Showing posts with label dave dudley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dave dudley. Show all posts

Saturday, November 18, 2017

That Year My Dad Forgot About Me

I've always liked bars. Not sterile hotel "bars", which are essentially lobbies with bottles of booze, but real honky tonks. An observer of life could do no better than to grab a corner table in a tavern, order up a Miller on tap, and sit back and watch.

When I resided on South Fourteenth Street, I one night found a little nook a couple blocks up the cracked sidewalk. It had a juke box and a dart board and a bunch of people who'd somehow staggered their way in. The establishment was tucked inside a skinny crevice between two white-brick factories, one skip past the Burlington Northern railroad tracks. That's why I liked it. It was out of the way; a private spot that only the absolute best alcoholics knew about. That's how a bar should be, if it was to call itself a respectable bar.

I've had a couple of bars in my life. There was my Uncle Howard's bar, Triple Service, where I lived when I was nine years old, and where I was introduced to the ways of life. Then there was The Gaiety, my dad's place. The Gaiety was a bit too fancy for me -- its outside sign had a cocktail glass with an olive bouncing out of it. The Gaiety, though, had all the accouterments of a proper bar. It was dark and musty. It was off the beaten path. Only the best drinkers could find it. And thus it was exclusive.

As a kid, I could make myself at home inside The Gaiety anytime I wanted. I was thirteen, so I didn't make myself at home there too much; only when I was bored with riding my bike around the big circle that surrounded Mom and Dad's motel. I had recently learned how to play guitar, and I knew that The Gaiety had a little stage with a microphone, and I was kinda bored one day, so I decided to stop in and give the regulars a show; demonstrate my prowess with forming C and E chords. It was summer and the July sun had already baked my skin and nobody fun was around to hang with.

And that day I just needed to spill and to give a big FU to my dad.

See, my dad was never around. We'd almost forgotten about him. Honestly. We were bewildered the couple of times he staggered through the kitchen door. I'd once known my dad, but now I had no idea who he was. And he sure didn't know me. He actually didn't even know I was in the room. The Gaiety was only twenty steps away from our little apartment, but for Dad, it was like being banished from heaven and thrust into Purgatory to have to deign to step inside our little family dwelling. He only did it out of a woozy sense of obligation. Mom no longer cared if he showed up at all, my little brother and sister treated him like a visiting stranger, and I chose to ignore him. I was damn sure not going to show him how much it hurt me. Not that he would have noticed. Unlike the little kids, I'd known Dad as a hero; the man who'd taught me about music because he loved it so much.

And now he'd betrayed me. Everything that came before was a lie. You couldn't trust anyone, because people flat-out lied. They portrayed themselves as one thing, but they weren't that. And they didn't care.

I'd been carrying around a giant suitcase of resentment for two years. Granted, I now had a best friend, but friendship and guitars didn't wipe out the hell Mom and Dad had put me, a kid, through. Snubbing my parents was only a band-aid. It would take me about thirty years to rip the band-aid off. Lucky I didn't know that at the time.

Clad in a sage blouse with tied straps and corduroy shorts; barefoot, I walked in the back door of the Gaiety, nonchalant; carrying a big beige acoustic guitar with steel strings. Somebody had left it in a motel room (people were always leaving stuff behind and I was always confiscating that stuff). I hadn't yet saved up enough dollars to buy that red Stella I'd been salivating over in Dahner's Music's window. That cream-colored behemoth stung my fingers, but I'd long ago learned to strum through the pain.

I turned the knob on the amp that powered the microphone, pulled up a backless stool, sat down, bent the mic stand toward me, flipped the pick out from between the frets of my guitar and began my show:

Granted, I hated that song, but it was a crowd-pleaser.

This song wasn't from 1968, but it was an old standby, and I figured the drunks would like it:

An impromptu lounge performance would not be complete without this next song. As an added bonus, I knew all the chords:

Merle really knew how to reel the hard-core drinkers in. I knew this one would be gold:

It wasn't easy to sing all the parts of this song, but I plunged on ahead:

I didn't sing any "women" songs, because I knew I wasn't a good singer. I understood my limitations. Nevertheless, I put on a really fine show. Trouble was, all the sports-shirt wearing patrons kindly ignored me, including the guy behind the bar who was fizzing up drinks -- my dad. I didn't even get a smattering of applause. I got NO applause. Granted, the after-work guzzlers were no doubt puzzled about why some random pre-teen had shown up to give a performance, but the polite thing would have been to clap, at least half-heartedly. 

