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Songs That Tell Stories

 
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Feb, 2011 09:43 pm
@edgarblythe,
I always liked that song. It's very literary. The writing is very pictorial: you can see the family settling down to dinner, with the unsettlingly casual mention of Billy Joe's death.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Feb, 2011 02:46 pm
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Feb, 2011 03:01 pm
@edgarblythe,
I love that one by George, edgar.

Here's another.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu3pnnNUnic&feature=related
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Feb, 2011 03:10 pm
@Letty,
It is believed by some that a chamber is under the sand between the paws of Sphinx. I believe I recall it was determined by modern techniques, but that the Egyptian authorities will not allow any digging to see what is in it. This coincides with Edgar Cayce's notion that the secret of the Sphinx lies between its paws.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2011 09:57 am
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2011 12:03 pm
@edgarblythe,
Great one by Waylon and Willie, edgar. Was there really a Clayton Delaney?

Another one.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c/Robert_W._Service.jpg

Robert Service.

Now the story.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cmmuQ8wYV0&feature=related

0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2011 12:32 pm
Re Clayton Delaney and Tom T Hall

Delaney info in red -


Tom T. Hall is known as a storyteller, a songwriter with a keen eye for detail and a knack for narrative. Many musicians have covered his songs -- most notably Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 hit "Harper Valley P.T.A." -- and he also has racked up a number of solo hits, including seven No. 1 singles.

Hall is the son of a bricklaying minister, who gave his child a guitar at the age of eight. He had already begun to write poetry, so it was a natural progression for him to begin writing songs. Hall began learning music and performing techniques from a musician who lived relatively near his home, Lonnie Easterly. At age 11, his mother died. Four years later, his father was shot in a hunting accident, which prevented him from working. In order to support himself and his father, Hall quit school and took a job in a local garment factory.

While he was working in the factory, he formed his first band, the Kentucky Travelers. The group played bluegrass and gigged at local schools as well as a radio station in Morehead, Ky. The station was sponsored by the Polar Bear Flour Company; Hall wrote a jingle for the company. After the Kentucky Travelers broke up, Hall became a DJ at the radio station.

In 1957, Hall enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Germany. While in Germany, he performed at local NCO clubs on the Armed Forces Radio Network, where he sang mostly original material, which usually had a comic bent to it. After four years of service, he was discharged in 1961. Once he returned to the States, he enrolled in Roanoke College as a journalism student; he supported himself by DJing at a radio station in Salem, Va.

One day a Nashville songwriter was visiting the Salem radio station and he heard Hall's songs. Impressed, the songwriter sent the songs to publisher Jimmy Key, who ran New Key Publishing. Key signed Hall as a songwriter, bringing the songs to a variety of recording artists. The first singer to have a hit with one of Hall's songs was Jimmy C. Newman, who brought "DJ for a Day" into the Top 10 in 1963. In early 1964, Dave Dudley took "Mad" to the Top 10. The back-to-back success convinced Hall to move to Nashville to continue his career as a professional songwriter.

After Johnnie Wright had a No. 1 hit with Hall's "Hello Vietnam," the music industry was pressuring Tom to become a performer. He took the plunge in 1967, signing with Mercury Records. His first single, "I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew," was released in the summer of 1967 and became a minor hit. Hall's other two singles in 1968 failed to crack the Top 40. Then, in the late summer of 1968, Jeannie C. Riley had a major hit with Hall's "Harper Valley P.T.A.," which spent three weeks at the top of the charts and was voted the Single of the Year by the Country Music Association. Its success brought attention to Hall's own recording career. "Ballad of Forty Dollars" became his first Top 10 hit, climbing all the way to No. 4.

Throughout 1969, he had a string of hit singles, culminated by the release of the No. 1 single "A Week in a Country Jail" at the end of the year. The following year was just as successful, as "Shoeshine Man" and "Salute to a Switchblade" both hit the Top 10. In 1971, he had his second number one single and his biggest hit, "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died," which was based on Easterly, his neighbor and musical childhood hero.For most of the early '70s, Hall was a consistent hitmaker as well as a popular concert attraction. Between 1971 and 1976, he had five No. 1 hits besides "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died": "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine," "I Love," "Country Is," "I Care," and "Faster Horses (The Cowboy and the Poet)." Hall was appearing on television shows with regularity during this time, particularly Hee Haw. He also wrote a book on songwriting, which led to his authorship of a pair of books in the late '70s and early '80s -- the semiautobiography The Storyteller's Nashville (1979) and the novel The Laughing Man of Woodmont
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2011 12:38 pm
More re Hall and his song(s)

CMT: What comes to mind when you think of "Ballad of Forty Dollars"?

