by Diana Nelson Jones/Sept 24
At the "Rally for Clean Energy Jobs" last night in Point State Park -- the last leg of a national tour that has brought green- and blue-collar people together -- Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers struck a neighborhood chord in their homage to Pittsburgh, the title track of their upcoming CD, "East Carson Street."
Joe told the audience -- a thorough mix of locals and out-of-towners -- that the band formed when there were still steel mills up and down the river and the old ladies of the South Side wore babushkas.
Smoke and baushkas aren't too evident these days, but the deep tug of emotion Pittsburghers have about their roots are as strong as ever. I wasn't the only one wiping a tear as he sang about the not-too-distant past. A few measures of the lyrics went like this:
"Some people said I should leave,
There's no use hanging around;
"If you want to make it, boy,
You better get out of this town..."
... and then the recurring lyric that hit the nerve: "I can hear this town breathe, I can hear its heart beat."
A lot of people weren't really listening. There was hype in the air, buffeted by low cloud cover and bouncing off the helmets of military police clustered all over the place. But I have been keeping my ears open for even the slightest acknowledgement that this G-20 Summit is relevant to neighborhoods. Joe made it real.
As he sang, it struck me how lucky are we who feel Pittsburgh's aspirations, its exhalations and its pulse. How lucky we're going to be on Saturday when these life-giving vibrations return.