March 30 2021

Ol’ Frank and Beans

Today as I was driving home from work I heard Chris Stapleton’s “Maggie’s Song,” playing over my truck’s stereo. The Highway channel 56 Playing the hottest new country hits was airing the song for my drive at five. I had heard the song before. I own the album Starting Over which Stapleton released last November. “Maggie’s Song” is a track from that album. I have heard dozens of times but today out of nowhere the song brought memories to mind that caused tears to roll down my cheeks.

I wrote [Maggie’s Song] the day after our dog, Maggie, passed away. We had her for 14 years and I miss her quite a bit. I’m not really a dog person, either, that’s worth saying. But I loved that dog for sure. Every word of that song is just a true thing.

Chris Stapleton via NPR

The third verse of the song really got to me.

It was rainin’ on a Monday

The day that Maggie died

She woke up and couldn’t use her legs

So I laid down by her side

She put her head on my hand

Like she’d done so many times

I told her she was a good dog

Then I told her goodbye

I cannot think of a time in my life without a dog. I have always had a few dogs around, I guess for as long as I can consciously remember. A few weeks ago, my father texted me to let me know that they were having to let go of one of their beloved dogs. My mom and Dad’s dog, Frankie. To me, it was kinda like losing a member of the family. For over fourteen years, at my folk’s house, Frankie was there to greet me.

Even now, I can recall the first day I met her. It was a particularly cold evening and a local veterans group was hosting a fund raising event in someone’s back yard. I had gone early to help them set up. Up on the stage, Michael J Martin was playing his music. My oldest daughter, and my mother showed up. Tucked under my daughter’s coat clawing for warmth, was a tiny dachshund mixed pup.  They introduced me to her as Frank and Beans. My mother’s idea as she was a “weenie dog.”

Even when my parents were not there for one reason or another, I would make the drive to care for their pets. Frankie was always happy to see me and even more happy to eat. I know the dog had a good life, she just got too old. One day she stopped eating, her health declined, her old body grew tired and she wasn’t wagging or running any more. It was the best decision for my parents to make I know. The decision to put her down was trying on them both, although I am sure If you were to ask my pop about it, he would most likely deny having any emotions over the ordeal.

“If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.”

Will Rogers

I love the line in the Stapleton song:

I can tell you right now that a dog has a soul

This line shares a common belief as I. I believe in the saying that all dogs go to Heaven. I think there is a rainbow bridge and when it comes my time to pass through this world and into the next I believe that ol’ Frankie, along with many many more good ol’ dogs are going to be running across that bridge to welcome me home.

I have known some pretty good dogs in my life, and a few turd hounds too. I can tell you this without regret, I would gladly take the turd hounds over most people I have met.

Pancho.

March 28 2021

The Real McCoy

“The real McCoy” is an idiom and metaphor used in much of the English-speaking world to mean “the real thing” or “the genuine article.

Harmonica Player and Grammy Award winning session musician Charlie McCoy was born on this day, March 28, 1941. McCoy was born in Oak Hill, West Virginia. At the age of eight he began playing on a harmonica his mother had bought him for fifty cents. He soon learned to play other instruments as well. Charlie became a guitarist, a drummer, and also played bass and trumpet in his teenage years.

Miami, Florida was where Charlie McCoy would spend his teenaged years attending Southwest Miami high school. It was at Southwest Miami high that McCoy would put together a rock band he called “Charlie McCoy and the Agendas.” After being coaxed by a friend to attend and play at a barn dance, the band was signed to the “Old South Jamboree,” a popular radio show in Miami.

McCoy’s original band included himself on guitar and as lead singer, Bill Johnson on steel guitar, Charlie Justice on guitar, and vocalist Bill Phillips. The other member of the Agendas playing bass was a man named Donny Lytle. Lytle would later be known to the country music world as Johnny Paycheck.

At the age of eighteen, Charlie McCoy received an invitation to come to Nashville and persue his musical career by artist Mel Tillis. After visiting many record companies and producers and not catching the big break he was seeking, McCoy returned to Miami to begin attending classes at Miami University.

Charlie McCoy majored in music education at Miami University with hopes to become a teacher. Faculty members of the university did not like McCoy’s work outside of the university. He was still playing his rock n roll music at the “Jamboree.” The university faculty members deemed this “a lower form of music.” McCoy made it known that he would quit playing the barn dance if the faculty would give him a scholarship, however, the University denied his request.

