A few years ago, I read Greil Marcus' The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes, another one of those life-changing reads. Marcus posits that there's an American collective unconsciousness lurking in the folklore of Dylan's music, and it's especially strong on The Basement Tapes, the record he made in 1975 with The Band in Woodstock, N.Y., while recovering from a motorcycle accident.
I contextualize Marcus' thesis like this: Have you ever heard a song, especially an old song, that you have no recollection of hearing before, but it gives you a sense of familiarity? It's a part of an American collective unconsciousness.
As a child, I remember looking at the cover of The Band's self-titled LP and hearing the music and thinking, for years, that it was from another time in America. That time was the 1960s, not the 1860s like I imagined. But the experience that record created was another place and another time -- the American collective unconsciousness at work.
I get the same feeling from places in America, too. Everywhere I've been, I try to absorb as much of the local folklore and history as possible, try to connect the dots to reveal the greater mystery of what it means, on a psychological level, to be an American. I'm sure I'll be doing the same thing in Louisville tomorrow.
Lucky for me, bourbon, like baseball, is exclusively our invention.