I was logged in to Amazon tonight checking an order and followed the link to “orders by year.” The first order in my history was placed on December 23, 1997 and appeared to be a last-minute Christmas gift for my mother. I ordered these two books:
- Kay Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind: a look at the connection between manic-depressive illness and creativity. I bought a copy for myself — it’s a fascinating subject.
- George Jones’ autobiography I Lived to Tell All. Now, a title like I Lived to Tell All might seem a little melodramatic to some, but for George Jones, living to tell all is a truly unexpected achievement. Wikipedia describes George Jones as follows: “an American country singer known for his distinctive voice and phrasing that frequently evoke the raw emotions caused by grief, unhappy love, and emotional hardship.” That barely scratches the surface. Anyone who cares about American popular music (or humanity itself) should keep a turntable around loaded with a couple of scratchy George Jones records. George Jones lived his life squarely inside the agonizing parentheses in song titles known to all country music fans. . . If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will), These Days (I Barely Get By), A Picture of Me (Without You), Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half As Bad As Losing You). These songs are clever in their expression of abject sadness (“these days I barely get by“), but never cute — they hurt every time. I saw George Jones perform at the Masonic in San Francisco in February 2000 (see photo) and the place was 2/3 empty. 1/3 full is a triumph for a man who once rode a lawn mower to the liquor store when his license had been revoked.
Life can be hard at times, and my mother’s old George Jones records taught me just how bad it can get (and the book I gave her was just a clear explanation of the story behind those records) — but they also taught me a little something about resilience and faith. (A 1999 piece about George Jones in Salon.com makes it all clear.)
So, what was your first Amazon order?