Showing posts with label t graham brown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label t graham brown. Show all posts

Thursday, November 22, 2018

1990 Music...And A "Career"

By the spring of 1990 I was desperate to escape from Farm Credit Services. It felt like I'd been there forever, when in fact it had only been a little over a year. I'd made friends, one of whom in an attempt to "help", I'd inadvertently had to say goodbye to. Linda's husband was a ranch manager who was ready to move on. I found an ad in the classifieds that was just up his alley and pointed it out to my friend. Before I knew it, Kirk had accepted the job and Linda's whole family moved clear across the state. Aside from the stultifying cloud I worked under, fun came from unexpected sources. Our local United Way conducted a promotion in which people could have someone "arrested" and the person would have to call everyone he or she knew in order to raise "bail" and be released. Before Linda left town, we arranged to have our boss arrested. It was all for charity....

In the fall of each year Bismarck held its annual street fair, which consisted of arts and crafts shopping galore and various corny events, like a pageant that featured contestants from local establishments. We decided to get into the spirit and sponsor an entrant from FCS. We talked one of our co-workers, eventually, into allowing her name to be placed into contention. (Paula ultimately, despite her initial revulsion, found the whole experience exhilarating.) I think half the contender's score was based on the creativity of her sponsor's promotion, so I busied myself drawing up posters and concocting catchy slogans. I believe that was the only time Nancy, my boss, ever offered me a compliment (I knew my strengths). Alas, Paula didn't prevail, but it was a win-win experience for everyone involved.

As a result of quitting smoking, my weight had shot up...and up. I'd gained fifty pounds and was most likely viewed in the office as the FCS schlub. Ultimately, even I became disgusted with myself and plunked down money I couldn't afford to spend to enroll in a program called "Diet Center" (admittedly, not the most original, but at least the most honest, commercial program at the time). Who wouldn't lose weight on a regimen that basically consisted of baked fish, asparagus, and Melba toast? I think a lemon was considered a "free food". I'd done Weight Watchers in the past with my mom, but this was infinitely more restrictive. But once I committed myself to something, I was determined not to fail, and I succeeded wildly. I lost all fifty pounds and more and reduced to a size three before I stopped. I bought clothes at the local consignment shop because my frame continued to shrink. My Diet Center "counselor" tried to talk me into posing for an ad, but my aversion to attention put an absolute kibosh on that notion.

As a downside, I took up smoking again. Damn, I was starving!

(After I'd left FCS, I joined my former cohorts one evening for a get-together on a local bistro's patio, and one of the guys was perplexed when Paula pointed out that I was there. He searched the area for a time and shrugged. I was unrecognizable ~ no longer the schlub.)

In my zeal to get away from Nancy and her disapproving glances, I had been scouring the want-ads for a while. When I spied one that said, "National Insurance Company Seeks Claims Examiners For a New Local Branch", I became obsessed. I fixated on that ad and staked my existence on garnering one of those positions. I knew absolutely nothing about health insurance, but for some unknown reason I understood that this was my destiny, which sounds utterly dumb, but there it was. I applied and received an appointment for a group interview, and henceforth sat in my garage every day after work and smoked and practiced answering hypothetical questions and hyping myself.

The group interview was an assembly line. I'd move to the first queue and answer a question, then shuffle on to the next cluster of interrogators and respond to another. All my practice evaporated. The only thing I had going for me was my medical knowledge from St. Alexius ~ I knew nothing about insurance and they all grasped that.

I was informed I'd hear from them within the week.

I didn't get a callback.

One of the few things I'd ever strived so hard for and I'd utterly failed. My lot was working for FCS and Nancy until I either reached retirement age or chopped her up with an axe.

Out of the blue a couple of weeks later, US Healthcare called and offered me the job.

The pay was exactly the same salary I was making at FCS, but I leapt at the offer. I didn't stop to question why it took them a fortnight to call. The next Monday when I told Nancy I was leaving, she was perplexed and disappointed. When the time came to tell Nancy how inadequate she'd always made me feel, I deflated. What was the point? Why bother? I was gone. Would I feel good about myself unloading on her? I lied and told her I was offered twenty-five cents more per hour. She apologized that she was unable to match the offer, but budgets, you know...Funny how they never tell you they appreciate you until you quit.

It felt strange leaving FCS. It had been a filler job all along, but I'd formed relationships. Unlike the hospital, I was on an even par with most of the people I worked with. They didn't wave their degrees in my face, because like me, nobody had one. They were working class; trying to pay their mortgages and attempting to scratch out a moment of happiness in the midst of their eight-hour slog. I was moving on to a new group of thirty girls I didn't know and I'd have to start all over again. And I was thirty-five, twice most of their ages. I was a mom who bought her clothes at the consignment shop and who had to count her pennies to buy a new pair of pantyhose. I figured, however, at least we were all in this leaky boat together. And if it didn't work out, shoot, I'd become an expert at sussing out the one or two jobs in the newspaper that fit my meager skills.