After working for several bands mainly as a drummer, Charlie McCoy’s music was heard by Archie Bleyer of Cadence Records.  “Cherry Berry Wine“, would become McCoy’s first recorded single. The track reached the 99th spot on the charts in Nashville.

In 1961, Chet Akins heard one of Charlie McCoy’s demo tapes. Akins hired Charlie on the spot. It was Chet Akins who gave Charlie the big break he was looking for.

With RCA and Ann Margaret, Charlie McCoy recorded his first song as a harmonica player. “I Just Don’t Understand.” At the discovery by Fred Foster of Monument records in his musical talents with the mouth harp, his instrumentals would back Roy Orbison’s, “Candy Man.”

Candy Man,” became a million seller. The prominent harmonics throughout the song drew notice. Fred Foster believed in Charlie McCoy’s music.

McCoy continued to record with Monument. In 1972, a release of “Today I Started Loving You Again” as a single sold 750,000 copies and reached #16 in the Billboard Charts. The Real McCoy, Charlie McCoy’s next album would win a Grammy from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. His album Good Time Charlie reached No. 1 in the Billboard country chart.

Throughout the 1970’s Charlie McCoy participated in over 400 recording sessions a year. McCoy’s harmonica appears on Ringo Starrs, “Beaucoups of Blues.” While his guitar ability can be heard on Dylan’s, “Desolation Row.” His bass playing can be heard on all the tracks from Dylan’s album John Wesley Harding. McCoy also recorded with Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and The Steve Miller Band, and more.

For 19 years, Charlie McCoy was the musical director of the popular television show Hee Haw. He was also a member of the Million Dollar Band, the group of all-star session musicians who performed on the show.

Happy Birthday Charlie, you truly are the “REAL McCoy.”

Pancho.

March 26 2021

Mountain Musing

Last weekend I was able to spend some time on a mountain retreat with 3 of the men I trust most in this world. Overall, I feel that the weekend was a much-needed break from the stress and struggles of the real world.

Topics of the weekend conversation of course included music. KD feels that Willie Nelson has a whiny voice. He also stated that Willie and Merle’s version of “Pancho and Lefty” was better than that of Townes Van Zandt. Of course, I totally disagreed with both of those statements. One Willie’s voice is nasally not whiny, but that is what makes him Willie. Secondly, I usually almost always defer back to the original version of a song as the best… Especially if that original version happens to be written by Townes Van Zandt. I have said it a dozen times, and I will say it again. Townes Van Zandt singing “Pancho and Lefty” is the best, hands down, no argument.

All of this came from a guy who wants the Joe Diffie song, “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox” played at his funeral. KD’s taste in music isn’t all bad, I will say that he does like George Strait and he thinks Guns n Roses is still a bad ass band. As for me the Townes version of “Dead Flowers” shall be my funeral march.

I did have to explain to the group about Dean Dillon. Without Dean Dillon, George Strait would not be the king he is today. This might be the exception to my above mentioned rule. The one about deferring to the original artist. For example, “The Chair.” Written by Dean Dillon and Hank Cochran on some boat out in the Bahamas. George Straits version of that song is the best, hands down, no argument.

“The Chair” is a song written by Hank Cochran and Dean Dillon and recorded by American country music artist George Strait. It was released in August 1985 as the first single from Strait’s album Something Special”- WIKIPEDIA

IF there had been no Townes Van Zandt, then there would have been no Pancho and Lefty. HAD there been no Dean Dillon, George Strait would not be the King of Country Music.

Hank Cochran came up with one of the greatest lines ever in a country song in “The Chair.” Willie Nelson composed the guitar rift in the final line.

According to Cochran:

“Willie won’t mind”

Hank Cochran

Hank Cochran actually convinced the record label he was working for to sign Willie Nelson, which gave him his start in Country music. Of course when Hank borrowed a few chords, Willie didn’t mind.

In the words of the great Hank Cochran from the song lyrics of “The Chair.”

 Well thank you, could I drink you a buy?

Oh listen to me, what I mean is can I buy you a drink?

Anything you please.

Pancho.