Hall: The first job I ever had, I got a paying job with my aunt who was the head of the cemetery committee. I got a job mowing grass up in Olive Hill, Ky. Of course, when they had a funeral, I had to shut down the mower. ... That song is about my experiences shutting down the mower and watching the funerals. The irony is, when somebody else dies, I don't know how it got to be this way, but the rest of the world more or less forgives their sins. They say, "Oh, he was a wonderful guy, a good person," which is one of the ironies of philosophy, I think. Then when they were digging the graves, the people digging the graves had a lot of conversations about the economy of dying. You know, "He's got a brand new pickup. Who's going to get that?" Then it comes down to, the fellow owes me 40 bucks, and you're certainly not going to go to the widow and collect it. I guess it's lost. So that's where the song came from. I wrote a lot of those songs from personal experiences.

What about "Homecoming"?

My father was a Baptist preacher, kind of what I'd call an ordinary person. But if you've got a son that wants to go off in the music business, it's pretty hard for them to grasp that. And when you come home after being out singing, they don't get exactly what you're doing. Everybody liked music, but nobody took it seriously and never thought of it as a profession. So when you come home, it's hard to explain what you're doing. It's about a son who comes home and tries to explain himself to his father.

For instance, I was offered a job managing a department store. My father thought, "My son, a department store manager!" You know, "A 50 percent discount on khakis!" (laughs) He just lit up. I said, "No, I'd rather pick and sing." It's hard to get that across -- what you're up to.

One of my favorites is "Margie's at the Lincoln Park Inn."

It's a little bit like "Harper Valley P.T.A." It's about the reputation. It digs a little deeper behind what's obvious. The guy's a Boy Scout counselor, he teaches at Sunday school, his wife belongs to the bridge club, he's capable of fixing his little boy's bike ... and all of this. But behind that fa├žade of domesticity and civility, Margie's at the Lincoln Park Inn. That's a big story there.

I think it goes back to reading Sinclair Lewis, who's largely forgotten now. I was really influenced by Babbitt, Main Street, Elmer Gantry. He really was a voice of that time.

We have to talk about "Harper Valley P.T.A.," of course.

It's a true story. I was just a fly on the wall. I was only 8, 9 or 10 years old at the time. I was mowing grass around the neighborhood -- it sounds like I should have turned into a landscaper. The lady was a really free spirit, modern way beyond the times in my hometown. They got really huffy about her lifestyle. She didn't go to school, but they could get to her through her daughter. She took umbrage at that and went down and made a speech to them. I mean, here's this ordinary woman taking on the aristocracy of Olive Hill, Ky., population 1,300. When I was a kid, you just didn't take on the aristocracy. It was unheard of. They were [supposedly] right about everything.

Did you every encounter her after that?

No. I certainly didn't use her real name. Out of 1,300 people, you could pick her out real quick. So a lot of things I wrote biographically. I changed the names of people.

Was the character in "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died" based on someone named Floyd Carter? I've read varying accounts on that.

No, his name was Lonnie Easterly. I used to travel and look for songs. That was my alias, Floyd Carter. If I was out looking for songs and they'd say, "Aren't you Tom T. Hall?" I'd say, "No, I'm Floyd Carter." I never told many people that. I didn't have to use it a lot. I'd get in my car and drive through small town America and stop off at little cafes and pool halls, to look and listen. I got a lot of songs that way. There toward the end, it got to where people would recognize me.

But Lonnie Easterly was his name. The way I got the name Clayton Delaney, it's a good story. The hill he lived on was called Clayton Hill, and the people who lived next door to him were the Delaneys. So I didn't want to move too much geography around and lose the feel of what I was writing about. So when I changed his name, I changed it to a hill and a neighbor. I kept everything on that hill, there in his neighborhood, to keep from losing that reality.Another song that a lot of people remember is "I Love."

Yeah. Irony of ironies, it's been my biggest moneymaking song. Let's see, Little Debbie Cakes bought it for a commercial, Ford Trucks used it for a commercial and then Coors Beer used it for a theme song the last couple of years. It's been recorded by a lot of orchestras. You hear it on the elevators, which is amazing. It's just three chords, and it's only two minutes long. For some reason, I walked into a great melody. [He sings the melody.] It sounds almost like what Mozart would have done or Chopin. I got really lucky on that melody, and it's been used for a lot of different things.

How about "Little Bitty"?

I was in Australia. I like physical activity. I like to do manual labor. It's force of habit. I'm a country boy that's been in the military, so I can't vegetate very well. When I was in Europe, I could walk, which is great. Australia, England, New Zealand, France -- places like that they have bicycle paths. We don't have them here. And you can walk for miles without getting run over. So I was in Australia and I went walking, and I wound up out in the country. I walked past this little house. It was a little five-room house painted white with shutters, a picket fence, a car in front of this little wooden garage and a little dog in the yard. I thought, "I'm in Australia, and here's the great American dream." The house with a picket fence, the dog, the flowers. It was almost like a painting. I said, "This is universal, this notion of having a contained domestic situation."

