I think I have mentioned before that one of my daughters gave me a Christmas present a few years ago called “Storyworth.”
I don’t know what you would call it (a software program?), but it sends me a new topic every week by email to write about and then submit somewhere in the cloud, where the piece is stored
until I click on a magic button and the Storyworth folks will send me as many bound volumes as I want to pay for. A wonderful and thoughtful gift and one that gives me a way to preserve my feelings and experiences for my kids and grandkids.
My great friend Gary is now doing the same thing, but he says, “You know they’ll never read these stories.”
Oh, ye of little faith, Gary. I write every piece with the thought that they’ll be read by someone in the family, maybe everyone. If not, it’s still fun and a good place to collect the columns I write for this newspaper, as well as those pieces by A Cat of a Certain Age. She and I are still negotiating royalties.
Some of the Storyworth submissions are a little too personal for general publication, but often they provide a dual purpose that allows me to kill two birds with one stone, another chapter for the family book and a column for my tens of fans in Montgomery County. This week’s topic is “my favorite songs.”
As usual, I want to expound beyond a mere list and write about feelings and emotions the songs evoke. So, here goes.
- “Mr. Touchdown USA.” Unusual, eye-catching? When I was a young child growing up on Cherry Lane, my Dad bought a record album of college football fight songs done by Percy Faith & His Orchestra. He would play it on Saturday mornings in the fall before he climbed onto the roof and redirected our antenna so that we could get the college football game of the week on Channel 6 out of Bluefield.
As if this wasn’t memory enough to include this song, I used to sing it to my daughters in their crib on fall Saturdays (no longer having a turntable to play the record album). I would change the lyrics to “They call her Mrs. Touchdown, they call her Mrs. T.”
My girls probably don’t remember, but the memory makes my eyes misty.
- “Jimmy Mack.” Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, classic Motown song of the 60’s, but my memories are from the 1980’s, when I used to dance with my daughter Beth in the front hall of our old house on Johnson Avenue. Loved the rhythm and the words were easy. Just yell “Jimmy Mack when are you coming back?” every 30 seconds and spin Beth around.
- “I Loved her First.” Heartland (?). Danced to this song with daughter Laura at her wedding. When she asked me to pick a song for the Daddy-Daughter dance, I remembered this tune from the radio. I really didn’t know that it had probably become trite by the time we danced to it, but the words are so perfect for the occasion, how can you not go with it ? My great friend Hank videoed the dance.
- “Small Town Southern Man.” Alan Jackson. The lyrics are so perfect for kids who grew up in Christiansburg in the 60’s and 70’s (and probably beyond). It so much fit the lives of my Dad and so many of the other fathers of that era. “He bowed his head to Jesus and he stood for Uncle Sam and he only loved one woman and was always proud of what he had. He said his greatest contribution was the ones he left behind.”.
- “Maggie May.” Rod Stewart. I think the first time I heard this song was the day I moved into the dorms my freshman year of college. It was blaring from an open window of Tuttle House, and I remember it as the introduction to this new stage of my life. I also remember it as the first time I had ever seen a girl in a halter top. Rod and the Faces played a concert at the U. a few weeks later.
- “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” John Denver. Having lived most of my adult life in West By God Virginia, you might guess that is why it’s listed. It is in part, as West Virginia has been great to me, but my first memories of Country Roads also go back to my first year at UVA. My late, great friend of that time, George Cooley, of the Hillsville Cooleys, was also in his first year and had a car (I did not), and he would drive us home on weekends, up 64 and down 81, and we would sing “I belong in Southwest Virginia.” I like to remind my West Virginia friends that John thought he was in Virginia and was actually in western Maryland when he got his inspiration, and he only used “West Virginia” because it fit the tune better. But what the heck, it became the
anthem of my adopted state. (The Blue Ridge Mountains aren’t in West Virginia either.)
- “Wang Dang Doodle.” The Grateful Dead with Chuck Berry. What more do I need to say ?
- “Wabash Cannonball. Roy Acuff. I think Roy made it famous, but my memories are of the great pitcher Dizzy Dean after he became an announcer on baseball’s “Game of the Week” in the early 60’s. Late in the game, particularly if things were boring, Dizzy would launch into an off-key version of this song and then laugh his great laugh. I read many years later that his performances were usually fueled by the Falstaff Beer he hawked between innings.
- “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” Tommy James and The Shondells. This comes from September of my junior year of high school. It was the second week of the football season and we were playing the Dublin Dukes, the preseason favorite to win the district. I had not played much in the first game but had a great week of practice and was sent in the last four minutes of the game when Dublin was driving towards a winning score. Coach Rusek told me to blitz every play. I discovered that Dublin’s first-team offensive line was far superior to our second-team offensive line I had looked so good against in practice. But we held on and won. The night before the game I drove over to my great friend John’s house (He did the filming of our games.), and he asked if we had a chance against the Dukes. I remember feeling extremely confident and “guaranteed” John we would win (It was the same year Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl win – my motivation?). I remember we listened to “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” a new song that John had just heard. The next night I fell in love and heard the song again.
- “Sweet Caroline. ‘ Neil Diamond. Fenway Park bleachers on Friday night. Nothing better. Written about President Kennedy’s daughter. Not sure I would love the song as much as I do except for its being the Red Sox’s 8th-inning anthem.
- Honorable mention to “Dirty Water by the Standells,” played after every Sox win.
- “Smalltown America.” Brian Evans. Sent to me a couple of years ago by my friend Dennis (part of the Dublin win by the way). The perfect anthem for the Christiansburg we grew up in. Listen to it.
- “Beginnings.” Chicago. Reminds me of the unrequited loves of my high school years.
- “Down at P. J. Kelly’s Bar.” Jule Carenbauer (of the Wheeling Carenbauers. I think Jule was 1 of 10). He wrote and recorded this song about my old favorite watering hole. You can find it on Spotify, and Jule still does a Facebook concert every Wednesday night. The song is about open- mic night at Kelly’s in the 90’s.
- All songs by Jimmy Buffett . Particularly, “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” “Coast of Carolina,” and “Come Monday.”
- “Those Were the Days.” Mary Hopkin. The perfect theme for the old gang of friends from my youth: the Gregs, John, Bo, Jay, George, Bobby, and Bob. “We’d sing and dance forever and a day. We’d fight and never lose. Those were the days; we thought they’d never end.”
I could go on and on, but I have hit my writing wall. I hope this stirs up some fond memories for you.
Evans “Buddy” King is a proud native of Christiansburg, CHS Class of 1971. He resides in Clarksburg, W.Va., where he has practiced law with the firm of Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC, since 1980. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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