Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hearing Ben Bullington for the First Time

A Grandnephew I have never met is coming tomorrow so this morning I polished silverware and listened to K-Pig, the Freedom CA station. There came a song, "Country Music, I'm Talking to You." Oh my, a soul mate. I stopped listening to country music every day because a dozen years ago someone decided to ride to the beach with me and back from the beach with me. I kept 3 stations set to country music for kneading dough until I just stopped listening after country fans turned on the Dixie Chicks. I cannot even listen to that clever lyricist Toby Keith after he tried to out Lee-Greenwood Lee Greenwood in Holy Patriotism, when the true patriots were the Dixie Chicks. I understand the holy self-righteous rage. I've been thinking about it in relation to the 18th century Scotch-Irish anger and looking for living people who know how to acknowledge the rage and leave it behind us. I think "The Bitter Southerner" might just be a good place to check out such understanding and such freedom from the rage. So I finished polishing silver and came down to find out who the singer was and find that it's Ben Bullington and played the video of him singing the song. What a charmer! He got me with "Sunday Morning," too, once I heard clearly and knew what he was talking about. I remember driving back to Santa Monica from Boyle Heights and hearing "Sunday Morning Coming Down," Kris Kristofferson, for the first time, before Johnny did it by changing "cussing at a can that he was kicking" to "kicking at a can that he was kicking," it sounded like. I had been there, Sunday mornings, in Louisiana and Texas, a year older than Kris, so I listened. A little later at Doug Weston's Troubadour I sat right behind Kris for an hour as he chain-smoked. I never saw such a bony shoulder. I was sure he would be dead in a year or two. So I was hooked on country music, especially after seeing Willy and Waylon at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1977. I even got to hold Willie's hand for whole seconds here in the buildings behind the Madonna Inn a few years ago. But after Country turned on the Dixie Chicks I could not listen to any of the country stations. These were not my people anymore. But here was the name of the singer, Ben Bullington, and there was the video of this sweet ironic man so I clicked again and found that he died at 58 in 2013 of pancreatic cancer. So this is the fan letter I did not get to write. And more songs I can hear for the first time. What a man!

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