Farewell …

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Keepin’ the Faith

I have this song on 45. It always brings back memories of the summer job I had when I was 17. I was working at a place on the Pigeon Forge strip called The Carousel Fun Center. It was an arcade/go-cart track and had kiddie rides and bumper boats, too. I worked mostly in the arcade, but sometimes outside running the little kid rides (I liked that part a lot). Some random memories:

* Freaking my dad out when I told him where I was working, just telling him “The Carousel.” Being 17 and rather innocent, I had no idea there was a fairly raucous gay bar in Knoxville called The Carousel. We were on the phone and I told him I got a job. When I told him where, he went silent for a minute. “Dad?” “Does your Mother know where you’re working??” “Yes. She took me to the interview. What?” LOL!!

* There was the time a bad mother laid into me because I kept having to tell her kid to stay out from behind our counter. It was an extremely busy Saturday night and her toddler kept crawling up where we stored the little 1, 2, or 3-ticket prizes. It was dirty, there were tiny things he could have choked on, and frankly she should have kept an eye on her kid. After she told me to leave her kid alone and do my job, I told her I wouldn’t have to keep yelling at her kid if she would do her job as Mom – she demanded to speak to the manager about me, so I went and got him. He listened to my side and hers, then he counted her tickets, gave her a prize, and told her to get the Hell out and don’t come back.

* There was the perverted mechanic who used to ogle me and touch my hair. For years I reflexively cringed whenever someone went to touch my hair. He was about 50 and hadn’t showered in I don’t know how long. The first time seemed like an accident (he needed to get past me in a tight spot and put his hand on my back and my hair). After the second time he put his hands on me I refused to be alone with him.

* There was the other perverted mechanic who thought he was hot shit. He actually wasn’t that bad looking, but he was 26 (which put me off). Eventually in our work chats it came out that he was married and had a girlfriend – but he liked me so much he was “willing to squeeze me in.” Way to make a girl feel special. **rolleyes**

* Then there was Myrtle (or as we called her “Myrt”). She was an older lady, possibly mid-70s, who worked the ticket booth. Her husband worked there, too. I remember he had skin cancer and mild dementia and she tended to him, sweetly and lovingly (kudos to the management for giving them both a job and flexibility, too). Myrt was the one who helped me get over my discomfort with working on Sundays. She said something to the effect that God would prefer we dedicate Sundays to Him, but he knows the demands of the modern world and we have to take care of our families and responsibilities. As long as we spend part of the day giving thanks and prayers, she figured He was alright with it.

* Slow, weekday evenings during the Fall were FUN. Oftentimes it was just me and a Carson Newman student named Buffy (yes, that was her real name. We’d open up the Terminator coinbox and trigger the wire a hundred times and spend hours shooting robots bent on our destruction! HAHAHAHA!!

I guess the good times outweigh the bad/weird moments. The smiles on the 5-year-olds as they made their revolutions on the carousel; the laughter from the people playing skee-ball; having a fun job and no real bills to pay, so the low wage wasn’t a deal-breaker; going out with friends to other arcades after my shift was over (midnight Ultrazone – oh yeah!); and quiet Saturday mornings before opening, when it was just me and the vacuum cleaner and the radio, preparing the place for the onslaught of families – and this song I recall clearer than any others, for some reason:

If it seems like I’ve been lost in let’s remember
If you think I’m feeling older and missing my younger days
Oh, then you should have known me much better
Cause my past is something that never got in my way
Oh no

Still I would not be here now if I never had the hunger
And I’m not ashamed to say the wild boys were my friends
Oh, ‘Cause I never felt the desire ’til their music set me on fire
And then I was saved, yeah
That’s why I’m keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, keeping the faith

We wore matador boots
Only Flagg Brothers had them with the Cuban heel
Iridescent socks with the same color shirt
And a tight pair of chinos
Oh, I put on my shark skin jacket
You know the kind with the velvet collar
And ditty-bop shades, oh yeah
I took a fresh pack of Luckies and a mint called Sen-Sen
My old man’s Trojans and his Old Spice after shave
Oh, I combed my hair in a pompadour
Like the rest of the Romeos wore a permanent wave, yeah
We were keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, keeping the faith

