|Subject: FW: Big mud puddles &
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2003 16:23:07 -0600
Once in awhile one takes off a bit of time from the unrelenting press of the research, thermodynamics, electrodynamics, computer E-mail, writing, and other contortions and dynamics, and thinks a bit of the old days of one's youth. Quite a bit of both your youth and of my youth was spent slaving over a hot guitar, etc. So once in awhile I do remember the old days, though I've not picked up my guitar now in about three years. Don't know if I could still find the front end of it or not.
Anyway, a correspondent sent me a beautiful rendition of Floyd Cramer's "Last Date", which really brought back some old memories.
"Last Date" written and first recorded as a big hit by the inimitable Floyd Cramer, with that unique rolling attack he started using on piano and made it a standard technique.
Prior to going in the Army in 1954, I was on the Louisiana Hayride (singer, rhythm guitarist, and occasional lead guitarist) with ol' Floyd and many others. Played quite a few recording sessions at the KWKH studios, for various artists, and Floyd was on a great number of them. Always was a great pleasure working with Floyd and with Jimmy Day, the steel guitarist who also played on many of those sessions. Those fellows knew how to work a session, and could always improvise some new quirk or new twist or new sound. If one can uniquely "mark" or "flavor" a recording, of course, it has a very much improved chance of catching fire and making a large hit.
Sat down one night at a recording session, and showed Floyd a great piano lick I had come up with. Then we all got busy again on the recording session.
A fellow in that kind of business hears gobs of songs, etc. all the time. So about six weeks later, Floyd sat down with this strange tune suddenly bugging him in his head. He knocked it off (I had just showed him the main part, as a good "lick" for the piano), then added a bridge, and that was his first real instrumental hit record, Fancy Pants. That main part of the tune was what I showed him that night on the recording session! Al Hirt later recorded it with trumpet.
No problem, Floyd was a very fine fellow, and I admired his artistry a great deal. Great artist and one of a kind. A real shame he also died not too long ago. Often wonder what happened to Jimmy Day, steel player at the time and also on a great number of artists's recordings where Floyd played piano, Jimmy played steel, and yours truly was the rhythm guitarist. Lost all track of little Red Hayes, the fiddle player who played with Jim Reeves (I played with them on lots of dates). I played one of the last of the great old L-5 Gibsons that was made from wood specially cured 20 years under glass, possibly the finest jazz guitar ever made. Played lots of gigs with Jim Reeves, a really great singer and entertainer, and fronted (carried the main part of the show as the front singer, reserving star billing for Jim) on lots of his tour shows and dances across several states. Jim particularly liked that rhythm guitar, and said I got some kind of sound out of it that reminded him of the big drums the Cajuns used to make out of tupelo gum hollows stumps. It did have a very unique sound (I also used it for some years on a radio show our little trio, the Rhythym Harmoneers, had in Monroe, La.).
Jim also recorded a recitation I wrote, called "Mother Went A'Walking". Johnny Horton recorded one of my tunes called "Red Lips and Warm Red Wine". Red Sovine and later Webb Pierce also recorded one called "New Love Affair". Hank Williams almost recorded one but didn't. Somewhere I have half a suitcase filled with songs never recorded, etc. That was another life ago. I eventually converted to a soloist on the Hayride, and had three records out, just beginning to move a bit, when time was up and I entered the Army. Not too long after that, a cat named Elvis Presley came along, and shook music to the core. At the time, black music had gone through a metamorphosis, having originally been called "Cawn Field" (Corn Field) from the old plantation days when they originated the banjo and blues. Then for a time it was called "Race and Blues" after some recording companies began exploiting it (and the artists). Then to increase the exposure, its name came to be "Rhythm and Blues", which it was during WW II, when young people all over the U.S. became familiar with it in service, in the clubs and honkytonks, etc. After WW II, Hollywood made a series of "teen age rebellion" type movies, and meanwhile in the clubs even country and western artists were having to play some "Rhythm and Blues". So the dichotomy of the rather tranquil "standard" music sharply contrasted to the drive and emotion of Rhythm and Blues. A vast emotional stage had been set in the youth of America, yearning to break out of previous restraints, etc. The stage had been set for the first white artist who was both visually handsome and also could legitimately perform Rhythm and Blues (now beginning to be referred to from time to time as "rock" or "rock and roll", since that phrase was used in many Rhythm and Blues songs.
So along comes Elvis, and shook the world, so to speak, from the recording companies to Hollywood, and all over. And Rock and Roll swept the white music world like a tidal wave. For the next five years, only those country artists already well established could even make a living.
Meanwhile, I had entered the Army's most special missile school, the equivalent of an MS in aerospace engineering (and so recognized by the Army). So with the additional sign-up to get the school, that ended the old entertainment career and I decided permanently on an Army career.
Hank Williams died while on the Hayride (I was still on the Hayride also at the time). At the time Hank was married to the former Billy Jones, a stunningly beautiful girl. After Hank's death, she later married Johnny Horton. Jim Reeves later died in a light plane crash coming into Nashville to get back to the Opry, after I was in the Army (he used to call me up when he would come through on tour or something, and we would get together.). Johnny died in a car wreck, as did Red Sovine. Seemed that everyone who recorded a tune of mine, bit the dust! Johnny (married to Hank's former widow Billie Jones at the time" died after playing the last club that Hank Williams played before he died. Rose Maddox, darndest female singer I ever saw, died a couple or three years after I entered the army. Horace Logan, who was the program director when the Louisiana Hayride was the No. 2 show in the nation, died about a year or so ago, having long since retired and written his "memoirs", so to speak. I got a copy of his book, just for old time sakes. Bill Carlyle is still around in Nashville somewhere, though getting as old as the hills. Billy Walker is still kicking also, and was still singing and entertaining the last I heard. Caught him on TV on the Opry about a couple years ago. Lots of others, I have no idea what happened to.
Most of the old Hayride crew are now long dead and gone.
That was a long time ago, and one never steps in the same river twice. When Doris and I got married back in 1964, I gave her my L-5, which was the most treasured possession I had in the world. She still has it.
Anyway, "Last Date" by this excellent musician, using Floyd's same style, really brought back lots of memories. Just thought an old guitarist like yourself would like one of these sounds from so long ago. Tune so pretty and sad it catches in one's throat. Just shows what an old softie I am, and always have been.
Ah, well! Yon computer and keyboard await. So back to the potato fields, for another go at it. But I'll let "Last Date" play for awhile, just for old time's sake.
Big mud puddles & yellow dandelions
Just a reminder Spring is not far away, music can lift your spirits and flower colors still brighten the eyes and sharpen the sense of smell!! Brings back memories? The music was one of my favorites from the 50s/60s,
("LAST DATE" by Sil Austin.....)
With love, hugs and prayer,
I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard.
and blowing white fluff you can wish on.
I see a smelly, dirty person who probably wants money
and I look away.
I know I can't carry a tune and don't have much rhythm
so I sit self-consciously and listen.
They sing out the words.
If they don't know them, they make up their own.
I brace myself against it.
I feel it messing up my hair and pulling me back when I walk.
spread their arms and fly with it,
until they fall to the ground laughing.
I say "Thee" and "Thou" and "Grant me this..", "Give me that."
"Hi God! Thanks for my toys and my friends.
Please keep the bad dreams away tonight.
Sorry, I don't want to go to Heaven yet.
I would miss my Mommy and Daddy."
I step around it. I see muddy shoes and dirty carpets.
They see dams to build, rivers to cross, and worms to play with.
No wonder God loves the little children!
for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
but by the moments that take our breath away."