I thought, "So, it's all right to be little bitty." Then as I'm walking, I start writing the song, describing this little bitty house and the little bitty yard with the dog. But I went back to the hotel where I was staying and I'm viciously awake early. Working with musicians, it drives them crazy. You're getting up as they're going to bed. They just resent the hell out of that. But anyway, I'm going back and now they've finally opened the coffee shop and I'm going to get a cup of coffee. I'm sitting there thinking, "Well, it's a universal idea, but ..."

I called the waitress over, and she brought some coffee. I said, "May I ask you a question?" and she said, "Certainly." I said, "Does 'little bitty' mean anything in Australia?" She said, "Oh yes, it's something very tiny!" I said, "Good. Thank you very much." She looks at me kind of quizzically, like "What the hell is this all about?" But now I know they know about it in Australia, and they know about it in England and all the English-speaking countries. I thought maybe it was something I learned in Kentucky. Some of those things you bring out of those hollers and take them out into polite society and they have no idea what you're talking about. So when she said that, I went upstairs and got my guitar and finished the song.

But then it laid around in a drawer for two years because it didn't have a last verse. It stayed in that drawer. We moved to Florida, and I emptied my briefcase in a drawer down there. I went to do a demo and I didn't have any songs. I got that song out of the drawer and looked at it -- and no last verse. I said, "Well, after two years, I know how this thing ends. The way it started!" It starts all over again. It's a cyclical song. I wrote the last verse at the bottom of the typed page. I demoed it and put it on my little album [1996's Songs From Sopchoppy]. Then Alan Jackson heard it. I'm glad I never emptied my briefcase into a wastebasket. It's a dangerous business, what you throw away.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2011 12:41 pm
The Creation of Sam MCgee always makes me think of Johnny Horton's records of North to Alaska and When It's Springtime in Alaska.
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2011 01:18 pm
@edgarblythe,
great stuff...thanks eb
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2011 01:21 pm
@panzade,
Tom T Hall continually surprises me.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2011 09:56 pm
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2011 10:42 pm
If anyone is interested, if you visit the PBS site, you can watch the pilot for Austin City Limits and see a youngish (he always had crow's feet) Willie Nelson. It was a great show.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 20 Feb, 2011 02:44 pm


Down in Mexicali
There's a crazy little place that I know
Where the drinks are hotter than the chili sauce
And the boss is a cat named Joe
He wears a red bandana, plays a blues pianna
In a honky-tonk, down in Mexico
He wears a purple sash, and a black moustache
In a honky-tonk, down in Mexico
Well, the first time that I saw him
He was sittin' on a piano stool
I said "Tell me dad, when does the fun begin?"
He just winked his eye and said "Man, be cool."
He wears a red bandana, plays a blues pianna
In a honky-tonk, down in Mexico
He wears a purple sash, and a black moustache
In a honky-tonk, down in Mexico
All of a sudden in walks this chick
Joe starts playing on a Latin kick
Around her waist she wore three fishnets
She started dancin' with the castanets
I didn't know just what to expect
She threw her arms around my neck
We started dancin' all around the floor
And then she did a dance I never saw before.
So if you're south of the border
I mean down in Mexico
And you wanna get straight,
Man, don't hesitate
Just look up a cat named Joe.
He wears a red bandana, plays a blues pianna
In a honky-tonk, down in Mexico
He wears a purple sash, and a black moustache
In a honky-tonk, down in Mexico

Yeah, como est usted senorita
Come with me to the border, south of the border, that is
In Mexico, yeah in Mexico
You can get your kicks in Mexico
Come with me baby, come with me, come with me, crazy, yeah


Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Feb, 2011 05:11 pm
@edgarblythe,
That one was different, edgar. Neat!

Odd, Phil Ochs makes this guy sound happy.

http://img.listal.com/image/376280/600full-edgar-allan-poe.jpg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJBpbzD14I0&feature=related

Poe's death still remains a mystery.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 20 Feb, 2011 05:14 pm
I know Phil's recording of The Bells very well, letty.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Feb, 2011 08:24 pm
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 03:30 am
If this had been the first song that Elvis recorded, he would NEVER have become a teen idol:
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 05:22 pm
@MontereyJack,
True. By the time he did that song, though, he could get away with anything.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 06:22 pm

In his lifetime, Jack Guthrie was more commercially successful than cousin Woody.
0 Replies
 
 

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