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January 06, 2019

From Boulder to Birmingham


by jim richmond

She grew up within sight of The Bund, her Long March father guiding exports under Mao, then at 15 with the Cultural Revolution, joined mother, father, brothers forced to the countryside for 4 years of stoop labor and reeducation.


Li Li had seen, suffered it all. Been at the highest highs. Lowest lows. Not easily shaken. Not easily impressed, now owner of a network of granite mines in southwest China.


She sat regally, her long black hair and black silk dress emphasizing her oriental beauty, with her "new" American husband in the Kennedy Center, 2001, waiting for the concert to begin.


"Lovely," she commented in near perfect Americanese, like a mirror, catching the admiring stares coming her way.


"What do Americans do when you need healing?," she asked. Always questions.


"Yào hépíng. Tài duōle," he laughed in Pidgen Mandarin. "Be peaceful. Too much."


"Boulder to Birmingham," he finally answered, thinking about healing and the blues.


Emmylou Harris walked out on stage.


And began with Boulder to Birmingham.

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