February 4 2021

The Day the Music Died: Part 3

When I originally created this blog, I had grand intentions of focusing Mostly only on musicians who were Texas born and bred. As time has gone on, I have strayed away from my original idea of blogging only Texan. This week I have focused on “The Day the Music Died.” To try to hold true to my original idea of this blog, I want to point at that two out of three of the musicians who died during the plane crash in the Winter Dance Party tour were Texans.

Buddy Holly- born Charles Hardin Holley in Lubbock Texas during the Great Depression, September 7, 1936. His first demo albums were recorded just across the state line in Clovis, New Mexico. Buddy Holly is buried in the City of Lubbock, Texas Cemetery. A simple marker offers a carving of of a Fender Stratocaster guitar and Buddy Holley, his surname in the original spelling, H-O-L-L- E-Y, marking the spot.

Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson Jr. known as The Big Bopper was born in Sabine Pass, Texas where his father was an oilfield worker. Later the family moved to Beaumont, Texas.

JP Richardson began a career in radio. At KTRM radio in Beaumont, Richardson decided to start calling himself, The Big Bopper. He came up with the name because the college students at the time were doing a dance called The Bop.

As a songwriter Richardson wrote, “Running Bear” for his friend Johnny Preston. The song was based on The Bopper’s childhood memories and Indian tribes along the Sabine River in Texas. He also wrote and first recorded “White Lightning.” The song would later become George Jones first number one hit.

J.P. Richardson is also credited with creating the first music video. Filming and recording his early works in 1958.

The Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson, is buried in Beaumont, Texas. Rumors of foul play caused concern for his son. In 1987 at the request of The Big Bopper’s son, Jay Richardson the body was exhumed and an autopsy was performed by Dr. William M. Bass, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Jay Richardson was present during the entire procedure. Dr. Bass’s findings indicated no signs of foul play.

“There are fractures from head to toe. Massive fractures…. Richardson died immediately. He didn’t crawl away. He didn’t walk away from the plane.”

Dr. William M. Bass

The Big Bopper was placed in a new casket and buried next to his wife at Beaumont’s Forest Lawn Cemetery. For a time Jay Richardson, allowed the original casket to be on display at the Texas Musicians Museum.

Due to success with his song “Chantilly Lace,“ The Big Bopper took off from KTRM radio to join Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens on the Winter Dance Party Tour. The Tour began on January 23rd 1959. The eleventh night of the tour, Buddy Holly booked a plane to fly his band to the next venue, Moorehead, Minnesota. Waylon Jennings voluntarily gave his seat to The Big Bopper. Through a coin toss, Ritchie Valens won his seat from guitarist Tommy Allsup.

“Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up again.” Buddy Holly bantered at Waylon Jennings.

Jennings jokingly replied, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” Those words haunted Jennings for the rest of his life.

The Eleventh show ended at around midnight, in Clear Lake, Iowa. The Headliners of the Winter Dance Party Tour, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson drove to the Mason City Airport, and boarded the red and white single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza. At around 12:55 am on Feb 3rd 1959, the pilot, Peterson, received clearance from the control tower. They took off—but the plane remained airborne for only a few minutes. Shortly after taking off, the Bonanza slammed into the ground at full throttle…The cause for the crash remains a mystery. Some theorists speculate Peterson may have lost his visual reference and thought that he was ascending while he was actually descending. The right wingtip of the Beechcraft Bonanza hit the frozen ground first, which sent the aircraft cartwheeling across a cleared cornfield at approximately 170 miles per hour. The pilot, Peterson’s mangled body was found inside the wreckage with Holly and Valen’s bodies nearby the main body of the wreck. JP Richardson, The Big Bopper was hurled approximately 100 feet from the crash site. His body cleared a barbed wire fence and was found in the next cornfield from the crash.

Chantilly Lace had a pretty face

And a ponytail hangin’ down

A wiggle in her walk and a giggle in her talk, Lord

Make the world go ’round, ’round, ’round

Chantilly Lace- Written and Performed by the Big Bopper J.P. Richardson

“The Day the Music Died,” is what February 3rd is now known as. Don McClean wrote the lines in his song “American Pie.” The song is about how music changed in McClean’s life after the death of these inspirational musicians. We will always remember Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and of course The Big Bopper.