March 24 2021

Polk Salad Annie

Now some of y’all never been down South too much

I’m gonna tell you a little bit about this

So that you’ll understand what I’m talking about

“Polk Salad Annie,” was originally recorded by Tony Joe White in 1968 at RCA studio B in Nashville. The single was released in June 1969. Tony Joe White’s version of the song fit a genre commonly known as Swamp Music. The song was a vivid picture of Tony Joe’s life while growing up in the swamplands of Louisiana.

Elvis Presley would later record the song which is now considered a classic. The song was a staple at Elvis Presley’s concerts.

In a 2014 Interview with music journalist Ray Shasho, White told about the inspirations of how the song about Polk salad came to be.

“Well I know about polk because I had ate a bunch of it…. I was real lucky with my first tries to write something that was not only real and hit pretty close to the bone, but lasted that long. So it was kind of a guide for me then on through life to always try to write what I know about.”

Tony Joe White

Tony Joe White “The Swamp Fox” was born July 23rd 1943. He grew up in Oak Grove Louisiana. Oak Grove was a town in West Carroll Parish Louisiana. In White’s song, “Old Man Willis,” The setting of the song takes place in Oak Grove, the place where Tony Joe grew up on a cotton farm, the youngest of seven children. In the late 1960’s white signed with Monument Records. He recorded his first three albums all produced by the well known musician Billy Swan. White’s first full length album, Black and White, was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The album featured the song “Polk Salad Annie” as wellas a cover of “Witchita Lineman.”

White toured across the U.S. and throughout France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and England with major rock acts of the 1970s, Steppenwolf, Anne Murray, Sly & the Family Stone, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. In 1973, “The Swamp Fox” sat in on the sessions that would become Jerry Lee Lewis Southern Roots album.

In the 1990’s, Tony Joe White began a comeback by Producing and Performing with Tina Turner. Turner recorded the song, “Steamy Windows,” which was written by White. She also recorded 3 more songs by White on her album, Foreign Affair. White would spend the 90’s touring with Eric Clapton, and Joe Cocker. He also toured with Waylon Jennings.

Tina Turner recorded the song “On Silent Wings” in 1996 also written by White.

White died of a heart attack on October 24, 2018, at the age of 75.

“He wasn’t ill or nothing,” said his son Jody White, “ He just died of a heart attack.”

The posthumous album Smoke from the Chimney will be released May 7, 2021 on Easy Eye Sound. The album features nine vocal and guitar demo recordings of White, fully realized and arranged by producer Dan Auerbach. The tracks feature many top Nashville session players, including drummer Gene Chrisman, keyboardist Bobby Wood, bassist Dave Roe, guitarist Marcus King, and others.

The gators got your granny, woo hoo

Everybody said it was a shame

‘Cause her mama was a-working on a chain gang

Polk salad Annie….

Polk Salad Annie,

Pancho

March 18 2021

Penny Lane peaks #1 March 18,1967

Penny Lane is a street in Liverpool, England. Penny Lane was a meeting spot near Lennon’s home. Lennon would meet McCartney at Penny Lane where the two would catch a bus to head into the center of the city.

On this day, March 18, 1967 the Beatles scored there 13th #1 single in the US with “Penny Lane.”

“Penny Lane,” was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. It is a song reminiscing about the past. The two Beatles must have spent a lot of time watching and listening to the people and the sights and sounds along the path. I imagine that if the bus had arrived on time, the two who had nothing better to do then wait would miss the regulars who frequented the area.  

Here is the best interpretation of the song I could come up with

There was a barber there who kept photographs of famous people he had met.

“In Penny Lane, there is a barber showing photographs

Of every head he’s had the pleasure to know

And all the people that come and go

Stop and say hello”

The banker was somewhat of a womanizer who apparently had lots of illegitimate children.

“And the banker never wears a mac

In the pouring rain – very strange.”

In this line, the “mac” means a condom. Perhaps the banker should have worn one.

“Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout

The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray”

The nurse was supplementing her income by selling narcotics and medical morphine that she had most likely stolen.

Anyway perhaps the two Beatles were really watching the scene unfold, or even making it up as they went. I am often a people watcher. Sometimes I make up fascinating stories of who they are and what they are doing.

“Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes

There beneath the blue suburban skies

Penny Lane”

The song “Penny Lane,” is one of the Beatles best and it deserved the number one spot this day in 1967.

