Music is huge in our family. At any given moment on any given day we may be playing opera, classical, country rock, rockabilly, blues, jazz, world beat, alternative, bluegrass, rock and roll, crooners…the list goes on. Often on a Friday night you will find various members of the family wandering between the rooms of the house or on the front porch looking for someone to listen to “this awesome tune that you have to hear.” The boys play guitar, banjo, trombone, baritone, drums, and an endless supply of small percussion and “jug band” instruments—even a didgeridoo (affectionately referred to as “The Didge”)! One style of music that makes its way into almost every jam session is that of the “Woodstock” era…Dylan, Grateful Dead, Neil Young…you will find artists like that on every iPod in the house. It’s the music the boys heard playing in the background while they were toddlers, and it’s the music they play with their own bands now.
A favorite for us all…and one that Zach’s band “Quantum Codpeace” has played live…is Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand.” There has been much speculation about what the song “means” and who that “Cowgirl” is. Did you know that he wrote the song, along with “Down by the River” and “Cinnamon Girl” one night while he was suffering with a fever of 103? Under those conditions, maybe HE doesn’t even know what the song represents! And maybe, like so much of the music that weaves in and out of our lives, the meaning is fluid, subtly changing with time and circumstance…much like standing in the sand…much like life itself.
During the short time that I lived out west, I really connected with the cowgirl spirit. Cowgirls are strong, solid women with an enormous respect for the wide, open spaces of the western landscape. They work hard and play hard, keeping up with the boys, yet they somehow still remain feminine. They have a spirit of independence and strength, yet know the value of teamwork. They face a challenge head-on, eye-to-eye, and win or lose, they get up, dust off, and go at it again. And that strength and determination stays with them always, even when they are unexpectedly plunked down in the ever-shifting grains of sand under their feet or riding straight into the whirling sand storms of life.
I strive to be that “Cowgirl in the Sand.” A woman who keeps her footing when the ground shifts below her. A woman who courageously rides into that sand storm with drive and purpose. A woman who works tirelessly to keep her herd together and safe. A woman who can take her dusty boots off at the end of the day, wipe the grit off her face, smile and say, “Well, wasn’t that something…let’s do it again tomorrow.”