of those oversized Country Music history books that are made to fit only on
your coffee table and are much too tall to fit onto any normal bookshelf in your
den, usually have a page and a picture or two on the Statler Brothers. I think I have them all. Many I’ve bought and many I’ve been given by
friends and family. Even when some of
the history is wrong, I find them fun and interesting. There’s a new one out right now on Johnny
Cash that is, where else (?), on the coffee table in our den. And there are a couple of pictures of us and
John and June from Folsom Prison that I don’t remember ever seeing before. As I said, fun and interesting.
I hear from folks all the time that some novelist has mentioned the Statlers in
a book they’re reading. I can’t remember
all of them but I do know that Sharyn McCrumb, a very talented mystery writer,
has used our name in her storytelling a time or two. And this always brings a smile. Recently I was told about a book by Nora
Roberts who mentioned the Statlers in a passing, descriptive paragraph that was
germane to her story. And that was nice
as she is maybe the most prolific woman writer on the market today. She has to use two names (J.D. Robb) to get
all the books out of her head and on to the page. The only person turning them out faster than
she, is James Patterson. (But the glory
in this is Nora is doing them all herself while ole James is sitting on the
beach sipping a Mai Tai while letting his co-writers have at it.)
of course, there was Kurt Vonnegut. I
think we told that story in Random
Memories. He talked about us in one
of his books and then got in touch with us and came to some concerts and we
became friends. Again, fun and
the one I had forgotten all about was the Carolyn G. Hart incident. Carolyn Hart is a well-known, award-winning
mystery writer. Check her out. She’s
very good. So back when her new book was
Mint Julep Murder, I settled into a
summer afternoon with an iced tea at my elbow, my cocker spaniel (Sam) on my
lap and both hands full of her latest
novel. And it was only on the second
page when I read these words:
a buffoon who loves Dracula, Frankenstein, and Little Orphan Annie with the
Statler Brothers bellowing in the background.
What! I read it again and then again. I was glad to be put in such Pop Culture as
these other three, but at the same time I couldn’t, for the life of me, glean a
compliment out of this sentence. Bellowing! It was apparent that Carolyn G. did not like
the Statler Brothers. Oh well, you don’t
win them all. I laughed and continued
wasn’t until I reached page 34 and read these words that I decided something
must be done:
The city council’s compromise was to hire a
drug-sniffing “cocker spaniel”. Can’t
you just see it? A ferocious,
salivating, lop-eared, wiggle-butted cocker?
minute now! I covered Sam’s eyes so he
couldn’t see what was being said about him.
I mean you can defame Dracula, mock Frankenstein, belittle Orphan Annie
and even vituperate the Statler Brothers, but let’s watch ourselves when it
comes to such name calling as “lop-eared, wiggle-butted cocker”.
here’s the fun and interesting part. I
sent Carolyn G. Hart a letter saying all this with my tongue firmly in my
cheek. I thought it was funny. But apparently CGH didn’t. Never heard a word and it’s been almost
DSR — October 15, 2013
I spent so many years ‘in concert’, I guess it is no surprise that I still enjoy the concert setting whether it’s from the stage, the wings or the audience. This year I’ve gone to a few and look forward to a few more.
SOUTHERN GOSPEL – Earlier this year I went to see Legacy 5. Scott Fowler is an old friend and always a pleasure to see and talk with.
-Debbie and I went to see the Hoppers and visited with them between sets. They are even better on stage than on record and the sweetest bunch of folks you will ever meet this side of heaven.
-Bill Gaither called a few days ago and is going to be in Virginia in October and I plan to be right there cheering him on. (His only prerequisite was that I come early in the afternoon because he said if we got together and got to telling stories and laughing he’d have to have some time before the show to get his voice back in shape. And that is the gospel truth because I have lost my voice more than once laughing before a show. Ask any singer.)
COUNTRY MUSIC – I had plans to see George Jones this past spring when he came to Roanoke with Wilson/Fairchild opening for him. But, of course, those well-laid plans were changed by the good Lord, himself.
-This Saturday night I plan to sit back and enjoy Wilson/Fairchild at the Rockingham County Fair. They always amaze and entertain me and make me proud. (They put a smile on my face that won’t fade for days.)
BLUEGRASS -In about three weeks I’m going to see Daily and Vincent. The best Bluegrass you’ll hear anywhere. (I come in the house just anytime and find a message on my voice mail saying, “Hey, Don and Miss Debbie. This is Jamie Daily. What’s for supper?”)
But this past Saturday night I drove about an hour from the house to the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival to see an old friend, Kris Kristofferson. We go back to the 60s with Kris when he was working as a janitor at the Columbia Studio in Nashville and we were recording for said label. He was sweeping up at nights and pitching songs on the side. He used to come over to our hotel and sing us all of those early classics before anyone else ever heard them. (Just check out on the internet the impressive list of hits he’s written.) I told the story of him and us and “Me and Bobby McGee” in our book, Random Memories, so I won’t repeat it here, but we spent precious hours together in those early years.
Kris went on to change the face of country music for the songwriter and bring an intimacy to the art that no one has ever surpassed. He also went on to the movies and established himself as a star in many fields. And now he’s just standing on the stage, alone, with only his guitar and singing for two hours. Let me say I was hypnotized for the entire time. No one handles a lyric the way he does.
My son, Debo, and I visited with him and his wife, Lisa, on the bus before the show and at intermission and I was consumed by the memories all this conjured up. I hadn’t seen Kris since Johnny Cash’s funeral ten years ago and I didn’t want to miss a possible last opportunity to tell him he was the best lyricist since Berlin.
His songs take me places I haven’t been in years; they bring back a youthful nature and a philosophical whim; and they let me recall a busier and more complicated time of my life that still puts a lump in my throat and a warmth in my heart.
God be with you and travel safe, Kris. I still have that framed copy of “….Bobby McGee.”