Thump Ripe Melons

joan baez

365 Days of Writing Prompts ( WordPress) for January 4:  Quote Me 

Yes, I know I am a day behind, but I’m skipping the one they suggested for today because it involved the phrase ‘favourite book’ and for me there just is no such thing. Or possibly favourite anything, but for the sake of sanity, I’ll just pick a quote I like and everything will be back to normal tomorrow.  Or, you know, as close as it gets.

Do you have a favourite quote that you return to again and again?  What is it, and why does it move you?

Life is a thump-ripe melon, so sweet and such a mess.  (Joan Baez)

Found out yesterday I have been getting this quote wrong forever.  I thought it was “life is like a soft ripe melon, so sweet and such a mess” but the words are from the song Rexroth’s Daughter, and the original version of this quote (which is actually what one is supposed to get right, because, duh, it’s a quote)  is a lot better than the one I appear to have messed up. Because thump-ripe is an incredibly fun thing to say, and stating that life IS something is so much more emphatic than being vague about what life might be like.

The whole song is quotable.  It’s so sixties and folk-song-y. I also found out it was a song originally done by Greg Brown, and Joan Baez did a cover of it, so it’s not even her quote!  See??  Life IS a big mess.  Sometimes I think that’s exactly what makes it sweet.  And thump-worthy.

Anyway, enough making things up for now.  Here is the song, sounding to me at the beginning as if her guitar might have been used a few too many times for melon thumping.

Coldest night of the winter, working up my farewell
In the middle of everything, under no particular spell
Dreaming of the mountains where the children learn the stars
Clouds roll in from Nebraska, dark chords on a big guitar
My restlessness is long gone standing like an old jack pine
I’m looking for Rexroth’s daughter. She’s a friend of a friend of mine
Can’t believe your hands and mouth did all that to me
And they are so daily naked for all the world to see
That thunderstorm in Michigan I never will forget
We shook right with the thunder and in the pounding rain got wet
Where did you turn when you turned from me with your arms across your chest
Yeah I’m looking for Rexroth’s daughter, saw her in the great northwest

Would she have said it was the wrong time if I had found her then
I don’t ask very much, a field across the road and a few good friends
She used to come and see me, she was always there & gone
Even the very longest loves don’t last very long

She’d stood there in my doorway smoothing out her dress
saying ‘life is a thump-ripe melon – so sweet and such a mess’

Well the murderer who lived next door seemed such a normal guy–
You try to swallow what they shove at us, you run out of tears to cry
I heard a man speak quietly, I listened for a while
He spoke from his heart to my woe and then he bowed and smiled
What is real but compassion as we move from birth to death
Yeah I’m looking for Rexroth’s daughter and I’m running out of breath
Spring will come back I know it will and it will do its best
so useful, so endangered like a lion or a breast
I think about my children when I look at any child’s face
pray that we will find a way to get with all this amazing grace

It’s so cold out there tonight, stormy I can hardly see
I’m looking for Rexroth’s daughter and I guess I always will be.

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