The music they’re playing these days has me totally confused. There is somebody in my neighborhood who plays something at full volume that sounds like they recorded some organ music and figured out some way to play it backwards. It causes the leaves on trees to wilt and knocks birds out of the sky.
Even country music has evolved into something totally different from what we played when I was playing in a country band. I grew up during the “Big Band” era and now I’m living in the “Big Noise” era. I just don’t know what to make of it.
Every night people pass by my house in cars equipped with 5,000-watt amplifiers playing what sounds to me like somebody beating a big bass drum. The walls vibrate and my furniture changes location. They obviously roll down all the windows on their car to prevent broken glass from flying all over the road and to make sure that everybody within a half-mile hears it. It is clear to me that whoever is doing it is totally deaf, or soon will be.
I still remember when I was a teenager attending dear old Blanket High School and Dorothy McIntosh had a class in Music Appreciation She exposed us to classical music and we found that we enjoyed it. Obviously, this course is no longer on any school’s curriculum.
We even have something now called “Rap” where a fellow talks nasty while the inevitable drums beat in the background. Anybody who can stand to listen to this stuff would consider having their fingernails pulled out with a pair of plier’s entertainment.
I don’t remember exactly when good music started to go bad. It was still good in the ’50s. Willie had short hair, wore cowboy boots and was playing in the honky-tonks of Fort Worth. He moved to Nashville where they didn’t like his style of singing so he moved to Austin, let his hair grow and got rich.
We still had Les Paul and Mary Ford and Lefty Frizell was at the top of the country charts.
Then, rock bands came along and guitar players all over the country found they only needed to know two chords to be successful. In the ’60s my kids were playing the Beatles until I nearly went crazy but some of their stuff was good enough that I could stand it. It was not country and quite a ways off from Willie.
The Beatles broke up, somebody shot John and I guess the rest flew over the cuckoo’s nest. No more “Beatlemania” but they still remain the most popular group ever and there was only four of them.
I still remember Hank Thompson and the Brazos Valley boys and Billy Walker who “Crossed the Brazos at Waco.” When we landed our B-17 in North Africa on our way to Italy in 1944, the first song I heard was Bob Wills playing “San Antonio Rose.” I thought our pilot had made a mistake and landed at Big Spring. North Africa looked a lot like West Texas.
In our squadron in Italy, we had one beat-up guitar and I had a harmonica. In our tent, homesick boys from all over would congregate often wanting to hear music from home. I would play “Red River Valley” and “Across the Wide Missouri.” Of course, “San Antonio Rose” was at the top of the list.
I have been wondering that if somebody played the stuff we hear today on a deserted desert island, would it make a noise?
You can bet on it.
Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at pilgrimB17@verizon.net.