Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hill Rampages and Hillbilly Music

Having just started blogging, I realize that no matter how few people you think are reading it, what you say here can and will be used against you. At least that’s what my cab driver, Mark Foley, told me yesterday.


I covered the page sex and drug scandals of the early 1980s and it prepared me for my next move of covering the White House. Actually what prepared me for covering the White House was my summer internship covering police in Baltimore. On my first day in the White House press room, the two top stories were a theft of a Democratic debate preparation book and the S&M/related death of Alfred Bloomingdale, one of the Reagans’ closest friends.

Anyway, the first page scandal was the result of false testimony of pages and shady manipulation of teenagers by punk CBS reporter named John Ferrugia who was as personally detestable as his journalism. Unfortunately, it was remarkably easy for me to learn names of congressmen reputed to be homosexuals or drug users – whether it was true or not – and this was before the concept of “24/7 news cycles” and blogs.

I note where Ferrugia is now an “investigative reporter” in Denver where he covered sex scandals at the Air Force Academy. I got news for ya, John – ALL reporters investigate. While most of us in the profession aimed to accurately report what came out of people’s mouths, your aim seems to be lower.


Which brings me to country music, where the aim is pretty direct, at least in the genre known as Country Classic. I have been a C&W fan all my life. Unusual because I have always lived in and adopted the manner, culture, politics and prejudices of big cities and was on the political left long before the Dixie Chicks were hatched. My father said I may have developed an ear for C&W at 6 months old when he was babysitting me on a family trip to St. Louis and I stopped crying only when he found “hillbilly music” on a radio station.

We lived in DC in the early ‘50s when radio and TV were broadcasting local acts just in from the nearby Appalachians. And to the extent country music was played on Top 40 radio, I heard Johnny Cash on “Ring of Fire” in the mid-‘50s and got hooked. This caused some embarrassment during the late ‘60s when I was protesting the war, and everything else, but was still devoted to Johnny, Loretta, Waylon, Merle, Lynn Anderson and so many others.

Basically it is this: Country music is about melody and lyrics. You can hum, whistle or sing the songs. The words, however stupid sometimes, are written from actual human emotion and, in the case of the little-known “Mary’s Vineyard” are more sophisticated and lewd than much of rock or hip-hop. The slightly better known “Jose Cuervo” contains the classic phrase: “Who is this cowboy who’s sleepin’ beside me; he’s awful cute but how’d I get his shirt on -- I had too much tequila last night.”

I am compiling a list of favorites over to the right, and I’d love to hear your opinions.

1 comment:

  1. I like Waylon Jennings a lot, especially his 'Waymore's Blues' and his version of Roger Miller's 'I've Been a Long Time Leaving (But I'll Be a Long Time Gone.'

    Here in Canada, eh, we have a young guy called Corb Lund who is going to make some big waves. How can you turn away from lyrics like:

    Hurtin Albertain
    with nuthin left to loose.
    Too much oil money,
    Not enough booze.