Sell me a pantsuit and cut off my hair...

(Tim: Here's a post by our daughter, Mrs. Ben (Michal) Crum.) Yesterday, I listened to the same song seven times while my boys were napping. I didn't have the song on repeat. But every time it ended I thought, I want to listen to that again. And I went back to the iPod and pressed play.

I had heard the song before, but yesterday I listened to it and it took on a different meaning than the writer, John Hartford, intended. I was listening to Gillian Welch's live recording of "In Tall Buildings", and the meaning of the song morphs when sung by a woman. As I consider my occupation as a mother (for it does occupy me entirely--physically, spiritually, and emotionally) I realize how privileged I am. I am privileged to understand the meaning of that calling, and privileged also that my husband and family recognize its necessity and value. For this is the song that many a CEO mother secretly sings to her children in past tense, and I mourn for those mothers who mourn for their children and their lost motherhood.

Here are the lyrics. If you must, read them. But if you have one spare minute and $.99, please download the song and listen to it, instead. It's hauntingly mournful and beautiful...

and so much of its meaning is conveyed by Gillian Welch.

In Tall Buildings

By John Hartford, 1976

Someday, baby, when I am a man,
and others have taught me
the best that they can
they'll sell me a suit
and cut off my hair
and send me to work in tall buildings

and it's goodbye to the sunshine
goodbye to the dew
goodbye to the flowers
and goodbye to you
I'm off to the subway
I must not be late
going to work in tall buildings

now when I retire
and my life is my own
I made all the payments
it's time to go home
and wonder what happened
betwixt and between
when I went to work in tall buildings

and it's goodbye to the sunshine
goodbye to the dew
goodbye to the flowers
and goodbye to you
I'm off to the subway
I mustn't be late
going to work in tall buildings

Comments

Great song!

Of course this pertains mostly to women, but I've been sometimes haunted by what I'm doing with my career.

Back in 1998, I took a job doing computer work and quickly began moving up in my career, I was good at what I did and was almost never home. Then I started to realize that it's so easy to cross that line and for your life to pass you by without so much as a thank-you for the work you did and the way you sacrificed your family to please men.

So now I work in a way that isn't very ambitious - yet I also don't want to be lazy, but glorify God in my work, but the only thing that means anything to me anymore is family and church (God).

-Clint

Oh my, you're absolutely right, Michal. A world of difference when sung by a woman - the distaff of "Cat's in the cradle".

May the Crum tribe increase!

Kamilla

Thank you, Catherine Hepburn for first popularizing this trend, and Hitlery Rodman Clinton for keeping it going.

What is your daughter's name? Why didn't you put her real name in this piece?

>>What is your daughter's name? Why didn't you put her real name in this piece?

Sorry, but is this a joke? The name's right there at the top--proudly placed by one proud father. Mrs. Ben (Michal) Crum, nee Michal Louise Bayly.

My dear Dad, it's no joke. maybe you're not quite as familiar as I am with the idea that my name itself is the joke. I get this question frequently, as in, "Ha ha! But no really, what's your name?"

I wouldn't have it any other way.

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