Of Bobby Bare and Dashboard Lights and Being as Old as Rock and Roll
I’m listening to Bobby Bare’s version of “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan”, off THE MOON IS BLUE album, and, in the cracked rear view mirror of my memory, it takes me back to the first time I heard Bobby Bare’s voice. I think I was seven or eight. I was helping my father build a corral gate. All that was left to be done was to nail the cow skull to the middle of the high crossbar. The truck radio was on, tuned to CKOW. Art Wallman, the disc jockey for CKOW who sometimes played local wedding dances with his band, said here’s the brand new one from Bobby Bare. It’s called “Miller’s Cave” (google bobby bare rca miller’s cave youtube). It’s the story of a guy whose girlfriend had “unfaithful ways”. One day he catches her in the act and shoots both her and the lover, and then he goes and hides amongst the bats and the bears in a mountain cave.
I’m a big fan of Bobby Bare’s. I’ve got loads of his music on vinyl, cassette, 8 track, and cd and even one or two Mp3s. But I never actually saw the above video until my visit to You Tube a few moments ago. Bare’s voice, to my ears, sounds just as good on THE MOON IS BLUE as it did back in the early 60s in RCA studios.
I’m sure I wasn’t sure exactly what “unfaithful ways” meant, at the time.
But I sure do now.
My parents weren’t really into the whole ‘birds and bees’ lesson-thing, and the school I went to had a teaching staff comprised, at the time, mostly of nuns.
It occurs to me that just about everything I knew about love and sex, at a young age, came from either a truck radio or a transistor radio, or a record.
The first record I ever bought was by Bobby Bare. A BIRD NAMED YESTERDAY. It was a concept album, about memory and nostalgia and lost youth, in an era that had yet to dream up Sergeant Pepper or Tommy or Ziggy Stardust or the red-headed stranger.
By the time I bought Bobby Bare’s “Margie’s at the Lincoln Park Inn”, I knew full well what she was doing there, and it wasn’t thanks to anything dad or Sister Alma-Marie told me.
Halfway through a wedding dance that Art Wallman was playing, in Mankota, Saskatchewan, I saw a tall, willowy, witchy type redhead. I’d heard about her. She was a year older than me, and Carl Olson said she was “wild”. Thanks to music – Cat Stevens, in particular – I knew that we lived in a “wild world”. Ergo: she was a citizen of the world.
Her name was Patty. She was an Irish lass. She had green eyes. She loved to chew gum.
I asked her to dance to “The Snakes Crawl at Night”. She was half a head taller than me, and not that great a dancer.
At the age of 14, my mother taught me how to foxtrot, box trot and waltz, mostly to Porter and Dolly records.
I asked my mother, what was that wedding ring doing in the matchbox, in “The Carleton County Accident”. She said sometimes wedding rings can get too tight.
At the end of “The Snakes Crawl at Night”, Patty looked me in the eye. “Wanna get out of here?” she said.
She had a driver’s license. I only had a learner’s permit.
She had a lime green GMC truck with an 8 track in it.
She didn’t have any Bobby Bare tapes, but she did have Simon and Garfunkel, along with Creedence and Neil Diamond.
It was BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER that was playing in the tape deck, as we headed out of town, past the cenotaph and the grain elevators and the junk yard. She loved that song about “the horse on 7th Avenue”, and, indeed, that was the song that was playing, when she parked in the Mankota cemetery, aka Boob Hill.
Patty didn’t believe in wasting a lot of time. She took out her gum and we got down to business. About the time we rounded second base and were headed for third, Cecilia was breaking Paul Simon’s heart.
And so began the span of time when music and sex and dashboard lights became inextricably linked in my psyche. Oh yeah. That Meatloaf song was the oh so appropriate tune on more than one occasion. And Bobby Bare did enter the fray. I still can’t hear “Dropkick Me, Jesus” without my memory banks swelling with one particular memory that I will take with me to my grave. But I can’t tell that story here.
When people ask me how old I am, I tell them I’m just about as old as rock and roll. When Rolling Stone did their ‘Happy 50th Birthday issue’ for rock and roll, in 2006, they suggested that rock and roll was probably born in Sun Studios on July 4th,1954, when Elvis cut “That’s Alright” (yep, there’s even a video of that performance up on YouTube.)
Hmmm. Rock and roll as sweet and sensitive, momma-lovin’ Cancer?
Other people cite April, 1954, when Bill Haley recorded “Rock Around the Clock”. (An Aries, fiery, headstrong, a trailblazer, that makes more sense, surmised the metaphysician…..) Still others go back to when Carl Perkins put on his “Blue Suede Shoes” or when Buddy Holly first opened his eyes or – and this is my sentimental favorite – when Bobby Bare aka, Bill Parsons, cut “All American Boy”,* his very first single, around about the time when Elvis got drafted**. Or when Hank Williams hiccuped and sipped his very first whiskey or, alternatively, sang “Move It on Over/Jambalaya/Hey Good Lookin’,” etc, but hell, let’s just call Hank Williams and his whole damn songbook the bastard step-father of rock and roll, and place the time of birth in the mid-50s, shall we?
At any rate, all I know for sure is that there aren’t too many of us that are gettin’ any younger.
And I also know that Tommy Shaw turned 50 last April and a band named Viagra Falls played “Hot Legs” at this birthday bash.
No, I don’t know Tommy Shaw.
But, that’s right, I do know you can find it on YouTube***.
Along with all kinds of Bobby Bare videos I’ve never seen before.
But I’m about to change that right now.
Wonder if “Summer Wages” is up there……
…..nope. It isn’t. But WTH!? There’s a song up there I’ve never heard before by Bobby Bare, “Dreams of Yesterday”.***
You just never know what a day will bring.
I’d love to finish this blog….. if I could just remember what it’s point was going to be. (It’s sad when the synapses start to go; rock and roll does, lately, sometimes forget.) And if I didn’t have to go find that Bobby Bare album that I didn’t even know existed.
*** As are, it goes without saying, most of the songs mentioned in this blog.