Sunday, June 22, 2014

You may throw your rock and hide your hand

I heard this at the Food Co-op the other night. I thought I'd heard all the Elvis worth hearing, but I guess I was wrong. I mean, the last time I got excited about an Elvis was "Old Shep", which is just about the saddest song I've ever heard. I mean PATHETIC, I mean PATHOS, I mean, OLD SHEP.

I knew "Old Shep" from Wilf Carter. I knew Wilf Carter from ads on TV during Happy Days after school when I was 8 or 9. "There's a Bluebird on Your Windowsill" was and is a favourite. Wilf Carter was sometimes known as Montana Slim, and Kerouac mentions a Montana Slim in On the Road, "a tall slim fellow who had a sneaky look", but I don't think it's the same guy. Mississippi Gene gets more play.

I wrote half a novel in my 20s about a Wilf Carter type of guy. It was a Nick Tosches Prairie Gothic kind of thing. I love singing cowboys.

As a teenager I worked one summer for a big country music festival, sanding and painting scaffolding, then setting it up, building the stage and then, finally tearing it all down. There was a trailer in the warehouse where I went to pick up my paycheques and the walls were covered in autographed 8x10s of some of the biggest names in country music. I hated country music then, but I was starting to fall in love with it.

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