Blog 1057 – 07.18.2018
A Late Country-Western Music Convert Fan
But maybe I was all along. My mom and dad definitely were and both repeatedly told the story of how I supposedly stood as a toddler in front of the refrigerator atop which the kitchen radio sat and sang along with my dad’s favorite lady of country, Kitty Wells, as she sang “How Far Is Heaven?” I think my adult self might perhaps prefer another of Miss Kitty’s hits, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”
As a teenager in the mid-nineteen sixties I was honor bound to rebel against my parent’s choice of country-western music and opt instead for rock and roll. One of my earliest vivid memories was of getting to stay up later to watch Elvis Presley sing and play his guitar live on the Ed Sullivan Show one Sunday night in the mid-fifties. Even Elvis was then still a mixture of Rythym and Blues and Rockabilly.
My young life was permeated with Country-Western songs. Even many of my childhood jokes had a country flavor. Example: “Do you know why Little Moron buried his mother under the floor? So he could sing, “I’m walking the floor over you.” That was a big country hit for Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours. I loved the songs of Hank Williams though he died just shortly after I was born. And I was always a Roy Rogers and Sons of the Pioneers fan. And a Gene Autry fan. Then there was the singing cowboy, Bob Brandy, on our local TV station in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In April 1981 Barbara Mandrell released her hit country song, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” I remember joking at the time, “Has It Ever Been?” Well, probably not cool really, not in a Frank Sinatra cool cat way, at least, but Country Western music touches the heart with its twang and strong song stories of life at often it’s most common denominator – trouble. David Allan Cole in his song “If That Ain’t Country I’ll Kiss Your…” describes it quite well. Country western music describes mainly the poor white American experience, not the Trump, Kennedy, Bush experience but the struggling farm, factory, truck driving experience. Oh, there are many other friends in low places points of view often eluded to in country western music like Johnny Cash’s song about the First People’s World War Two Iwo Jima flag raising hero, Ira Hayes. Cool rythym and blues singer, Ray Charles loved country music too but then he, like many artists, was blind to color and could see beauty that the seeing eyes often fail to see.
I confess that I have often put down the music of my roots saying sacrilegious things like, “Country music will rot your brain.” But I have come home to my roots. Oh, I still love Frank, Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and countless other singers not country western but I have found there is plenty of room in my song book for Waylon, Willie and the boys and the girls of country music too. The folk music that I have always loved is Country music at its roots as well and Western. Willie sang Pop for a while but found is true voice in Country Western music.
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
Your friend and fellow traveler.
Hillbilly boy from Tennessee,