If you follow this blog, you probably know you never know what I might post. It is sort of like the junk drawer where you put all those miscellaneous things that might be important, or not, but just don’t seem to fit in the normal drawers and closets.
When I was a little lad, I would spend much of my summer vacation with my aunt Jackie and her family of 4 kids and a hardworking husband. They lived on a dirt road out in the country. Across from the house was a big old blackberry patch where we kids would go pick blackberries and then put cream on them for the best breakfast ever. Also, next to the blackberry patch was a pipe that came out of the ground, went up about 6 feet in the air and then turned down and constantly filled up a watering trough with spring water for the rancher’s cattle. It served as our swimming pool too.
The rancher also had the meanest flock of geese in the entire world and they would chase us, like 50 of them, when we tried to ride our bikes past the rancher’s house. Just like the cheetahs with the gazelles, they always got the weakest one…which usually was my youngest cousin who couldn’t ride his bike fast enough at 4 years old.
My aunt was strict but a very loving mother/aunt. She had a table top radio tuned to the local country radio station, KRAK. Whenever Buck Owens would come on she, out of nowhere, would sing as loud as she could with good ole Buck. Her uninhibited joy for simple country music has affected me for my entire life. Merle Haggard to Dwight Yokum, and so many others who loved that “Bakersfield Sound” – that honkytonk sound and lyrics – are still some of my favorite country artists. It is not about how pretty or sexy you are, it is about telling the truth about being human, the good and the bad. The honkytonk bars are where people can gather without trying to impress anyone, everyone is dealing with the hurts either trying to drink them away or laughing at them. Often they end up complicating their lives.
My aunt died when she was only 37 years old from breast cancer. It seems so long ago now – it was 50 years ago- but her joyful singing out in the middle of fields of golden, dried summer grasses, in a very small one bedroom house with 5 kids in it had a major impact on my life. Honkytonk music isn’t about being perfect; it is about being honest. I love you Aunt Jackie. Thank you for the music.
Gary A. McMahon · Drinkin’ With Another Man’s Wife