Sunday, June 29, 2008

“Things get complicated/When you get past eighteen…”

I caught this story on my CharredHer homepage last night, about the induction of the Statler Brothers to the Country Music Hall of Fame today, and I have to say it couldn’t happen to a better group of individuals. In fact, I don’t think it would be stretching it much if I were to say that my interest in nostalgia and relics of yesteryear was stoked by Harold, Phil, Lew (later Jimmy) and Don…particularly their 1972 hit Do You Remember These?

Saturday morning serials chapters 1 through 15
Fly paper, penny loafers, Lucky Strike Green
Flat tops, sock hops, Studebaker, Pepsi please
Ah, do you remember these?

Cigar bands on your hand, your daddy's socks rolled down
Sticks, snow floats and aviator caps with flaps that button down
Movie stars on Dixie Cup tops, and knickers to your knees
Ah, do you remember these?

The Hit Parade, grape Tru-Aid, The Sadie Hawkins Dance
Pedal pushers, duck tail hair and peggin' your pants
Howdy Doody, Tutti frutti, the seam up the back of her hose
Ah, do you remember those?

James Dean, he was keen, Sunday movies were taboo
The Senior Prom, Judy's mom, Rock ‘n’ Roll was new
Cracker Jack prize, stars in your eyes, ask Daddy for the keys
Ah, do you remember these?

The boogey man, lemonade stands, and takin' your tonsils out
Hindenburg, and wait your turn! and 4 foul balls you're out.
Cigarette loads and secret codes and savin' lucky stars,
Can you remember back that far?

The boat neck shirts and fender skirts and crinoline petticoats
Mum's the word and a dirty bird and those double root beer floats
Moon hub caps and loud heel taps and he's a real gone cat
Ah, do you remember that?

Dancin' close, little moron jokes, and cooties in her hair,
Captain Midnight, Ovaltine, and the Whip at the county fair.
Charles Atlas course, Roy Rogers' horse, and "only The Shadow knows"
Ah, do you remember those?

Gable's charm, frog in your arm, loud mufflers, pitchin' woo,
Going steady, Veronica and Betty, white bucks, and "Blue Suede Shoes"
Knock-knock jokes, and "Who's there?" Dewey! Dewey who?
Do we remember these? Yes, we do! Ah, do we—do we remember these?


The Statler Brothers (who were originally called The Kingsmen until another group with the same name—yes, the ones that recorded Louie, Louie—forced them to change their billing…inspired by a now defunct-brand of facial tissue) became country music’s go-to guys for wistful glances at years past. Among other hits in this vein were Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?—an elegy to the B-western movie heroes of the past, and The Movies: a tribute in general to the motion picture medium. In fact, you could probably tally up their entire musical output as endless variations on a theme of remembering rosier, better times, with hits like Pictures, You Can’t Go Home, Carry Me Back, Susan When She Tried, Silver Medals and Sweet Memories and their Grammy-winning 1972 smash, The Class of ’57.

My mom was a huge fan of the Statler Brothers, ever since they released Bed of Rose’s in 1970 (a song that caused quite a stir on conservative country radio and is still pretty potent today), and when they came to Savannah in 1985 I was able to score a couple of free tickets (I was working for a country radio station then) to take her to see them. She thought the concert was okay, though she sort of lost interest in the group once member Lew DeWitt left in 1982 (he was suffering from Crohn’s disease and had to abdicate due to the group’s heavy touring schedule) and was replaced by Jimmy Fortune. I admit that it took me a while to warm up to Fortune, too, but I think he fit in rather nicely—and on the plus side, he was a first-rate songwriter (like DeWitt) who wrote or co-wrote many of the Statlers’ later chart-toppers, including Elizabeth and My Only Love. The Statlers’ opening act at that concert was Helen Cornelius, a female vocalist who was attempting to find success as a soloist after a slew of hits in the 1970s with country music veteran Jim Ed Brown (I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You, Saying Hello, Saying I Love You, Saying Goodbye).

Also in this article, it notes that singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall is being inducted—which I’m sure will be good news to mi padre, since that’s his favorite performer. I could eat up a megaton of bandwidth listing all the great country songs Hall wrote for other country artists (Margie’s at the Lincoln Park Inn, Harper Valley P.T.A., The Pool Shark, Hello Vietnam) before he finally decided to strike out on his own and became known as country music’s “The Storyteller” with hits like The Year That Clayton Delaney Died and Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine. As it so happens, I also got the opportunity to see Tom T. perform live as well back in 1981; he did two sets at a country-themed nightclub called The Stables…and as I recall, he was pretty much three sheets to the wind by the time of the second show. Nevertheless, I just want to offer my heartiest of congrats to both Hall and the Statlers for being awarded what is truly a prestigious honor.

1 comment:

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for posting this. I hadn't heard the news, and I'm glad to see both the Statlers and Hall being honored.