Walking After Midnight

My grandmother loved country music. And cowboys. And anything to do with the wild, wild west. A lot of the Scots and the Irish people I knew in the 60s and early 70s did too.

Every Saturday afternoon we would go to the movies. The pictures. We usually saw a triple play of Westerns. I have seen just about every cowboy flick ever made from High Noon to The Magnificent Seven to the original True Grit. You would think little girls would get bored with all those horses and ten gallon hats and lassoes, but I never did. I lapped it all up.

My cousins did too. We wanted to know Alan Ladd from Shane and have a shoot out with Eli Wallach from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

I wanted to be Calamity Jane.

Along with the films came the music. My grandmother’s favourite was Patsy Cline. She loved Gene Autry, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Hank Williams. She even dabbled in a bit of Johnny Cash. But it was Patsy who had her photo above the mantelpiece next to the Pope.

My grandmother’s favourite Patsy song was Walking After Midnight. She loved it so much it was played at her funeral and the 500-strong mourners sang along. Even the priest did. It was an exceptionally moving moment. My grandmother would have loved it.

Walking After Midnight is a song about a girl who goes walking after midnight to find her love who has gone. She’s searching, she’s looking, out in the moonlight. She’s hoping that her lost love is looking for her too.

I think it is no accident that my grandmother loved that song so much because one of the things she always said, especially in times of trouble, was: just get out there and walk down that path. Walk right into it. That’s the only way to deal with things. My grandmother did believe that walking was a metaphor for human existence.

It’s funny how things come together. Sometimes years later.

Often unexpectedly.

I was having a coffee in the shopping centre the other day.

There were two young girls at the table next to me discussing their lives.

How did I get here? one said.

How did I make so many mistakes?

I had been listening to songs on my iTunes before I left the house and Walking After Midnight was the last song I heard. It was still stuck in my head.

I immediately thought how my grandmother would have answered that question.

You got here by putting one foot in front of the other, she would have said. You might have made mistakes but life is about walking forward, not standing still. You’ll make mistakes but it shouldn’t be the end of you. Not if you keep walking.

One of the girls was obviously a student because she had a copy of Macbeth poking out of her bag.

I have always thought that Macbeth with all that angst and disquietude and bemoaning – if he were a real guy – would be a country singer, probably bluegrass. (He would also do well as an Emo but that’s a thought for another day.)

Macbeth’s big hit would also have a bit of a theme about walking.

“Life’s but a walking shadow

Oh Lord, don’t you know

A poor player strutting and fretting his hour

upon the stage then heard no mo’

I ain’t gonna dream no mo’ mama

my life is but a walking shadow

full of sound and fury

like the blues in my heart mama

Full of sound and fury

And signifying nothing.”

My sincere apologies to all the diehard Macbeth fans out there but I do think there would have been less murder and suicide in Macbeth’s life if he had dealt with his inner demons through song.

We set out at some time on our path. The path that will shape our lives.

Good happens.

Bad happens.

We stumble sometimes as we hear the wind a-blowin’ through the lonesome pines.

But we keep moving.

The songs help. Especially the Patsy Cline songs. They give us the answers to the big questions.

How did we get here?

We walked.

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15 thoughts on “Walking After Midnight

  1. i love patsy cline too. her song ‘crazy’ is a favorite. something both angelic and earthy about her voice. this inspires, selma. my grandmother and your grandmother were two of a kind. mine used to say, ‘when you are troubled, go out for a walk’ . when i was a teenager i used to look at her and think, ‘huh?’ until i realized later that in any situation, a good long walk always helps heal the perspective. at least if the viewpoint is shifted, the problem looks different, if it looks different, then it can change, if it can change, then it will.
    (and i think ‘macbeth’s blues’ would have been a hit ha ha)

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  2. We do indeed keep moving. Walking, how theraputic it can be. And how blessed we are to be able to walk. Often when I’m having a bad day, feeling sorry for and about a lot of things, I see a person in a wheelchair, often struggling just to do some simple task that I take for granted, like getting an item off a shelf. Now that is putting things into perspective. If people who face enormous challenges, every day can get out there and move…well, whats my excuse? None!

