I love country music. It's in my veins- some of my oldest blood cells are steeped in G chords and over rosined fiddles.
My grandpa had a really great mustache. He was fit and tanned like a brown leather belt. He seldom wore a shirt. He had tattoos from the war- the faded green kind that men his age seem to have. There was "mother", his signature, a pair of dice and probably an eagle somewhere.
Grandpa used to call me "fang wang" because of my two lonely front teeth as a toddler. He built me my first "guitar" when I was little and he'd say things like "fang wang, go git yur gitty, gitty guitar!"
My Grandma has wild, wavy hair. She was clawed by a bear as a young girl and has a hand that is still a bit twisted 70 some years later. She's fiercely devout. As kids we could crack open a Bible and read a random verse to have her spout off the exact location while casually going about her business. They had 9 kids, the third one was my mom.
Mom and I would drive up from our house every Monday to visit with the family. We'd listen to music with the windows down, drinking chocolate malt milkshakes and waving our hands to our favorite lines as we zipped across the country. My knees were always skinned, my face freckly and my curiosity endless.
There was always fried chicken, jo-jo's, heaps of macaroni salad, coleslaw and cold can's of pop in the fridge. The country music was always so loud that it was hard to talk. When Grandpa would go to the can, someone would turn it down until another favorite came on.
Don't think twice about it, he liked the good stuff.
Merle, Johnny, Willie, Kris, Hank, Patsy, Waylon.
Tonight I was listening to 'Funny How Time Slips Away' by Willie Nelson (LISTEN HERE) and was sucked into a time portal by that opening, organ-melting pedal steel. The first time I heard a deep wash of pedal steel dripping in reverb, I nearly dropped my jo-jo straight into my kool-aid. I can remember being overwhelmed by it even as a little one.
I don't think I could play pedal steel. Every time I would set the steel bar on the strings and pick a chord, I'd jump up and hoot like a barred owl at the moon.
We all have an abundance of musical triggers from throughout our lives. I could write a book about the little things that have caused me to spill coffee, drive on the rumble strip, trip up stairs, etc. Maybe it's the way Bob Dylan sharply spits the words "TO" in the Royal Albert Hall rendition of Tambourine Man or when BB King crushes Eric Clapton in their guitar battle on Three O' Clock Blues with his first note. Maybe it's when Ray Charles quotes 'Mama's Little Baby' in his saxophone battle with Billy Mitchell on Soul Brothers or when Ralph Stanley squeezes out that high harmony above his target note to slide back into it throughout 'White Dove'.
Or the way Jimmy Page kicks off Since I've Been Loving You at The Song Remains the Same concert (especially that little squeak that pops off his pick on the kick off, ohhhh buddy). Or when the snare drum kicks into full crack mode at the end of I Can't Dance. Or the way Jimmy Smith comes out of playing in double time on The Preacher off of Live at Club Baby Grand. Or how Tim Eriksen always lets the B rest against the C on his bajo sexto throughout Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming. Or Edgar Meyer's last four notes on Chris Thile's You Deserve Flowers. Or how Henryk Szeryng nearly grinds his bow on the opening of Bach's Sonata #1 while everyone else eases into it like a goose into a thawed pond.
Or the way...