Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why the United States Can No Longer Compete.......

Just read the attached article from the New York Times.  It explains it all.  In short, we in the Western world are being outsold, outworked and outsmarted by our Eastern neighbors.  They are willing to do whatever necessary to manufacture product in their own countries.  Their innovation and work ethic are very, very impressive.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fantasies of a Wistful Mind.......

Did you ever wonder what would have happened to you if you had taken the other road?  You know---the road Robert Frost wrote of ?

How different your life would have been! 

Sometimes I reflect on the choices I made and the resulting pathways that became my life.  There were (and are) so many  different possibilities before me.  Too often, I chose expedience.  Maybe it was my weakness in allowing someone influential in my life to sway me to a decision that, in my heart, I did not fully support.

Sometimes the fear of the unknown made me choose a path that was safe, while deep down I really wanted to explore those unknown possibilities that were fraught with risk but loaded with potential.

I wish sometimes that I could live my life over---knowing, of course, what I now know.  Ha.

I see myself as a very young man in Greenwich Village.  I have no money.  But, that doesn't matter.  What matters is my singing gigs in the coffee houses.  What matters is my song writing.  What matters is my growing group of friends who share my passion for the guitar, the folk song, the lyrics of love and lore.

Who can say where that road would have led?  I certainly would not have been the person I am today. 

I think we should always follow our passions in life.  Only in that way, it seems to me, will we be truly fulfilled.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium!.......

Historic Ryman Auditorium in Downtown Nashville at Night
It is Friday Night in Nashville, January 13, 2012.  The Grand Ole Opry is performing tonight in the historic Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville.   There is excitement in the air!

We Arrived Early.  Our Seats Were Where the Two People Are Standing
The Ryman was built in 1892.  It was originally named "Union Gospel Tabernacle".  It was renamed "Ryman Auditorium" in 1904.
Those Benches Got kinda' Hard After Two Hours!
Over the years, this storied landmark has been host to presidents and legendary performers of all genres.  The first sellout crowd at the Ryman occurred in 1911, when Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan  lectured there. 

Minnie Pearl and Hank Williams Live Again!---Welcoming Visitors to The Performance of the Opry
If you visit the Ryman website, you can get a complete review of the incredible history of this remarkable landmark.

We Love Opry Emcee Eddie Stubbs, Seen Here With a Member of Riders In The Sky.  True Story---On Sunday Morning, as We Departed Nashville for Home, Cindy Saw Eddie Stubbs Driving His signature Black 1996 Cadillac as We Passed Him on the Expressway.  How Cool is That?
But, on this night---last Friday---two admirers of country music were thrilled, along with the rest of the crowd, to be a part of the  performance, which featured Riders in the Sky, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Bill Anderson, Jeanne Seeley, The Whites, Connie Smith, Del McCoury, Jean Shepard, Restless Heart and Jesse McReynolds.
The "Rolls Royce of Country Singers", Miss Connie Smith
Vince Gill

Ricky Skaggs
After the two hour concert, which is actually a two-hour radio program that is broadcast throughout the United States and Canada, Cindy and I strolled down Broadway, where the honky tonks were bursting at the seams with revelers.  That night, we slept soundly, with dreams of Hank and Johnny and Loretta.......

Over on Broadway After the Concert, We Stopped in at Ernest Tubb's Famous Record Shop

After the Concert, We Strolled to Printer's Alley, Where Nightlife Used to reign; But Today, It Has Fallen on Lean Times

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nashville and Opryland!

That's Me---Singing With Elvis On Broadway in Downtown Nashville
Last week I planned a surprise trip for Cindy, who has been a very good girl and deserved a treat from the man of her (insert blush here).
Going to The Ryman on Friday Night!

Downtown Nashville
Destination:  Nashville, AKA Music City.  Nashville is a pleasant 2 1/2 hour drive over Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau from Knoxville.
Icy Roads and a Little Snow Can't Keep Us From Nashville!

Me---In Our Hotel Lobby Before Going to the Opry

What a Handsome Couple!
I informed the dear lady of our trip on Friday morning at 10:00.  We departed our home at noon.  Nashville, HERE WE COME!
That's Me!...Minglin' With the Crowd in Tootsie's Orchid Lounge---Nashville's Most Famous Honky Tonk

Horsey Ride on Broadway, Anyone?

Downtown Nashville's Life and Casualty Tower
We arrived at our downtown hotel at almost 4:00, because we stopped on the way to eat.  We rested only a few minutes before heading downtown to the storied Ryman Auditorium for the 7:00 PM performance of the Grand Ole Opry. 

Honky-Tonkin' on Broadway

Our Restaurant
What a fantastic old building, full of the ghosts of legends past and present! I could feel the presence of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, and a hundred others.......
Atrium, Opryland Hotel

Opryland Hotel Atrium

We sat in the balcony.  Our seats were right on top of the action.  On this night, we saw Vince Gill, Bill Anderson, Ricky Skaggs, Jeanne Seeley, Del McCoury, Jean Shepard, Connie Smith, Riders of the Sky, The Whites, and more.  The performances were terrific!  The sound system is state-of-the-art, as one would expect, and the two-hour concert flashed past much too quickly.  We could have stayed all night!

