“Tennessee River Runs Low” is from the point of view of the river (and is really quite delightful). It comes complete with an “oh de oh de oh de oh” section. The music is pretty simple (just a little strummed guitar) and their wonderful voices.
After the first song she says that she has seen lots of Tiny Desk Concerts and they’re thrilled to be there. It’s more spacious than you might think. They could square dance there–except they can’t square dance. She says that it feels kind of like being a zoo animal.
The second song is “a super duper sad song.” Since their previous record came out they have both gotten married–to different men, she clarifies. (Well, they are from Alabama, they joke). They don’t know what to write about anymore–who wants to hear happy songs?
“You’ve Got It Wrong” is indeed a sad ballad–a very pretty, very traditional sounding country song. Their voices really sell it.
Before the final song, she says that “if you want to be happy and in a good mood don’t ever come to one of our shows.” They only play downer music. She explains that they grew up singing gospel in a church that had no musical instruments. It was only their voices and no solos or choirs. She didn’t realize they were learning how to sing at church–that’s where their harmonies come from.
So they are doing an old gospel number, “Flee as a Bird.” The melody of the verses its wonderful–the kind I’ve never heard in a church song before.
I would never see these guys in concert, but fora Tiny Desk, their songs were quite lovely.
[READ: March 7, 2016] “A Spoiled Man”
This was a lengthy story that seemed to speak to the futility of life.
There were a lot of details which made the story really interesting, but as I think about summarizing it, I realize that the story is bombastically a man lives, succeeds, fails and dies.
Fortunately Mueenuddin tells a lovely winding story that shows just how much a man’s life can change.
The story is set in Islamabad and the main character is Rezak, “a small, bowlegged man with a lopsided, battered face.” He is outside of the mansion of a local man who has recently married an American woman. The woman proves to be a nice person who genuinely seems to enjoy her new life. In Pakistan. And people liked her as well.
Rezak tried to make himself useful around the mansion. Despite his appearance, he is a strong man and he does wind up helping the workers. At the end of the day they invite him for dinner, but his pride makes him refuse.
Rezak was a decent man. He worked hard. He built his own shack and lives quietly and comfortable, making money where he could. But he also tried to take advantage of opportunities. So when the gates of the mansion were open, he went in. The majordomo Ghulam Rasool knew that Rezak had volunteered the other day so he invited him to come over.
The next day, Ghulam Rasool asked the woman if Rezak could be officially employed at the house. Rezak was delighted. His salary would be more than he had ever had, and he insisted that he would simply move his shack and live at the base of the property. And so he does. He slowly grows more comfortable in his life, buying a goat and planting his own vegetables. He becomes something of a success.
The owners even show off his little shack to others and then decide to give him electricity for it as well
Then one morning when sitting in the tea house, some of the locals tells him that he needs to get married–that would complete his life. He says that his cousin has a daughter: “something went wrong when she was born and she’s a bit simple. But she can cook and sew…she’s quite pretty, even.”
And so he agrees, and he pays a dowry to marry the girl. At first she cries and cries, perhaps not even understanding what happened. But soon she grows comfortable with him. And things are even better.
And then one day she is gone. He freaks out and calls in all the help he can get. Finally the house owners get the police involved and this proves to be his big problem. For they assume that he is responsible in some way. And they work him over to get the truth out.
And it’s all downhill from there, in rather surprising ways.
The title is of course an interesting take on things. But it could indeed be viewed as true.