Angel From Montgomery

I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. –Billy Joel

Today on the way home from work I remembered a time not too long ago that I had a job doing wood repair and grading at a lumber mill.  The machine I worked on, called a plugger, was older than my mother and made of 100% steel.  It resembles a sewing machine, well a sewing machine the size of a truck, but its job is to patch holes in various grades of wooden veneer.  It runs on steam.  It is very loud.  My machine was in the corner of a massive mill and for the most part, people left me alone.  The whole mill was loud–so loud that you could sing to yourself, at the top of your lungs and no one would be able to hear you unless they were right up on your platform. To help my memory, because why not, I decided to learn new songs.  So I sang. I looked up the lyrics and tried to sing all the way through without a mistake.  I learned 5 or 6 new songs doing this.  Singing became a part of my work life.  It helped the time pass and, well, it really felt good.

BODY MEMORY

A musical friend of mine shared the phrase “body memory” with me.  She would learn a new song on her guitar and the vocals, practice over and over until the song was memorized by, as she put it, her whole body.  I love that idea!  It seemed to me once a song has body memory for you, you should be able to play with it a bit, expand, embellish, change it up some.

Angel From Montgomery was a song I practiced and practiced.  The lyrics told a powerful story.  I attached myself to them.  They became my history and life with each turn telling the story.  I thought by embracing the lyrics I could achieve body memory.  One day in mid-chorus I realized, Angel From Montgomery REALLY is my story.  My middle name IS my mother’s first.  My father was a true dreamer who never grew up.  I married a “free ramblin’ man” and we drifted apart over time.  I found myself on the backside of a 20-year marriage in a blink, unhappy, disappointed in myself, and needing some help.  How did Bonnie sing my future with such feeling?  In 1971 did the writer John Prine have a dream of me crying in my dishwater?  They don’t know me.  The music–the music knows us all.  It finds us like water to the sea.  Words and rhythm befriend our misery and gradually a sad, lonely, middle-aged woman plugging veneer in the corner of a 100-year-old mill feels no longer alone…

What song has moved you?


Lyrics

I am an old woman
Named after my mother
My old man is another
Child who’s grown old
If dreams were lightning
And thunder were desire
This old house would’ve burned down
A long time ago

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

When I was a young girl
Well, I had me a cowboy
He weren’t much to look at
Just a free ramblin’ man
But that was a long time
And no matter how I tried
The years just flowed by
Like a broken down dam

chorus

There’s flies in the kitchen
I can hear ’em there buzzin’
And I ain’t done nothing
Since I woke up today
How the hell can a person
Go to work in the morning
Then come home in the evening
And have nothing to say?

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: John E Prine
Angel From Montgomery lyrics © Walden Music Inc., Sour Grapes Music Inc.,
Walden Music, Inc., Sour Grapes Music, Inc.

Published by

Shannon Laws

Like my writing? Want to hear me read my poetry? Of course, you do. Please visit https://chickadeeproductions.bandcamp.com/releases and download some today. Only $1.00 a poem! Shannon Laws is a Pacific Northwest poet, voice-over talent, and podcast producer. She is the author of four poetry books, the most recent “Fallen” published by Independent Writer’s Studio Press. Shannon has received two Mayor’s Arts Awards and the Community Champion Award. She makes her home in Bellingham, Washington, USA.

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