    Great post Sel. Your grandma, I bet she was a lot like my Big Ma. No, she wasn’t a country fan but she was very feisty and very interested in so many things. We often went to the pictures with her too, what fun. Memories, ah memories that brighten up even the most mundane of days.

    I am so glad you are not directly in the eye of the storm there Sel but it must be awful to even witness the devastation so close by. I hope it’s slowing down by now. And on to getting back to what will be a long way to normal for those people. How very sad and for the animals too. I think about that whenever there is a disaster. How they cope.

    Hugs my dear, G

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  3. Hi DEBORAH:
    You are very kind to say that. I think the same of your writing. Always makes me feel good!

    Hi TIPOTA:
    Isn’t that incredible that both of our grandmothers thought the same way? WOW. Patsy Cline really did have an angelic quality to her voice. My favourite song of hers is ‘She’s Got You.’ I just love that song so much.

    And the benefits of walking are far-reaching – both literally and metaphorically. I can totally imagine Macbeth as a blues singer. He’d probably be a huge hit. Hahaha.

    HI CRAFTY GREEN:
    I can’t decide who would make the better Emo – Macbeth or Hamlet. It’s a real toss up. It really makes me giggle to think about it 😆

    Hi GERALDINE:
    You are right about the memories. They do sustain us. I used to not believe that but now I do. They have a power all of their own.

    We are fortunate that we were not affected by the cyclone but my heart really goes out to all those who have lost everything. I just cannot imagine how hard that would be. Some people have such courage it is inspiring. They are my heroes!!

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  4. Hi Selma,
    Yes you are spot on about Macbeth, he would of been a blues boy I feel, very good thinking on your part.
    Great post, and so true, we all make mistakes, but you have to pick yourself up and keep on going, or as my grandmother used to say, keep heading toward the light at the end of the tunnel, and you will eventually come out the other side, and like all grandmothers she was right. 🙂

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  5. Amen, amen… keep walking! Sometimes all we an do is put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Eventually we find our way again! I loved this story, and I absolutely adore the song being sung at your grandmother’s funeral. You just know she was there and smiling!!

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  6. Hi MAGS:
    Isn’t it amazing how wise all our grandmothers were and how dear we hold all their thoughts and sayings? I love that. It makes me feel very happy. And yes, as a blues artist Macbeth would have rocked!

    Hi JOSIE:
    I know she was there. She wouldn’t have missed out on hearing her favourite song. I really like your point that eventually we find our way again. That is so true. And so very important to remember!!

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  7. Hi Selma, how true, we walk our way through our struggles. I recently started on the treadmill and even tho I’m going nowhere on it , I close my eyes listen to my music and sweat out the bad and think about where I’m heading, one step at a time, one day at a time.

    And I am sooo looking forward to spring when I can walk in the sunshine and warm air!

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  8. ‘just get out there and walk down that path. Walk right into it. That’s the only way to deal with things.’

    What great advice, I love it. 🙂

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  9. HI CATHY:
    The treadmill is great for that. I find I can really free form on it in a mental sense. Afterwards my mind is really clear. I would love to get my own treadmill – that would be so cool.

    It is nice to walk in spring. Probably the best season of the year for being outdoors. Not too hot, not too cold. Perfect!

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  10. “My grandmother’s favourite Patsy song was Walking After Midnight. She loved it so much it was played at her funeral and the 500-strong mourners sang along. Even the priest did. It was an exceptionally moving moment. My grandmother would have loved it.”

    That made me CRY. But in a good way.

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  11. HI SUSANNAH:
    I have found that advice to be truer and truer the older I get. I am more stressed if I avoid things and do nothing than if I just get onto that path and walk and tackle things. It is hard, but facing things is the only way you can get them to improve. I hope that if I am a grandmother one day that I am as wise as my grandmother was!

    HI MELEAH:
    I know. It was a sad moment but a moment full of joy too. She was loved very much!

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  12. Amazing writing once again. I totally believe that Macbeth would have been a black or death metal band member if he were a real person during these times. Got all his angst out through that and been a normal person when not on stage.

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  13. Hi ROSHAN:
    Oh yeah. Total death metal. I can see the black-rimmed eyes right now. I’d buy his CDs. The lyrics would be amazing. Rock on, Big Mac B 8)

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