“I’m glad that my music has helped other people as it’s helped me. It makes me glad that I did what I did with my life.”

Don McClean

Pancho.

February 3 2021

The Day the Music Died: Part 2

One of my all time favorite movies has always been La Bamba. Lou Diamond Phillips portrays singer Ritchie Valens. I have seen the movie a million times my favorite character of the movie was Ritchie’s Bad Boy brother Bob played by Esai Morales. My most memorable line in the movie is of Ritchie’s mother Connie, who was played by Rosanna de Soto.

“Not my Ritchie Bob, Ohh Bob not my Ritchie” Connie cried.

I feel like the movie La Bamba was a realistic portrait of the musician Ritchie Valens ( Richard Steven Valenzuela) actual life.

Only 8 months after signing his recording contract, Ritchie Valens was dead. Valens was only 17 years old on the day the music died. February 3, 1959 a plane crash claimed his life along with rock rollers, Buddy Holly, and JP Richardson known professionally as the Big Bopper. The pilot of the chartered airplane, Roger Peterson also died that fateful day during a tour that was named, The Winter Dance Party headlining the 3 rock musicians.

Ritchie Valens recorded several hit songs including La Bamba. La Bamba was originally a Mexican Folk Song. It was a song that Ritchie made famous to America even though the song lyrics were entirely in Spanish. It was ironic, that even though Ritchie Valens was of Mexican heritage he had to first learn the phonetics of the Spanish language in order to re compose and then record the song. Selena would later do the same with her crossover blend of music.

In May of 1958, Bob Kuhn, known professionally as Bob Keane signed Ritchie Valens to a contract with Del Fi Records. Together the two would record several records. Come on Lets Go an original score by Valens and Kuhn and Framed would be the first record to release.

La Bamba coupled with Donna on it’s flip side was the final record to be recorded in the artists life. The record quickly sold over a million copies and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Valens’ was successful in blending the songs Latin American roots to rock music. It is said to be his most successful song. Ritchie Valens was the first musician to attempt such a recording. The formula of blending the Mexican roots music with the rock in roll culture inspired other artists to do the same. Selena and Gustavo Santaolalla, ( who won academy awards for Best Original Score two years in a row in movies Brokeback Mountain and Babel) among many others were inspired by Valens.

Valens guitar style influenced artists like Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana.

In recent years Ritchie Valens songs have been recorded by Los Lobos.

It was partly just dumb luck that Ritchie Valens was even on that plane that cold winter night in February of 1959. A coin toss with Buddy Holly’s back up guitarist Tommy Allsup sealed Ritchie’s fate by “winning” him a seat on that flight. Waylon Jennings who was Buddy Holly’s bass guitar player at the time also could have, should have, would have been on that flight, but he volunteered his seat on the plane to JP, The Big Bopper, as he had been battling the flu during the tour and was uncomfortable on the bus.

Ritchie Valens is buried next to his mother Concha “Connie” Valenzuela, who died in 1987, at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, Los Angeles, California.

In 2001 Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also has a “Hollywood Star” in his honor located at 6733 Hollywood Boulevard.

A club in Dallas opened by Musician Tommy Allsup in 1979, “Tommy’s Heads Up Saloon.” The club was named for the fateful coin toss between Valens and him twenty years prior.

They were singin’, bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye

Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die”

American Pie by Don McClean

The song commemorates the event that took place in Clear Lake Iowa on Feb. 3rd 1959. “The Day The Music Died”

Pancho.

January 9 2021

Don’t let your babies grow up to pick guitars

“Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to pick guitars is what I said first.. I thought wait a minute and I changed it to cowboys.”

ED BRUCE

I learned via Fox News that his publicist, Jeremy Westby confirmed that Country singer/ songwriter Ed Bruce died on Friday of natural causes at his home in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Ed Bruce is famous for writing the iconic hit song, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”  The song was co-written with his wife Patsy Bruce. His version of the song can be heard on a 1976 self-titled album published by United Artist Records. Bruce’s version reached number 15 on the Hot Country Singles charts in 1976.

Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” would become even more famous after Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings released the song on their 1978 duet album, Waylon & Willie. The Waylon/ Willie version peaked to number one in March of ’78. The song would spend a month at the top of the country charts. The song also earned a Grammy Award for the pair of outlaws for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

Willie Nelson’s version featured in the 1979 film The Electric Horseman which starred Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.

In 1994 Gibson/Miller band recorded a cover version of the song which was featured in the soundtrack for the movie The Cowboy Way. The Gibson/Miller version reached #49 on the charts.

Shooter Jennings recorded a version that appeared as the introduction to the Netflix Series, The Ranch.

My wife and I both agree that, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” is one of the most memorable songs from our childhood. She recalled listening to the song with her brother J. on the way to “grandma’s house.” For me I think it was probably the first song that I remember knowing all of the words to. I recall singing the song along with the radio on family trips as well.

Members of the Western Writers of America chose the song as one of the top 100 Western songs of all time. -Wikipedia

Other songs in the Ed Bruce catalog are “My First Taste of Texas,” “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had,” and “The Last Cowboy Song.”

You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had” saw the top of the country charts in 1982.

William Edwin Bruce Jr. Was born December 29, 1939 in Keiser, Arkansas. He first caught the attention of Sun Records owner Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee where he wrote and recorded under the name Edwin Bruce. Ed Bruce did release many songs by himself but most of his success was through the songs he had written that were recorded by other people.

Ed would set his songwriting aside in the mid to late 80’s and turn to acting. He appeared in some made for TV films and hosted the shows, Truckin’ USA and American Sports Calvacade. With Stephen Seagal, Ed Bruce would appear on the big screen in the movie Fire Down Below.

Cowboys ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold

They’d rather give you a song than diamonds or gold

Lone star belt buckles and old faded Levi’s

And each night begins a new day

If you don’t understand him, and he don’t die young

He’ll probably just ride away

Songwriters: Ed Bruce/ Patsy Bruce

And If you don’t understand him, and he don’t die young, He’ll probably just ride away,

Pancho.

November 25 2020

So Pick Up the Tempo

We received our education

In the cities of the nation, me and Paul

I was again looking at how many great artists that we have lost this year. I compiled a list of those I could recall and through other’s writings on social media.

Bill Mack, Kenny Rogers, John Prine, Bill Withers, Paul English,  Joe Diffie, Mac Davis,James Slim Hand, Johnny Bush,  Eddie Van Halen, Justin Townes Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker, Billy Joe Shaver, Doug Supernaw, and Hal Ketchum.

Forgive me if I left someone out. This list alone covers so many great singers, musicians, and song writing geniuses.

Working up this list reminded me of Paul English. I recall how much his death affected me earlier this year. I am a fan of music. I have been a huge fan of Willie Nelson for all of my life I suppose. I couldn’t tell you who in the world plays in most singer’s bands, I only recall the name of the headliner or of their top songs. But it is different for me when it comes to Willie. It saddened me that December day back in 2011 when Bee Spears, Willie’s long time bassist left this earth. It really hit me hard in February of this year when I read the news that Paul English had perished.

Paul English first played drums for Willie Nelson in Fort Worth in 1955. In 2008 English told the Abilene Reporter News that the first time he played the drums he played with Willie. He had simply been asked to “keep the beat.”

By 1966 Paul was the full time drummer for Willie Nelson.

Paul was more than just Willie’s drummer. He was his closest friend. He was Willie’s enforcer and body guard. Paul served on the board of directors and as treasurer for farm aid. Paul sometimes would serve as a collection agent for the Willie Nelson Family Band. Paul protected not only Willie Nelson, but his family as well.

Paul English was sometimes known to carry a .22 caliber pistol in his boot.

Once Paul shot at Willie Nelson’s son-in-law’s car when he layed his hand on , Lana, Nelson’s daughter.

