Friday, November 19, 2004

Hey, Doo, Fix Us up a Couple of them Baloney Sandwiches

Last night, we went down to Mystic Lake Casino to see Loretta Lynn. Seemed like the obvious thing to do; we're old-timey country fans, we loved Van Lear Rose, and I've always kicked myself for not seeing Johnny Cash before he died.

Well, now I can say that I caught Loretta's act before she died, but it might have been just in the nick of time. She's not looking too well—it's weird, because she sounds really vital on Van Lear Rose, but onstage, in an enormous dress that looked rather bridal, she radiated fragility. She did most of the show sitting down, and forgot the words to several songs (she dropped lines here and there, and at one point got so lost that a member of the backup band had to start singing so she could get her bearings).

All that said, she did really well on the songs that she remembered. She only did one song from Van Lear—"Portland, Oregon"—but it was really cool, with a backup singer doing a passable Jack White. The rest of the set list stuck to the hits, which drives me nuts with rock bands but seemed just right here. Hearing her voice hover right at its breaking point in the chorus of "Honky Tonk Girl" was cool enough to justify driving all the way out there.

The weirdest moment of the night came during the one song I hadn't heard before, called something like "God Bless America Again." For this one, Loretta stood off to one side of the stage and asked the lord to wipe the tears off of America's pretty face while a backup singer stood center stage and spoke in preachervoice about how we need to put the bible back in the classroom and the ten commandments back in the courtroom, and what's wrong with one nation under god, anyway? We actually started laughing because it was such a goofy spectacle, but the vast majority of the audience stood up and started whooping; and a few of them cast the stinkeye our way for being disrespectful. But what can you do?


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This was my first time at Mystic Lake, and I was shocked at what a depression factory that place was. Jesus. I can't remember seeing a single person who didn't have a blank, robotic look on their face while we walked through the casino. Sitting at the slot machines with a smoke in one hand and a finger rhythmically punching the bet button, they looked (as Rebecca's sister pointed out) like a bunch of chickens in a psychology experiment, trying to get a pellet of food or something.

No good.

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