Country and Blues

Rest in peace, BB King. I listened to classical music as a kid, my dad is a violinist. Then came Tony Bennett. Elvis was before my time as well as others but I was on my way to music. Frank Sinatra, sorry, Come Fly With Me worked in many ways, telling me I wanted to be educated and be able to go wherever I wished to go.

Blues artists always know that one cannot get every thing or everyone one wants. Without failures, what is success?

I never moved to the south until I was over 40. All that was on the radio en route were country songs about my wife leaving me, my dog ran away and my truck died. And gospel lectures.

As someone who spent a lifetime above the Mason-Dixon Line, except for tw0 years where I had to take a course as a rifler because every Southern lady must know how to shoot, no to a shooting exercise. Sorry, young friend. I told my 12 year-old nephew last year I couldn’t shoot a hole in their hay barn if it was 20 feet away with a bb gun. I got an F when I was 13 but had another shot at it (pun intended) and brought it up to D so I never even failed a gun course or any course in my life.

Nephew, you’re on this year! If I fail, we’ll fix the bet before we begin with Grandpa Joe as the judge of timing and ideas. The family will then judge our efforts.

If I win, you’ll make a fresh sweet bread with cranberries or blueberries with me for breakfast day after Thanksgiving. Or whatever Grandma Margie says about timetables. If I miss a hay barn, of course he’s never going to let me shoot at that precious barn but if he tries to make me to lose by choosing a jar on a fence post I just won’t do it. It’s against the environment and might cut a kid’s foot. OK, I’d never hit it anyway so would forfeit.

I think we may settle this by just offering me a shooting session (you’ll be 13 and know more about rifles than I ever will) and in exchange we will make up a bread the night before for family. It’ll be 13 that week and a great young man but my point is that at some time in college he’ll have to feed himself and if he wants to impress a girl, Dee is just one old lady to ask how to do so. Flowers AND dinner? For The Right Girl that will be wonderful. Just wait 14 years after college graduation to marry. Promise?

***

We did not respect country music up north as teens, only cared about Rock ‘n Roll and then I liked a lot of new people, so learned to love folk and favorite artists like Dylan, Mason, Baez, Stones, Taylor, Zeppelin and many others. BC, Before Cash.

Years later I picked up a guitar (a good one) after my stint on a $99 nylon guitar that I actually used to start a band and sing on stage once, age 12. It was stolen a few years later. Thank you!!! Not a great idea as my 12 year-old pals were all tone deaf and I’d only been learning for a few weeks. Ouch. Let’s just say we didn’t win #1. We were #2. I won’t tell you the songs but still remember them many years later.

At 50, I took private lessons for a few months then we moved. I learned on Johnny Cash, PPM, CSNY and read lyrics and made up chords to what I could play. My tutor’s favorite was American Pie with only a few lyrics to see I could do it. Then I did a teeny riff at the end and my teacher actually awakened and looked surprised, as I’d never been assigned this song and learned it on my own.

Everything that the 50’s rocksters were, were distilled again and again until now. I know that BB King enjoyed working with artists from other styles as I first heard him from Farm Aid. I am sorry I never got to your music deeply. They didn’t play you on the radio, didn’t have your discs and I wasn’t cool enough to get to know the right people to find your music.

My tribute to BB King, much greater than two years ago at Thanksgiving, his restaurant in Memphis our first time there with great food, you allowed us to have our dog leashed to the patio, thanks so much for that! We went to see the Lorraine Motel but it was being restored at the time, on a trip south.

BB King made me wish. I have perfect pitch and never took up the guitar again until I turned fifty. I never took up the violin or piano again except a cheap keyboard to help me with guitar chords when I only have lyrics and fret with the frets and my stubby fingers.

At fifty my goal was to take up guitar to take “home” at holidays to sing with the kids and grandkids. With a household that swells to sixty and many talented young musicians on multiple instruments on holidays it pays me to keep my guitar hydrated at home as I’ve only the simple chords and no children to play music. BB King, so far I have failed you, I could never, ever be as good as you were but you inspired me to even make up from lyrics the chords to John Denver songs that are important to my husband, a country boy.

With much appreciation for your life and love it is that you took the time and energy to explore, with your musical expertise, multiple genres. Thank you for teaching me what I would wish my talent to encompass. You did it all, and for that the world, and I, thank you for your body of work. Many acuities went into your work, mental, physical, spiritual and sir, you will be missed. With love to family and friends, Dee

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2 responses to “Country and Blues

  1. It was distressing last Fri as Pat (office mgr) & I were bemoaning the loss of BB, my early-30’s tech didn’t know who he was…

  2. Ask her about John Denver sometime. Who? Died in an experimental airplane crash. What did he do? He wrote and sang and when you plan your wedding music you will choose one of two songs that he wrote. That’s kids, for ya. I was in love with Frank Sinatra since I was five. And I lost the record (don’t have a record player) and gave the CD to a Scottish restaurant owner next door to our place there. He was former Italian Carabiniere. He loved it at our two-person going back to the US dinner and gave us Sicilian fruit poached in wine. And your dear cousin J sang a bit and the entire restaurant stood and sang “Deep In The Heart of Texas!” You’ll have to ask him about that sometime as he began with the first few stanzas of Marty Robbins’ El Paso……. D

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