Pancho.

March 14 2021

It’s the hour of Dogs a-barking

Songwriter Thomas George Russell’s music is a masterly incorporation of Americana, and a sound of the American West. Every song he writes paints a picture of a particular place and time. Tom has mastered the art of painting a picture with his words. It doesn’t matter how many times that I hear the same old song I get the feelings through his music that it is the first time I have ever heard the song. Not many artists can do that for me, Tom Russell is one of the few.

This morning I heard “Guadalupe” again. AND once again it felt like the first time. To me, a Tom Russell song is like a fine wine. It gets better with age. Whatever I may happen to be going through in my life at any given moment I can find my trouble in a TR song. His lyrics are so rich and deep.

The feeling I get when listening to “Guadalupe.” It is like the hairs all stand up on my arms and on the back of my neck. Perfect thought-provoking lyrics, in this the tale of mystery cured through centuries of blood and candle smoke.

My personal favorite verse of the song is when Tom sings:

Now it’s the hour of dogs a-barking

That’s what the old ones used to say

It’s first light or it’s sundown

Before the children cease their play

In an oldTexas Monthly Magazine, dated October 2009, I found an interesting article about Tom Russell and on the song “Guadalupe.”

In the reading I learned that Tom wrote the song after spending a lonely Christmas in Mexico. Drowning in his own self pity he found himself at a midnight mass. At the mass he was surrounded by hundreds of struggling natives. These peoples of Mexican and Indian descent all seemed to still carry hope. A hope that was generated because of their faith and beliefs.

“I saw two or three hundred poor Indians and Mexicans, their faces shining, being led past the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe.”

Tom Russell Texas Monthly October 2009.

The final verse of the song explains it all from Tom’s point of view:

I am the least of all your pilgrims here

But I am most in need of hope

I am the least of all your pilgrims here

But I am most in need of hope

We were all born with a system of faith in place. It was left for us to decide what to do with it. My hope today is that my God has something bigger planned for my life. I choose to do his will and not my own. I ask for his shining light on my life today. I seek divine guidance and direction. Whenever something good happens I can give credit to God. When something negative happens I also give that up to God as my faith ensures me that all things happen for a reason. Today I am able to construct hope even in the worst trials of my life. I can always learn from my mistakes when I look inward instead of out.

My face is shining this day.

Pancho.

March 13 2021

Country Club

I have been a member of the country club since my youth. I can vividly recall my years as an early teen, I was riding in the back of a school bus, heading home to a plot of land outside of Midkiff, Texas and my old buddy James sharing his Walkman with me.. Soon enough James and I were belting out those lyrics….

Well I’m a member of a country club

Country music is what I love

I drive an old Ford pick-up truck

I do my drink-in from a dixie cup

Yea I’m a bona-fide dancin’ fool

I shoot a mighty mean game of pool

At any honky-tonk roadside pub

I’m a member of a country club

Fast forward a few years, and I was still trying to emulate the guy in that song.. Perhaps those old Honky Tonks across this great State of Texas is where I developed my love of music. I have seen some pretty good artists in some of those out of the way places. Bars and Dance Halls were my favorite haunts for quite some time. If there wasn’t a band playing, they had the jukebox. You could bet that Travis Tritt was on that machine somewhere.

A whole lot of stuff has changed in the world today, as Travis Tritt sings about in this new single. One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that Travis can still make a country song. It has been 13 years since he has done anything new. His song “Smoke In A Bar,” is worth the wait.

Smoke in a Bar,” the second single off Travis Tritt’s newest album, Set In Stone. This is his first original full-length album in over a decade.

Set In Stone is set to release this May. Currently you can pre order Tritt’s newest 11 songs from Apple iTunes. As of now, only two singles are available off of the album, “Smoke In A Bar” and “Ghost Town Nation.”

I am looking forward to May so I can hear what else Travis Tritt has to offer. Until then, I will just settle with his tried and true hit recordings.

Born James Travis Tritt, February 9, 1963, in Marietta, Georgia. Tritt first found interest in music after his hearing his church choir singing, “Everything is Beautiful.”  His parents gave him his first guitar when he was only 8 years old and he taught himself how to play.

