Caught by the River

Jeb’s Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 1st August 2021

Jerry Glen Ward
Movin’ In

To the east of our house is a small woodland, planted eight years ago.  The fields that border it are thin-skinned and thistled, mole-marked; a world of recent neglect.  Show me a field, a stream, a wood, a lane, and I’ll set about neglecting it.  Neglect, here in the hills, is our primary currency of exchange.  We will intervene only if strictly necessary. The lane has been, once in the past seven years, regraveled.  The roof, after years of leaking, was repaired.  We water the herbs, we feed the birds.  Not daily but enough.  Let things be, is what I say.  Mankind being a race of awful interveners.  Everywhere you see the horror and folly of our tinkering.  Do squirrels intervene?  Do crows?  Do high winds and grasses?  No.  Humans alone stick their noses in and try, with predictably dire results, to make things better.  Things, the things of this world, won’t be made better.  Not by people.  They’ll simply be what they simply are.  Why do we not know that?  We can, and have, and do, make things different.  We make things extinct.  We make things scared and tame and fearful and lost.  We make things beautiful and we make things pay.  We make things bigger and sweeter and redder and more accessible.  We duplicate and replicate; we make things less dangerous and less diseased and less likely to attack.  We make things more available and more reliable and less threatening.  We make things more useable and more welcoming.  But better?  Name one example.

Maybe, at a push, art.  Some art.  It doesn’t make anything better, but at least it doesn’t make it worse.  Art and Gentleness.  I bought this record 20 years ago in Nashville.  I was talking to a Nashville oldtimer about forgotten records and why some records were successful and others weren’t, and he told me that this record, by Jerry Glen Ward, was one of his favourites.  Doesn’t make any sense, he said, that it’s forgotten.  It’s a hellava record.

He’s right.  It’s a hellava record.  It sounds great, has a great feel; the arrangements work, the songs are well written, the singing is sincere.  The whole thing is direct and good-hearted.  

I guess it’s the best thing we can do.  Make music or paintings or write books or create dances that aren’t trying to make the world a better place, that are just being what they are, as simply as they can be.  And if they get forgotten, that’s OK.  It happens.  No shame in it.  Everything comes and goes.  So here’s to you Jerry Glen Ward wherever you are.  Thanks for the record.  Thanks for doing what you did.  Thanks for making a hellava record.


You can follow the Jeb’s Jukebox Spotify playlist here.