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wonders never cease Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fifteen Songs For Huck Finn’s Birthday!

Today marks the 130th anniversary of the publishing of the first great American novel, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We don’t plan to rank the literary importance of this seminal work, nor do we intend to address the controversies surrounding Twain’s language choices or depiction of any of the characters in the book. We just want to tell you that it is one of our very favorites, and if you haven’t read it, pop in to the shop and pick up a copy. Find out what all the fuss is about.

We're on the record as unabashed opponents of censorship and book banning, so the travails of this great novel have never sat well with us. We can learn a lesson on taking criticism with measured composure by studying Twain's response to a report stating The Brooklyn Library had removed his books from their children's section. He retorted “I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Huck Finn' for adults exclusively, and it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave.” Speaking for those whose minds were soiled in the early, impressionable years, we can safely say we're thankful that Mr. Twain allowed Tom and Huck to remain among the questionable companions that populate the children's sections of libraries around the world.

For those new to this blog, each week we choose a topic and then select thematically appropriate songs, pairing each song with an appropriate quote. In honor of the first publishing of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on this date in 1884, we’re switching things up this week, selecting a quote from the book first, then pairing it with a fitting song. We don't claim to have created a literary masterwork here, but, to paraphrase Samuel Clemens, we’ve never been reluctant to meddle in hifalut’n foolishness, so thank you for indulging us. As always, there are bonus songs in the Spotify player at the bottom of the list.

1. “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons  attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.” - Author’s Notice
Your Mama Warned You – Eels

2. “You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth” – Chapter 1
Huck Finn – The Statesboro Revue

3. “It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.” – Chapter 33
Don’t Be Cruel – Elvis Presley

4. “Just because you’re taught that something’s right and everyone believes it’s right, it don’t make it right.” – Chapter 33
Slavery  – Mungo’s Hi Fi with Marina P

5. “Then the old man got to cussing, and cussed everything and everybody he could think of, and then cussed them all over again to make sure he hadn't skipped any, and after that he polished off with a kind of a general cuss all round, including a considerable parcel of people which he didn't know the names of, and so called them what's-his-name, when he got to them, and went right along with his cussing.” – Chapter 6
Spite – Vandaveer

6. “That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it.” – Chapter 1
I Don’t Want To Know – Fleetwood Mac

7. “I couldn't bear to think about it; and yet, somehow, I couldn't think about nothing else.” – Chapter 29
Nobody Could Change Your Mind – Generationals

8. “The average man don't like trouble and danger.” – Chapter 22
Secret Agent Man – Devo

9. “I do not wish any reward but to know I have done the right thing.” – Chapter 39
I Know It’s The Right Thing To Do – Sondre Lerche

10. “Jim said that bees wouldn't sting idiots; but I didn't believe that, because I tried them lots of times myself, and they wouldn't sting me.” – Chapter 8
Idiot Child – Madness

11. “H’aint we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?” – Chapter 26
Mayor Of Simpleton  – XTC

12. “Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better.” – Chapter 36
Know Better Learn Faster – Thao

13. “What you doin' with this gun?” – Chapter 7
Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix

14. “It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: 'All right, then, I'll go to hell'- and tore it up.” – Chapter 30
Go To Hell – Nina Simone

15. “It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to MAKE so many.” – Chapter 19
Ain’t This The Life – Oingo Boingo

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wonders never cease