Cultural mashup: “The Dead” by James Joyce, and “Cold Cold Heart” by Hank Williams

Remixing is a common enough idea. Why not combine a work of literature and a work of music, which have surprisingly overlapping themes?

When you think of James Joyce, you might think of the stream-of-consciousness prose of Ulysses and (particularly) Finnegan’s Wake. But Joyce’s short stories in the Dubliners collection, and “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, use conventional prose, and have their own (if more conventional) artistic merit.

I won’t provide any spoilers for “The Dead”; just read it.

And it’s hard to provide spoilers for a song, but surprisingly some people still discriminate against music that is classified as “country”, even when it comes from an amazingly rich tradition. Hank Williams used to save up money from his manual labor jobs to pay for guitar lessons from blues guitarists. Alabama has some elements of the Louisiana French traditions as well (Alabama was a French territory for a long time too). And it’s hard to argue with the spirit and feeling Hank Williams puts into his songs.

I reread “The Dead” while also listening to “Cold Cold Heart” by Hank Williams, jumping back and forth between screens to see the video. Enjoy!

“The Dead”, by James Joyce

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