For quite a long time this has been one of my favorite songs. Written by Merle Haggard, and covered extremely well by both Emmylou Harris and Dave Alvin, the song talks of a time when when:
“I’ll never swim Kern River again.
It was there that I met her.
It was there that I lost my best friend.”
Well known for its swift currents, Kern River has long mystified poets and songwriters alike. As I was making my way from Berkeley and my salon with Taiyo Lipscomb, Sharon Wheat and a few of their photo-friends (more about that later), to Torrance and my presentation at Paul’s Photo this weekend I decided to take a detour and spend a couple of nights in Bakersfield.
It wasn’t until I got here that I realized, “Wait! I think Kern River is pretty close.” Bakersfield is in Kern county, after all. After a bit of location research I found a spot just about a half-hour from my motel and drove there this afternoon. Upon arriving at the campgrounds the sign I saw spoke of Haggard’s lament.
Yeah, I know it’s a bit schmaltzy, but… I was meditating on Merle’s lyrics and couldn’t help myself!
“Now, it’s not deep nor wide,
But it’s a mean piece of water, my friend.
And I may cross on the highway,
But I’ll never swim Kern River again.”