“Copperline” is my favorite James Taylor song.
It’s about a stretch of woods near his boyhood home in North Carolina. The song talks about this place that was very dear to the local community, and where Taylor would go on little adventures with his dog.
The dog’s name was Hercules, and the line in the song that goes “Hercules and a hog-nosed snake” is in reference to the one snake the dog never managed to kill.
My dog Hercules killed snakes, and there were lots of snakes where we lived-Hercules, not the God, the dog….He wouldn’t kill a hog-nosed snake because it was appeared already dead. But you would walk away and come back later, and it would have slithered off. It survived by pretending not to be.
It’s a shame there aren’t many childhoods spent like this.
Dogs and boys and woods just sort of go together.
But now the boys aren’t allowed to go into the woods for fear of the Jerry Sanduskys that lurk behind every tree.
And an off-leash dog is something that must be shot.
But at one time, a boy could get a pretty good education with just a dog and some time in the woods alone.
I know it was a good education for me.
It certainly was for James Taylor.