Paul was known to have a short fuse. One time he shot at steel pedal player Jimmy Day. Jimmy had insulted Paul English’s dead wife.

he “commandeered a forklift” and used it on a club owner’s Ford Thunderbird, attempting to force the guy into coughing up the band’s performance fee,

Oxford American Magazine

“Willie feels safe with me behind him,”

Paul English

In 2014 Paul told Rolling Stone that without Willie, he would have either been in prison or dead.

In Tribute to his long time friend, Willie and his third wife Connie named their daughter Paula after Paul.

“With Paul. Willie’s always safe on the road. We named Paula after him.”

Connie Nelson told the Oxford American.

In 1971, Willie released the song “Me and Paul”. The song is about the friendship the two shared and what was going on in Willie’s life and going on in country music in general around the time the song was written.

Another song Willie Nelson penned about his friend was ”Devil in a Sleeping Bag.”

The “Devil” was a nickname Paul English received because Willie thought he resembled what Satan should look like.

“Pick Up the Tempo,” a song written by Willie Nelson and Made famous by Waylon Jennings also makes reference to Paul English.

The singer ain’t singin’ and the drummer’s been draggin’ too long

So Pick up the tempo…Take it on home

Pancho.

October 28 2020

Live Forever

I’m gonna live forever

I’m gonna cross that river

I’m gonna catch tomorrow now

Songwriters: Eddy, Billy Joe Shaver

Billy Joe Shaver Crossed that river today after suffering a massive stroke yesterday. Shaver was 81 years old. Texas has lost yet another songwriting legend.

Some have said that Shaver was one of the greatest living country songwriters. His song “Live Forever” was written by him and his son Eddy Shaver. John Edwin “Eddy” Shaver crossed his river on December 31, 2000. The song was recorded by them twice. Once, on the 1993 album Tramp On Your Street and again in 1998 on the album Victory.

The song was also performed by The Highwaymen and Joe Ely. Robert Duvall performs it in the movie Crazy Heart.

You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone

Nobody here will ever find me

But I’ll always be around

Just like the songs I leave behind me

I’m gonna live forever now

These are just a glimpse of the words Shaver turned into song.

Billy Joe Shaver may be gone in the flesh, but as I believe as did he, Shaver isn’t gone for good. Shaver wasn’t afraid to talk about his faith and beliefs of the afterlife.

Shaver found religion after his son Eddy had died. One of his favorite sayings was, “If you don’t love Jesus, you can go to hell.

He even recorded a gospel album in 2007 called Everybody’s Brother that featured duets with Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Tanya Tucker.

The songs that Shaver left behind are treasures for us all to enjoy in this earthy life. I am sure he is up there in Heaven now singing with the angels.

Billy Joe Shaver was born in Corsicana, Texas August 16, 1939. He was mostly raised by his grandmother while his mother, Victory Watson Shaver, worked in nearby Waco, Texas. Shaver left school in the eighth grade in order to help his uncles pick cotton.  

Shaver on occasion would accompany his mother to her job at a night club in Waco called the Green Gables. Shaver penned the song, “Honky Tonk Heros” about these experiences at the Green Gables.

Billy Joe Shaver spent a stint in the Navy, enlisting at the age of 17. After completing his military duties, He worked a series of odd jobs. Billy Joe had an accident at a saw-mill which caused him to lose two of his fingers off of his left hand. It was then, when he taught himself to play guitar and had dreams of becoming a songwriter. Shaver told CMT in 2012, that he had made a deal with God.

“When I cut my fingers off, I made a deal with God, If You get me out of this, I will go on and do what I am supposed to do.’”

Billy Joe Shaver

Hitch hiking his way to Nashville, Billy Joe found work as a songwriter for fifty dollars a week.

Shaver’s big break came when Waylon Jennings recorded the album, Honky Tonk Heros in 1973. All but one song on the entire album was written by Billy Joe Shaver.

Waylon, having once heard Billy Joe Shaver perform, “Willy The Wandering Gypsy and Me” had told him he would like to record it.