I don't remember ever being embarrassed by my kids. They were never brazen like I was, admittedly. But even if they had been, I would have offered an "attaboy". Courage deserves its own reward. My dad pretended like he didn't know me. 

I, for one, was satisfied with my one-woman show. In the moment, I chose to ignore my complete lack of acknowledgment. I hefted my freakish guitar out the back door I'd come in, carried it back to my room, and lay down to take a nap. 

I'd like to ask Dad what it was about that day that dismayed him. Maybe it was that I infringed on his lair. Maybe he sauntered off to The Gaiety to get away from troublesome burdens, like his family. Maybe I was wrong to infiltrate, but I was thirteen and full of piss, and I needed to do this.

Dad, you may be interested to know that I took my three chords and eventually wrote some songs of my own -- one, in particular, about you. 

You never know what a kid might turn out to be.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The 1960's in Country Music ~ When Everything Changed

People may have selective (or rather, "limited") memories about the nineteen sixties in country music.

I was there.

Let me tell you about the 1960's in country music.

First of all, everything EXPLODED.   Sure, it started out quite sedate and unobtrusive.  But even at the beginning of the decade, something was different.  The most obvious difference was that Nashville no longer had a stranglehold on country music.  No, a town called Bakersfield was making itself known, whether Chet Atkins liked it or not.

Nobody (mostly) remembers Wynn Stewart, but I bet Merle remembers him, because, aside from Lefty Frizzell, Merle sounded like no one more than Wynn, who also wrote one of Merle's first hits, "(Sing Me A) Sad Song".

The top hits of 1960 were the somnambulistic, "He'll Have To Go",  by Jim Reeves, of whom I never understood the attraction; frankly;  Even as a five-year-old, I recognized that this song was sort of "icky"; and it disturbed me.  

On the more righteous side, Ferlin Husky had a hit with "Wings of a Dove"..  

And, in a continuation of the nasally-voiced singers of the 1950's, Hank Locklin had a hit with "Please Help Me, I'm Fallin'".

But, frankly, not too many people cared about Jim Reeves, or even Ferlin; and if they recognized Hank Locklin at all, it was only for a minute.

No, it was Bakersfield that the true music lovers latched onto.  And here is Wynn Stewart, starting it all off:

1961 dropped a couple of monstrous hits on us.   

Willie, in essence, sold this song to the highest bidder.  And luckily, Faron Young was the winner of the lottery.

Willie's song was great, but if not for Faron's my-eye-eyen'd , the song would have been rather pedestrian.  Clever, sure.  But not heart-tugging.  Faron did that.

Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard (bow down before them) wrote this next song for Patsy Cline.

I don't know what can be said about Patsy Cline that hasn't already been said.  I say, just watch and listen:

Sure, 1962 may have been the year that Hank Snow created a hit with a song that I, in a fit of utter boredom, memorized the words to:

But let's face it:  1962 was Patsy's year.  

This song, naturally, is at the top of my list of the Twenty Best Country Songs of All Time.  And here's Willie again.  I bet he didn't auction off this song, and if he did, he was a blithering idiot.

1963 was rather ripe with country hits.  There was Ring of Fire, of course; written by June Carter and Merle Travis.  There was Abilene, recorded by a guy who deigned to call himself George Hamilton IV (the first time I learned about Roman numerals).  

There was this, and I dare you to not include it on your top twenty list:

I've decided to throw out my predetermined format and post a bunch of 1963 songs, because, speaking of ripe, 1963 in country music is the essence of ripe.  

