I started to give today's post the title "I would not give you false hope on this strange and mournful day." I just have the song "Mother & Child Reunion" by Paul Simon on my mind. It's kind of a weird song. It sounds like it's about a missing kid or something. But, according to Snopes (which is a good site for debunking urban legends), the title came from a menu item, a chicken-and-egg dish. Pretty clever name, huh?
But instead, I thought I would pay tribute to someone who died this week, Porter Wagoner. Living in the "NewsChannel 5 Viewing Area" as Middle Tennessee (as well as south central Kentucky) is known, the "Thin Man from West Plains" has been on local TV every time we turned it on since his death Sunday night. I'm sure, however, that his fans mourn his passing all over the world.
Today's song was NOT written by him, but FOR him by Dolly Parton. Knowing that does kind of change the way you look at that song, but that's not part of today's post.
Most people reading this blog know that my grandmother died about six weeks ago. She was a BIG country music fan, and certainly a fan of Porter's. I have mentioned before that I have spent many Saturday mornings here at the house putting shows from RFD-TV onto VHS & DVD for Granny. Many of those hours are of "The Porter Wagoner Show." I found it fitting that when I was a kid, I spent many Saturday afternoons in her living room watching those shows, & in her final years I took those shows back to that same living room for her to watch again.
Porter was the kind of man you could laugh at - he definitely was willing to laugh at himself a little - but there was no doubt about it, the man was an entertainer. He was a pretty good songwriter, and a fairly good singer, and a fine musician, but when you really look at his career, it's obvious that he was, first and foremost, a showman beyond compare. It is truly no wonder that his TV show lasted 20 years. And maybe it was just because I lived in Tennessee, where country music was just part of the scenery, but when I was a kid, on Saturday afternoons (before Hee Haw came on at 6 pm), no matter whose house you were in, when Porter walked down that hall in his red boots, everybody was watching.
Of course, I always figured most of us - male and female alike - were watching Dolly to see those outfits stretched oh-so-tightly over certain, uh, shall we say, points of her figure. ("And that tiny little waist!" a little old lady once told me, as we discussed the subject.) But just as Porter was more than gravity-defying peroxide hair & flashy Nudie suits, Dolly was more than her eye-catching figure and her own gravity-defying hairstyles. Porter may not have MADE Dolly a star (she probably would've done that on her own) but he certainly sped up the process by introducing her to his many fans.
To be quite honest, I wouldn't have been the country music historian I became if it hadn't been for Granny (and the country stars of the 70's & before, whose music she loved so dearly), & I plan to make a tribute page to her on my webpages. I actually have plans for these pages, but I have been so wrapped up in the other parts of my life lately (& if you don't know why, go back & read what's been happening since, oh, about August or so) that I really haven't had time for writing about country music or fiction or anything else. But, it is really just around the corner, folks, I promise. Stuff is happening, wheels are turning...give me a month or so & I should be on my way.
So this post is to say thanks to Granny, & to Porter, & to all the other country icons out there whose music & style inspired someone like me. Thanks for the memories!