The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Friday, December 23, 2011

Somewhere in My Memory is a Silent Night

My brother Dave has just about recuperated from his hip replacement surgery; he's been staying with us since he was discharged from the hospital, December 8. He went home to sleep in his own bed tonight, but he'll be back on Christmas Eve for our family dinner. Barry and his family are on the road, somewhere between Jackson, TN, and Nashville. If the good Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise, they should be in around 1:30 a. m.

It's getting to feel a lot like Christmas, even though we had rain all day long. Time for Christmas music.

I like this one. It's by John Williams and is from a famous and funny movie, "Home Alone." The song is "Somewhere in My Memory."
If you define "religious" as someone who follows a particular doctrine, you would not use the word to describe me. I was raised up in a church (and I'm glad for that), but I've spent a lot of time since then questioning that belief. This questioning was not bitter or angry (most of the time), but was done in an attempt to understand the ideas and principles of various religions. I'm not an atheist. Nor am I a faithful believer. Is there such a thing as a hopeful skeptic? Maybe that's what I am.

One thing is certain--I'm no scholar and I don't have all the answers. Matter of fact, I'm not sure I have any answers. But that hasn't stopped me. Over the years, I've read, thought, and led class discussions about the essential religious questions. Is there a God? What is His/Her nature? Is there an afterlife? Is morality possible without a belief in God? On balance, have the various religions (and their mythic structures) been harmful to civilization or helpful? I always found these questions and the answers that authors and students have proposed most stimulating.

I say all this as preface to the next Christmas song.

"Silent Night" is probably my favorite Christmas hymn. It brings back a happy memory from childhood: singing this song as part of a child chorus in a Christmas pageant in our old country church and understanding in my childlike way how important Christmas was and what it meant. Even now, in my 71st year, in my barnacled and skeptical dotage, I still feel very comfortable and content in the spirit that emanates from the melody and lyrics of "Silent Night." This version is by the gifted Andrea Bocelli.

Merry Christmas to any of my family who might read this. Joyce (I'm finally going to surprise you this year), David, Vicki, Roger and Lou Ann, Aunt Jo, Debbie and Mark, Larry and Judy, Sandy and Peter, and Helen and Joel. And all my other cousins and aunts and uncles and nephews and nieces.

Merry Christmas Ed (and Rae), Jeanne (and Max), George (and Sara), Bob (and Ellen), Andy, Buck, Deb, Staci, and Inno.

Merry Christmas to all my classmates and friends from Litton High, class of '58.

Merry Christmas to all my readers whoever you are and wherever you are.

And finally, merry Christmas to you, Joe Rose, you old scoundrel.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Coke and Candy Rocket Car

Y'all have probably seen this before, but it's new to me. I have no comment about this other than to say that I don't think I'll be mixing these internally in the near future.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Howlin' at the Moon

It's a clear, cold night in our part of the Holler. The moon's so bright it might look like that brilliant light everyone's supposed to see as they pass off of this mortal coil. When I took the trash out earlier, the woods in back of the house were quiet except for a solitary howl from a hound somewhere over the hill.

Everyone's asleep here at the Post. Brother Dave's downstairs in the guest bedroom catching some zzz's and recuperating from his hip replacement surgery. Joyce is sleeping peacefully in our bedroom. And I'm sittin' here at the old keyboard listenin' to Hank Sr. "Howlin' at the Moon."

It's been many years since I howled at the moon, but I guess I still got some of them "doggish ways."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Remember Pearl Harbor

I was only a year and seven months old in 1941, so I don't remember the attack that brought us into WWII. I've read the history though, and it's my belief that, like 9-11, the Japanese attack should be remembered in vivid detail each year. Whatever political party we belong to, we need to be reminded of the price others have paid for our freedom and that there still are those in the world who would destroy it.

I've selected two You Tube videos. The first is a collection of photos that overlay a song written soon after the attack (that's Sammy Kaye's orchestra providing the music). This video was prepared by a blogger named Jim Cox.

Here's the second video: Roosevelt's speech to congress and to the nation (via radio) which he made the day after the attack. After the speech, it took congress only seven minutes to declare war on Japan.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Roy Rogers Cowboy Song for My Brother Dave (and George and Sara)

My brother Dave had hip replacement surgery early this morning. Everything went smoothly and he's doing fine. I spent most of the day in the hospital with him and Joyce joined me this afternoon. When we left around 8:30 p.m. he was doing okay. They plan to have him up and walking tomorrow, and if all goes according to plan, Dave will come home with us on Wednesday or Thursday and spend a few days until he gets back on his feet.

As I noted in an earlier post, Dave is a cowboy at heart, and so I'm posting this song for him. And also for good friends George and Sara, who caught the cowboy spirit and moved up to Montana about a year ago. I don't know if they've bought a ranch yet, but they are living the life under the Big Sky.

