Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blue Yodel

The sixties started in 1965. I watched the thing go by from the sidewalk. My hair didn't get long until 1972.

That's when it got down to me. Square-toed boots and jeans, hair all messed up. At work, I hooked up with a bunch of kids, half my age, because one of them was going with my secretary, Janet. These kids were into playing guitars and getting messed up. They let me go along because I had once stood in the presence of Hank Williams, Sr.

We'd go to somebody's farmhouse, at night, deep in the woods of Maryland or Delaware, I never knew which side of the line we were on, but there'd be a crockpot going and we'd get inebriated and all stand around playing guitars, except me. I couldn't play. They'd run through the chords of "Cripple Creek" over and over again. What you have to understand is, there'd be nobody singing. Just a bunch of guys, going through "Cripple Creek". It always seemed a little funny to me at first, but as the evening wore on, it would start making perfect sense.

I'd begin to think I could almost sing. I knew this song pretty well, but in my condition, I could usually only remember the first verse. Anyway, later in the evening, I would find myself looking for a point of entry to come in with the verse I knew and, when I did that, it always got a reaction from the group. I couldn't sing very well, but they were nevertheless grateful for it.

On weekends, we would get in cars and go to local music festivals, way out in the country. There was always the fantasy of entering the band contest. I strongly discouraged the idea every time it came up, but that didn't stop them from standing out under a tree and running through "Cripple Creek" one more time.

You'd see all kinds of people at these affairs, in different stages of consciousness. I saw a young, very pretty girl in a thin cotton dress, walking around with her arms hanging down limply, one hand holding on to a bottle of Jack Daniels that was half-empty.

The guys begged me to sing a verse with them, but I told them I couldn't do that in the light of day. Billy Wooters was the one Janet liked. Eddie Finckner was quiet and shy. He didn't have a girlfriend, but he had real musical talent. Billy just played guitar and a little banjo, but besides that, Eddie taught himself mandolin, fiddle and piano, too. Billy said the band ought to be called "Wooters and Finckner". That was OK with Eddie. He didn't care.

1 comment:

Larry Blumen said...

My wife criticized me for putting in the part about Jack Daniels.

But I said if I didn't put that in, it wouldn't be a blue yodel.