I have been listening to fiddle players, both good ones and bad ones for 84 years. My dad was a fiddle player and on the day I was born, he was probably playing “Hell among the Yearlings” I have a friend who is a fiddle player, as good as they get. He currently lives in Nashville. He has played with Ray Price, Glen Campbell, Roger Miller and even me.
He really appreciated my steel guitar playing I guess because he once told me, “Harry, of all the steel players I have played with, you’re one of them.”
I recently sent him this e-mail; Bill: After listening for months to what the current generation regards as music, I have some advice. Get rid of your fiddle and buy a set of drums. It is obvious that not one drummer in the entire United States is unemployed. I have even heard at least one band that consisted of only one drum. All I hear, night and day, from the radio, TV, my neighbors and cars passing by on Austin Avenue is Thump, Thump, Bam Bang and Whop. Is there any REAL Music left in the world?
Apparently my friend forwarded my e-mail to a bunch of Nashville musicians and song writers who agreed with me. Some sent me CDs of their songs proving that in Nashville there is some real music still in existence. Nobody sent me a drum solo.
It seems to me that I remember a John Wayne movie where “old Duke” and his sidekick, Walter Brennan, better known as “Stumpy” were camped out by a water hole which was definitely located in Indian country. Suddenly, drums were heard which seemed to be getting closer.
Old Duke said, “Stumpy, I don’t like the sound of those drums.” Stumpy says, “Me neither Duke. You saddle the horses and I’ll get the bedrolls and coffee pot.” Then a voice came from beyond the campfire. “Sorry, fellows but he’s not our regular drummer.”
Maybe I haven’t been listening to somebody’s “regular drummer.” I certainly hope not because I’m familiar with the fact that even country music bands need drummers — but please, not the kind I’ve been hearing. I once played in a country band that was fortunate to have one of the best drummers I ever heard. One day, he just disappeared as good drummers are prone to do. The next I heard of him, he was in Carlsbad, N.M.
As far as I know, nobody goes to Carlsbad on purpose except to see Carlsbad Caverns. Obviously, he was kidnapped. Then, he disappeared again and I have no idea where he is now. Anyway, it is not him I’ve been hearing lately. I keep forgetting about people getting old. He might be about 75 now.
I grew up listening to all types of music and I liked it all. When I was 12, I was listening to Bob Wills which was broadcast live on KVOO Tulsa from midnight to 1 a.m. every Saturday night. I also listened to the “Big Band” music and I was as familiar with Glenn Miller as I was Bob Wills. I learned about classical music from Dorothy McIntosh who taught it in Blanket High School. I am glad I learned about good music at an early age and I feel sorry for the kids today who have no idea what it is.
One thing for sure, it is not thump, thump, bang, bam and whop.
Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at pilgrimB17@verizon.net.