In the late 1980’s Tritt secured a deal with Warner Brothers to record six songs. Per his contract, he could not be signed on for a full album unless one of these singles became a hit. In late 1988 he recorded “Country Club.” The song wasn’t released until August of 1989. “Country Club,” peaked the Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts to number 9 and spent 26 more weeks on the charts.

Well I’m a member of a country club

Country music is what I love

I’m a member of a country club

Thanks to Travis Tritt, I am still a member of the Country Club today.

Pancho.

March 12 2021

Marijuana and Jalepenos

TGIF… Thank God it’s Friday! This week has kicked me in the butt. Life in the patch is good to me today, things seem to be gettin’ a little busy out here again.

Had just a few minutes of downtime and I got to thinkin’. I like songs that most people think are strange. My wife has told me more than once.. “Your music is strange,” she says , “well some of it is good but it’s strange.”

If there is a song you think is strange.. let me know, I will probably like it. I like funny songs, I like songs that no one else has ever heard. I like songs that tell a story. Wait I like songs.

My preferred genre is Texas country or Red Dirt, but for those of you who know me or those that follow my blogs you know that I will listen to just about anything that tickles my ear buds.

Rich O’Toole tweeted today..Be creative and different. Hearing 100 bands that sound the same does zero for Texas Music.”

I like songs that are different.. how many more songs are going to be written about toes in the water, beer drinkin’ on the tailgate of a pickup truck, that girl that done left a long time ago? Nah put some different lyrics in there bro.. Rich O’Toole is right. Dare to be different.

I can almost bet that no other song writer in Texas, the USA, or the Planet Earth has ever written a song about Marijuana and Jalepenos. Rich O’Toole did it.. check it out, I did!

Get the song on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mar…​ Official video for Rich O’Toole’s two favorite things, “Marijuana and Jalapenos.” http://richotoole.com

O’Toole has a large discography. His songs range from road tripping across the west to sky scrapers and big cities. He has music you can sing along with. Music you can dance too. And for guys like me who need different, un normal, non cliché, he has Marijuana and Jalepenos.

I’d like to think he wrote the song just for me.. But I know that isn’t true, I am pretty sure he wrote it just for you. I mean seriously even though I haven’t touched the stuff in over 12 years to be honest , if they ever did legalize the green bud in Texas, I would most likely try some on my tacos too.

Pancho.

March 11 2021

Jimmy Fortune

On this day March 11 of 1955 country singer/ songwriter Jimmy Fortune was born and grew up in Nelson County, Virginia.

For over 21 years, Fortune was a member of the Statler Brother’s band. He was a tenor singer for the group and penned several songs. His number one hits included, “Elizabeth“, “Too Much on My Heart“, and “My Only Love“. After members Don and Harold Reid along with Phil Balsley, retired in 2002, Jimmy Fortune moved on to a semi successful solo career in country and gospel music.

Happy Birthday Jimmy Fortune

Pancho.

March 9 2021

McCollum at #1 nine weeks

In the #1 spot for 9 Weeks in a row the most-streamed TX/Red Dirt single on Spotify is Parker McCollum’s, “To Be Loved By You.”

What in the hell does a man have to do to be loved by you?

The song has created quite a following and is ranked by it’s following presence high above all of my other favorite new tracks. Parker McCollum, The Limestone Kid, is becoming a regular and worthy artist on Americana and Texas Country radio. He is someone whose talent has really began to shine in this post pandemic world we are living in.

It’s nice to hear country music that still sounds country. Parker isn’t writing or singing about anything that we haven’t all been through ourselves.

Here is a story of a man who is doing his best to do whatever it takes to make his woman fall head over heels for him. A man who is just doing the best he can and laying all his chips on the table.

The Austin Texas based Singer/Songwriter says when a particular melody, lyric or emotion flows over him, he can’t help but to spend the time it takes to work it out. The time and effort Parker painstakingly takes on each note can be heard in his recent recordings.

McCollum mixes the genres of Americana, Texas country, and indie rock and the outcome is an incredible sound.

“I’m constantly trying to find ways to make our live show better”

Parker McCollum

Parker McCollum

Parker is on tour. According to his webpage he is booked at venues all across this great nation every weekend for the next several months. Tickets are available and I would encourage you to check him out. I am looking into seeing a live performance very soon myself.

Pancho.