Tag Archives: honky tonk bar

A Lonely Song I Remember

Some go to a bar to be alone and listen to lonely music. Can you hear the music?

Bars are lonely places most of the time. Friday and Saturday nights a bar jumps with excitement, but Monday through Thursday there’s only two other places with less life; a church and graveyard.

Those are the times for lonely people. Those are the times lonely music comes out of a bar. It announces to the world that a lonely person is inside.

It was a hot Summer evening. The sun was down. On the other side of the tracks next to Dad’s bar two factories were operating with skeleton crews. Inside the bar was one man nursing a bottle of beer. Loneliness oozed from the bar like pus from a wound. The man reached deep in his pocket and pulled out a coin. He ambled to the juke box and played a lonely song.

Everything about the song, the night, the man, the bar was sadness, despair, and loneliness.

There is nothing wrong with lonely songs and loneliness. It’s like climbing a mountain on your own. It’s your own strength and your own will that pushes you to the top. Somethings don’t require help or an audience. In fact, that is the way most of life is. Those are the times you find out who you really are. Lonely songs, though painful, can cleanse the emotions.

By the time the song ended the man ordered another beer. He knew not to go home because sleep was still far, far away. There was still more cleansing that had to be done.

“I‘m So Lonesome I Could Cry” was written for bars with only one customer and a bartender who knew when to listen and when to keep his distance.

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My First Memory Of Music

The first music I heard came from a record player like this. You talk about quality sound.

One of my earliest memories was a crank record player. It was tucked away in a closet and my sisters pulled it out now and then. The music that came from it doesn’t come to mind, but today I imagine the voices of Vaughn Monroe and Al Jolson.

My Dad worked a few blocks away at a honky tonk bar called the Wooden Shoe on South Main Street in Lima, Ohio. On occasions my sisters walked me to the bar. In those days the music of Hank Williams was prominent. Any band worth its salt had at least a half dozen Hank Williams’ songs in its repertoire.

The bands I remember always had a drummer, a guitar player, a fiddler, and a base fiddler. They wore bright western style clothing with bandanas tied loosely around their necks and slicked hair.

On hot muggy evenings in crowded bars the beer flowed, the laughter was loud, and the music played on. In those days air-conditioning was a rarity. Every window and door was opened to allow cool air in and the music out. The music drifted down the streets and alleys and beckoned the lonely and down-hearted. On small postage-stamp sized stages hillbilly bands strummed, picked, and stroked songs that filled the night.

I listened to bands like this play in bars and honky tonks.

Perspiration rolled down the cheek of the lead singer as he poured his heart into a song. A sip of beer between songs cleared his throat. A wink from a bar room Betty kept him singing.

They sung songs of lost loves, broken hearts, despair, and good times to come. It was only a few years after the worst war of recorded history, World War II. They were songs sung by men who lived through a depression only to brave a war. Their thoughts and songs reflected an inward longing of what they lived through and lost.

There were songs of optimism and fun. Hank Williams knew the ingredients to a good song; a good-looking girl, a good car, a pocket full of money, and a place to spend it.

This is one of the first songs I remember hearing.

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