Webb Pierce, the Beatles and Poco. Who was it for you?
The first album I ever bought (with money saved from bagging groceries at Kwik Chek) was the Webb Pierce Story. Daddy had loved singing along with his song, Wondering, and I loved his honky-tonk records like Honky-Tonkin‘, and Truck Drivin’ Man (with the Bill Black Combo).
It’s funny how little I read about him on the internet, since he had more number one hits in the 50s than any other country artist. Back in the late 70s, I did yard work across the street from his mansion, watching busload after busload of tourists stop to tour his home and buy little bottles of water from his guitar-shaped swimming pool. Minnie Pearl would stop by every once in a while, roll down her window and ask if I would like a drink of water. Everyone in the neighborhood, except Ms Pearl, resented Webb Pierce and his busy driveway. Tex Ritter still lived down the road, though after his attempt to go into politics, and the treatment he received after he lost, he didn’t go out much, as I remember.
Webb Pierce was one of the few who survived the British Invasion and the modernization of Country Music, though he did it by entrepreneurship and not with music. Still, if you take time to listen to his wonderful music, his rich, high voice and creative sound, I think you’ll be glad you did. I still find myself singing Honky-Tonkin’ when I’m driving down the road. It’s infectious.
What made me think of Webb Pierce this morning was a story on the news about the Beatles’ first release in the US. That album, with its incredible black/ white cover, was on display beside Webb’s, with a photo of his silver-dollar Cadillac on it. I’d begun listening to the Beatles about then, but it was Webb Pierce who got my first five dollars. Not long after that, though, I started my first band and it was all Beatles/Stones and Van Morrison’s Them from then on. Learning new songs, and learning the effect of three chords and a doleful expression on girls who hung around the dances at the Womens’ Club.
I pretty much stayed on that track until I first heard Poco – the amazing harmonies, sweet vocals and blend of country and rock knocked me off my feet. Now, I listen to a thousand bands and try to remember something about their music. Sometimes, one will shake me, move me, but if I’m not careful they’ll be swept away in the wave of sounds coming from my computer. We sell our CDs around the world, mostly through CD Baby, but we hardly ever sell a physical CD anymore. It’s almost all downloads. Even at shows, download card have taken the place of jewel cases with all the expensive artwork. People buy them, slip them in their pocket and disappear. I’m amazed at the changes. It’s a long way from five dollar albums at Gaylord’s.
So, Webb Pierce, the Beatles and Poco were my gateway to so much we now think of as Americana. Who did that for you?