Here is Skeeter Davis:

I had absolutely no idea who Ned Miller was; never even saw a picture of him; but my dad loved this song.  I'm guessing Ned was a recluse, which is fine, and completely acceptable to me.  Even if he was in his basement, recording this song on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, that doesn't negate the fact that this was a huge hit in 1963; and mostly, it doesn't negate the fact that Dad loved it:

Dave Dudley had a hit with a song that he had absolutely no idea would become an alt-country lover's guilty pleasure, when re-recorded by Steve Earle in the eighties.  No, Dave was an innocent traveling musician when he did this:

I could go on (and on and on and on) about the year 1963 in country music. I have no idea why everything went BLAM! that year.  But it did.

Be that as it may, 1963, for me, is represented by Bobby Bare (and Mel Tillis) with this (and thank you, my good friend Alice, for teaching me how to play this intro on my guitar):

I'm plum exhausted, and exhilarated, from enumerating just the first four years of the sixties, so I think it's time to take a breather.

1964 will come later (and I'm thinking there will be a whole lot of Buck Owens and a bunch of Loretta Lynn; but who knows?  I may surprise myself.) 

Recalling the nineteen sixties in country music is exhilarating for me.

Maybe you had to be there.






Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blast From The Past - Top Country Hits Of 1963

I thought it might be nice to get back into country music a little bit, since, you know, that's sort of my niche. I got sidetracked with some stuff that ticked me off (See: Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame), and other stuff, like American Idol. And by the way, I surrender. I wasn't going to post much about AI, but it's too good and/or bad to pass up.

But to get back into the country
groooove, I just randomly picked 1963. No reason, really. I just think it's kind of fun and eye-opening to review the hits from earlier days. You know, when it actually was country music.

Good old Wikipedia hasn't failed me yet. You can find just about anything there. If you're not picky about accuracy. But I figure, how hard is it to copy and paste info from Billboard Magazine? So, I'm relatively certain that Wik's list of top songs for any given year is probably correct.

We always like to start our shows with an uptempo number, so here we go:


This is a live performance! Lucky for me to have found this! From the syndicated Buck Owens TV show. Don't you love their BRIGHT! colorful outfits? (I guess guys don't call them "outfits").

They kick off the show with "Buckaroo", which I guess must have been the theme song of the show. It's so nice to see Don Rich again, by the way.

A common misconception is that Buck wrote "Act Naturally". It was actually written by Johnny Russell. Not that it's a big deal, but I like to give credit where it's due.

So, to sum up, a hit song from 1963 not written by Buck Owens; performed in some kind of Mayan temple, BRIGHT outfits; good beat; you can two-step to it.

Seems like this performance has it all.


Is it just me, or does Dave seem kind of pissed off here? I guess being stuck in a tractor cab for six days would make anyone cranky. Suffice it to say, this is one dude you don't want to accidentally spill your drink on.

And he's hungry, too! That's just a recipe for disaster. I know he hasn't been eating well, because he had to stop to hitch up his pants in the middle of the song. He's obviously lost some weight while out on his run. And the little white pills, I hear, are good for weight loss, too.

To make matters worse, the only clean shirt he had to wear to the show was that yellow matador number. All in all, Dave was not in a good mood. Just ask the band, after he locked them out of the tour bus, and they had to hitchhike home that night.


Poor Bill. Jilted by his girl at the popcorn stand.

Little known fact ~ the reason she jilted him was because she just couldn't take his endless depressing recitations anymore.

She'd say something innocent, like, "How was your day?" And he'd launch into, "Another day, another hour, I just can't seem to get you off my mind."

"I think about your perfume as I'm making copies at the copy machine. Co-workers ask me what's wrong, and I say, oh, nothing. I'm just thinking about Sally's perfume again. And they nod. Because they can see just how much I miss your perfume".

"And then when I go to the little kitchenette to pour myself a cup of coffee, I see your laughing eyes in the coffee decanter, and I start to cry. Because I miss your laughing eyes. So, I pour a little cream in my coffee, and your eyes start to get all cloudy".

"And I sit down (on the floor, because there are no chairs in the little kitchenette), and I start to count on my fingers the hours until I can see you again."

"And Gus stops by, and he smiles, knowingly. He knows that I'm missing your laughing eyes......and your perfume."

"Eventually, I get up off the floor and go back to my cubicle. I start mindlessly shuffling papers at my desk, and in the papers, I see the swirl of your hair."