The next day, the Cinderoo and I further explored Music City, prowling the vast---VAST expanse of the Opryland Hotel and walking for miles along Broadway's stretch of honky tonks. 
Flora and Indoor River, Opryland Hotel
We had dinner at a fantastic downtown restaurant named "Demos".
You're not gonna believe this, but our meal of delicious strip steak, lasagna, salad, spaghetti, bread, cherry cheesecake and drinks came to the grand total of $28.  I'm not kiddin'!
Opryland Flora
You won't believe this, either---we slept 12 hours when we finally got back to our room.  Aaaahhhhhhhhh.......

Opryland Atrium
We arrived home on Sunday afternoon, content in the glow of a wonderful venture along the Yellow Brick Road to the Land Of Oz.

Next Installment:  The Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Can't!.......

My Family, Circa 1954.  I Was 10 Years Old.  L-R...Brother David, Dad, Mom and Me
I was between the ages of five and twenty-five, and I had a problem.

I had zero self confidence.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero.

.Me, About Six Years Old.  Handsome, No?
A big part of the problem was the relationship I had with my dad, who was a "chop-chop", impatient, no-nonsense kind of guy.  Man, I just couldn't do the things he thought I should be able to do easily.

What this does to a child, of course, is create a sense of defeat before he/she even starts to try to do something.  My favorite expression for years was "I can't".

My negative attitude enraged my mother, who did all she could to get me to think positively.  My dad would become so frustrated with my struggles that on more than one occasion he would yell at me, "You're stupid".  I believed him.

Oh my God---then came the teenage years.  I guess I'm glad I lived through them, but the good Lord knows I would never do it again.  Not only was I completely devoid of any confidence, but I had hormones coursing through my body and I wanted girls to like me and I wanted to be popular and I wanted to make good grades.....

Circa 1960.  L-R...Brother David, Dad, Grandmother May, Me (Age 16)
But, alas and alack---all of those things came slowly, so slowly.

When I was six years old my parents sent me to swimming lessons.  I remember I quickly learned to swim a short distance.  But, no  matter how hard the instructors tried, they could not persuade me to try swimming in the deep end of the pool.  I had a mental block.  All the other kids could do it, but no matter how much encouragement everyone gave me, little Clint couldn't make himself succeed.

Then, there was arithmetic/algebra/geometry/chemistry/physics/you name it.  In school, if it was technical, I said I couldn't do it before the first class.  Oh, and my struggles with girls in school.  Oh, how I wanted the girls to pay some attention to me.  But I was too shy to even ask a girl for a date.  I saw myself as a failure.

My friends, this business of attitude is either tremendously empowering or disastrously defeating.

Thank God, as time went on, and a few successes occurred in my life here and there, my self-image improved steadily.  Finally, I was able to begin to achieve!  What a liberating feeling!  Success breeds success----and success begins to elevate confidence.  And confidence leads to a circle of wondrous victories in life.

Back in those dark days of failure, my mom used to have an expression:  "Can't never could".

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

J. Bazzel Mull...."Ain't That Right, Mizz Mull?"

J Bazzel Mull (1914---2006) was the son of a circuit judge.  He and his siblings and parents formed a gospel group, The Valdese Sacred Band.  Mull played banjo.

Mull was legally blind since 11 months of age, when a fall into a fireplace destroyed his eyesight.  As a child, he began to memorize bible verses as someone read them to him aloud.

He began preaching in 1932.  In 1939, his sermons began to be broadcast on radio; and in 1942, he began to be broadcast from Knoxville, Tennessee stations WROL and WNOX.  Mull, a shrewd businessman, soon syndicated his program and began to broadcast on the clear channel megawatt WWL 870 AM in New Orleans.  Thus, Mull's broadcasts were heard all across the United States.

Mull soon began to broadcast with his wife, Elizabeth, at his side at the microphone.  He would often make a statement, and then quickly follow it up by asking his wife, "Ain't that right, mizz Mull?"

J. Bazzel's program featured gospel music and banter between him and Elizabeth.  The program was immensely popular, and soon began to air on television.

There was much humor in Mull's commentary, much of it unintended.  He was simply a funny and engaging personality.

As an example, one of his advertisers was a  Knoxville businessman named Cas Walker.  Walker owned a string of grocery stores.  One time when Mull was plugging Walker's stores, he said, "Cas Walker has the freshest nuts in town---ain't that right, Mizz Mull?" 

"Ain't that right, Mizz Mull?" became his signature comment, repeated over and over on a daily basis by his millions of loyal listeners.

J. Bazzel Mull was inducted into the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame in 2003.  Elizabeth was inducted in 2009.

I write of Mr Mull today because, although he went on to Glory in 2006 at the age of 92, his beloved wife Elizabeth passed away yesterday.  She was 86.

A great chapter in Tennessee and gospel music history passed away with her.