(I'm not a musician.) I was taught as a child that I must not 'blow my own trumpet' as in talking about myself – especially not to say anything good about myself. I was also taught that much of what I could say about myself was nonsense and I needn't expect anyone to believe it. If I myself believed it, I must be insane. If not, I was obviously a liar. Telling my story, therefore, became a very confronting task. I am now 76, as I begin this blog, and it is only a preparation – things I write on the way to writing the memoir.

Friday, 26 February 2016

My Secret Vice

Nobody knows, nobody sees,
Nobody knows but me

It probably wasn't always entirely secret, but anyone who ever knew about it is either dead or we long ago lost touch.  Even back then, 60-odd years ago, I didn't confess it to many.

I've just been watching a B-grade movie on telly with a soundtrack that revived it for me yet again.

It's country music – not the great stuff we have now, but the old country music: mournful, self-pitying, and exclusively blokes' music. Except they'd have been called guys, because they were all American back then. Guys like Tex Ritter, Slim Whitman, Hank Williams Jr.

There was a radio program I used to listen to after school, while I was doing my homework. It was called The Hillbilly Hour – because that's what those songs were called then, hillbillies, not country music. Some time later the name changed to country and western. It was a long time before it was just country.

Deep within my heart lies a melody

I was about 12 when I started listening. What was it I liked? Hard to say. And that's odd, because I still like it. You'd think I'd know why. Perhaps it was the sentimentality. And then, those old songs all told stories – usually about love unrequited, or more often betrayed. Honkytonk Angel. Your Cheatin' Heart. Ruby (don't take your love to town). Men betrayed by cruel, faithless women, women who were nevertheless so magnetically desirable that the complaining men could never break free. 

Or maybe it was just the tempo and the twang. With the wonderful Hank, it was his yodel.

Then came the great Frankie Laine, the apotheosis of that era of country music. The stories changed. It was the male protagonists who became the wrongdoers, albeit self-aware. Ghost Riders in the Sky. Cry of the Wild Goose. Jealousy. (Wild Goose was good because it was basically a paean to freedom, and it needed only small adjustments in my mind to make the narrator female.)

I was 15 when my life changed, and I stopped doing my homework to the hillbillies. In my stepmother's house, the radio was in the dim old lounge room used only for company. That kind of music was never heard on it anyway. Homework, which had formerly been quite interesting for a bookish girl like me, must be treated as a grim, silent duty.

Let me fly, let me fly, let me fly away

I don't go out of my way to hear that old country music now, but if I come across it I always stop to listen – and I do own several Frankie Laine albums.

Well, maybe I don't have to explain or justify this strange taste. Maybe it's enough that, for whatever reason, I just plain like it. 

Only I do regard it as a lowbrow taste, and out of character. For music, I otherwise prefer opera and blues. For lyrics, give me Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, even Gershwin. 

And yet, and yet.... 

It gets me every time. It still has that old, mawkish magic for me, all these decades later. I guess it always will.

Oh I can't get you off of my mind


5 comments:

  1. All the bits of the jigsaw that make us what we are. Nice read.

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  2. He conquered fear and he conquered hate.
    He turned black night into day.
    He made his blazing saddle
    A torch to light the way.


    That and the theme to Rawhide.

    It's amazing how many brilliant people have lowbrow tastes. Sherlock Holmes liked vaudeville; House liked porn; you…are, by that logic, fictional. Hmmm... Ah, well, it's 'Syllogism Sunday'.

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    Replies
    1. Ha ha ha!

      The theme to Rawhide is in a class of its own, best thing ever. I get really excited whenever I hear it, and not only sing along but also do arm actions like using reins.

      Fictional? No, I'm poetic, which is probably close.

      Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it.

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    2. Oh, and thanks too for the implication that I'm brilliant! *Preens.*

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