In the Strangest of Places

In his novels and other writings, [Walker] Percy grappled with the difficulty of separating the accidents of personality from the essence of personhood. Above all, he chronicled the struggles of flawed people trying to act decently and remain faithful in an imperfect and hurtful world. Percy illuminated the distinction between being a wanderer and being a wayfarer. For him, there had to be more to life than dividing one’s time between being a producer and being a consumer. Percy’s lost, loss-suffering, and alienated characters search for a more authentic existence than what is offered by postmodern capitalism: a lifetime of often meaningless work.

Therefore, while I was pleasantly surprised, I was by no means shocked, recently, to learn that, toward the end of his life, when Walker Percy spoke enthusiastically about his “favorite American philosopher,” he was referring to Bruce Springsteen.

— John Marks

Back in the 1970s, there wasn’t much they couldn’t do: Pour on the volume and they didn’t distort. Leave ’em baking in the sun on a car’s back deck and they still played like champs. Best of all, hot sweaty hours full of sweet talk, glandular logic, and, finally, abject begging could pass, and, being a loop, they just kept on a-‘playin’. Babies were conceived, moon landings were ignored, and a presidential resignation meant little when you were funkin’ to the soothing tones of the mighty 8-track.

— Robert Baird

What a pleasant surprise to stumble into some nice bits of writing in, of all places, Stereophile magazine. The first comes from John Marks’s regular column, “The Fifth Element, ” in the May 2004 issue. (And I assume Herc is already mentally composing his comment on it.) The second is from “The Zen of Honky Tonk,” Robert Baird’s April 2004 profile of The Flatlanders. Neither piece is available online yet.