From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Don’t Talk to Me of Love Until We Shovel out the Shit

Nah … just foolin. That’s a line from Lancelot, the Percy book under musical consideration this week. I think it’d be great if it actually was a song, and in fact I think I’ll take an impromptu stab at one right now:

You spend all my money, honey,
shopping down at the mall,
with clothes and dishes piling up
as the sun’s sinkin’ down.
You’re goin’ out for another night on the town,
but I think we’re headed for the fall.

Our bed is colder than the meatloaf
at the back of the fridge.
Your lousy kids are askin’ fer it
Come morning you’ll be singin’
Holy Lord Above
But don’t talk to me of love, no don’t talk to me of love
until we shovel out the shit…

Yeah, well, Walker Percy’s Lancelot has never struck me as one of his best, either. I like it better after talking to Rufus about it, and reading one of his papers on Percy. One interesting thing about the book is that he continues to reference pop/rock/country (how exactly is Kristofferson best categorized?). And this song is a damn sight better than the one I put up last week, I think. It comes early on in the book (page 20 in the Avon paperback). It is, of course, a small part of Lance Lamar’s long monologue/confession/rambling dissociation to Percival, his priest/therapist during lock-up. Anyway, here’s the passage from the novel.

Are you watching that girl I hear singing? I hear her every day. You know her, don’t you?

I’ve seen you speak to her on the levee. She’s lovely, isn’t she? Clean jeans, clean combed hair halfway down her back. She crosses the levee every day. I think she lives in one of the shacks on the batture. Probably a transient from the North, like one of the hundreds of goldfinches who blow in every October.

One becomes good at observing people after a year, like an old lady who has nothing better to do than peep through the blinds. I observed that you know her well. Are you in love with her?

Ah, that does surprises you, doesn’t it? Listen to the girl. She’s singing.

Freedom’s just another word, Lord, for nothing left to lose
Freedome was all she left for me

Do you believe that? Maybe the girl and I come closer to believing it than you, even though you surrendered your freedom voluntarily and I didn’t. Maybe the girl knows more than either of us. ~ Lancelot

“Me and Bobby McGee” was written by Kristofferson but popularized by Janis Joplin, and I’m guessing that it’s Joplin’s version that the girl would be singing. Kristofferson will crop up again in another book by Percy, and it’s fun to think of records like Silver Tongued Devil and I and Jesus Was a Capricorn on Percy’s shelf.


  1. Palin Jennings says

    Don’t talk to me of love
    Until we shovel out the shit
    Honey you better put on your gloves
    Cause there is plenty of it.

  2. HEY! Lancelot is my favourite Percy book. I just think most people don’t get it.

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    Palin ~ Very nice! Thanks for writing.

    Anonymous ~ Well, as I said, I liked it better after reading Rufus’ paper; in particular, I liked his thought that Lancelot is a kind of alternate-universe version of The Moviegoer.

    Basically, the novel has always seemed to me Percy’s response to “Lolita” – and not an entirely successful one at that. A little like Brahm’s first symphony. Yes, very good, maybe great, but basically an echo of Beethoven.

    To which Brahms famously replied, “Of course it sounds like Beethoven! Do you have any idea of what it’s like to walk behind him!?!

    Alas, alack, I do.

    “Lost in the Cosmos” is the one to be reckoned with, I think.

    In LITC and Thanatos Syndrome, I think he breaks out of the Sartre/Camus imitation of the early years (which were better than Sartre or Camus), the aimless middle years of Lancelot and 2nd Coming, and then really comes into his own with the last two.

    Some day I’ll try to explain myself.

    Thanks for writing!


    Some dude at Baylor has a good write up on the novel.

    Anyway, I misspoke, ALL of the Percy novels are my favourite books, including Lost in the Cosmos.

    I just like Lancelot the most because I kinda identify with him a bit. I was one of those, "I'm going to put the world to rights" kind of guys for a long time. The book is a total rope-a-dope as in, I found myself cheering on Lance at his nasty, vitreolic denunciation of American decadence right up until he blows the place up. Then, I realized that the book is all about where one locates evil. Lance puts it "out there" instead of recognzing it in himself- like the thing Chesterton when he answered the questions "What's wrong with the world?" with "I am".

    Anyway, love the books –love the blog. Keep it up.

  5. Quin Finnegan says

    Thanks, Anon,

    Will do – as I wrote elsewhere, blogging is like eating potato chips. You can’t stop, even if you want to.

    Thanks also for the Lancelot article – one more thing to get done this weekend. And you’re right about the novel … although I’ve also identified with the “let’s blow this modern Sodom and Gomorrah to hell” attitude as well, I’ve also had to acknowledge my attraction to decadence. Listening to Steely Dan and such.

    Luckily, I’ve also taken a recent liking to Chesterton. I’m not saying I see any use to the Distributivism and some of those novels, but short quotations here and there have been grabbing my attention. I included one in my own novel (from his Dickens biography) – it fit perfectly, albeit as counterpoint.

    THAT quote – what’s wrong with the church – that’s always been one of my favorites, along with WFB’s “Search for the perfect church, if you will; when you find it, join it, and realize that on that day it becomes something less than perfect.”

    More Anon?

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