I wrote a post on how I feel about various musical genres a few days back, and with one category in particular I always choose my words carefully – country. I have a nostalgic love for old country music, including folks like Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Sr., Roger Miller, and Dolly Parton. While it’s true that I don’t often seek out old country classics, something about them really resonates with me. Their authenticity, the lived experience of working class America – it’s a sensibility that produces a groove that very few can resist tapping along with. It’s pop before pop was pop.
More importantly, undoubtedly, for my appreciation of these songs is that they always remind me of my grandpa. My dad’s dad was one of those truly rare souls who knew how to touch others – he was deeply beloved by every person who ever had the good fortune of knowing him, and I couldn’t be prouder that I got to have him as my grandfather. Contemporary country music, like contemporary anything, utterly passed him by – he never really let honkey-tonk go; he died in the early 2000s still loving, as most of us do, all these country oldies.
Yesterday we were at a fast food restaurant with my father-in-law in Ashland, Virginia, and Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” came on the loudspeakers, prompting this post. I’m happy to remind you of this little ditty, which I trust makes you as happy as it makes me. Roger Miller, by the way and according to Wikipedia, had received 8 Grammys and a Tony by the time he died in 1992.
Thanks for reading.