NASCAR Goes Country
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and a warm welcome as always to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR, be you human or computer. It’s only Monday afternoon as I pull up to the keyboard. Well, actually I got here circa 8:30 this morning and haven’t left, but other things take up my Monday time. They just got wrapped up earlier than usual.
After the carnage… there is no better word for it… that was called a race at Talladega, I was sure that I’d vent my spleen all about what I think of plate racing, but I have mellowed some in my very old age and become more in control of my emotions… usually.
The NFL has greatly displeased your scribe this year and as a result, though I’ve been a fan since the time I got married in 1958 and probably a “casual” fan even before. I have not turned on, even by accident, a single game this year, and I’ve dropped from the Fantasy Football scene altogether. We all know the reason why, and regular readers know well my love and respect for our Flag, Anthem and Country.
It is with that mindset that I eschew writing about that race except to mention my disappointment in humankind as found on social media. For instance, there was one young girl who tweeted directly to me that she was just glad Truex was out and now she could enjoy the rest of the race. It takes all kinds. I responded that I was just glad no one was dead or dismembered… yet.
A young man also tagged me directly, telling me he thought the racing we were watching was “just a blast.” I responded that was because he wasn’t responsible for paying for all the damage we’d just witnessed in the inevitable “Big One.” He shot back asking me what I was talking about. All one can do is shake her head in amazement that they walk among us unfettered. He won’t bother me again.
Then I had an idea! (Imagine a bright lightbulb here) Most of you seem to be enjoying the Classic Country Music I've been sharing with you, so why not build a column around that music? Why not, indeed!
I have long felt that stock car racing and Country Music have paralleled each other through the years, including rising and falling in popularity in very similar patterns, and they were and still are the two loves of my life. I must admit that Country Music came first, as I could dial a radio at 5 and 6 years of age, but couldn’t get to a racetrack until I was more like 15.
Through perseverance and patience, I am the proud owner of several albums featuring Country Music either sung by the stars of NASCAR or sung about the racing itself, and I managed to procure most of them before YouTube was even an idea. God bless them though… they do make it easier to play them for you than it used to be.
Today, I'll happily share one of the oldest of my collection with you. This album was such fun when it was originally done. I do hope you enjoy the revival as much as I did setting this up for you.
Many years back… 1975 to be exact… a bunch of good ol' boys were rounded up, perhaps at gunpoint, to record a vinyl LP album called "NASCAR Goes Country." Now, some of them could actually sing, but not all. Still, every one of them could drive the wheels off a racecar. Their names, in this later day and time, are legend; their vocal prowess… not so much. This merry six-pack of yesteryear includes Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough. That's five inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and one nominee. Someone knew what he was doing back in 1975.
The original recording was done as a vinyl 33.3-RPM record, because that's how albums were done then. The recording studio was MCA records, a very respectable name at that time. The album was rereleased later in CD format by Speedway Records Inc., which is the version I have in front of me today, and the date on the disc is 2002. It wasn't easy to find some ten to twelve years ago when I set about looking for it, and at quick glance, it's now about impossible. But… someone else has the disc besides me, and it is on YouTube for your listening pleasure.
The first cut is one by the entire gang… a familiar oldie called, "Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer." Remember now, I never promised you a rose garden… and I'm not Lynn Anderson.
The second cut is a solo offering by the Timmonsville Flash, Cale Yarborough, doing an old Hank Williams favorite, "Hey Good Lookin'", and doing a fair to middlin' job of it at that.
Number three is also done by Cale, and this time he does a nice job on Dave Dudley's big hit, "Six Days on the Road."
On cut number four, we hear "Let the Good Times Roll", as sung by the King himself, Richard Petty. Well… his son can sing…
In fifth spot on the disc is the head of the Alabama Gang, Bobby Allison, warning "Watch Out for the Matador." Bobby, it's good that you never gave up that day job.
Number six is easily my favorite of all eleven songs, not because he could sing a lick but because I loved our gentle giant, Buddy Baker. Here's Big Buddy singing "Butterbeans." (Or is it "Just a Closer Walk with Thee?")
The seventh cut is another one by all the boys together, and though I doubt there is a saint among them, here they are singing, "When the Saints Go Marching In."
At number eight we find a great old rock and roll tune that hit the charts for several artists back in the 1950s. Here then, for your listening pleasure, is David Pearson offering his version of "Maybelline." As I told you, some of these guys could really sing!
Number nine is sung by a voice familiar to everyone, and love him or hate him, here is Ol' DW himself, Darrell Waltrip, singing "I Can Help." He's not Billy Swan and for sure, he's no Elvis Presley…
The penultimate cut is another by Bobby Allison, who gets my vote for the bravest of the bunch. This time he offers one called "Big Daddy." Go Bobby Go!
And finally we have King Richard Petty to wrap it up for us with that old Roger Miller smash hit, "King of the Road." What else?
Reading back through this, it dawns on the scribe that this collection was recorded over forty years ago! Raise your hand if you weren't even born when I was writing 1975 on my checks. No wonder I'm reminded of my age so often. I'm freakin' OLD… but I'm still here and still playing the game; still racing, still writing and still playing Classic Country. Many of my young readers tell me they enjoy learning how things were "back in the day", whenever that was. Well, this wasn't the norm back then, but it was a great break from tradition and a lot of fun for most of us when it was done. My hope is that the young readers will enjoy it for the laughs and the old folks like me will enjoy the trip way down Memory Lane.
Credit where credit is due:
The background singers you hear throughout are the world-renowned Jordanaires.
Musicians heard throughout are as follows:
Harold Bradley - Bass Guitar, Banjo
James Colvard - Lead Guitar
Bob Moore – Bass
Ron Oates – Piano
Kelso Herston = Rhythm Guitar
Buddy Harman – Drums
Bobby Thompson - Rhythm Guitar, Banjo
Charlie McCoy – Harmonica
Lloyd Green - Steel Guitar
The album states it was originally recorded at "Bradley's Barn," which at first glance sounds rather rustic, but be not fooled gentle readers. Bradley's Barn houses no hay or straw and is home to no livestock. It was the recording studio of famed music producer Owen Bradley, and is located in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, a conveniently close suburb to the Home of Country Music, Nashville, Tennessee.
And… this is the spot where I usually introduce our Classic Country Closeout, but we've already heard eleven songs, so we'll limit this segment to a single song this time. For that honor, I've chosen an old Bobby Bare song brought to my mind by Big Buddy's Butterbeans. Here then is Bobby, along with a few of his friends, singing the praises of "Greasy Grit Gravy." Remember, it's all in good fun.
Oh, what the heck! While I have Bobby Bare on my mind and the talk is of old things and old people, here's a great one from The Old Dogs, namely Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis and Jerry Reed. The song is simply called, "Time." Please enjoy.
If anyone is thinking that this song might be the reason I detest restrictor plate racing, think again. I did like Talladega racing until they put the plates on the cars and made the racing phony, contrived and forced. If the fast cars can’t pull away from the slow cars, then you get what we saw on Sunday… devastation and destruction, the cost of which is in the Millions of Dollars! No, that’s not fun. It’s an eerie reminder that there was a time when Christians were thrown to the lions… and they called that “entertainment” too!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!