OBSERVATIONS AND RAMBLINGS FROM A CRANKY OLD GUY (January 2023) -By: Jeff Spaulding
Written by Staff on January 10, 2023
Let’s talk about music, I have experience well beyond my years, or perhaps well before my years.
When you consider my years as a so called “air personality” (“woke” for “DJ”), up until the last 12 years as a News Guy, if it was a hit, OR a stiff, if I didn’t play it on air, I played it in clubs, at wedding receptions, bar/bat mitzvahs, or high school dances. I love most types of music, even in a retrospective way.
When I was a teenager and I was all Black Sabbath and Grand Funk, I couldn’t stand Michael Jackson and the other four guys. Who were these little punks trying to be pop stars? As I got older and listened again, my opinion changed. Same with all pre rock and roll music (before Elvis, Chuck, Richard etc.), I thought big bands blew, till I opened up my ears and found what I was missing. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, On air I showed my profound love for the New Kids on The Block, at a time where you’d hear one of their songs every half hour on the hour! Today, in retrospect, my opinion changed, my opinion remains, I still hate the little bastards.
One type of music that defines me, influences me, makes me who I am today, hardcore pure country music. Not the “poppy bubble country” you hear today. I’m talking beer drinking-spouse cheating-raising-hell-music, added by twin fiddles and a steel guitar.
Sounds aside, there’s more that makes a great country song, (1) lyrics that you could listen to and immediately identify, and (2) the way the singer sings, a not perfect tone, yes, a little twang, but the total sound that could make the listener believe that song was just for them
Ernest Tubb used to say he knew he had a bad voice, and a guy in a bar could prove to his girl he could sing better than Ernest Tubb, most times he would, most times he would score later that night too. On any Hank Williams song, just read the lyrics, I would bet that song is related to you, or someone you know.
That brings us to a six part mini series (as of this writing) presented by Showtime, on two people many still consider the Once and Forever King and Queen of Country Music, George and Tammy. If you don’t know the names, go watch Ken Burns Country Music Documentary on PBS, to realize I’m talking about George Jones and Tammy Wynette.
“George and Tammy” concentrates on the years they were together, both as a couple and as husband and wife. Their individual lives were train wrecks on their own, put them together, they made musical magic. There’s a reason for that, I think.
Both were extremely flawed. Both were previously married, both later married. George was an alcoholic and substance abuser, Tammy got into pills, there were fights, verbal, and physical.
If you don’t know how strong their love was, go find a few songs to get an idea of how big the bond was between them. The first from Tammy, “You’re Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad,” “Stand by Your Man,” and “D-I-V-O-R-C-E. The next From George, “When The Grass Grows Over Me,” (written by Tammy’s Ex), “The Grand Tour”, and ”He Stopped Loving Her Today” is still called the greatest country song of all time. George was so hammered they had to cut and paste his spoken words after multiple attempts.
I present one more that the King and Queen recorded together after they parted, “Two Story House,” a song about young love, angry love, and broken love in less than three minutes…it sold millions and hit number one.
Back to “George and Tammy”, the mini-series, while it’s a “bio flick, it’s DARK and REAL. You will see abuse on both sides, you will see a Music City that Music City never wanted to be portrayed, probably still don’t. You also will not see a happy ending. But you WILL understand what country music is all about. Find it, watch it, and appreciate the acting AND singing talents of Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. Sipping a Jack Daniels while watching is optional.
Be hearing you