Musically, I'd become torn. At Farm Credit Services, I mostly tuned my portable radio to the local rock station. Part of that may have been that I liked the morning DJ, Bob Beck; part of it was that I wasn't ready to let rock go. When I'd turned away from country in the mid-eighties because it reeked, I became the quintessential MTV fan, and my sons shared my enchantment with Huey Lewis and Dire Straits. We bonded over pop music and baseball cards.

Country music, however, was harkening me back. Changing one's essence is ultimately a hopeless quest. One can change for a while, but we always come back to the person we intrinsically are.

Luckily for me, Eddie Rabbitt was still around:

One of the best country groups of all time, Highway 101:

A pristine country voice, Patty Loveless:

Mark Chesnutt will forever reside in the top five of my favorite artists:

Tanya Tucker and T. Graham Brown:

Gotta love Steve Wariner:

My lord, Marty Stewart:

Like Eddie, Ronnie Milsap was still hangin' in there:

 Some dude named Garth appeared on the scene:

Ricky Van Shelton:

When someone says "ninety country" (although no one actually does), this will be the song on the tips of everyone's brain:

My new career in health insurance commenced, with country music as a backdrop.

Stay tuned...

Friday, April 20, 2012

More Time Travels....and Travails

(I love ths movie.)

Working second shift (3:30 ~ 10:00) at the hospital was kind of peaceful, in reality.

Oh sure, it was pretty busy from the start of my shift until about 5:30'ish.  That was because from a couple of hours before clinic closing time to actual clinic closing time, the doctors made their decisions to admit folks, so everybody showed up around that time.

I was a Communications Clerk (or what some lesser-advanced hospitals called "Ward Clerks").  I like Communications better.  It sounded more important than it really was.

By working second shift, I avoided all the hustle and bustle of the daytime hours, when all the docs were hovering around, and the baths were being given, and people were checking out (is that what they called it?  Maybe not.  Discharged, I guess.  "Checking out" has kind of a negative connotation in hospital lingo).

At 3:30'ish, things were busy.  I had to take the calls from Admissions, and figure out where to place the incoming patients, and believe me, it was a real juggling act, because those nurses could be vicious if you overloaded them, and who could blame them?  I got into a verbal tizzy with an RN once, who felt that I was being unfair to her, by giving her too many new patients, and it took a long while for feelings to cool down.

Nothing was computerized then (what were computers?), so all the physicians' orders had to be filled out on little three-copied slips of paper, and sent by messenger to the various departments.

Likewise, the supper menus that the patients filled out.  Somebody from Nutrition stopped by each evening to pick those up.

My least favorite job duty was trudging along with my water cart, to fill all the pitchers in each patient's room.  I wasn't the most socially adept person then (I'd do way better now), so sometimes I felt awkward making small talk with the patients, but they were invariably cheery, no matter their condition.  I hope I'm like that when my day inevitably arrives.

But, after the supper hour, when all the trays had been collected, and folks had turned on their TV's to enjoy, as best they could, the evening's repose, the nurses and I sat behind the station, and did whatever we could to pass the time unobtrusively.

Counted cross-stitch was my big obsession then.  And not just mine.  A bunch of us always had projects going.  We'd all sit there, and chit chat, and work on our various projects.  The radio was on, too.  It was, well, peaceful.  Quiet.

The back rubs would be given at 9:00, and by 10:00, I was out of there.  I never gave a second thought to meandering out to the parking lot at 10:00.  There wasn't even a security staff on hand.  It took me all of 7 minutes to drive home   Now, I'd be petrified to work second shift.  Funny how times and circumstances have changed.

The big TV show then, at least my big TV show, was St. Elsewhere.  It was set in a hospital, so I guess I felt like I had an insider's knowledge of all the little peccadilloes of the hospital world.   I VCR'd it.  My schedule was unpredictable.  I preferred to be home on Wednesday nights, but often, that was not to be, so I had my trusty VCR.  I think all the nurses, not just me, watched that show.

I wonder, now, if there was a show about people working in the insurance industry, would I be just as enamored?  Maybe.  But I'm sure it would have much more intrigue than the actual insurance world.  People would be setting up fake doctor's accounts and scamming the system (that really happened, by the way), until the wily insurance investigator showed up and used his (or her) CSI techniques to flush out the perpetrator.  Much more exciting than sitting at a computer and hitting F3, F4 all day long.  And the investigator would be played by Matt Damon.

Music, too, obviously played a big role in those days (nights).   We had an FM radio playing behind the nurse's station, and surprisingly, it was mostly tuned to the country station, unless somebody complained enough, and then we'd turn the channel and let them listen to their classic rock for awhile.  But you know, us rubes liked our country.

When the docs came by to make their evening rounds, and subsequently to dictate their progress notes into the telephone system, we shushed the radio.  We dealt with a lot of interns, because the actual doctors were home having their dinner served to them by their butlers, and they let the interns do all the work.  Interns were much nicer than the actual doctors, though.  At least until they became the actual doctors, and then they got all snooty, like they didn't know us.  And they still helped themselves to the candy that an appreciative patient had sent.

