Tag Archives: juke box

Music Memories; If It Ain’t Country It Might As Well Be Opera

With my Dad working and running the bars of Lima and me tagging along I could not but grow up liking country music.

It is a music even to this day, for the most part, has lyrics that are clear, understandable, and relatable to the common human experience.

Many lyrics of songs today are drowned-out by loud back-ground music or other voices. Some singers are so interested in showing-off their range that the ability to understand the words are sacrificed. Sometimes I ask my wife, “What is she singing?” She replies, “I can’t understand, but she sure has a good voice.”

To me going to an Alicia Keys concert is little more the going to an opera. She might as well be singing in a foreign language.

When a teenager I used to go to the diner old PK truck stop in Beaverdam, Ohio. They had a pretty good tasting Swiss steak along with plenty of country music. That’s all they had on the juke box.

Truck drivers were men away from home and country music brought them back.

One day I walked in and the place was empty except for a truck driver. He sat alone in a booth and dropped a coin into the juke box and punched a song that was sung so clear and true. To this day I marvel at the simplicity, directness, longing, and passion. The lyrics, the melody, and emotion made you feel what was in the heart of that truck driver. The song was Jim Reeves’ He’ll Have to Go.

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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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A Song That Will Make You Feel Good: Music Memories

These old Wulitzers hold a lot of memories; good times, bad times, laughter and tears

While attending the first and second grade my Dad owned a bar. It was a working class bar within walking distance of three factories. It was the early fifties.

Although the place was a dive by many accounts. It was full of music, laughter, and good times.

Our family had an apartment above the bar. I fell asleep many nights to the music of hillbilly bands, loud voices, and laughter.

There was a piano in the bar. It was in the corner of a room separate from the barroom. It was an overflow for the Friday and Saturday night crowd. Sometimes a hillbilly band played on the weekends, but most of the music was supplied by a Wurlitzer juke box. Boy! There was a lot of magic that come out of that thing.

In my first memory of music it was a song by Hank Williams that I remembered first. Williams had a tremendous following with working class folks. So it is no surprise that another song I remember well from my Dad’s bar is Jambalaya, a Hank Williams song.

In this song Williams displays himself as an extraordinary lyricist although the melody seems to come from another song call Grand Texas. I have included that song also for a comparison.

Here are the lyrics first:

Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh

Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou

My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh

Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

(Chorus)

Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file’ gumbo

‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio

Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o

Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

Thibodeaux, Fontainenot, the place is buzzin’

Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen

Dress in style and go hog wild, me oh my oh

Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

(Chorus)

Settle down, far from town, get me a pirogue

And I’ll catch all the fish in the bayou

Swap my mon to buy Yvonne what she need-o

Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

(Chorus)

Williams introduced a bit of Cajun culture with simple phrasing and catchy rhymes. It was a good time song for people to sing and drink to.

To this day when ever I hear or think of this simple song I see my Dad’s bar full of happy people; laughing, drinking, and dancing.

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