If you want to see the simple lyrics to this tune check out this blog; there are also some great pics of Roy and his family. By the way, I don't how you readers feel about the art of yodeling (it's a touchy subject with some people), but Roy has a really fine example of cowboy style yodeling at the end. I personally enjoy a good yodel myself.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

An Old Cowboy Song by Rex Allen

When I was ten or eleven, Rex Allen was one of my favorite cowboy heroes. He made several singing western movies and had a successful recording career. Here's "I Ride an Old Paint."

Pipe Dreams

In a recent piece in the The Tennesseean about SEC football, David Climer says that while LSU coach Les Miles will probably take home SEC coach of the honors, Vanderbilt's first year coach James Franklin has earned consideration too. 

And he's getting it from his own school, Vanderbilt University. 

That's a pic of Franklin above, wearing his gold and black (Vandy colors) tie. Climer reports that a little under a year after his appointment, Franklin has negotiated a new contract and extracted a commitment from Vanderbilt to build a new indoor practice facility, something other coaches have desired but failed to get in the past. This success has come because in his first year as head coach Franklin won six games and came very close to beating Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, and Tennessee. And one other thing--the Franklin led Commodores are going to a bowl, just the fifth bowl in school history. 

I might also add that Franklin was recognized this spring as one of the outstanding recruiters in college football, and his first group of Vanderbilt recruits is said to be top notch, so look out next year. With a solid returning cohort of players and some great recruits, maybe those close calls against Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee will be chalked up in the win column in 2012. Let me do the math. That would mean a 9 and 3 season. Wow! 

And possibly in a couple years we could win the BCS championship. Beyond that, I can see a dynasty forming and many years of consistent wins over UT. In my crystal ball I can see LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and other SEC giants being ground to dust under the Vandy steam roller.

Okay, okay. I've got to get a grip, I need to back up and look at this objectively, fully utilize the critical skills I've developed over the years as a Cubs fan and as a follower of Vanderbilt football since the late '50s. 

Franklin is a great coach and I love his intensity on the sidelines and his refusal to buy into the well established defeatist culture. But there's a reason why this kind of culture has evolved. From 1986 to 2001 the school won only 18 games in SEC play. In three of those seasons Vandy had a 1-10 record and in five of the years were winless in the SEC. Since 2000, Vandy has a 36-93 record (14-74 in the SEC). This is also the school that has devoured some pretty good coaches over the past three or four decades, coaches who thought they could turn things around. And the one or two coaches (e.g. Steve Sloan) that did make a little difference, quickly moved on to other colleges. 

Let's face it. When the state university (MTSU) down the road in Murfreesboro, a school you probably put on the schedule because it could be an easy win, beats you up pretty bad, your prospects aren't that good. Yeah, I know, that happened several years ago, but still. 

How about this? When the local newspaper starts each and every season, year after year, with a story about how it might be possible for Vanderbilt to win 4 or 5 games, things aren't so rosy in your football program. The football Commodores have received the SEC Miss Congeniality Award more times than any team (that's the award they give you because the other teams were glad you were on their schedule and they got to kick your butt all over the field for 60 minutes).

So...let's take this Franklin thing a little slower. As I said, I think he's a great coach and an excellent motivator. But let's not get too excited yet.  

And as for that possible 9-3 record in 2012 that I fantasized about, after a reality check, I realize that's about as likely as the Cubs winning the World Series next year.

Okay. It could happen. Yeah, yeah. I know. Anything's possible. Vandy could go 9-3 and the Cubs could win the World Series for the first time since 1908.

But in my humble opinion a 9-3 record for Vandy in 2012 is about as likely as Obama reversing his delay of that Canadian Keystone XL pipeline, opening up off shore drilling, cutting taxes, eliminating several cabinet level departments, and initiating other deep federal budget cuts in order to balance the budget before he leaves office on January 20, 2013.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some Dirty Rounder Took My Jelly Roll

Somewhere there's probably a train song I don't like. But I haven't heard it yet.

Doc Watson's "The Train That Carried My Girl from Town" has been one of my favorites for a long time. It's track #18 on my Best of Doc Watson: 1964-1968 CD which is practically worn out from repeated plays.

Doc apparently learned it from the recordings of white guitarist Frank Hutchison (who seems to have learned it from an unknown black musician); check out this you tube of the original Hutchison recording if you're interested.

At the beginning, it sounds like the speaker in the song misses his girl real bad--he says he's so desperate he wishes the train would wreck. You might think he's crazy in love with her and wants her back with him, but as the song progresses, it becomes clear that he's mad, angry. And it's because his girl has run off with another man.

Now, a man's bound to get upset if some "dirty rounder" takes his "jelly roll." And to make things worse for the poor guy, his girl also "had her hand in his money sack." No wonder he's so pissed off.

The flat picking is unbelievable. Phenomenal. It's in a class by itself. You can have your Santanas and your Claptons, and your Richards, I'll take Doc in his prime anytime. The driving beat and the repeated licks and runs on the lower strings suggest the power and speed of the train (and perhaps the pounding he'd give the both of them if he caught them).

Lord a'mercy, this music almost makes me want to get up and do a little buck dance. Almost.