Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In Color

Last weekend David and I saw Jamey Johnson in concert.  If you're not a big country music fan (and you're not a fan of the "classic country" style, you may have never heard of Jamey Johnson.  


Many of his songs don't get all the radio play that my husband would argue they deserve (David is a huge Jamey Johnson fan, and he listens exclusively to country music).  Anyway, probably the most popular song he has is this one called, "In Color."  It's about looking at old photographs with with his grandfather, and I love this song because I feel like I could have had this same conversation with my grandfather, looking through his photo albums.  


Allow me to illustrate.  Here's Jamey Johnson's lyrics, and pictures of the amazing Gandpa Vance.


I said, Grandpa, what's this picture here
It's all black and white and it ain't real clear.
Is that you?  He said, yeah, I was eleven.
Times were tough back in thirty-five.
That's me and uncle Joe, just trying to survive
A cotton farm, in the great depression.


This picture was taken closer to 1925 than 1935, and my grandpa isn't quite eleven here (he's the little one) and his brother's name was Harold instead of Joe.  But you get the idea.  Times were tough on a farm in Iowa.  Isn't their dog cute?



And if if looks like were were scared to death,
A couple of kids just trying to save each other,
You should have seen it in color.


This one here was taken overseas
In the middle of hell in nineteen forty-three
In the winter time.  You can almost see my breath.
That's my tail gunner, ol' Johnny McGee.
He was a high school teacher from New Orleans.
And he had my back, right through the day we left.
My grandpa (back row, first on the left) and his bomb crew.  He piloted B-24 bomber planes over the Pacific.  I don't think anyone in this picture is actually named Johnny McGee, but I know they looked out for each other.


And if it looks like we were scared to death,
Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other,
You should have seen it in color. 


A picture's worth a thousand words,
But you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered.
You should have seen it in color.


This one is my favorite one.
This is Grandma and me in the summer sun,
All dressed up, the day we said our vows.
You can't tell it here, but it was hot that June,
The roses were red, and her eyes were blue.
And just look at that smile.
I was so proud.
My grandma's eyes were brown.  Otherwise, I think every word is true.  This was taken the day that got married.  And look at that smile.


That's the story of my life.
Right there in black and white.


And if it looks like we were scared to death,
Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other,
You should have seen it in color. 


A picture's worth a thousand words,
But you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered.
You should have seen it in color.


That song makes me happy, to remember my Grandpa Vance, and it makes me a little sad to miss him.  And so glad I have so many pictures of him, especially these black and white ones that show some of his most significant life experiences.


At the concert on Saturday, this song made me cry.  I found myself thinking of my own little collection of black and white photos, those that were taken that day in the hospital last December, as David and I held Eliza, and then held each other, and cried, and tried to begin to figure out how the hell we were supposed to keep going without our baby girl.  I think about those pictures, about the black and white record of that time, of how terrible and beautiful those moments were.


And if it looks like we were scared to death,
Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other,
You should have seen it in color.

9 comments:

  1. Terrible and beautiful and raw. Those pictures are hard to look at without reliving those moments.

    I didn't know that was who sang that. (I mostly but not exclusively listen to country, I'm too lazy to do anything but the radio, and I can only handle so much Taylor Swift.) I love that song.

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  2. Brooke,

    I love the pictures of your grandfather. Makes me wish I had known my own grandfathers (they both died well before I was born). And I love that Jamey Johnson song...as a devout country music fan, I've heard it a lot on the radio. There is just something about his voice that is so wonderful and reminiscent of the older country artists.

    And that last part about Eliza...I read it as tears streamed down my face. Because it's so true. Those black and white photos we have of our Brianna capture her beauty but also transport me right back to that day in all it's horror and beauty and brokenness. I never thought of that song in the context of my own black and white photos. Thank you for your insight and helping me see another side to that song.

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  3. Your posts are just non stop awesome. You write my feelings, you make me laugh, (so hard) you make me cry. They're all so beautiful.

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  4. Yes, terrible and beautiful are those pictures from the hospital.

    Great pictures you posted!

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  5. I also love JJ. That color almost always makes me cry. I LOVE it.

    Those pictures are gorgeous. What a wonderful gift to have those. :)

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  6. Love that song.

    And yes, b&w photos on a day in December. Tears.

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  7. Aww Brooke.. you are making me cry at midnight. What AMAZING pictures to go along with this song (which I love by the way). I can't get over the wedding photo.. they are both so beautiful. And thinking of our own black and whites of our babies... what a story. What a life.
    Love to you mamma...

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  8. Love this and love that song... been wanting to hear it ever since I read this.

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  9. This is a very beautiful post. I wish I had the pictures of my grandma, but I have her in my memories (which are in color).

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