A Single Southern Guy In America

March 10, 2003

To Praise A Mockingbird


To Praise A Mockingbird

The book “To Kill A Mockingbird” is by far my favorite American novel. So I have always had a passing interest in mockingbirds. Our state bird is the mockingbird, and I have often wondered why our wise state fathers of 1929 picked the mockingbird over our signature bird for hunting (the mallard duck), the fearless blue jay, the ubiquitous robin, or perhaps the noble cardinal.

A few minutes ago, I stepped out of the office to get some fresh air; hopeful that it would help me carry through the end of this dreary workday with the flu. Near our front door is a ten-foot tall yaupon holly tree. From its top, A melodic and ever changing, dynamic if you will, birdsong emanated and sang the parises of a spring day. I eased over to see a fat and obviously happy mockingbird singing a joyous song. It actually lifted my spirits. This is the same mockingbird I’ve noticed many days here, but had never heard sing. As I listened, I recognized the obvious mixing of a number of different bird calls this Old Mockingbird had learned over its life.

It occurred to me that this bird was doing the same thing Elvis had done when he co-opted the plantation blues songs of black sharecroppers (free men, but essentially now slaves to the land and their employers) of the Mississippi Delta. It was the same thing that Run-DMC and Aerosmith had done with ‘Walk This Way.’ It’s the same thing Norah Jones had done with bits of jazz, old country, pop, and soul. This Old Mockingbird had borrowed bits of all the songs it had ever heard and woven them into a beautiful new song and sound unlike any other in the world.

Maybe that’s what the wise fathers of the state back in 1929 had in mind when they chose the Mockingbird as our official state bird. I like to think that they wanted our people to emulate the Old Mockingbird in taking bits of all our experience and sing a new and beautiful song unlike any other in the world.

So praise to the Old Mockingbird and thanks for the song.

Posted by Adam H at March 10, 2003 02:28 PM ~ Link Cosmos | Trackbacks (0)
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The epic ramblings of a young professional in the South in his Quixote-like quest to find ''the One.''

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