Enlisting the help of radio deejay, Captain Midnight, Billy Joe tracked Waylon down. Waylon, who was bothered by the intrusion of this, gave Midnight a hundred-dollar bill, just to have Billy Joe Shaver “Go Away.” Shaver wouldn’t take NO for an answer.

Billy Joe finally got a chance to speak to Waylon, who he recalled at the time,  had two big bikers with him.

I’ll tell you what I want … If you don’t listen to these songs, at least listen to them, I’m going to whip your ass right here in front of God and everybody.”

Billy Joe Shaver

Waylon decided he had better listen to one, then another. In his biography Waylon told:

His songs were of a piece, and the only way you could ever understand Billy Joe was to hear his whole body of work.

Waylon Jennings

Billy Joe talked the way a modern cowboy would speak, if he stepped out of the West and lived today.

Waylon Jennings

Shaver secured his own record deal, and continued writing and performing his music. His songs were recorded by many including Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, and Patty Loveless. He enjoyed wide appreciation from his peers.

Billy Joe Shaver continued his music until the very end. He received numerous awards and accolades along the way. He performed on the Grand Ole Opry in 1999. In 2006, Shaver was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2019, Shaver received the Poet’s Award from the Academy of Country Music.

Remember Someone really loves you

We’ll live forever you and I

Pancho.

October 26 2020

Happy Anniversary Waylon and Jessi

On October 26th of 1969 Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter were married in Phoenix, Arizona. The two instantly became the Outlaw movements “It” couple. The marriage lasted until Waylon’s death February 13, 2002.

Kris Kristofferson once described their marriage,

“A beautiful love affair.”

Kris Kristofferson

Waylon had been married three times prior to his wedding with Jessi. Waylon’s song, “This Time” had been inspired by his string of marriage and divorce.

Jessi Colter was born, Mirriam Johnson, May 25 1943 in Phoenix. Her professional name came from a story her father once told her about an associate of Jesse James, Jesse Colter.

Prior to her marriage to Waylon she had been married to guitarist Duane Eddy.

Eddy’s records were produced by Lee Hazlewood. In the late 1950’s and early 60’s Eddy was known for his “twang.” He had sold 12 million records by 1963.

After meeting Waylon, Jessi Colter pursued her career in country music. She was one of the few female artists in the genre of “outlaw country.” She released her first LP “A Country Star is Born,” In 1970

A Country Star is Born” was released on RCA. The album was produced by Waylon Jennings and Chet Atkins. The album was not successful in the country market and Jessi soon left RCA.

Jessi signed with Capitol Records and released “I’m Not Lisa” in January, 1975. This would become Colter’s first hit. The song charted Number one on the Billboard Country Chart and number four on the Billboard Pop Chart.

In 1976 Jessi would record again at RCA along with her husband Waylon, Willie Nelson, and Tompall Glaser, on a compilation album “Wanted! The Outlaws.” The album would be the first country music album to sell over a million copies.

In 1976 Jessi would also release two more albums at Capitol. “Jessi,” and “Diamond in the Rough.”

Shooter Jennings, the couples only child was born in 1979. Shooter has been an active musician since 1996 in the outlaw country and southern rock genre.  

In 1981 Colter and her husband would release a duet album “Leather and Lace.” The albums first single, “Storms Never Last” was written by Jessi Colter. The album was certified Gold in sales.

In the early 1980’s Waylon and Jessi nearly divorced due to Waylon’s substance abuse.

“Jessi went through hell,” Waylon told People Magazine.

I’d go out and sit by the pool in the dark and think about what it was going to do to me, to my people and to my family.

Waylon Jennings

With the help of Johnny Cash, Waylon, who once had a 1500 dollar a day cocaine habit sobered up completely in 1984.

Stevie Nicks, who wrote the title track of the album, heard that Jessi and Waylon might divorce. She also released “Leather and Lace” as a duet with Don Henley that year. It peaked at number 6 on the pop chart.

Colter has released several more albums since 1981 but her popularity has faded. To date, she has 11 studio albums and 3 compilation albums. Her latest albums are “Out of The Ashes,” and “The Psalms.”

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Happy Anniversary Waylon and Jessi

Pancho.

