us information, I mean, even though half the time, we don’t understand it.

I played “Rebels” on the CD player during breakfast and thought about it.  And for the first time, really, I realized that most of my ancestors are Southern — they’re from Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Virginia.  (But shortly before coming from the South, they came from Ireland and Germany.)

I don’t know much about my birth mom’s ancestors, beyond her great-grandfather, who was a Baptist preacher. Although I know that they were farmers who settled into southern Ohio after coming up through West Virginia.

On my birth dad’s side, though, the written records go back to 1530, in Germany. And they seem to have been true rebels — you know, rebelling against the Church. They seem to have been on Martin Luther’s side from way, way back.

There is a church in Alsenz, Germany, that still has baptismal records from one set of my ancestors in the mid-1600s — from the branch that wound up going to America and becoming indescribably fertile pioneers in what became Kentucky. Here is a photo of that church in Germany as it looks today. It is still a practicing church:

Evangelische Kirche in Alsenz–  some of my family’s baptismal records are still there from the mid-1600s.

I have always loved Kentucky, even before I knew that my ancestors not only came from there, but also helped settle the State — my grandfather (with about 5 “greats” hyphenated to it) worked alongside Daniel Boone, and then he wound up staying in Kentucky and settling a little area that came to be called Robinson Creek. It is still there — just a tiny area of Pike County, near — astonishingly enough — Robinson’s actual creek.

Anyway, those Mays were absolute rebels, you know. In terms of the “North” against the “South.” And also just in the way they rebelled against society pretty much at every turn. Just one particular strand of it, I mean — the one I came from, as luck would have it.

I have never considered myself a rebel — I just have always been an unshakeable believer in doing what I believe is right (even though “right” is 100% subjective), and not towing some party line because it’s expected of me.

I don’t wake up in the morning wondering what I can do to irk people or piss them off or disappoint them. I never do or say or believe something simply to be contrary or “rebellious”. Yet most people who have had to live with me treat me like I’m doing it all on purpose.

I’ve written here before about my great-great-great-grandfather — the one who was a Kentucky State Senator, and was kicked out of the Senate for being a staunch supporter of the Confederacy. Kentucky was a split State — half Union, half Confederate. And even within his own family there was a split — my grandfather’s brother fought on the side of the Union. My grandfather was killed in the Civil War — drowned during the Battle of Cynthiana.

My great-great-great-grandmother was either pregnant at the time of his death or had just given birth to another baby; I can’t remember now which. They had 7 children. In the family Bible that she kept, she wrote a detailed account about how my grandfather would break away from his regiment when he could, and he and my grandmother would meet secretly under a specific tree somewhere and make love! (They were in their 30s at the time. Married, of course.) She actually wrote about this in the Bible because she didn’t want any of us who came afterward to forget about him. She loved him so much. At least two of those secret rendez-vous’ led to pregnancies — children that my grandfather never got to meet because he was still fighting in the war and then was killed.

So my great-great-great-grandmother was left alone to raise all those children by herself. Luckily she had a lot of sons who took care of her and she lived to be pretty old.

While I love the ancestral women in my family, I really only relate to the men. Meaning that I identify with them, their spirits. And there at the breakfast table, for the first time ever — oddly enough, since all I ever do is think about stuff; you’d think this would have occurred to me before age 59 — I realized that my family were all rebels.

Actually, even my grandmother (my birth dad’s mom) was a rebel in her way. Although she wasn’t proud of it. I got to meet her before she died. She was 89 and we spent several days together at my uncle’s house after my dad had died. And for one afternoon, she and I were there in the house alone and she told me the story of her life. It was very sad but really just incredible.  She’d been engaged to be married to this “nice boy” (this was in Kentucky) and then my grandfather got a job working for her father — and the moment the two met, they fell into lust. She disappeared with my grandfather for a whole weekend even though she was engaged to someone else, and by the time the weekend was over, they had to get married.

Her first 2 babies died as infants, and my grandfather turned out to be just an incurable alcoholic, and so my grandmother always believed that it was God’s way of punishing her for betraying the “nice boy” that she’d been engaged to.

There was other, really sad stuff that happened to her, too, but that sadness aside, this morning I realized that I was quite interconnected to all those rebels — even the ones in Germany who rebelled against the Church. All of it is just in my blood. My other grandmother, my birth mom’s mom, always used to tell me that “the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree ” in regards to me and the things I said and did — and she never meant that in a flattering way.

Oh well.

I don’t know. I’m just the way I am. I do what my heart calls me to do — even when it seems completely inappropriate, even to me, sometimes.

Okay. So Nick Cave’s Conversations resume Stateside — he’s in Chicago tonight! The Instagram photos have been awesome! I hope that’s a trend that will continue. (I never mentioned that he began wearing this really nice black suit.)

And I did discover what time that Youtube thing is on Thursday, when they are going to play Ghosteen for the first time. And, yes, as luck would have it, I already know I will be nowhere near Youtube when that fucking happens!! Damn it. But the following day, it will be in my Spotify thingie so all I will have to do is figure out how to make that thing work. I mean, it works, but it so seldom plays what I’m wanting it to play.

I did pre-oder the CD but it won’t be out until November and even then, it has to ship to me from the UK. They assured me it would arrive in a timely manner, but we’ll see.

Okay. You already know what I’m leaving you with, I’m sure. Thanks for visiting, gang. Have a really, really good Monday, wherever you are in the world. I love you. XXX See ya.

Tom Petty 1978

“Rebels”

Honey don’t walk out I’m too drunk to follow
You know you won’t feel this way tomorrow
Well – maybe I’m a little rough around the edges
Inside a little hollow
I get faced with some things sometimes
That are so hard to swallow – Hey!

Hey, hey, hey
I was born a rebel
Down in Dixie on a Sunday morning
Yeah – with one foot in the grave
And one foot on the pedal
I was born a rebel

Well she picked me up in the morning
And she paid all my tickets
Yeah she screamed in the car
And left me out in the thicket
Well – I never would’ve dreamed
That her heart was so wicked
Oh – but I keep coming back
‘Cause it’s so hard to kick it
Hey, hey, hey

 

[Chorus]

Even before my father’s fathers
They called us all rebels
Burned our cornfields
And left our cities leveled
I can still feel the eyes
Of those blue bellied devils
When I’m walking round tonight
Through the concrete and metal
Hey, hey, hey

c – 1985 Tom Petty

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