Remembering Road Music

23 Sep

Today, we had a delivery to our house. However, this one was a little different from the typical visit from UPS or FedEx. A big rig, 18-wheeler semi-truck and trailer pulled into our driveway and parked at the side of our house. When the stuff was unloaded, the driver headed through the gate and turned around in the pasture behind the house.

I immediately started singing, “Give me 40 acres to turn this rig around.” My wife looked at me like I was nuts, and I had to explain that it was an old Country song.

When I was a kid, they sold albums on television. The commercial played snippets of songs on the album, and the announcer gave out a phone number to order it. Those commercials always got my attention, and I always wanted to buy the albums.

Certainly, my mom did not buy all of the albums that I wanted, but she bought one of the all time greats – Road Music: 23 Truckin’ Hits.

Looking back, the producers were certainly trying to capitalize on the trucking and CB craze of the time. However, they also mined some classic Country hits of the trucking genre. It included artists like Minnie Pearl, Del Reeves, Jimmy Martin and Red Sovine, who made a career out of trucking songs.

Of course, I did not know all of that when I was a kid. I just knew that it was a cool commercial with cool sounding songs. It also had a cover that attracted my young attention.

I listened to the album over and over. My favorite songs were:

“Six Days on the Road” by Dave Dudley

“Convoy” by T.H. Music Festival

“Give Me 40 Acres to Turn This Rig Around” by The Willis Brothers

“Phantom 309” by Red Sovine

It was a great album. Now, I have to see if I can find a copy out there somewhere. No more phone numbers. I will just Google it.

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Whatever Happened to Sandahl Bergman?

14 Sep

My wife has an addiction, and it is called Outlander. I would have watched it with her, but she binged the first season before I could catch up. That is fine. Now, she cannot make fun of me for being addicted Game of Thrones. By the way, Outlander is tiddlywinks compared to Game of Thrones.

Anyway, I am sitting in one room watching Conan the Barbarian while she sits in another room watching her show. Actually, I am listening to Conan the Barbarian while I type this post. Without a doubt, the best scene in the entire movie is when James Earl Jones turns into a giant snake.

When I was at work, something entered my mind that I wanted to write about. Now, I cannot remember it. I reckon that is what getting older does. Hopefully, that thought will come back before the typing stops. There is nothing worse than having a blogging idea and having it disappear. Well, there are worse things, but that is the worst thing that happened today.

Whatever happened to Sandahl Bergman? She played Valeria, Conan’s love interest. Man, she was something. In fact, she was so great that I included her in one of this blog’s earliest posts.

That is all I have for now. My mind needs to prepare itself for tomorrow’s classes and the test I have to create for next week. I wonder how difficult I can make it. Perhaps I should ask them whatever happened to Sandahl Bergman.

Mys iPod Has Issues – Working on the Back Porch

27 Aug

I am sitting on the back porch working on stuff for tomorrow’s classes. The sun is shining. A breeze is blowing. The chimes are chiming. The cows are grazing. I decided it was time to take a break from work and see what is happening inside the mind of my iPod.

Here we go.

“Legend of Billy the Kid” by J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers

“Who Do You Love?” by Bo Diddley

“Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

“Wasted Time” by The Eagles

“Against All Odds” by Phil Collins

“Maggie May” by Rod Stewart

“Time of the Season” by The Zombies

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

“Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin

“Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits

“Train, Train” by Blackfoot

“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green

“Phone Booth” by Robert Cray Band

“Save a Prayer” by Duran Duran

“Song for a Winter’s Night” by Gordon Lightfoot

“Hot in the City” by Billy Idol

“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” by Neil Diamond

“Sunshine on My Shoulders” by John Denver

“Sonny Got Caught in the Moonlight” by Robbie Robertson

“Slow Movin’ Outlaws” by Waylon Jennings

The Eclipse Was Bigger Than Politics

25 Aug

Earlier this week, we were in the path of the total solar eclipse, and it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. When the moon completely blocked the sun, there was a ring in the sky. However, that was not the only fascinating part of the event. There was a 360 degree sunset. Crickets began to chirp because they thought it was night. Deer came out from their hiding places. For more than two minutes, we were in a different world.

However, those were just part of the experience.

We were invited by a local business owner to watch the event from his office. He hosted a cookout with all kinds of great food. There were games to play while we waited for the eclipse. A DJ play music that had a certain theme. Every song was celestial. When the sun went completely out, he played “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. Of course, the soundtrack was not complete without “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler.

Dozens of people had their special glasses and used them to look into the sky. During the party, I was struck by our differences. Represented in the crowd were different races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. No matter our experiences or ideas, we were all experiences the same feelings, and we were experiencing them together.

Lately, we read and hear a lot about our differences, but, for a few minutes, we were in a crowd that was united by an amazons sight.

When the total eclipse ended, I jumped on to Twitter to find out what people were saying about their eclipse experience. That is when I saw that some people were being snarky about it and trying to put a political spin on it.

The sun is even hiding from the president.

Hey Trump, God turned the lights out on you.

I could list a lot, but that is not the point of this post.

The point is that some things are above politics.

I do not care who likes the president and who does not like the president. Frankly, I do not care what people say. However, I care when people take an event like this and use it to create some witty comment. Yes, they probably received a bunch of likes, but they missed the reality of the situation.

