You old blue Northern

Some people have memories of childhood that involve getting stuck in one of those blow-up bouncy castles as it collapses, or longboarding in a parking garage in the wee hours of the morning.

One of my clearest memories from my early teens takes place in Ellensburg, Washington. Most Washingtonians consider Ellensburg the scourge of the earth, but I’ve always had a soft spot for it. I was visiting a close family friend with my parents, and we were gearing up for another friend’s barbecue/chili cookoff. It was to be quite an event: at least a dozen different types of chili, a spiciness contest, a cornbread contest, plus live entertainment. Surprisingly, I don’t remember the food much at all, but I remember distinctly the two songs I was supposed to participate in: “Quinn the Eskimo” (a sing-along extravaganza with live backup band) and this song, which I found sad and beautiful and everything I would want my life to be if I were a true cowgirl.

As I remember, I was invited to sing this song as a solo, and I would ride in on a horse and sing it from there with a single guitar accompaniment. I was never a confident soloist and got cold feet like crazy, so another girl (a gorgeous, seventeen year old, real live cowgirl) did the whole bit. I was so jealous and remember complaining to my mom about it, but what could she say? I’d had neither the confidence nor the preparation to perform it.

This is one of those songs that I searched for for years, finally landing on it and being surprised to find that I love it as much as I ever did. It’s not the usual thing I post, but listen.

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You old blue Northern

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