October 23 2020

Stardust

Everybody has a favorite. Willie Nelson has always been mine. Out of all of his Albums, I have a hard time deciding which one is the best, but I do know that Stardust is near and dear to my heart.

In 1977, Willie Nelson decided to record a collection of American pop standards. He chose ten songs from among his personal favorites. The list started with Stardust. Nelson also picked for the album “Georgia on My Mind“, “Blue Skies“, “All of Me“, “Unchained Melody“, “September Song“, “On the Sunny Side of the Street“, “Moonlight in Vermont“, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “Someone to Watch Over Me“. This would become the album Stardust. Nelson’s twenty-second studio album was born.

Executives at Columbia Records feared that the album would be a failure. They were unsure of success with a pop and jazz record.

Willie had already established himself in the Outlaw Country scene. He had built a huge following in and out of Nashville with his previously successful albums Red Headed Stranger and Wanted! The Outlaws.

Wanted! The Outlaws is a compilation album by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser, released by RCA in 1976. It was the first country music album to be certified Platinum.

Stardust only took 10 days in the recording studio.

The album was produced by Booker T Jones. At the time, Jones and Willie Nelson were neighbors in Malibu.

Jones was once the front man of the band Booker T and The MG’s. Often Jones is associated with the saxophone. Jones was a session musician for Stax Records and  played with Stephen Stills on his Eponymous album . Jones was familiar in R&B, soul, and electric blues.

Vocals and instrumental credits to the album :

Willie Nelson – vocals and guitar Bobbie Nelson– piano Paul English– drums Rex Ludwig– drums Jody Payne– guitar Bee Spears– bass Chris Ethridge-bass Mickey Raphael-Harmonica Booker T Jones– organ and piano

The cover of the stardust album was designed from a painting done by Guy Clark’s wife, Susanna Clark. The rear features a photograph by Beverly Parker of Willie Nelson wearing a top hat. The hats band has a beaded tribal design.

Stardust released in April 1978. The Album peaked to number one in Billboard Top Country Albums.

Songs fromthe album, “Blue Skies” and “All of Me” charted number one and three on Hot Country Songs.

By December of 1978 Stardust had been certified as Platinum. It was named Top Country Album for the Year 1978.

Willie Nelson became the highest-grossing concert act in the United States.

 In 1979, Nelson won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Georgia on My Mind.” Soon after “September Song” peaked at number fifteen in Billboard’s Hot Country Singles.

Stardust spent two years on the Billboard 200.

Rolling Stones ranks Stardust at #260 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

I gotta go, it’s time to turn the record over. I can listen to this music all night long.

Pancho.

October 23 2020

White Oaks, NM

Growing up my family would often vacation to Ruidoso, New Mexico. We would set up our base camp in Ruidoso and each day would go In a different direction to see the sites.

My Parents recently purchased a cabin in Ruidoso and I have been blessed to begin to carry on this tradition as I have gotten older. I make the drive from my home in the West Texas flatlands to the Sierra Blanca mountains as often as I can. There is plenty of things to see and do within a 60 mile radius of this majestic mountain village.

As a child, my dad owned several Ford Broncos. When we would travel, he would remove the back seat and put down a thick foam pad in the cargo area. I had a bed, a play area and a comfortable spot to travel.  These were the days before seat belts.

Often I would sit on the console in between my Mom and Dad. Mom is one of those who can instantly fall asleep once the road trip starts.  So it would be my dad driving and me “navigating” from my spot on top of the console. Dad spitting sunflower seeds in a brown paper bag and I would suck all the salt off of them, and do the same. I hadn’t figured out I was actually supposed to crack the shell and eat the seed so I wasted a lot of good seed.

I remember Willie Nelson would be on the stereo. We had a new cassette tape, Willie Nelson’s  Greatest Hits and Some That Will Be. Later the song stuck in dads tape deck during our travels would become Highwayman. Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.

There always seemed to be a light rain as we would make this particular drive. It is such a vivid memory of mine to be seated up on that console, it would be getting dark and the window would be slightly cracked to let in a cool mountainous breeze and Willie’s voice in the speakers singing tunes like “Railroad Lady”, “Uncloudy Day”, and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”.