1986 was one of the (many) years I worked at St. Alexius.  And on the radio, whether shushed or not shushed, at night, at the nurse's station, we listened to songs such as these:

Bop ~ Dan Seals

Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days ~ The Judds

Just Another Love ~ Tanya Tucker (sorry, no actual performance video to be found)

On The Other Hand ~ Randy Travis

Rockin' With the Rhythm of the Rain ~ The Judds

Honky Tonk Man ~ Dwight Yoakam

One of the best country songs ever: 

1982 ~ Randy Travis

I Tell It Like It Used To Be ~ T. Graham Brown (again, (sorry, no actual performance video to be found of this one, either)

Another one of the all-time best country songs ever: 

Guitar Town ~ Steve Earl

This song got me back into country music, so it holds a special place in my heart:

Since I Found You ~ Sweethearts of the Rodeo

Ooh, I do like this one:

Stand On It ~ Mel McDaniel

George Strait had three hit singles in 1986.  Here's one:

Something Special

There's No Stoppin' Your Heart ~ Marie Osmond (sorry for the poor video/audio quality ~ this is the only one out there):

Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye ~ Charlie Daniels (isn't this cool?)


Here's an old Ray Price song, made a hit again in 1986 by Ricky Skaggs (and I guess this is the old-er Ricky, who has now decided to grow out his hair ~ hmmm....)

I've Got a New Heartache

Do you remember the O'Kanes?  Yea, probably not.  But they were good.  I really liked them in 1986.

Here's Oh, Darlin':

I truly love this next song, and dang, if it isn't impossible to find a video of it.  I don't understand this, but I do try.  But sometimes I fail.

However, here is a link to the video, which, for some unknown reason is not embeddable.

Walk The Way The Wind Blows ~ Kathy Mattea

1986 was one of the finest years in country music.  Just go back and watch these videos, if you don't believe it.  And we had new, young stars, like George and Dwight and the Judds and Randy.

In fact, two of the top 20 country songs of all time (my list!) were hits in 1986.  That's damn good, considering the long storied history of country music.

I guess it's the sentimentalist in me, but when I think about it now, even with all the aggravations and the travails I went through in 1986, I wouldn't mind being back in those days.  Back behind the nurse's station, working on my crafts and listening to country radio.

But, really, I think it was the music most of all.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Singer-Songwriter Series ~ Episode 3

I won't say that "Crazy Over You" is the all-time best two-stepping song. Okay, I will.

This is how I first got to know Radney Foster:

Is that a kick or what? I love this song.

So, my introduction to Radney Foster was through his partnership with Bill Lloyd. Foster & Lloyd weren't around for a long time (although they're now back together), but they had some fine recordings.

Here are two (and regretfully, the guys only seem to have a couple of actual music videos from their halcyon days):

True music aficionados, I believe, pull out that little booklet from a new CD and check out who the writers are. As well as the lyrics, of course.

I always read my little booklet.

So, I found that Radney didn't just write for Radney. He wrote hit songs for other artists, too.

Like this one, by Tanya Tucker and T. Graham Brown (what the heck ever happened to T. Graham? He's a great singer!)

And this one, by Diamond Rio (Wasn't this DR's first hit song?):

How about Nitty Gritty?

Ha ~ and just to prove that I'm hip; I'm "with it" (although I have never in my life heard this song before), this is one that Radney wrote for Keith Urban:

Back in my sordid musical past, when I finally decided to give country music another go, I bought a couple of cassette tapes. One was by the Sweethearts of the Rodeo (and I don't remember the other one). I'd heard the SOTR a couple of times, and I liked their sound. It was, you know, country-sounding, as strange as that may seem today. I didn't know that Radney had written this song; I just knew that I liked it (and sorry for all the chatter in this video, but hey, it was the best I could find):

Lest we forget that Radney Foster is also a performer, here are some songs from his solo album, "Del Rio, Texas, 1959" (My, he looked much younger then!):

I'm kinda partial to this one:

And then there is this one, recorded by Sara Evans.

This song reminds me a lot of Texas in 1880. I think it was released around the time that I started to wean myself off of country music (not because of this song!), but it's kind of the last good one that I remember hearing on the radio.

The thing that I find about Radney Foster's songs is, melodically, they're superior. I, in fact, at one point, looked up the chord progression for this song, and tried to incorporate it into one of my own. Well, that didn't work.

What makes a good songwriter? Magic fairy dust? I don't know. I still say, either you've got it or you don't. You can't force things like that. Unfortunately.

I watched a video interview with Radney, in which he said that he has written between 25 and 50 songs a year for at least thirty years. I can't even comprehend that. Does he eat or sleep? Does he get any of that good exercise? I think he should get out and walk around a bit; stretch his legs; soak up a few rays. Man does not live by song scribbles and guitar chords alone. Does he?

Maybe writing 25-50 songs a year for thirty years makes one a master songwriter. But I truly think that if I wrote 25-50 songs in 30 years, I'd just have 750-1500 crappy songs. And what would be the point of that? How many crappy songs need to exist in this world? I'll say one. One crappy song. Just to have something to contrast with the good ones.

And to prove that good songwriters beget good songwriters, here's Radney's version of you-know-who's song: