Greetings from the road! Just as a personal challenge, and because my agent doesn’t own a map of North America, we’ve decided to go from the far southwest corner of the United States, almost to Baja California, to the far northeast corner in Fort Fairfield, Maine (where the County Bluegrass Festival is going on), almost to New Brunswick. For that reason, I ran out of time this week, and I offer you the following “encore presentation” of my column on bluegrass dream analysis. It was actually a sequel to my original bluegrass dream analysis column (unless that was a dream):
I guess I should have known this would happen. I was very clear last week that I was retiring from interpreting bluegrass dreams. I didn’t even want to be in that role in the first place. Allow me to quote my final sentence from last week: “Feel free to comment below, but please don’t ask me to analyze any of your dreams. I’m retiring from that as of today.” Was that unclear in any way? And yet, I immediately received a small flood of emails from people asking my opinion about their bluegrass dreams. Either no one makes it to my final paragraph, or they’re simply not listening to me in the first place. And really, why would they? They’re too busy telling me about their dream in which Don Reno got into a sword fight with a large tuna fish.
It reminds me of my failed attempt to explain that these are not serious advice columns I’m writing here. I got responses like this one from Ernest Stoneface in Literal, Kansas: “Dear Chris, Thank you for your weekly columns in Bluegrass Today. I find them informative and useful. Would you consider writing one about memorizing song lyrics? I find that I can only learn two or three words of any given song. For example, when I try to sing Banks of the Ohio, I just sing ‘I asked my love..’ and that’s all I’ve got. I just hum the rest of it. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.”
It can be a little discouraging. And yet, I really feel for the well-intentioned people who emailed me their dreams, and I feel compelled to make my best attempt to interpret them. Some may be left feeling troubled by these dreams, or they may feel like they have unresolved psychological issues. I can’t in good conscience let these people feel ignored. I realize, too, as I read these over, that bluegrass dreams really have their own unique archetypes and symbols, and I’ll try to point those out. To protect the privacy of Bluegrass Today readers, no real names will be used (not that they ever are).
From “Johnny” in Illinois: “I was at a bus stop in what looked like Chicago. A city bus approached. When the door opened, I saw that Bill Harrell was the driver. He seemed to be talking entirely in lines from the movie A Few Good Men. I reached into my pocket for the bus fare, and I discovered that my pockets were filled with capos of every brand and description. I attempted to pay with the cheapest looking capo I had, and Bill just looked me in the eye and said, ‘You can’t handle the truth.’ Then he launched into the song Eatin’ Out of Your Hand and drove away.”
My reply to “Johnny”: the capo can be a recurring theme in bluegrass dreams, and represents a desire for quick change in your life. Multiple capos represents a pressing need for change, or possibly issues with kleptomania. The fact that your capo was rejected as payment for transportation means that the change you desire in your life does not meet with the approval of Bill Harrell. Bill, by the way, was known for his uncanny imitations of Jack Nicholson. You must have known that.
From “Marie” in Georgia: “I was on a plane to Fort Wayne, Indiana. The pilot introduced himself as Peter Rowan, and said over the P.A. System: ‘Welcome to flight 5101, with service to Fort Wayne, Indiana, by way of Gander, Newfoundland, with a brief stop in Morocco.’ The flight attendant was Alison Krauss, except with green hair, and she said ‘Do you want something to drink, sister? Do ya, huh?’ I ordered a Diet Coke, but she handed me a truss rod for a banjo instead. I had no idea what to do with it. At this point the pilot began yodeling intensely. I fell asleep, then was jarred awake as the plane was suddenly making an emergency landing in Audie Blaylock’s backyard.”
Again we see the theme of a well-known bluegrass artist operating a commercial transportation vehicle, which can be troubling. This represents a feeling of not being in control of your own destiny. Instead, your destiny is in the hands of someone who may not be qualified to control it (i.e., a professional musician). A green-haired Alison Krauss in a dream almost always means that you ate some heavy food or took a vitamin supplement too close to bedtime. A truss rod in a dream represents a need to adjust your neck. I recommend a different pillow.
From “Hal” in Maine: “I was the host of Jeopardy. The contestants were James King, Paula Abdul, and a chicken named Lola. James completely aced the category ‘Stanley Brothers: The King Years’ but lost narrowly in the end because he failed to put the answer Don’t Cheat in Our Home Town in the form of a question. The chicken was victorious, thanks to cleaning up on the category ‘Cracked Corn Through the Centuries.’ Paula never answered any questions, but kept complimenting my outfit, even though I was wearing Donald Duck pajamas that were a size too small.”
Paula Abdul in a dream represents a need for approval, or a possible desire to become a dancer. Your donald duck pajamas just mean you don’t know how to dress properly for dreams. Other than that, this dream is just weird. Excuse me, I should have said: “What is this dream is just weird.”
From “Donna” in Minnesota: “I was drifting down a gently flowing river. All of a sudden, a baby floated past me on a raft. When I looked closer, I noticed that the baby was wearing a suit, and looked a lot like a tiny Bill Monroe. He smiled at me and said ‘You do a wonderful job.’ But then he noticed I was smoking a cigarette, whereupon he shook his head and said ‘You can take Salem out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of Salem.”
“Donna”, normally because of the fertility symbols of the river and the baby, I would say you might be pregnant; however you also appear to be old enough to remember really dumb cigarette jingles, so I’m not sure. Bill Monroe in any dream represents a desire for paternal approval of some kind, or unresolved issues with your father. Or, you’ve just always wanted to dress a baby in a suit and a hat.
Well, I hope this will finally end our exploration of the bluegrass subconscious. All dreams submitted to me after this will be ignored. Why do I even bother to say that?
Next week: Five ways to pick a fight with a sound engineer.