Song Lyric Sunday – Country Legends

This week the theme is to find Country songs, which is right up my alley. Jim talked the Bristol Sessions, Bristol indeed considered the birthplace of country music. It is also where I lived for a number of years. My family still lives in this area and there is still live music at the Carter Fold.

So what better way to salute country music than to honor the Carter and Cash families and a few other country legends.

Mother Maybelle Carter was a pioneer in country music. She developed a unique style on the guitar (now known as the Carter Scratch) and learned a blues finger picking style from African American musician and family friend Leslie Riddle. Maybelle Carter is credited with influencing the guitar’s place in country music.  In the video below, she plays Wildwood Flower (the song my mother felt every ‘real’ guitarist should be able to play.) Like so many country classics, the lyrics have changed slightly over the years. You can find them here.

Johnny Cash is a legend of country music no doubt, and I will not attempt to do his biography justice here. His life originated as J. R. Cash in Kingsland, Arkansas. (His parents could not agree on his name, thus the initials. When he joined the Air Force, he was told he could not have initials as a first name, so he became John R. Cash. The military changed the spelling of our surname as well so this was not unusual.) From a poor cotton farm to the world stage, he became a legend. His life was fraught with a drug addiction off and on from the late 1950s until the early 1990s. “I Still Miss Someone” is one of my favorites that I had the privilege to see him perform live. The lyrics can be found here.

June Carter Cash was the daughter of Maybelle and A.P. Carter. The Carter Family’s popularity exploded after The Bristol Sessions and they are often referred to as the first family of country music. Their harmonies laid the foundation for the harmony styles for years to follow. She traveled with her mother and sister as part of the trio “Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters”. She and Johnny Cash had an affair while both were still married. According to some articles, she is credited with co-writing “Ring of Fire” with Merle Kilgore about her affair with Johnny Cash. This is disputed By Vivian Liberto Cash (Johnny’s first wife). “Jackson” was one of their more recognized songs they performed together. You can find the lyrics here.

Roseanne Cash is the daughter of Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto. Her parents were divorced when she was 12 years old. While she traveled on the road with her father initially as his wardrobe assistant, she had not planned on a musical career. 15 albums, 12 Grammy nominations and 4 Grammy’s later, she is a recognized singer and composer in her own right. The song that follows, “Tennessee Flattop Box”, is a recording of one of her father’s songs and one of my personal favorites. You can find the lyrics here.

I saw the Highwaymen in a tiny little venue in Augusta, Maine. The venue was so small you were really sharing the stage with some of the true legends of country music. The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson) recorded three albums, two for Columbia records and one for Liberty records. These artists were the ‘outlaws’ of country music. The song “The Highwayman” was written by American songwriter Jimmy Webb. When The Highwaymen recorded this song in 1986, it awarded Jimmy Webb a Grammy. You can find the lyrics here.

Thank you, Jim. This was a fun challenge for me this week.

Song Lyric Sunday is hosted every Sunday by Jim Adams. If you would like to join in the fun, check out his blog for the rules and to take in all the other music posted by other bloggers.

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Memories of Home

Day 5

What is home without memories? Both the memories of years gone by and memories yet to be made are part of how we remember the home we grew up in. They also help us identify the home we try to create.

I have great memories of growing up. While we lived in a few different states, I identify with my time in a little valley in Virginia as the place where I grew up. Life there was magical and I didn’t even realize it at the time.

Life Was Simpler – Or Was It?

forsythiaTimes were so different. We didn’t worry so much then – at least the kids didn’t worry. I can only imagine how hard it was to support a family. There was a sense of community I have never found since. Everyone planted a garden and when one family’s tomatoes didn’t do well because of blight, they could always barter with their abundance of potatoes or cucumbers or green beans.

My paternal grandmother always planted a beautiful garden. On the outer edges she always grew mums. I learned at an early age the importance of rotating the plantings because each plant required different nutrients from the soil.

There is nothing like pulling a fresh cucumber from the vine or pulling an onion out of the ground and enjoying it fresh. As a matter of fact, we ate so many ‘small’ cucumbers it drove my grandmother crazy! I can still hear ,”Don’t pull all the cucumbers or we will never have any pickles!”

Cardinal - 1I have vivid memories of her sweeping the snow from under the cascading forsythia bush and spreading breadcrumbs or oatmeal to feed the cardinals in the winter. Every winter when I see fresh fallen snow yet to be broken with animal or human footprints, I think of my grandmother.

“You should always remember to feed the birds”, she said. And we still do and always will. That’s home.

My Life as a Kid

We roamed the hills all day long as kids. We came in to eat and sleep and that was about it. We ran barefoot. Mom always teased people we met saying the only way we could stand to wear shoes was if she put rocks in them.

We were educated about our environment. We could identify snakes and knew which to be wary of. We swam in the creeks unsupervised. We jumped rocks to cross the creek. We even had a community teacup that hung on a branch by the spring so people walking on the railroad tracks or fishing along the creek bank could stop and get a drink of water. We never worried about what kind of germs lingered there.

We climbed the mountains and swung on grape vines although it was not as glorious as the Tarzan movies we watched when we saved enough pop bottle lids to see a movie. Going to the movie was a RARE event. We did have a black and white television set. We were able to watch one channel if the weather cooperated. If the wind blew too hard, Dad would climb to the top of the hill to rotate the antenna – telling us to yell up to him when the reception was good.

I love the life I had as a child. I think in many ways it prepared me for the time I would ultimately leave home and would need to stand on my own two feet. It is and always has been the foundation on which I built my life.

Anytime I worry about my place in this world, I think about my roots. My memories evoke the sense of home and family. My memories ground me and remind me what every home should be – a safe place to explore and be free.

I am a country girl, but I identify so much with this old song sung by Little Jimmy Dickens and written by the late, great Johnny Cash.

Country Boy

Now, I’m just a simple guy
But there’s one thing sure as shootin’
I hate those folks who think that they’re
So doggone high falutin

I’d be the same in Hollywood
Or right in my own kitchen
I believe in fussin’ when you’re mad
And scratchin’ when you’re itchin’

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I raise Cain on Saturday
But I go to church on Sunday

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I’ll be lookin’ over that old gray mule
When the sun comes up on Monday

Where I come from, opportunities
They never were too good
We never had much money
But we done the best we could

Ma doctored me from youngin’ hood
With epson salts and iodine
Made my diapers out of old feed sacks
My ‘spenders out of plow lines

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I raise Cain on Saturday
And I go to church on Sunday

I’m a plain old country boy
A tater eating eatin’ country boy
I’ll be lookin’ over that old gray mule
When the sun comes up on Monday

Every time the preacher called
Ma always fixed a chicken
If I’d reach for a drumstick
I was sure to get a lickin’

She always saved two parts for me
But I had to shut my mouth
T’was the gizzard and the north end
Of a chicken flyin’ South

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I raise Cain on Saturday
But I go to church on Sunday

I’m a plain old country boy
A tater eatin’ country boy
I’ll be lookin’ over that old gray mule
When the sun comes up on Monday

“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” 
― Patrick Rothfuss