Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wildwood Flower

The lovely JCC.

"Oh I'll twine with my mingles and raven black hair
With the roses so red and the lilies so fair
And the mirtles so bright with the emerald dew
The pale and the leader and eyes look like blue."
-The Carter Family
-"Wildwood Flower"
Original lyrics by Maud Irving (1860)

"In Mom's eyes there are two kinds of people," Roseanne Cash once stated, "those she knew and loved, and those she didn't know, and loved.  She looked for the best in everyone; it was a way of life for her (pg. 189)."

Admiring traits? June possessed a whole bushel full.  Born into country music royalty, she spent her entire existence in the spotlight.  On or off stage, her uncanny sense of humor and bravery got her through many trying events during her lifetime.  John Carter Cash, the son who sprung from the love story of Johnny and June, discusses his mother in a way like never before in his 2007 book An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash, Anchored in Love.  This 201 page tell-all gives an inside view at the woman who was married to the Man in Black.

"June did not exhibit the same natural musical abilities as her two sisters...She learned to sing anyway, compensating for her lack of musical ability by making audiences laugh with her down-home enthusiasm and cornpone jokes.  She put her heart into any performance and drew laughs with her quick wit (pg. 18)."

Providing stories and examples of her crazy antics, John Carter Cash, draws from special stories that June had told him growing up and also gives quotes directly from her book Among My Klediments. As a child, June traveled around with her famous family as they performed and did radio shows.  Their musical dreams led them to move from the Appalachian Mountains to Texas and was a bit of a culture shock for little June, indeed.  Although it gave her a whole new look of the world on the other side of the mountains, she never got above her raisin' in her heart, despite developing a great love for fine, expensive things later on in life.  The reader gets tales from behind the harpsichord and guitar of the Carter Family and their quest of fame and continuing on the country tradition.

"Sometimes when she went out on the road, the touring group included another dark-haired, good-looking man who was also attracted to her.  In fact, he had admired her since childhood when he had listened to her singing with her mother and sisters on the radio.  She had met him backstage at the Opry in the mid-fifties and, even though they were both married to other people then, he had reportedly told her he was going to marry her someday (pg. 45)."

Her relationship with John was rarely easy.  He was the party-hearty, loud-mouthed, pill-taking country boy and she was the miss-clean and ever-sharp-witted daughter of the first family of country music, who prided themselves on Christian values.  John Carter Cash gives an in-depth account of the love story of Johnny and June.  Those who have romanticized their years together, beware! Son, John, reveals details of his parents life together that, at times, are heart-breaking, to say the least.

"In recalling her favorite memories of Mom, Roseanne described the week-long birthday celebration at the Virginia house...when we were floating the Holston, Mom had waited at the last bend on the river, calling merrily to us and waving her scarf as we floated past.  She closed her eulogy with these beautiful words: So, today, from a bereft husband, seven grieving children, sixteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, we wave to her from this shore as she drifts out of our lives.  What a legacy she leaves, what a mother she was.  I know she has gone ahead of us to the far-side bank.  I have faith that when we all round the last bend in the river, she will be standing there on the shore in her big flowered hat and long white skirt, under a June-blue sky, waving her scarf to greet us (pg. 189-190)."

Loved the book, love the woman, admire her never-failing faith in God. A true inspiration.

I'm a quotes maniac.  Here are some of my favorites.

''Our lives are entwined with the people over the footlights. We are a part of them.'' - June, speaking of the audience she and Johnny performed to.

"I think he knew even then that his days were numbered. He knew his health was not good. And I think he missed that dear woman. I think he died of a broken heart." - Larry Gatlin on Johnny Cash's death.
"We're soulmates, friends and lovers and everything else that makes a happy marriage. Our hearts are attuned to each other, and we're very close. I'll get up every morning at five o'clock and make the coffee, then start pacing the floor, wanting her to get up. But I'll let her sleep for a couple of more hours. If she smells the coffee, she's up."- Johnny Cash about June Carter

"Wilbur, there, is wearing a new aftershave.  It's called, Come and Get It.  And I'm wearing some new perfume called, I Wouldn't Know What I'd Do With it if I Got It."
-June during on of her sketches.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This is Country Music: Brad Paisley

