From 2010 – 2014 Pretty and I were bi-stateual. For reasons involving my family, we bought a house on a picturesque street in a small town near the even smaller town where I grew up. We kept our home in South Carolina and spent four years chasing each other across a thousand miles of interstates between the two homes in an old Dodge Dakota pickup full of five dogs and us. Whew.
One of the comforts of our Worsham Street house in Texas I have missed most in South Carolina was my kitchen radio that played Country Legends music on a station from Houston. The radio had been left to us by the previous owners and was mounted above the stove in the kitchen. It was tuned by a silver knob that moved the AM and FM stations from one to another. Five buttons were available for saving favorites, but I only used the one FM station for the Country Legends, and that music played on every day. I know, I know. That is truly sad and pathetic on so many levels. For four years I turned the radio on first thing in the morning when I popped the top of my first Diet Coke can of the day and turned it off at the end of the day before retiring. My version of Taps.
For some of you, the idea that I rely on classic country music for any reason is frightening and the thought that stories of 18-wheeler trucks rolling on down the line to Baton Rouge or knowing that when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em on a train called the City of New Orleans or the Orange Blossom Special or the Wabash Cannonball brings me comfort is not only strange but slightly off-center. So be it. I acknowledge my co-dependence on Garth Brooks and his cowboy crooning colleagues.
I purchased a small transistor radio from Radio Shack shortly after the Texas odyssey was over and the kitchen radio was no more. I had a transistor radio for many years when I was a child growing up in rural Grimes County, Texas and clearly remembered listening to Christmas carols from another radio station in Houston on warm winter nights. Surely with the technology of the 21st century and the number of radio broadcasts available I should be able to locate a classic country music station in South Carolina. I searched my omniscient computer and easily found the station. I tried, believe me I tried, to like the songs it played. Let’s just say listening to Darius Rucker – who I know to be the original Hootie of Hootie and the Blowfish since they got started in Columbia – singing “country” music wasn’t what I had in mind. I like Darius Rucker and his solo music, but he is not a Country Legend yet.
In desperation I began to explore the TV U-verse possibilities several years after Pretty and I left the Country Legends station in Houston. I was pleasantly surprised to locate a true Country Classics station via the medium I had trusted for more than sixty years. Duh. While I listen to my favorites, facts about the song and/or the artist appear on the screen next to the name of the tune and the singer. When I’m curious, I can stop what I’m doing and glance at the television to see the music I hear. Now I can be comforted and informed simultaneously. For example, I’ve always known that Barbara Mandrell was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool, but I never knew she had a pilot’s license to fly airplanes. I’ve sung along with Tanya Tucker forever to Delta Dawn because it’s one of the very few songs I know all the words to, but I didn’t know Tanya drives a hot pink Harley Davidson. Not surprised – just didn’t know.
Alexa, shuffle my music, please. Which playlist, she asks. Songs I love, I reply. And here I sit today happily tip tapping computer keys while Alexa breaks out Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton. Our friends Nekki and Francie gave us an Alexa last year in an effort to bring Pretty and me musically into the 21st century – Alexa is the woman who has changed my life. When I want to hear a song, all I have to do is ask Alexa who has allowed me to collect my favorites on a playlist which she can randomly shuffle forever. It’s a musical miracle. Alexa is so very clever she can even tell me who’s singing if I ask her. Honestly, she is what I would have invented if I’d only known how to.
Music for me during the pandemic has been a healer of wounds, a balm in Gilead, an inspiration for the future with the Chicks’ March, March. But for the delight of all delights, when Alexa plays Abba’s Mama Mia, our granddaughter Ella begins to boogie on down with Pretty and me. We introduced her to Abba months ago – she has never looked back. Her smiles, squeals, bouncing body in perfect time with the music are the perfect tonic to chase the Covid blues away.
I’ll be just fine and dandy, thank you very much, Dolly. I won’t let sorrow get me way down. We may all barely be getting through tomorrow these last months, but still we won’t let sorrow bring us way down. We’ll go on together, regardless of time and distance. March, march.
Stay safe, stay sane and stay tuned.