Monday, March 30, 2009

Close Up the Honky Tonks-- Not

I began dancing in honky tonks at a very young age. My parents were both dancers. In fact, they met on a blind date at a big band swing dance in the 1940s at the Cedar Point ballroom and danced together for 40+ years until my father moved on-- to that big ballroom in the sky.

I can remember being 3 or 4 years old and going to the bar with my father and my brother who was a babe in arms. He and some of his friends were laid off-- during a past recession. My mother had gone back to work to help support the family, and Dad was our caretaker. On occasion, in the afternoon, Dad would pack us into the Chevy and go downtown for a beer-- well, probably more than one. Dad laid Jim-- wrapped up in his baby blanket-- on the bar, and I socialized with the bar flies. The geezers at the bar would give me money for the juke box. I would punch in the numbers and dance around the bar. (This begs several questions. 1) Is this how I learned my letters and numbers? Play C17, Pammie! 2) What was my favorite song? Elvis? Johnny Cash? Karl Perkins? There was a lot of great music back in the mid-1950s. 3) Did God make honky tonk angels? Or not? 4) Was I born to be a honky tonk woman?)

My parents used to have dance parties in the late 1950s and early 1960s in our basement-- a cool place in more ways than one-- or at my Aunt Nan's place "at The Lake." (Lake Erie, that is). When the parties were at our house, my cousins and I would sneak down the cellar steps to watch our parents dance, drink, and smoke cigarettes. Since the Powers/Fox descendants are English/Irish (respectively), there was always a bar set up at the dance parties. The favorite of the Powers clan was bourbon (most likely from Kentucky-- like Jim Beam or Heaven Hill) + whatever mixer they had (probably Pepsi). "The cousins" were supposed to be sleeping, but hello, who could sleep with all of that loud music? Since I was the oldest cousin, I most likely led the other six astray. (I gotta find those pictures of my parents, aunts, and uncles swing dancing.)

After my Dad passed, Mom said her dancing days were over, but I hope my she still dances around the living room when she plays He'll Have to Go or her Patsy Cline 8 track tapes.

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows that I dance at least twice a week-- usually more. You name it, I dance it-- east coast swing, west coast swing, blues dancing, multiple varieties of two-step, waltz, salsa, merengue, bachata, villanato, cha-cha, free style-- even the polka (which I was born to dance, since I am half German and grew up in Northern Ohio).

In recent years, I have really gotten into going to The Maverick-- one of the best honky tonks in Tucson, as far as I'm concerned. Growing up, I was not into country music-- at all. Although I remember my father playing Johnny Cash on the record player in the late 1950s, country, bluegrass, and, of course, polka, were were totally un-cool in the 1960s. For me, music was the Rolling Stones, The Doors, and Chicago blues (especially Paul Butterfield) back then. In the 1970s, I remember listening to Merle Haggard some. (Us hippies got a kick out of I'm Proud to Be an Okie from Muskogee. And I'll let you imagine what we did while singing along!)

I really developed a taste for country and western music when I worked in Benson in the early 1980s and could get only the Benson radio station (KAVV-- The Cave) or the Wilcox station on the radio in my office. Listening to The Cave every day, I began to appreciate country music-- for the danceable beat and the creative lyrics. Now, of course, I get my country fix at The Maverick, the Cactus Moon (now that Robert Moreno is there), and on KXCI-- particularly Rose Lady's show.

Recently, I purchased a wonderful CD-- Dwight Sings Buck-- Dwight Yoakum, that is. This is a great CD of classic country songs. I love his rendition of Close Up the Honky Tonks. Unfortunately, Dwight-- or most likely his record label-- doesn't want to share, so I can't embed it. I really like his version, but I take issue with the way the honky tonk woman is portrayed in this video. Hello, she should be wearing jeans.

In some ways, this song reminds me of my dancing girlfriends and myself, but I believe that any one of us would turn in the honky tonk dancin' for a steady dance partner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I was a little girl I had a friend who was originally from Arkansas. Her parents were as un-cool as you could be. They were a lot older than the other parents, and they listened to Bluegrass and Country music. Cut to almost 40 years later, and now I love that stuff, and wish I'd been paying attention way back when!

Fun post, Pamela, I can really imagine those basement dance parties, and the pajama clad cousins jostling for a prime spot on the stairs to watch the goings on!