Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Taking the Show on the Road

“Ain’t she cute… See her sliding down the chute … Now I ask you very confidentially … ain’t she cute.”
Who recorded this song? Did it sell a million records? I couldn’t tell you. I only heard it when my Dad was behind the wheel of his 1960s era Buick.
The acoustics were better in my Mom’s Volkswagen Beetles, both the 1963, and the 1967 models and the 1973 VW Fastback. Here’s where we formed a family trio, Sister singing lead soprano, and Mom and I providing alto and tenor harmonies. Our selections varied widely, from hymns and choir anthems, to the Beatles and even Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn”.
My oldest son caught the bug quite early. He knew every word to Kenny Rogers’ Gambler at the age of three. The first few times he sang “I wish you could have turned my head, and left my heart alone …”, I was scrambling for a pencil, thinking I had a musical prodigy on my hands. I was just a little disappointed when I heard the Oak Ridge Boys perform the same song on the car radio, and realized that’s where he’d learned it.
My daughter says that one of her favorite memories of summer vacations involve me and her dad assisting Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn on their duets while driving. “Louisiana woman ..” “Mississippi man ..” “We get together every time we can.” The kids in the back seat happily provided the back-up.
The second son also took his old buddy Conway, along with other artists of all varieties, on trips back and forth to Fayetteville. Windows rolled down, stereo turned up, plenty of Mountain Dew for energy- the trip out of the mountains seemed a little shorter.
The next generation of vocalists is thriving, too. Oldest grandson Jordan could sing recognizable melodies before he could form complete sentences. One of his favorite serenades from the back seat started with the words “My Jesus, My Savior”. After that, the words he sang were not intelligible, even though the tune was intact. He was really disappointed, though, that I didn’t know the words either. After several lessons from him, and a few trips around the Christian radio dial, I finally got the hang of it, and we made a pretty good team.
Latest to join the family “circle” is grandson Austin. At five, his favorites are Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, though he also belts out “I Saw the Light” by Hank Williams(senior).
A couple of years ago, a writer friend of mine accompanied me to a conference in Southeast Kansas. We attended the early service at two different churches before starting back home that Palm Sunday. Something about the Ozark mountains must have inspired us, as we sang every hymn our memories could muster from the top of “the hill” in Fayetteville to well past Morrilton on I-40. Though we knew many of the same songs, she taught me some new verses, and I expanded her repertoire with my old-time Church of Christ selections.
So, the logical end of this story would be that at least one family member or friend now lives in Nashville, and a recording career looms on the horizon. Sorry to disappoint you, but hey- none of us has ever been arrested for road rage, either! Enjoy the rest of your summer, and if you see me tooling down the freeway with my mouth wide open in song, just wave!

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