You can get just so much from a good thing
You can linger too long in your dreams
Say goodbye to the “Oldies But Goodies”
Cause the good ole days weren’t always good
And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems

Learned stickball as a formal education
Lost a lot of fights but it taught me how to lose O.K.
Oh, I heard about sex but not enough
I found you could dance and still look tough anyway, oh yes I did
I found out a man ain’t just being macho
Ate an awful lot of late night drive-in food
Drank a lot of take-home pay
I thought I was the Duke of Earl
When I made it with a red-haired girl in the Chevrolet
Oh yeah, we were keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, keeping the faith

You know the good ole days weren’t always good
And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems

Now I told you my reasons for the whole revival
Now I’m going outside to have an ice cold beer in the shade
Oh, I’m going to listen to my 45’s
Ain’t it wonderful to be alive
When the rock ‘n’ roll plays, yeah
When the memory stays, yeah
I’m keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, keeping the faith
I’m keeping the faith, yes I am
You know I’m keeping the faith, oh yes I am
You know I’m keeping the faith, oh you are
(FADE: You know I’m keeping the faith, oh yeah…)


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Common People

I know it’s old, but it’s still one of my favorite YouTube finds:

The Shat is beyond description. 🙂


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A very special Ode To Joy

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About 15 years ago, I picked up an album called Nordic Roots: Northside Sampler. It was next to the register at the Disc Exchange with a big sticker on the front that read: “Only $2.99 – cheaper than food!” I found that amusing, so I bought it. It was cheap and I was curious about the type of music featured on it.

I had no idea what to expect of music from Sweden, Finland, and Norway, so I was unprepared for the fiddles, mouthharps, and chanting. Many of the songs sound for all the world like Celtic and some even have a Native American quality. It struck me how similar we all are all over the world. Yes, we have our differences, but music is a thread that runs deep in every human.

The content is not entirely folk and traditional; some of the tunes are more modern/current in feel and instrumentation, but all retain their Nordic qualities. The musicians are clearly proud of their heritages and share this love of country in their words and music.

Even this many years later, Nordic Roots volume 1 is a staple in my CD library. I mostly listen in my car (I have a lo-o-o-ng commute) and adore the tunes I fell in love with so long ago.

This track is by Finnish artist Wimme and is one of my favorites on the album. I especially like to crank it up and drive too fast on the winding backroads of my Tennessee home. 🙂

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My daddy left home when I was three

The Man in Black at his best. A definite classic, even for non-country music fans:


My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn’t leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don’t blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me “Sue.”

Well, he must o’ thought that is quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from a’ lots of folk,
It seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I’d get red
And some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head,
I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named “Sue.”

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,
My fist got hard and my wits got keen,
I’d roam from town to town to hide my shame.
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I’d search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name.

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I just hit town and my throat was dry,
I thought I’d stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon on a street of mud,
There at a table, dealing stud,
Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me “Sue.”

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn-out picture that my mother’d had,
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old,
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold
And I said: “My name is ‘Sue!’ How do you do!
Now your gonna die!!”

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down, but to my surprise,
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear.
But I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.

I tell ya, I’ve fought tougher men
But I really can’t remember when,
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss,
He went for his gun and I pulled mine first,
He stood there lookin’ at me and I saw him smile.

And he said: “Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.”

He said: “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I’m the son-of-a-bitch that named you “Sue.'”

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,
And I came away with a different point of view.
And I think about him, now and then,
Every time I try and every time I win,
And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him
Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!

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July 10, 1968

On this day in music history, the number one song in the U.S. was Grazing in the Grass. Written by Philemon Hou and recorded by Hugh Masekela for his album The Promise of a Future, it has since been covered and sampled many times. The instrumental original reached the top of the charts where it stayed for two weeks before being unseated by Hello, I Love You from The Doors.

Grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?


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