Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Porter Wagoner

Porter Wagoner, Wagonmaster
(Image from Wikipedia)

Porter Wagoner died just three days ago, and another link to my childhood is gone.

Wagoner grew up in the small Missouri Ozark town of West Plains, about 30 miles from my even smaller hometown of Salem, Arkansas and also the same place where one of my uncles got locked up for public drunkenness but released for praying so fervently that the jailor sent him away with the words "Go home. Any man who can pray like that don't need to be in jail."

In my uncle's young days and even in my childhood, Missouri was the place to go for getting drunk because Northern Arkansas was 'dry', so in my childish reasoning, I figured that the state of Missouri must be a truly wicked place for drunken partying and that Porter Wagoner's 1962 hit single "Misery Loves Company" must be about that state, which sounded to me like "Missouri Loves Company":
So break out the bottle, bring on the crowd,
Just gather round me, cause 'Missouri' loves company...
Anyway, I grew up watching The Porter Wagoner Show, which was taped in Nashville, Tennessee, was broadcast from Springfield, Missouri to my home on the only channel that we received, and was aired from the time that I was three, in 1960, until the second year of my graduate studies at Berkeley, in 1981.

As you can see, I literally grew up with that show . . . and with its cast of characters, which included a young Dolly Parton, of whom everyone has heard, and an older Speck Rhodes, about whom most of you have heard nothing at all but who was a genuinely funny countrified comedian, in addition to being a good musician, and who talked just like my 'Grandpa' Archie and looked a bit like him as well:

I'm even told that Thomas Bassham, the father of one of my childhood friends (Tonya Bassham), wrote songs for Porter Wagoner . . . but somebody would have to confirm this for me since I don't know it for a fact.

My condolences to Porter Wagoner's family, some of whom are probably still living in my neck of the Ozark woods...

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At 6:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too was truly saddened by this news, I recently read an article that chastised the "New" version of Nashville for not putting on the country music greats of old. It was mainly concerning the Opry stage. Too many have faded away.

I believe you are correct about Thomas. My father told me that he did and Dad mentioned too that a couple of people from Jot-em-down lent a hand during Mr. Waggoner's earlier years.

This is not the place for it but since you mentioned it first I'll forge ahead. Bear in mind that Porter himself did not in any fashion contribute to this. Oh, I hope I'm not about to stir anything up.

But. Kapok can attest that living or even visiting for extended periods of time in the near north is indeed: Misery.

Now Doctor Essay-Grader, I know you'll notice that I capitalized the letter after the colon but aren't all states' names rendered so? "Nip it in the bud I say, nip it in the bud."

But (bowing to your superior knowledge) should I have done so with "Em-Down"? I would like to know in the offchance I write it elsewhere.


At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to make sure and had to google but -

Speck Rhodes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaGilbert Ray 'Speck' Rhodes (born July 16, 1915, in West Plains, Missouri; died March 19, 2000) was a country music comedian and entertainer. ...

JK thought he was from Misery too.

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I was sorry to note that Porter Wagoner died just as he was making a comeback with his most critically acclaimed album ever ... sort of like Johnny Cash with his final years.

But better to go out appreciated than lost to memory.

And good ol' Speck Rhodes and his imaginary girlfriend Sadie. I hope that he didn't die in obscurity...

As for place names -- such as the great state of 'Misery' -- they are indeed capitalized, even the miserable ones. So, I'd write that little town as "Jot-Em-Down."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Rhodes family and others know there has not yet been obscurity.

I (in my opinion) believe that with some exceptions, Ray Davies comes to mind, the country music folks were the best writers. I'm talking about the old guys and women. Well maybe I shouldn't say "old", maybe the elder generation?

Dad always said that (speaking about Bear Bryant) that "the best a man can hope for is that he goes out, just as he's finished a day of doing what he loves."

Fare well Porter.


At 9:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, this old Gypsy Hillbilly certainly recalls Speck Rhodes and always will, so you're right, he's not obscure ... though I am.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may not have that luxury Jeff. JK is wont to say that he has used some of what he's learned from your blog since he became one of your five regulars. And, he wants to assure you JK - has always attributed to "gypsy."

As a matter of fact, in a 1:00 pm literature class this day (Ozarks time) the instructor was handed a printout from your blog concerning a poet/poem which JK once asked about and searched "gypsy's archives" for.

That instructor on Monday asked for feedback and suggestions as to how he might improve any subsequent coursework/content. JK as you might think was eager to comply.

Now bear in mind, any request for royalties must go through JK's litigators. JK thinks the Gypsy Scholar should be satisfied that he has received several "hits" from JK's own recommendations.


At 7:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, JK, when one is a public figure, such as myself, one has to learn, like Bill Clinton, to take a few hits.

Just don't inhale.

Oh, what the hell. Go ahead and inhale. Nobody will ever believe a denial anyway...

Jeffery Hodges

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