• Dale Bowman

Things we do for love (Steve Earle take): Ramble with the Lady

No, Steve Earle did not redo the 1976 hit of 10cc.

Once was bad enough for ``Things We Do for Love.''

No, I meant daily love. Such as my wife knowing I love (in a different sense) Steve Earle. She works at library. At a clean-out bin giveaway, she found Earle's novel, I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive.

What can you say about a novel that features ongoing conversations with the ghost of Hank Williams. And the novel title is the name of the last song done by Williams.

I had delayed reading the novel because I assumed it was a novelty turn by Earle. But it was far more than that. He is a storyteller and can take that skill from his songs to the novel form.

Last evening, I began reading the novel while watching our youngest son's soccer practice. There is some sort of disconnect, at least for me, between Earle, Williams and kids soccer.

Life is filled with disconnects.

And connections.

I thought the cover art looked familiar. So I checked on the back flap and sure enough, it was done by Tony Fitzpatrick, Chicago's own. You might say that Earle and Fitzpatrick share a few of life's experiences.

I digress, though in this case it might be an accurate digression.

But the writing in the novel, surprisingly, was a major connect.

Take this turn of phrases on page 19 about Williams.

Jesus Christ! That voice. That gut-wrenching, heart-rending wail that got down in your bones like a cold wet day. The keening of a hillybilly banshee, heralding imminent doom.

That my friends is writing.

And taste this version of ``I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry'' and see how accurate and apt that description is of Williams' distinctive sound.

I don't care if you are a fan of old-time country or not, but if you cannot feel his songs, well, I would only suggest that you need to get in touch with love, life and loss.

Rambled off early this morning and mourning doves were only beginning to coo in the distance.

Only one rabbit sat and tried to hide in the yard with the evergreens across the alley from the bus barn.

A chipmunk jumped the rails as we crossed the side rail separating town from the wildness of the town pond.

Well, actually the town pond is not as wild as it used to be. That is starkly obvious on the crossing.

Since somebody ripped out the trees and brush on the south shore of the north old pit, it just looks like some inane park instead of a free-form wildness. It is open now.

And the Canada geese have not been around since that clearing was done.

At least some late-summer or fall flowers are beginning to dot the banks, where not clear-cut.

Swallows flitted over the pits. I was glad to see that. There are plenty of bugs and mosquitoes to be eaten.

Of all things, an owl hooted in the thick brush and tress along the side rail, now a trail, above the south pit. Somehow on a morning when I was contemplating Earle and Williams, an owl seemed apt.

Back on the edge of town, four barn pigeons wheeled high above the grain elevators and two mourning doves flitted around the wires above the grit area.

The chef/cook, who runs a food truck for migrant and nursery workers, had the filling for his tacos and burritos cooking and the smells downtown were wonderul.

The street over from home, squirrels running around the bur oaks rained acorns down on the roof of the corner house.

Against my better judgement, here is ``Things We Do for Love.'' Personally, I find it more interesting to end with squirrels raining acorns down.

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