There is a lot going on in our world, and a lot of people have differing opinions. Earlier this week, we experienced an event that brought a lot of people together. In our crowd, I am certain that different people had different thoughts about the president and everything else. However, none of that matter. We were experiencing something together that made us all equal, and that equality showed us how small we really are. We are people living in one country on a small planet in the middle of a big universe.

We get bogged down in politics, but some things are bigger than all of that. People should not diminish it with some witty Twitter post about what is wrong about the world.

The Problem With Last Names

19 Aug

I am bothered by the most mundane things. That is probably a problem with me, but this is my blog. That means that, in this space, the problem is with that thing. Some of them have long been bothersome. However, this one just cropped up as my life has become more social.

What is this “nails on the chalkboard” thing?

It is calling people by their last name, and it is something that needs to be explained.

Let us say, hypothetically, that a couple wants to invite another couple to dinner. Someone says, “We should have dinner with the Bradys.”

In my mind, using the last name is too formal. I think someone should say, “We should have dinner with Mike and Carol.”

See, it sounds more relaxed and friendly. The dinner is not going to be black tie. It is probably going to be something at the local Chinese place.

What about this?

“Did you hear about the Munsters? They live in that weird house down the street. Their pet dragon is terrorizing the neighborhood.”

They should be asking about Herman and Lily. Of course, there should not be any gossiping going on.   If there is, then it definitely does not need to sound formal. Gossiping is one of the most lowdown things that we can do. Unfortunately, we all do it. Perhaps, I should write about that sometime.

Walking in a Field of Stone

6 Aug

Last Saturday, the weather was beautiful. Humidity disappeared for a day, and that is a big deal in these parts. It was a day that was meant for being outside. For a lot of people, that means activities like golfing, boating, jogging or working in the yard. However, I feel the pull of something else. I went for a walk through our city cemetery.

Much can be learned in a cemetery. You can learn about the lives of individuals and families. You can learn about the history of an entire community. There are even times when you can learn about the history of our nation.

As I walked, I visited the graves of my great-grandparents, who made it through life the best way they could. I stopped at the grave of my aunt, the first woman regional solicitor for the Department of Labor. Then, I visited the grave of my uncle, who passed away a few years ago.

Along the way, I passed markers that date to the early 1800s. Some of them honored congressmen who are buried there. Across the field, there were small Confederate flags at the monument for those killed in the Civil War. I saw last names that were once prominent in our town. Names that we no longer hear. These were people who owned successful businesses and held public office. People who altered the direction of our community in many ways.

The markers had different designs. Some were tall obelisks, and some barely existed at all. The words were faded to a point to where they could not be read. More recent grave markers were engraved with the hobbies of the deceased, but one was just a metal nameplate. It belongs to a prominent Nashville lawyer and former gubernatorial candidate who was born in our city. Now, he has no stone.

As I walked through the cemetery, I realized something. All monuments fade. Even the new ones will become unreadable at some point. Names that were once known by everyone will be forgotten as the generations pass. We cannot count on being remembered by a marker in a field of stone. We can only count on the deeds of our daily lives. We can count on ourselves to make an impact on our world. That impact may be great or may be small. It may or may not be remembered. However, we can make sure that it is positive.

 

A Feeling in the Air

29 Jul

I am sitting on the back porch, and, for the first time this year, there is a special feeling in the air. There is a crispness that hits as soon as you walk out the door. The sky looks differently. The breeze feels differently. It is a special feeling that hits suddenly.

Yep, it feels like football.

Coincidentally, my favorite team, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, begin practice today. Last season, the team did not reach the heights that everyone expected. This year, the fans I know have dampened expectations. However, it is always exciting to know that the season is just a few weeks away.

I grew up going to Tennessee games with my dad and have been raised in the traditions of the program. I have cheered them through great triumphs and suffered through the doldrums of losing seasons. I guess that is what fans are supposed to do.

As a historian who is also a fan of sports, I have tried to connect the two and understand why football is important to us. In my opinion, it has passed baseball as America’s favorite pastime. I have this theory that the seeds of football’s popularity began when the nation felt that the westward frontier was conquered.

For generations, the nation captured land in the West. This movement led to the notion that young men could become men by taking part in that pursuit. You know, “Go West, Young Man” and all of that. Once the land was taken, how was a young man supposed to prove himself?

He could do it in a sport that was a smaller version of the same thing. Football is all about gaining land 10 yards at a time until it is finally conquered by getting to its end. The game is all about field position and moving forward while an opposing force is trying to prevent that.

Does that not sound like westward expansion?

It was also safer. Doing battle on a football field was better than being in a pitched battle against Native Americans. You could not get killed on the football field.

Except, you could get killed on the football field. It happened all of the time in the early days of college football. It happened to the extent that the sport almost came to an end. It took rule changes to increase safety to save it.

Now, we are learning that it is still not safe. People may not die on the field, but playing football greatly affects life after the game is over. That effect is no longer banged up knees, crooked fingers and stiff necks. It affects the brain to an extent that ruins life and often proves fatal.

This feeling in the air brings excitement for the next football season. I, like millions of others, will attend games and cheer for our players, but what are we really doing? We are watching men brutalize their bodies for glory and for the shot at fortune.

Football is a sport that I love, but it is also a sport that needs to change. In the early days, they changed the rules to save it, and that will need to happen again. I will continue to watch the games. However, if I had a son I would not let him play.