I can’t do this often because with prolonged audience I become down and mildly depressed. If the music doesn’t get me the words are mournful and the twangy guitar can whine with the feel of attending a funeral. The old joke “What do you get if you play a country and western song backwards?”....”You get your wife back, your house back, your truck back and your dog”. That’s about as hurtin as it gets. Yup, small doses are all I can handle. You’d think it would have a positive effect, make me appreciate all that I have and be happy in the knowledge that neither of us is living “Your Cheatin Heart”. But no, all that negative misery of unrequited love and broken hearts slowly drags me down until I’m filled with sadness. They say you are what you eat, well that can apply to what you listen too as well. I could feel the energy draining from me, like it pulled the plug and all the happy rushed out.
That about sums up how I feel right now. Sitting here with a bleeding heart glad there aren’t any guns or sleeping pills in the house. Yes, I’m exaggerating to make a point but I’m mildly in the dumps. The other evening I was listening to Country Classics on CBC radio and several songs lyrics in a row spoke of not being able to go on after lost love. Hints of drowning in the bottle or no will to go on. The last song before I was forced to turn it off was a guy threatening to jump out the upstairs window saying “there is no place to go but down”. Geez, I’m not a happy enough person to ride this out. My ears started to hemorrhage after all that hurtin, I had to escape, go back to a little Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk for some upbeat energy.
My soul is open today, bared to memories and emotions. There have been smiles and tears as the songs seesaw back and forth different moments of those earlier years. I usually keep myself closed up and safe, but today I am as open as a book with pages blowing in the wind. I’m remembering dad playing the guitar and the mouth organ simultaneously, playing honky tonk piano or rosining up the bow to play the fiddle. Mom singing or dancing, sometimes both together. Austin’s Hawaiian guitar twanging out those mournful but beautiful tones. An Accordion with the oscillating motion of a bellows, a squeeze box, sounding to me like a big harmonica. How I loved to watch and hear it played.
“Please Help Me I’m Falling In Love With You” by Hank Locklin just played and it brought so many memories flooding in. That was one of the many songs dad taught me to play on the guitar I got for Christmas in my 12th year. Pretty much all the songs I played used three chords, G, D and A7. The first song I ever learned was Eddie Arnold’s Bouquet of Roses. Willie Nelson said that “All country songs are the truth and three chords” and he’s right! Remembering my parents and hearing all those tunes today is bittersweet; the fun of my childhood and then the loss of my parents along with the sadness of some of the music of that time.
Ernist Tubb touches me the most. Dad played his album until the vinyl wore thin and the needle slipped across the surface. His deep voice is as recognizable as any of the greats. I love them all. Both Hanks, Williams and Snow, Conway Twitty and George Jones, Tammy and Loretta, Tom T. Hall’s stories, Willie and Brenda Lee to name a few. Sometimes the hurtin is so overpowering tears flow but they aren’t because I’m unhappy, they just touch me in a soft, malleable place, reconnect me to a memory associated with the song. What I wouldn’t give to go back as a fly on the wall for just one day to sit in on a jam session. What I wouldn’t give to see my parents one more time when they were at their happiest.....
But that can’t happen so I use this musical link to the past so I can almost feel them, use my imagination to almost see them. Music was such a big part of my childhood, it seemed to ooze out of the woodwork. How many times did I ask dad to play Moonlight Bay and Glow Worm on the piano and I’d sit on the bench with him watching his fingers pound up and down in honky tonk fashion over the keys in wide-eyed wonderment. I looked Glow Worm up on YouTube but I’m not sophisticated enough to add a video to this blog so those that have forgotten the tune or would like to hear it for the first time it sure is worth the listen.....it’s upbeat and happy. It’s by the Mills Brothers from back in 1957. Bette Midler did a version of it with the Mills Brothers in 1975.
Yup, I do love the old style of Country Music, but I can’t listen to it every day or I’d be down in the dumps, divorced, tipping the bottle at the local bar and chasing after married men. So every six months or so I tune in and get my fill of nostalgia, then go to the upbeat stations to keep my sanity.