It just sometimes feel like we're stranded in some kind of 'time' tunnel, waiting for the virus to stop, waiting for the election to be legally called, waiting for a train. Well, 'waiting for a train' is a song written and recorded by Jimmie Rodgers many years ago. He was the first one inducted into America's Country Music Hall of Fame. Hank Williams was second, so they're both in good company. But, that train is still running and there are lots of Nashville pickers and singers totally disgusted with the way country music awards went this year. They're all talking about going back to a more distinguished 'country music' sound than what is being offered today. Hmmmmm, good luck I say. What that did for me however, prompted me to go back in time and listen to some of the music that helped me on my 70-year career as a musician. I had to go back in time pretty far, neither Jimmie Rodgers or Hank Williams were the ones that attracted my musical heart in the beginning, to...well, to music. The 'music' however had to be honest, genuine, real, written and played for the pure enjoyment of doing it. Not much return in dollars there, you say. Well, yes, you're right, not many dollars at all, but a good example of that first exposure to mountain music is still being played. There was a band called "The Skillet Lickers" from over in the Carolinas. Super good musicians and one thing for sure....happy go lucky musicians. One of their biggest songs was "Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy." Hmmmm doesn't sound too serious does it? Today there's a group called "Whitetop Mountain Band" that has this song on the 'you-tube.' Pretty easy to find, and once found, pretty easy to listen to, except you might not understand the 'principle' of this particular song. The band is five members, two of them do the 'main job' of musical sharing. One is an attractive older woman who plays a frailing banjo and sings this delightful song. Her banjo style is Before Earl Scruggs who introduced the world to a much faster individual string picking style. The 'frailing' style is sort of a 'gallop' on the strings and is quite remarkable to listen to. The partner with this style of banjo playing is an old-time fiddler that can make the lead line of the song come through loud and clear, and that is what happens in this video. It sure is fun, is way past it's time of glory in the history of musical fun, but it sure is interesting to go back and listen to the birthing pains of country music, and then compare that to what we hear today that is called 'country.' Awwww not a chance, not a chance. It no longer exists, even a little bit.
That takes me to 'what do you do during the long cold winter nights to stay busy?' Well, listening to old-time music is fun, sleeping is fun, especially if you are older, but I've never grown tired of being 'educated.' There's a company called "The Great Courses" which offers DVD college courses, so this year I'm taking a rather long one called "The American West, History, Myth, and Legacy." It's taught by Emory University Professor Patrick Allitt. Sure a lot of things that happened in the American West that one might not remember, or never heard of. It's a very interesting college course, but it goes by too quickly. I listen to two half-hour lectures at a time, and could listen more, but I want it to last longer. "So that's only an hour. What else keeps you busy?" Well, we're still trying to 'survive' the virus, the election, the corruption, the incredible fact that there must be a lot of vote manipulation to make it like it is. I'm glad I voted, and hope you did too. Now we have to wait until the 'fat lady sings,' and she hasn't sung yet.