Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Sounds of Country Music



Yesterday, I was thrilled to learn that Hank Williams had received a Pulitzer Prize! The country legend was praised for "his craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life."

I couldn't agree more.

I went to sleep each night to the sounds of country music when I was a child. Radio station WCKY came to us all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio, which seemed a continent away back then. Sometimes it came in as clear as a bell; other times it faded in and out, depending on the weather between Western Kentucky and Cincinnati, I suppose.
That was before we got our first TV, so Mother and Daddy spent their evenings reading various books and Time, Look and Life magazines, often reading tidbits aloud to each other. The radio sat on the end table next to Daddy's worn swivel rocker, and I think it played until they went to bed. But I had no way of knowing for sure. I was fast asleep by then.

It was always summertime back then, it seems. And after Pitty Pat, Mary Ellen and I ceased our nightly whispering and giggling, we drifted to sleep to the sounds of country music, frogs croaking in the swamps nearby, our parents' soft murmurings drifting from the living room, the fluttering of the leaves in the old Cottonwood trees just outside our bedroom window.

Hank Williams was everyone's favorite, and I loved the sad ones: Your Cheatin' Heart, I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You, I'm So Lonesome I could Cry, Take These Chains From My heart. His mournful voice came from deep within his soul, his music like sad and lonely people trailing along behind.

I still love the sad ones, and my all-time favorite is Cold Cold Heart.

I'm listening to it now. And far, far away, I hear my parents' voices, frogs croaking, and the fluttering of the leaves in the old Cottonwood trees just outside my bedroom window.

6 comments:

C.A. said...

Have you ever heard some of the first country songs Hank Williams III (Hank's grandson, son of Hank II) performed/recorded? Have you seen him -- he looks almost identical to Hank Williams. He apparently decided he DID NOT want to follow in those very big footsteps, so he quit doing country and went to a different form of music, calls himself a "Hellbilly." At any rate, his first country songs (some the originals of his grandfather) were so genuinely similar to the first Hank they would make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

Debbie said...

In a increasingly complicated world, it's nice to have the sweet, simplistic memories from yester-year, isn't it? I cherish my childhood memories. Thanks for sharing yours!

Brenda said...

Thanks, y'all!

C: I've never heard the music of Hank Williams III. But I'll check him out!

Debbie: Those were days, my friend...

Lorrie said...

I really enjoyed your reminiscence of days gone by Brenda. Funny that in my memories it seems like it was always summertime too. Life seemed so uncomplicated then...

Brenda said...

Thanks, Lorrie! (Compared to these days, I think life WAS uncomplicated back then.)

Carol@ Writers Porch/ Book House said...

He deserves this honor as he was the father of great songwriting!

All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley