Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Country in my soul

I love everything about the country. For instance, there is nature in all her glory, the cows lowing, the deer eating my rose bushes, the rabbits chewing holes in my plastic fence to get at my beans.

It is all wonderful and beautiful and pleasing to my ears, eyes and nose. Even the rabbits.

But I do not listen to country music. I do not care for the wail of those who need to leave their husbands to catch a train because their mother-in-law is coming home from Folsom prison.

No, these days I listen to adult contemporary, or pop music, with new artists whose names I do not know. I do not listen to country music.

I was, however, raised on country music.

My father plays the guitar and back then he sang the country songs of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Conway Twitty, Tom T. Hall, Charley Pride, Charlie Rich and Kris Kristofferson, not to mention Johnnie and June Carter Cash – that was the music of my early childhood.

I remember my father playing in the evening, strumming and trying to work out chords. He mostly played by ear as he sang the words to whatever country tune he decided to croon out any given evening.

My mother often joined in and they sang duets. I can still hear them singing “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout. You’ve been talkin’ ‘bout Jackson ever since the fire burned out.” It made for a fun evening.

When I was 11, I decided to learn to play the guitar, too. I picked it up hesitantly. I quickly discovered that of the several instruments I played (piano, flute, saxophone), this was the one I truly loved.

I practiced in secret, moving quickly from Skip to My Lou to more popular pieces.

The first song I played for my parents was called California Girl (And The Tennessee Square) by Tompall And The Glaser Brothers.

It was a country song, played in the key of “A”.
I do not think I have ever heard that song played on the radio, but I heard my daddy sing it so that didn’t matter. It was his version I learned and his version that I played, only I played it faster and made the chord changes very quickly.

I went on to play guitar in a band, a short-lived teenage endeavor called Almost Famous that broke apart as we graduated high school and moved on to other things.

These days I very seldom pick up an instrument. My fingers are soft and tender now and the strings hurt when I try to play my guitar. Those hard-won calluses have vanished along with my youth.

But on quiet days sometimes, when I’ve something on my mind and the silence of the house can be a bit much when my husband is not at home, I sing.

And it’s often those old country tunes, with the sadness found in For the Good Times or the swaying blues of Bobby McGhee that I sing aloud to the kitchen walls.

Not some modern Bubbly or some belly grinder belted out by the likes of Britney Spears.

No indeed. I sing those country songs that I no longer listen to.

I sing them over and over again, as if it was yesterday and I am again 10 years old.

***
This originally appeared in The Fincastle Herald on August 20, 2008, under my Country Crossroads column.

2 comments:

  1. That is so cool to know about you, Dew. I had no idea. That kind of music soothes the soul, I like to think. Great article/post. Made me feel the mood of what you experienced, like I was there.

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  2. Oh, I love this article! I do love country, but I'm picky about it.

    I love old Anne Murry, Johnny Cash, the Judds. Some of the contemporary country annoys me.

    I love old folks songs too- - -they are country but not country.

    I think you are mostly "true" country, not the Nashville image of country. I find myself singing too.

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