Singin' for the folks in the poor seats.
"So turn it on, turn it up, and sing along
This is real; this is your life in a song
Just like a road that takes you home
Yeah this is right where you belong
This is country music."
-Brad Paisley
-"This is Country Music" (2011)

It's been a big year for Brad Paisley, who hosted the 44th annual CMA Awards in November of 2010 and later that night was awarded as Entertainer of the Year.  In just a couple weeks he will release the tenth album of his career titled This is Country Music.  This anticipated record features a song of the same name that pays tribute to some of the finest aspects of country music and the artists who have influenced it over the years.  Co-written by Paisley, this medley makes it obvious that although he is considered a new age country singer, he still holds tradition close to his heart. 

This love was on display in August when he was given the amazing privilege, along with Little Jimmy Dickens, of laying down the refurnished wooden circle in the center of the stage that had been destroyed by the Nashville floods months prior.  In 1974 the six-foot circle of wood was cut from the stage of the original Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and moved to the current Grand Ole Opry house.  Legends such as Patsy Cline, Hank Williams Sr., and countless others, belted out their tunes while standing on this famous piece of oak.  The awe of standing on the same flooring where so many before them stood, is an honor that doesn't go unappreciated by many who are able to do so.  For Paisley, who has only been an Opry member since 2001, being asked to be part of the celebration speaks volumes for what the country community thinks of his work.  The circle miraculously escaped the waters practically unscathed despite being submerged under forty-six inches of water for days.  Upon it's placement, Dickens and Paisley sang--what else--but "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." With only a guitar and the legendary WSM microphone to guide their words, the duo gave a performance guaranteed to bring tears to the eyes of any true country fan.

I think this was the moment that I fell in love with the man who is Brad Douglas Paisley.  The youngest member ever inducted into the Opry, the sincerity in his voice while singing with pal, Dickens, made me absolutely delighted to be a fan of this institution.  

"It would be enough to stand in the presence of people like Jimmy out on this stage, but there’s something about having a physical piece of the old place, of the floor that Hank Williams stood on, of the people over the years from Loretta Lynn to Ernest Tubb to you name it who have performed on this stage. I think keeping physically and metaphysically this bond of the past is something that separates the Opry from almost all other musical institutions.” -Brad Paisley

I usually stick to the classics, have I made that too awful obvious?  That's why it surprised me so much when I started listening to Brad Paisley and discovered how much I loved practically every song he's released.  He's not one to be overlooked, and regardless of having a little southern rock in his swagger at times, the man writes and sings about things that are important to him.  Isn't this what country music was originally established to do in the first place anyway?  His songs make me sit back and think, 'Oh, that's so simple, everyone can relate...why didn't I think of that?'

Being a concert junkie, I receive emails every day from venues telling me who's coming near my home town.

Who: Brad Paisley
What: H2O Frozen Over Tour
Where: Louisville, Kentucky
When: February 29th

I'm so there.

Ole Hootie.
In front of a sold-out crowd, the opening acts came out front and center.  Newcomer Jerrod Niemann, best known for his songs "Lover, Lover" and "What Do You Want," appeared first and rocked the house will his soulfulness.  Darius Rucker, who's traded in his Hootie and the Blowfish gig and now thinks he's country, came out next and performed old hits and some newer ones for a full hour before it was Paisley's turn to step out of the wings.  The wait was well worth it as the hat wearing and guitar toting sensation came out and played for a whopping hour and a half.

A lighthearted and humorous man, the videos playing on the screen behind him during songs were no different.  During "Waiting on a Woman," the original music video featuring Andy Griffith added a nice touch to the sweet melody.  Later in the night, Paisley made the security guards work for the money as he traveled through the crowd to a stage resembling a pool that sat behind the floor seats.  He explained to the audience that when he was a kid he'd go to concerts at an arena near his house but could only afford the cheap seats. By coming closer to the less expensive seats to sing a few songs, he provided a better view for those who weren't fortunate enough to be by the stage.

He sang a full set of country tunes and proved that although his style may not be similar to the likes of Williams, Cash, or Jennings, he is one singer who is going to try to carry on their legacy and make sure no one forgets the roots of the music that lives on.  From their music to his, country music is a tradition unlike any other. Indeed, the circle has not been broken, cannot be broken, and will not be broken.