July 10, 2020

Hi!

I have lived with the words “You ought to see my heart” in my sketch book for at least 10 years.  Fragments of song lyrics such as these – along with old craft and needlework projects, deteriorating mirrors and picture frames, remnants of yarn and notions, and vintage office and art supplies – are among the found materials I stockpile for inspiration and the supplies I use to make my visual and performance work.

I generally like to know where the song lyrics come from, but often I jot them down so fast that I forget to make a note of their source. It turns out that these words come from the George Strait song Down and Out, which says “If I look rough on the outside/You ought to see my heart”. I had forgotten to make a note of this in my book, though, so I was left with my invented interpretation of the words: that the speaker is misunderstood in some way based on their outer appearance, and that their heart has the ability to show the truth about them.  

In my first piece using these words, I scratched them into the back of a beat-up vintage mirror, removing the silver and replacing it with crinkled up aluminum foil to create a sparkling effect, barely contrasting with the mirrored field. From the front, the letters appear in reverse, creating the effect that the message is coming from inside the piece, also so when the viewer looks in the mirror, it becomes part of their own reflection, as if it is written on themselves and being reflected back at them in reverse. Above the writing, I set a small vintage cardboard-framed carnival mirror with the crude image of a flying Pegasus printed on it into the back, so it shows through as a symbol of something everyday and non-precious but free and beautiful that is to be found if the viewer were to only look for it in the speaker’s (and their own?) heart.

You Ought to See My Heart
2018
Antique wood-framed mirror, vintage mass-produced glass art in faux wood cardboard frame, aluminum foil
28 x 22″

This piece has been on my wall during lockdown, so I have seen it every day as news has come in of the brutal and senseless deaths of Black people – George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others – at the hands of the police. Then came the resulting demonstrations and continued brutality by the police toward people showing up to protest peacefully, not to mention the complacency of much of the American population joined by the United States’ government’s, the press’, and an astonishing number of people interviewed on the news and posting on social media’s demonization of those very people crying out for compassion and action toward healing and repair. I began to see the statement, “You ought to see my heart,” differently. It became less personal to me and more universal and potentially useful toward shining a light on this particular aspect of racism – its most basic aspect: the belief that people who are different from you are less human, deserving less from the world than yourself, and are inherently subject to your dominance and abuse.  It seemed that the same message, “You ought to see my heart,” being worn by all different bodies could be an empowering message to those people wearing it, particularly those who have spent a lifetime hearing from the White patriarchy that their lives do not matter. The message could also reach those encountering the person wearing the shirt who, as they leave, reveals the triumphant, free Pegasus in their wake.  

I ordered the shirts to be printed, and as I waited for them to be delivered, I was inspired to write my own “you ought to see my heart” song. I understand that mine is an entirely different experience from that of the Black lives at the core of our current, absolutely crucial revolution, but my experience is the only one that I am equipped to express. I imagine that every single person alive has a version of “You Ought to See My Heart” in them, and for us to simply make room for the understanding of that in others can bring us all closer together.

You Ought to See My Heart
 
Here I am, it’s me
Please enjoy the view
You’ll see my nose has once been broken
And my teeth are messed up, too
 
My left shoulder sits lower
Than the one that’s on the right
It’s because of a curvature
In my spine that’s very slight
 
And when it comes to style
I’m always wearing jeans
And a skeptical expression
On my face that comes off mean

I’m sort of tall and I’m a man
So you might think I’m tough
Especially when I argue
And I go off the cuff
 
But you ought to see my heart
It’s got its own thing going on
It’s buried deep inside of me
Burning brighter than the dawn
I’ve never seen it, but I just know
It shines, it beams, it gleams, it glows
It’s my most beautiful part
So, you ought to see my heart

 
Well, the outer part of me
Is a veritable mess
And if we were talking smells
Let’s talk about my breath
 
I’ve got bad tattoos and unpaid dues
I’m as old as I look
And on the subject of ornery
Hell, I wrote the book
 
But you ought to see my heart
It might come as a surprise
It’s so full of love and tenderness
And measures twice the average size
I’ve never seen it, but I just know
It shines, it beams, it gleams, it glows
It’s my most beautiful part
So, you ought to see my heart

 
Oh, I wear worn out clothes
And I very rarely shave
And sometimes when I’m drinking
I forget how to behave
 
And if you watch me long enough
You’ll see me roll my eyes
When I hear the words I love you
And other comparable lies
 
But you ought to see my heart
We’re like the lion and the lamb
It’s like my heart belongs to someone else
But it’s really who I am
I’ve never seen it but I just know
It shines, it beams, it gleams, it glows
It’s my most beautiful part
So, you ought to see my heart
 
Yeah, you ought to see my heart
It’s got its own thing going on
It’s buried deep inside of me
Burning brighter than the dawn
I’ve never seen it but I just know
It shines, it beams, it gleams, it glows
It’s my most beautiful part
So, you ought to see my hear
t
 
It’s my most beautiful part
So, you ought to see my heart

© 2020  Larry Krone

Have a wonderful few months until I write again.

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