Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cold Kentucky Rain

Do you remember the song "Cold Kentucky Rain" by Elvis? I'm thinking about it tonight, because we're having a cold Colorado rain which will shortly turn to cold Colorado snow - in the middle of May! I love that song - the lover trudging through the cold Kentucky rain to find the woman who left him "seven lonely days and a dozen towns ago," searching for her in the cold Kentucky rain, in the cold Kentucky rain. I love the alliteration of "cold" and "Kentucky" - and the rhythm of it - so much better than cold Michigan rain, or cold North Dakota rain, or cold Kansas rain. I can't think of any rain colder, or more bleak and hopeless, than the cold Kentucky rain. All of that in just three words.

It helps that one of them is a place name. Place names carry extra weight, because they have so many associations that overlay them. And yet, when it comes to cold Kentucky rain, all I really have as an image to go with Kentucky is the Kentucky derby, and "my old Kentucky home" - though maybe the plaintiveness of "my old Kentucky home" is at work here as well. Kentucky doesn't feel like an up-and-coming state, but a has-been or never-was state, where people live in old Kentucky homes and run old Kentucky races. Abe Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Kentucky - and left the state forever. Kentucky bluegrass grows in Kentucky - empty expanses of nothing but grass. That's it for what I can associate off the top of my head with Kentucky. But it's enough for that cold Kentucky rain to keep on falling, the cold Kentucky rain, the cold Kentucky rain.

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