Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Line We Drew

While working on Willa today I found myself tapping out a line of dialogue from my male MC, Neil MacGregor: "I took my own name back when we sailed for Philadelphia."

It reminded me of one of my favorite songs, Sailing to Philadelphia by Mark Knopfler and James Taylor. Or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to work an approximation of the song title into my story!

The song is about Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, the Englishmen who surveyed the boundary line in a border dispute between the British colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania between 1763 and 1767.

I was born in Virginia, like generations of my maternal ancestors going back to around 1700, but I grew up in Maryland, just to the south of that gold star in the center of the map. The Mason-Dixon line was a term I'd heard in school and elsewhere frequently enough, but always associated it with the Civil War era. North of the line was freedom, south of the line was slavery. It wasn't until I heard this song several years ago that the actual men who surveyed this boundary, nearly 100 years before it became the demarcation line of freedom, piqued my interest.

Have a listen. I wish it was an interesting video. The only other options were live concert performances without James Taylor. Just not the same. So close your eyes and think about Last of the Mohicans, or something. :-)





Note: I've had to initiate comment moderation due to a spam attack. I've always hated spam. Nasty stuff.

7 comments:

  1. Sweet, I love James Taylor (what a storyteller!) But had never heard this song. Hehehe, all these stories about explorers and going west always make me want to take a road trip ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post, Lori. Love the ballad-type song! Reminds me of my infatuation with Gordon Lightfoot long ago. Interesting hx about the line. Speaking of Philly, I've been researching the Underground Railroad in PA and it's so fascinating. So much story fodder from history. I could just lose myself in research. Love it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Heather, Mark Knopfler used to be with Dire Straights. He does solo stuff now. By far his best release is Golden Heart. And yes, I know what you mean about the road trip. I'll be taking one in September, by road and by plane.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've gone to comment moderation for now. I woke up this morning to 30 spam messages scattered throughout my entire blog. I had to check every post to clear them all out.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Laura, I hear you. I'm researching the history of the Adirondacks and finding all sorts of cool tidbits. Saving most of them for a future work though.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My, oh, my my posts keep disappearing! Maybe this one will make it, but I'll keep it brief just in case. :) Great listening!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Carla, they aren't disappearing. I've switched to comment moderation because a Korean spammer (whose IP address I have, btw) keeps pelting me with spam comments. This is the easiest way to keep the house clean. :)

    ReplyDelete