Yes, I know the title is random and no, I’m not going anywhere.
But the title seems appropriate since there were a number of names in the news that, sadly, we are now remembering posthumously.
For high school wrestling fans, it was a surprise to learn about the passing of G. Wyatt Schultz.
Schultz was the owner of the state’s premier wrestling publication The Predicament. That had it all, from rankings information to feature stories about the wrestlers, changes the sport has seen through the years and so much more. It was that way from the youth and middle school level to (of course) high school to college, and many of his fans said the research was spot-on.
Mark Ironside, who back in the 1990s was a standout wrestler for Cedar Rapids Jefferson and went on to be a two-time NCAA national champion at the University of Iowa, reflected on the loss to KCRG-TV. He told reporter Scott Saville: “He would get done with one tournament late at night, or a dual meet way late at night, and he’s out there the next morning for another one miles and miles away, first whistle of the day. He would just never complain about it. He was just so excited to be there.”
He was inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2020.
I am sure The Predicament will go on, and that he has an outstanding staff that will carry on his love of the sport.
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As a country music fan, particularly of the classics, the genre lost two giants.
I happened to obtain a copy of the radio program “American Country Countdown” originally aired July 27, 1974. At No. 2 that week was the boogie-flavored goodtime song “That Song Is Drivin’ Me Crazy,” penned by country music’s Storyteller, Tom T. Hall.
No stretch story for this song, but it was a prime example of the genius of Tom T., and I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of that show that had him right at his prime: the mid-1970s.
Hall was the one who was the consummate storyteller, capturing sharp details in songs like “Homecoming,” where a young traveling musician visits home for the first time after the death of his mother; “A Week in a Country Jail,” where a traveling businessman, detained in a jail in a rural, southern town for speeding, is mocked by a stereotypical sheriff; “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine,” capturing on the wisdom of an elderly bartender working during the 1972 Democratic National Convention; and list songs such as “I Love” and “Country Is ... “ and goofy, fun songs like “Sneaky Snake” and “I Like Beer.”
He wrote the landmark song “Harper Valley PTA,” which a young singer named Jeannie C. Riley sang with the sass of the mother, who was fed up with being judged for her alleged morals while many of town’s key leaders have secrets of their own they’d rather not share.
And the list goes on.
The USA Today said the following: “(Hall) joined Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver in bringing a class of storytelling to country music unlike those before them. Hall timelessly and empathetically chronicled the human spirit — from barstool stories to cemetery caretakers — with words that would influence generations of wordsmiths to follow.”
Hall’s songs indeed meant the world to his millions of fans, and there indeed were many memories of him when news of his passing broke late last week.
Then there were the harmonies of the Everly Brothers. Some of you already knew that Don and Phil spent several of their youth years in Shenandoah, and chances are they visited Atlantic and other Cass County communities in the late 1940s and early 1950s, before they became famous.
I believe it was Rolling Stone magazine that made the statement that the Everlys were perhaps the most important duo of the rock-n’-roll era. Their harmonies, of course, were just as well received by country music fans, on traditional songs like “Down In the Willow Garden” to the four songs – “Bye-Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream” and “Bird Dog” – that went to No. 1 on both the country and pop charts. Several other songs in their catalog – “When Will I Be Loved,” “Till I Kissed You,” “Walk Right Back” and “Cathy’s Clown” – were successful in their own right and later became big cover hits for artists like, respectively, Linda Ronstadt, Connie Smith, Anne Murray and Reba McEntire.
Whew, that’s a mouthful.
Don passed away over the weekend, seven years after Phil passed on. Their harmonies shine once again.
It’s like Righeous Brother Bill Medley once sang in song: “If there’s a Rock-and-Roll Heaven, you know they’ve got to have a hell of a band.” Switch out “rock-and-roll” with “country” and you have a just-as-true statement.
Enjoy the classic artists while they’re still with us.
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And now, let there be football!