After the first honest-to-god warm weekend in Portland, I have come to the Slammer on the first honest-to-god muggy as hell day of 2011.
I ask a dude with poor-hipster glasses what he’s drinking.
“Veneer,” he says again and I am certain something is wrong here. The bartender understands and she pours one for me and the patron says “It’s one of the lighter beers.”
That’s when I catch the R symbol on the tap handle and realize I’m drinking a Raindog–a beer I haven’t bought in nearly twenty years but also happened to be the first beer I bought when I came back to the States after a long college trip.
The patron goes outside to smoke, driven by a need for nicotine and a desire to get away from the music being played-he grumbles friendi-ly to the bartender something about En Vogue. Another couple obscured to me by the taps saunters up to the video juke and inserts credits. The first line from the speakers “I was a highwayman,” and I recognize Willie, even though I don’t think I ever really paid attention to the Highwaymen album.
The song isn’t all that great. What can you say, really; it was the 80’s and nobody had the strength to tell four legends of country music that Johnny Cash should never sing the line, “I was a starship captain.”
Still, the song is about endurance and for a moment, I get what is best about-and why people still listen to-country music. Beaten but never destroyed, defeated but never crushed, enduring beyond strength because that’s just what you have to do sometimes, yeah. I get that. Even when it’s not done very well, the hope that there is something noble in just continuing on is a nice thing to echo.