The golden oldies are better left to a radio station than an MP3
Columnist Mike Finigan says the golden oldies are better left to a radio station than an MP3 player.
I was just thinking of a happy tune that used to be played with “Tourist Topics” on TV when I was a kid. I don’t know the name of the piece and that’s probably a good thing, because I’ll never get the chance to download it and play it until I hate it.
My favourite summer song though used to be “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells. Hearing it on the radio I’d go back to a moment in 1969 when my grandfather Hubert and I were driving home from Morien sandbar in our old turquoise VW Beetle.
It highlighted the day, the summer, my youth, my dreams and aspirations, my sunburn ... I can see the tall beach grass, the lonely clouds wandering by in the blue sky; I can hear the seagulls keening in the air over the water at low tide. The winding, narrow road leading away.
But 40 years later I downloaded the song and played it to death.
Wrung every redolent note from its corpse and tossed it into the virtual trash.
The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Boss, The Eagles ... downloaded them all, and now listening to them is like being caught behind the barn smoking when you’re a kid and your old man makes you smoke a whole package on the spot while he watches.
“There. You want another one?” You shake your head and stagger to the house, gasping, your eyes bugging out, smoke lingering in your hair, trailing matches and butts behind you like Hansel and Gretel.
It’s getting to the point where all my vivid memories are losing their nostalgic essence because the music that went with them has moved on to more recent and less significant moments. The golden oldies are better left to a radio station than an MP3.
Except for when it comes to Hank Williams. I never tire of Hank and I never will, I guess. Hank’s a simple three-chord, memory-maker — except with “Lovesick Blues,” a tune which approached the Mozartian stratosphere when it came to notes, and which Hank threw into his repertory just to keep himself on his toes.
My car is strewn with CDs that I swore I’d love until my dying day. You sit on ‘em, walk on ‘em, find ‘ em over the sun visor, under the seat when you’re looking for a bag of chips or a pizza crust ... coffee money maybe. But despite my best intentions toward all my darlings, I play only two of those discs. Hank Williams I and Hank Williams II.
What is it about Hank then? I guess Hank appeals to my lonesome side. It’s a universal appeal really because I figure there’s not a soul on the planet that’s not lonesome periodically. And why, we can’t always tell. Even cat people, for instance, whose cat might or might not be called Big Harold, feel pangs when said cat sometimes stays out all of a summer night and ventures home in the morning full of confetti, for breakfast.
We yearn for something. Home. Youth. God. Yesterday.
In such moments you can go ahead and be lonesome with a Hank song. Dial up “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Lost Highway,” “Honky Tonk Blues;” nod to those signature steel guitar strains of Don Helm, Hank’s right-hand man.
Hank died young, on the road, in the backseat of his Cadillac, a man who had everything and nothing. The epitome of lonesomeness.
You can’t sing Hank without being Hank for a minute. And anyone can sing him, and anyone can play him and anyone can relate. Bone-tired, lonesome and yet smiling at life. Hank the toe-tapper and soul-stirrer. A man out of time, like the great stories, like Shakespeare, like the gospels.
Music brings back many memories especially of Hank Williams.