"So, in addition to your perfume and your laughing eyes, NOW I'm seeing the swirl of your golden hair."

"And my boss comes over, and he asks me, 'Did you get the Wilson report done yet?' And I look up at him with a tear in my eye. And he knows."

"He says, 'You've been writing another song about Sally with the cloudy eyes and the twirling hair and the Coty Emeraude cologne, haven't you?'"

"And I say, 'You're mostly right. It's LAUGHING eyes and SWIRLING hair. And it's HEAVEN SENT perfume'."

"But you get my drift."

"So, I've spent endless hours; okay maybe just eight hours, but they seemed endless, away from you, and now here you are."

"And you're asking me how my day was. Isn't that just like you? To ask how my day was."

"That's why I love you so much, and why I will never, ever be more than one step away from you."

"I'll be there in your thoughts, there in your dreams, there when you step outside in the morning to pick up your newspaper. That'll be me, parked at your curb, in the brown Chrysler Imperial. Trying to look inconspicuous. So, even if we're far apart (which can never happen, trust me), I love you STILL."

So, eventually Sally entered the witness protection program. Bill, to this day, writes letters to Sally (LONG letters). Ones that Sally will never read, because she has left no forwarding address.


Here's Laura Ingalls, on the banks of Plum Creek, singing........

Oh, wait. That's not Laura Ingalls. That's Skeeter Davis!

One really can't begrudge the Little House On The Prairie attire, since this was a HUGE hit for Skeeter.

It was a cross-over hit!

I like it, but there's one thing that bugs me.....and that's the stilted recitation. Has she never seen Bill Anderson?? Wow, Skeeter, you should have learned from the master!

Why. Does my heart. Go on beating.
Why. Do these eyes. Of mine cry.

It's almost believable! But not exactly.

Anyway, kudos to Skeeter on a monster hit from 1963. And she was a really nice person. So just disregard my previous comments.


I couldn't find an actual performance by F&S, so this will have to suffice.

And who could forget this classic opener, anyway?

Of course, this video raises a lot of questions:

  • If you can just shoot at the ground and strike oil, where's my shotgun?
  • What happened to MRS. Clampett? I don't want to start any rumors or anything, but she never seemed to be mentioned on the show, even in passing. I don't know if Elly May was just dropped off on Jed's shack-step or what, but if there really WAS a Mrs. Clampett, apparently, nobody ever missed her. Again, I don't want to make any assumptions, but it seems like old Jed was pretty handy with that gun.
  • Who would take a dolt like Jethro along on a move to Beverly Hills? If I was in Jed's shoes, I would have just packed up in the dark of night and pushed my jalopy out to the main road, so no one would be the wiser.
  • What does, "Welllll, Doggies" mean?
  • Did Mr. Drysdale truly only have one customer at his bank? What the hell? How bad of a banker do you have to be, if you live in Beverly Hills, and the only customer you can get is some rube from Arkansas?

Well, these are my questions. I'm sure you have many of your own.


While this is a 1968 performance, the song itself was recorded (and was a hit) in 1963. There were two versions of this video to choose from on YouTube, but I chose to go with the better quality one. Plus, by this time, Johnny'd stopped taking those "little white pills" that Dave Dudley had told him about, so he had a little more bulk on his frame.

The song was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore, and this performance featured not only the Carter Sisters, in their HOT PINK! dresses, but also a youngish-looking Carl Perkins.

A huge hit from the year 1963.

So, to sum up, there were a lot of big hit songs, most notably those from Patsy Cline, for which I could not find videos. Alas! I don't want to leave the impression that the ones I've included here were the only hits from that year. I wish, especially, that more videos from Patsy were available on YouTube. Maybe one day they will be.

I also couldn't find videos for "Abilene", "Detroit City", and "Ruby Ann", among others. Pity. I really like those songs. And my intent is not to exclude them.

But, as we say goodbye to 1963, let me leave you with this one. After the video, I do have a comment.


Okay, TWO comments.

1. If you want to learn how to do recitation correctly, Bill and Skeeter, here's someone from which to take notes.

2. CMA Hall Of Fame voters ~ Are you forgetting someone, per chance?? C'mon. It's time.