Sunday, June 30, 2013
As I sit here to write the next installment of Red Boots & a Smile I struggle to focus on a single topic. Should it be a funny story from my childhood or from yesterday? Maybe you would like to hear me brag about my daughter returning from Haiti or about how proud I am of my youngest as she learns the value of hard work (side note she’s not fond of it). For a moment yesterday I almost became a great uncle but alas it was a false alarm but I will be soon. Oh here is one, NASCAR and how disappointed I was that it rained them out last night. Nah, no one wants to hear about that.
Looking around as I sit here thinking, my dog, Shadow, is lying beside me as he always does. He is such a great dog. I have a hot cup of coffee on my desk, the steam rolling up reminding me to take a tiny sip or suffer a burnt lip. The aroma of sausage being cooked for a breakfast at lunch time fills the house. This is only second to the aroma of bacon filling wherever I am, especially if I were on a creek bank someplace fishing. CMT is playing in the background so I can hear my country music, which is never too far from me.
Maybe I should write about the sun here in Florida shining bright with Palm trees casting shadows all over my yard. But in only a matter of moments clouds could roll in, thunder begins booming and you start contemplating the cost of building an ark. Then in a matter of minutes blue skies once again. However, right now, not a cloud in sight. Very picturesque out there…postcard worthy if I had a camera. So it is in my day to day, rather, my morning to morning life. I know very interesting, huh.
Now, I have left out what I do during those mornings. I will write a joke or send a song idea to some of my buddies in the music business. By the way, I have no musical ability whatsoever. I will call or email bookers all over the country so I can perform in your hometown. I used to tell people I should have been born an Italian because of my love of the food but as I enjoy very busy traveling schedule, I’ve changed it to, I should’ve been born a gypsy. The redneck version would be a Ramblin’ Man (thanks Waylon Jennings). I will read a section of a particular book in which I’m currently engrossed or the latest copy of Country Weekly. What a life, right? It really is harder than I make it sound…..really…it is.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Let’s play a little game. Answer to yourself if you recognize the following couple of phrases “HOOWWWDEEEE.” Or “Me and Marcel Ledbetter…,” How about, “Hey Grandpa, What’s for supper?” Here are the answers in order: Cousin Minnie Pearl, Jerry Clower and a skit from the old TV show HEE HAW involving Grandpa Jones. Country style of comedy didn’t just originate with Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy but each of those guys look to the former as their heroes and influences.
Ok, are you ready to play again? Let’s try “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Crazy,” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” I know. Those are easy ones, right? The answers are, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, respectively. Today’s country singers, Blake Shelton, Jason Alden and Carrie Underwood stand on the shoulders of those music trailblazers and not ashamed to say so.
I can hear what you are saying, “Vic, what are you talking about?” Well, not put too fine a point on it, comedy and country music have been indelibly linked since the beginning of time it seems. This is not to say that Hip Hop artists and comedians such as Katt Williams don’t hang out but the marriage of comedy and music seems most prevalent in the country scene. It isn’t strange to see a country star at a Larry the Cable Guy concert or vice versa. I remember the Cable Guy telling me a story of him in Vegas hanging out with Kid Rock (now Kid Country it looks like) and listening to some of Bobby’s country songs in his hotel room.
Why do you suppose this is? Here is what I think on the subject. I think it’s because both genres of entertainment share fans. Country fans are some of the most loyal fans to the artists they love. They will pay hundreds of dollars to see their favorite singer, camp all weekend at a festival or sell out tickets in a matter of minutes (remember Garth Brooks craze and now Taylor Swift). I just read this morning about Abercrombie & Fitch discontinuing a t-shirt because Swift’s fans stood up for their artist protesting the company.
They feel the same way about their comedians. Attend any Larry the Cable Guy show and you will see grown men dressed like their favorite funny man hollering “Git-R-Done” at every opportunity. Strict beer drinking rednecks now enjoy scotch because of Ron “Tater Salad” White. A boy from Texas put bumper stickers on pick-up trucks at the local tractor supply that read “Silence. I keel you!” because he has a dead terrorist as a friend.
Then there is the story telling. Whether it’s Blake Shelton asking, “What do I have to do to win you over?” or Bill Engvall telling us that “RV doesn’t stand for Recreation Vehicle but rather Ruins Vacation.” It’s the stories fans can all relate to. One of the greatest compliments I received from a fan was, “Man, you are so authentic. I like that.” I hadn’t thought about that before but that’s what it is to be in the country, be it music or comedy.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words (names) will never hurt me.” Do you remember that saying we all used as kids when some bully was calling us names or saying something ugly about us? It was a phrase I think we were taught so we would learn to ignore what was being hurled at us. However, it just isn’t true. Words are powerful.
Nathan Hale used his last words to inspire a new nation when proclaimed, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King used his words to give direction to a movement as he simply said, “I have a dream.” Since the beginning of time words have been used to cause wars and reunions. Put some music to some rhythmic words and you will have a number one hit song people just can’t get out of their heads.
But words don’t have to be so grandiose as to bring people to their feet or garner applause. If you are a parent, the simple first word of your child put a lump in your throat. Sitting in the hospital the words, “How are you?” bring comfort as you await news of the surgery. Whether it’s in a comedy club or at a cookout, laughter roars when a word is properly placed at the end of a story. Perhaps you have even been wounded by the words of the one you love who says you should just be friends. Depending how spoken or even arranged, words can evoke a multitude of emotions.
Growing up one of my favorite short stories was The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calveras County. Whenever I read that Mark Twain classic I actually saw the frog jumping or the birds on a wire. Country music star, Tracy Lawrence does the same thing with his hit song, Paint Me a Birmingham. Too often when we think of “visual” we miss how words can be used to garner up pictures in our minds whether it’s imaginary such as the two examples given or from memories of our past. Words can produce a vast array of imagines transporting us to a whole other time in our personal history or even to a different world altogether.
Words are powerful and can move mountains no matter the source, be it an actor in a movie, a comedian on stage, your child in your arms, or just someone you pass on the street. So as you become a regular reader of this blog you will see words that will generate a lot of….well….everything. Perhaps you will laugh or remember a time or cry or just shake your head but you will see words that have been thought out and put together with you in mind. So from my mind (which can be a weird place) to yours, I hope you enjoy “Red Boots and a Smile”