Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and this won't be a crime blog--instead, it'll be about a few of the many, many things that I'm thankful for. I thank God for having been born in America during the 1940s. I thank God for my family, my wife and two children. I thank God for the church that I attend, for my fellow-Christians who make it a little easier to walk those final steps. I'm thankful for having published my fourth book earlier this year--the odds of getting published are huge, and I got lucky when Sun Struck: 16 Infamous Murders in the Sunshine State hit the bookstores a few weeks ago.

During this holiday season, for some reason I've been thinking of the great music that has sustained me over the years. Many readers of this blog know of my love for country music. I plan to list a Baker's dozen songs that I love. There are many more, but these are some of my all-time favorites.

1 - "Kawliga," by Hank Williams. Hank is my favorite singer/song-writer. "Kawliga" is one of the most creative country songs ever written. The antique wooden Indian standing by the door waiting for his lost love is an image my mind has never forgotten.

2 - "The Homecoming," by Tom T. Hall. This is one of most poignant songs I've ever heard. It touches on the estrangement of family and the reuniting, in a superficial way, of father and son. Tom T. Hall had many great songs and is one of my favorite writers.

3 - "She's Never Coming Back," by Mark Collie. This is a whimsical, yet sad story of lost love. I love the refrain, "Like the king of Rock 'n' Roll, she's never coming back."

4 - "Hillbilly Highway," by Steve Earle. Great, great song about the hillbillies who moved from the South to Detroit and yet retained their "country" ways.

5 - "Folsom Prison Blues," by Johnny Cash. What else can you say? This is a country classic. In fact, most anything Cash did during the 1960s could have been included in this list.

6 - "Two More Bottles of Wine," by Emmy Lou Harris. This is a rockin' song with that poignant feel of the isolated woman, alone on the west coast and longing for home.

7 - "Be Careful of Stones That You Throw," by Luke the Drifter. Okay, it was really Hank Williams. I'm a sucker for tear-jerkers and this one is the mother of all tear-jerkers. Luke the Drifter recorded 13 talking songs, many from old poems, that will breach the defenses of your soul.

8 - "City Lights," by Bill Anderson. Another "country boy goes to the city and loses himself in the bright lights" song. Many people have recorded this song, but I like Anderson's best. He wrote many great songs before descending into his "Whispering Bill" mode.

9 - "Tulsa Time," by Don Williams. Another song about a country boy trying to make it in the big city, this time Hollywood. Great tune, great lyrics.

10 - "Smoke Along the Tracks," by Stonewall Jackson. The singers back in the 1960s had some great songs and this is typical. Modern pseudo-country music tries to forget these great singers and song-writers, but I predict the old music will be played long after the modern songs are forgotten.

11 - "Living on Love," by Alan Jackson. This song reminds me of my upbringing. My grandparents had a nice front porch with a swing and we spent hours sitting out there talking politics and life and playing music. This is country music at its best.

12 - "Cold Hard Facts of Life," by Porter Wagoner. This is another song written by Bill Anderson. I love revenge songs and stories, and this one is a classic about the husband who finds his wife partying while he's supposed to be away.

13 - "The Titanic," by Graveyard Johnny Fast. Okay, this version of the song was recorded only on YouTube, as far as I can tell. Canadian Graveyard Johnny makes this Roy Acuff song his own. He does it a little slower and without all the steel guitars and fiddles and such. It's a great simple version of a great song.

Okay, that's it. I could go on and on. Old-Time country music. It's timeless and priceless. I'm thankful for the country music of the past.

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