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“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” by Glen Campbell/ “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” by Glen Campbell/ “By the Time I Get to Arizona” by Public Enemy/ “Blue-Eyed Boy” by Renegade Soundwave/ “Hurt” by Johnny Cash–Listening to Campbell’s morbidly engrossing “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” which addresses his erasure of memory from Alzheimer’s reminded me of how Johnny Cash rendered Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” so poignantly, interpreted as it was through the pain of his own impending death. That was a hurt poured through the studio mic into my own aging soul. Campbell’s piece carries a mortal weight, without tears, but aching for a love surely lost as he disappears into his disease. It is a curiosity of a love song, much like his early, enigmatic hit “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” which I would listen for back in the days before the internet when radio DJ’s ruled our choices of music. I was a high school kid surfing my way through my studies, blonde and careless and as ignorant of the subtleties of love as a crashing wave. But hurt I knew and hurt I recognized in “Phoenix.” Years later, I was teaching a creative writing course in college and trotted out Campbell’s “Phoenix” to a class full of young minds who could not care less about love songs from the sixties, just as they couldn’t see where Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 could possibly connect directly to rap. Still, my students sat dutifully through the piece, taking notes on content and rhyme scheme as I had instructed. The next song I played (this took place in the 90’s) was Renegade Soundwave’s “Blue Eyed Boy,” much more to their liking with its pulsing beats and brash mixes. Now the question I posed was about how these songs could possibly be connected. Of course it was one of those failed Socratic inquiries where none could remotely even guess the answer. So then I played Public Enemy’s “By the Time I Get to Arizona” with its sample of “Boy’s” sonic beats and its threatening march to that destination blue-eyed Campbell so longed for those many years past. Through rap we had connected the sappy, obtuse sixties to electro-industrial and through electro-industrial rap connected itself to romantic, racist Phoenix and through racism we connected the urgency of rap to the urgency of lust for Shakespeare’s dark lady in the mythic halcyon days of British domestic slavery which opened the doors of hell to America’s past and present, a present wherein I am now as old as Cash and Campbell and what I remember will soon be gone to Phoenix, a place where hurt goes to die like black bodies thrown from slave ships crossing the middle passage, and like those lonely tearless memories gathered somewhere in the ether, memories of and from all those now passed whom we have loved.

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