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  • cathyhendrix

Sweet Old World (There, There)

Updated: Jul 10, 2022

Yesterday, I was at a conference, in a presentation by Mark Ishaug on “How Women of Country Music Made Me the Man I Am Today.” It was a five-minute slide show with Mark using lyrics of songs that meant something to him throughout his life and today. At one point, he referenced Mary Chapin Carpenter which then led him to Lucinda Williams. He quoted, from Sweet Old World, “See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world... didn't you think anyone loved you?” Suddenly my eyes were flooded with tears and although what Mark was referencing with that lyric was very moving, I was crying for another reason. Some of you have heard this story before so please bear with me. Twenty-something years ago, I was having a hard time. Going through a pretty contentious divorce, experiencing a rough patch in a friendship that was very important to me, worrying about my financial future. But I went to SXSW as I always did back in the day, hoping that it would help to get my mind off things.

Lucinda Williams was the keynote speaker that year and the ballroom was packed. There was an open seat next to me and pal to many of us, Duane Jarvis, asked if he could sit there. I didn’t know him well but we were friendly enough so I said yes. Lu played through a few songs but when she sang Sweet Old World, I started to cry. Not wanting to make a scene, I sat still and just let the tears roll. After a moment, Duane reached over and patted my knee, like “there, there.” He didn’t otherwise acknowledge that I was breaking down nor did he intrude on what I was going through. Just “there, there... pat, pat.” So when Mark spoke those lyrics, I was immediately taken to that day in Austin and was again, overcome. I tried to explain to some of the people I was with; I’m not sure that I was able to. Today, I had a moment to tell Mark about the experience and in the telling, I got teary, he got teary and we were both moved by the power of music and shared resonance. Thanks Mark, thanks Lucinda, thank you Duane (rest in peace) and thank you Sweet Old World.

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