When I was growing up, the only kind of music I heard in my home was country music, or country-Gospel, on the radio. But somewhere along the line I was introduced to Elvis and Pat Boone and Conway Twitty (who later turned country, but was a teen heartthrob back then), and I couldn't abide the twangy country stuff any more. On Saturday nights my parents would listen to Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee, and I'd make a hasty retreat to my room to listen to something more to my taste on the stereo.
By 1962, (the year I graduated), rock and roll was changing. The Beatles and other British groups came on the scene. I didn't care much for their music, and I really couldn't find anything on the radio that suited me. So I didn't turn my radio on much.
At that time, I worked with a woman named Lois Hedrick. She talked constantly of some hillbilly singer named George Jones, and joked about all the things she'd do with him if she ever got him alone. Finally my curiosity got the best of me, and I asked her what station I'd have to tune in to, to hear this George guy.
So I heard him, and Kitty Wells, and Buck Owens and others. At first I wasn't too impressed. But at least, like Ray Charles says in the movie "Ray", the songs had a story. They said something that made sense, even it was about cheating or drinking or dying or being a loser. That hillbilly stuff grew on me, until the music of my childhood became the music to which I've lived the rest of my life. I bought a guitar and found out you can play almost any country song with only three chords. That sealed the deal for me.
So, I started leaving my radio on a country station all night, while I slept. I'd wake up and hear Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings or Willie Nelson (before he grew long hair and a beard) singing, or Chet Atkins' guitar playing, and I soaked it all up like a sponge.
One night in 1963, I awoke from sleep to hear the worst country song I'd ever heard in my life. It was an old song even then, recorded in 1958, sung by Simon Crum (Ferlin Husky's alter-ego). It still IS the worst. But I smile each time I hear it. It's obscure enough that the lyrics aren't on the Internet. So I had to listen to this atrocious song at least a dozen times tonight in order to share them with you. It begins and ends with a dialgue between a couple of hillbilles.
This part is spoken:
"Aye doggies Lavendar..."
"Hand me the screwdriver."
"What you want it fer, Roe?"
"I'm tryin' to fix the dad-blamed radio"
"Well, if ya git it fixed you prob'ly can't get any country music."
"I don't know so much about that Lavendar, they's still a few of us left."
"Yeah, I know; they's very few, at that."
"Hush up. Aye doggies, I think it's workin'. It's country music, too!"
Now the singing starts:
More and more ever day, you hear more people say
That country music, that's the kind for me.
It's the kind that's sincere and to me it's been so dear,
And no other kind can take its place you see.
I can't get enough of that wonderful stuff,
I don't keer what people say.
Other kinds may come and go
Including Rock and roll,
But good ole country music's here to stay.
They call us everything for the way that we sing,
But I don't keer whut they say or do (de-doodle-do).
There are songs of all sorts
But country music's from the heart,
And son, I agree with you.
(the chorus again... I can't get enough, etc etc)
spoken at the end:
"Aye doggies, I wonder if everybody feels that way."
"About whut Roe?"
"About country music."
"Well that's the way I feel about it."
"I know you do Lavendar, but whut I mean, I wondered if everybody does."
(you hear a knock on the door at this point)
"Aye doggies, somebody's at the door."
"Let 'em in."
"Yeah, come in."
"Whut do you think about country music, Hoss?"
"I b'lieve it's here to stay."
And that ends what I consider to be the worst country song ever written. If you think the lyrics are lousy, I just wish you could hear it, because it's horrid! But I have it on my computer, and I laugh out loud ever time I listen to it.
I guess it's just so bad, it's good. And it illustrates one more thing about country music: Those country singers have never been afraid to have a good laugh at their own expense.