I was born in Carthage, Missouri, in the last quarter of 1938. As earlier chapters I claim to be born of country, hillbilly stock. The first songs I can remember on the radio were “You Are My Sunshine” And “Pistol Packing Moma”. My oldest son expressed amazement that You are My sunshine was that old a couple weeks ago, well it sure as hoot is. Radio was about the only entertainment we had in those dark ages. Saturday night the whole blamed town tuned into The Grand Old Opery. We listened to Ernest Tubb sing Walking the Floor Over You, and Roy Acuff The Wabash Cannon Ball and Take That Night Train to Memphis. And the Canadian Troubaduor, Hank Snow render Big Eight Wheels Moving Down the Track. Cousin Minnie Pearl and Rod Brashfield provided comic relief. These were basically my cradle songs. There was a radio station in Joplin eighteen miles away and they had a noon time show by A, J. Cripe and his band, sponsored by Town Talk Bread. A. J. and the boys did a song that went The little red fox ran through the woods chased by the howling hounds, then the whole band would break into howl’s and yips and other dog sounds. that was about the extent of the song as I remember. My mother wrote a letter and asked them to dedicate the song to me on my Fifth birthday. Well she had a party for me on my birthday and had to drag me away from the fun to hear my song, which I thought was neat but the group of kids in my front yard was more interesting to me at that time.
It was not really until we got our first television in my fourteenth year that we were really exposed to any-other music. On Saturday nights between country music shows there was a hour called The Hit Parade, with Russel Arms, Snookie Lansion, Gezzel McKensie and Rose Mary Clooney. they preformed hit tunes from the Broadway shows. Ivory Tower, Shrimp Boats are Acoming, Naughty Lady of Shady Lane are a few that I remember. Classical music wasn’t ever heard in our area.
Moving to California in 1955 exposed us to the beginning of rock and roll. However in my house country still reined supreme. Entering in the Marine Corps I missed Elvis-es beginning as we were not allowed radios in boot camp. Occasionally we could hear Hound Dog from the DI’s hut late at night . After boot camp, liberty in Oceanside, out side of Camp Pendelton We were treated to Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and Don’t Take Your Guns to Town Bill. He was well on his way. I peeled potatoes in the mess hall to Peggy Sue, and Tab Hunters, only hit Young Love, which was to become “our song” with my first love.
But in fact I never really became a deep fan of rock and roll. When I started my long term relationship with ALCOA, one of my first purchases was a then new at the time Stereo player it was a Magnavox large portable that had speakers that would stretch out ten feet on each side. I was buying two to four albums a week. I have a large collection of old classic country. then the Folk phase kicked in and they joined the collection.
Then I discovered classical, and a new love was born. I can remember laying bed one morning listening to the radio on my headboard when Stars ans Stripes Forever came on. It was the first time I really listened to the music. I suddenly realised that the violins and bases were playing one thing and the piccolos were playing something completely different. After that I was hooked, My collection of classical rivals that of country and get’s equal play. Mozart and Rossini are my favorites, each have a completely different style of composition. But each wrote one of my favorite operas. Oh yes I listen to opera also, (at least some of it) I really like the large courses. Rossini wrote The Barber of Seville, (Figaro, Figaro, Figaro) and Mozart wrote The Marriage of Figaro. Valida also wrote the third saga of Figaro something about a meddling mother-in-law.
Like my Dad in my latter years I have developed a fondness for the older country music. I mean the early mountain music, like the early Carter family stuff. The type of music from the movie “Oh Brother”. I guess I’m regressing back to my root’s.
Just a word of warning, ask my daughter or even worse my daughter-in-law, Do you really want to be riding shotgun in a old 1972 Chevy 3/4 ton pickup coming down the mountain from Big Bear. When Rossini’s William Tell Overture comes on? I swear that music takes hold of me and I become Tonto to The Lone ranger. I was hitting those mountain curves somewhat recklessly till my son asked me to slow down. And I think his poor wife chewed a hole in my new seat covers with her butt muscles.
Well I love my music as much as I love my books. I usually read two to three a week, and my taste is as varied as my music. Give me a good book and you can have the TV.
Well think I’ll go spin a disk and crack a book.