“she liked ‘dat lah”

by waaseyaa'sin christine sy

i was driving through Algonquin country (i.e. Quebec) one August many years ago on a road trip to Bell Island, Newfoundland with my toddler, my teenager brother and my dad. Bell Island is his home and it was always a dream of mine to do a road trip there with him. i burned a few cds for the drive, because burning cds is what you did back then, and included songs i never thought i ever would. songs like some of those by George Jones-ba. when your childhood nights are disrupted from this guy on repeat after a drunken party you kind of vow to God you will never, ever listen to George Jones-ba as an adult who has a say over your life. funny how now that i have a say, i’m kind of sentimental about the guy.

a fan of the blues, i also included some BB King, who is one of my favourites and of course, one of my favourite songs is “The Thrill is Gone.”

we’re on the highway, late afternoon, and it’s lush and green in Algonquin territory and “The Thrill is Gone” comes on for the first time on the trip. as soon as it does, my dad says,

“she liked ‘dat lah.”

“mmm?” i say, nudged out of highway driving reverie.

“she like ‘dat,” he says again, pointing with that adamant forefinger of his to the machine in the dashboard, “your mom.”

“BB King?” I say, my interest piqued.

“yea. listen to it all time she did. the blues.”

“Hmph. This is one of my favourite songs…”

Years later, I send this song to an estranged relative, telling them that this was one of her favourite artists, the blues her thing. We started talking again after that; still do.

There are other stories about me and my mom and New Orleans. Hitch-hiking stories. Dreaming stories. Anishinaabe stories. But for now, BB King-ba, rest in peace and power. chi amiigawech for being a part of our lives and bringing us together in the ways of a good song:


and this, too:

Note: The suffix “ba” indicates that the person has passed away (my simplified translation).