I often still listen to both of these albums and sing along.

My Favorite songs on The Highwayman album are “Jim, I Wore a Tie Today,” “ Committed to Parkview” and “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos).”

I have heard several versions of Deportee, including the original Woody Guthrie version, and the Highwaymen definitely perform this song as if they own it! The harmony is perfect as well as the musical accompany.

Even today when I reach Roswell NM, heading up towards the cabin in Ruidoso, I still listen to the Red Headed Stranger. It is sort of a tradition. This particular trip, I didn’t even select Willie on my playlist, and Pinkie reminded me.

“Shouldn’t It be time for Willie?”

(Pinkie) Jennifer Watson ( My UnNi)

I have told her this story every time since we have started coming up here together.

Today, Pinkie and I drove over to White Oaks, New Mexico.

White Oaks was once one of the largest cities in New Mexico. Today it is mostly a ghost town. There was a gold mine there at one time, but it was abandoned. The railroad missed the town, choosing nearby Carrizozo instead. This further caused the town’s demise.  

A few of the original buildings and homes are still standing. There is a museum in the old School House circa 1895. A bar with the name of “No Scum Allowed Saloon” exists in a building that was once a law office.  

Due to the corona virus ,the museum and the bar were both closed. But it was still a beautiful day to get out and see the scenery.  

The drive over from Ruidoso took about an hour. It is only 44 miles but the trip included  twisting and turning  on two lane road through the mountainous passes. Many times the speed limit was only 25-30 miles an hour due to the sharp curvature of the roadway.

We left the Evergreen forests very quickly after leaving Ruidoso and drove through a scenic “High desert”, the most Colorful outcroppings of rocks, Yucca and Sage Bush. The sage was magnificent this time of year the tops were flowering into these beautiful cream colored  cat tail like flowers.

We looked through an old cemetery just before reaching White Oaks. Many of the graves there were dated in the 1800’s. Some of the tombstones weren’t stones at all. They were made of wood. They had been in place for so long that the information upon them had vanished.

I saw several graves of soldiers from the American Civil War. I found one grave that was marked Spanish American War. There was also a Korean War veterans grave there.

I found it interesting, how this cemetery had spanned so many different generations of people. It gave me a clue as to the area and it’s inhabitants.

All of the graves were positioned in the usual East- West orientation except for one. It was facing North to South. I was doing some research and actually stumbled upon a YouTube video that explained this. This odd facing grave was John V. Winters. He had recorded the first gold lode claim in the White Oaks Mining District. His grave was facing his “claim”.

While in White Oaks, the Yellow signage advertising White Oaks Pottery interested us. We followed the bright Yellow signs another four miles down a caliche road which led us the Potters studio.  

Most all of the foliage along this route were green cedar trees. Standing alone in the middle of all of this green was a lone cottonwood tree whose leaves had turned a brilliant shade of Yellow with the change of the seasons.

The proprietor and artisan at this studio was a very friendly and talented woman named Ivy Heymann. This Potter explained to us that she had lived and worked on the property for 45 years.

“I camped here for 3 days in a tent trying to convince the owner to let me see the property.”

Ivy Heymann

She also reminded me never to give up on my dreams.

Figure out what you want to do and then put your all into it.

Ivy Heymann

Ivy had put her all into building the pottery and gallery. She built it by hand using adobe. In the back of the  pottery is a propane fired kiln she made with fire bricks recovered from the Ancho Electric Plant.

We purchased three unique pieces from her. Glazed Yellow of course.

See more about this fantastic potter, Ivy Heymann on her website. www.whiteoakspottery.com.

White Oaks is definitely worth the visit if you ever find yourself wanting to explore New Mexico’s history and heritage. Besides being a favorite spot of Gunfighter Billy The Kid the town was an important part of taming the western frontier. And don’t forget to go visit Ivy and check out her amazing pottery.

It was a beautiful day to spend exploring and spending time with my beloved Pinkie.

Pancho.