Editorial: Glad to be from a ’10-cent town’

Published 6:54 am Tuesday, February 6, 2024

I thought about Emmylou Harris on my way in to work this morning.

“Quarter Moon in a 10 Cent Town.”

Yes, I was driving into Mocksville. The sky was pitch black and as I topped a hill in my old truck, there it was. A beautiful, bright moon, hanging on the edge of town. It looked from that point that if you were in town, you could reach up and grab the bottom corner of the moon.

Yes, there’s beauty all around us folks. It’s everywhere, every day. You just have to take the time to release your worries from your brain for just a few seconds to see it.

Some may be offended by the “10 Cent Town” reference, but actually, that’s a good thing.

If you want a million dollar town, move to Las Vegas. There will never be a dull moment; entertainment options of all kinds await you at every corner.

If you want a thousand dollar town, move to New York. You’ll never sleep. For more reasons than one, you’ll never sleep.

If you want a hundred dollar town, move to Charlotte. You’ll learn to drive even faster, then wonder why you were in a hurry to get to that place.

If you want a $20 town, move to Raleigh. You’ll rub elbows with politicians and intellectuals and the homeless, sometimes having difficulty telling them apart.

If you want a $10 town, move to Winston-Salem. You may even make the evening news.

If you want a 50-cent town, move to, I shiver just thinking about it, Clemmons. Orange barrels and shopping centers, oh my!

I think we should feel fine holding on to a 10-cent town status. While somewhat boring to outsiders looking in at our lack of venues where we could waste our hard-earned money, us 10-centers still care about each other. Sure, we may talk smack about each other from time to time, but when the chips are down, we show up.

Don’t expect that in a $50 town.

For those of you who don’t know, Emmylou Harris is a music icon and a North Carolina native, so she knows plenty about 10-cent towns. The line is a verse in a song and the title of one of her albums.

“Saturday night I’m gonna make myself a name

Take a month of Sundays to try and explain.”

That line is from the same song, and those of us who grew up in 10-cent or less valuable towns know, there’s some truth in there. Get a speeding ticket as a teenager, and your parents know before you get home.

Honky Tonker Billy Joe Shaver knew the perils of being a bit too rowdy in a 10-cent town, as well:

“I’m thinkin’ ‘bout raisin’ so doggone much hell,

‘Til I’ll die ‘fore I live it all down, yeehaw.”

Here’s a verse from a Guy Clark song that helps sum up what it means to live in a 10-cent town.

“Stuff that works, stuff that holds up

The kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall

Stuff that’s real, stuff you feel

The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall.”

Yep, that’s us, all wrapped neatly into one well crafted country song. That’s what American music is, our lives wrapped into songs.

That was evident while watching the Grammy Awards on television. Some, or maybe most, of the music aired on the TV show, I didn’t like. It was entertaining, and I appreciated the talent, but the music didn’t move me, and the lyrics, if I could understand them, didn’t touch me.

Obviously, they weren’t from 10-cent towns.

– Mike Barnhardt