Monday, October 29, 2007

'Making plans': So long to Porter

You say tomorrow you're going/It's so hard for me to believe...

Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton never sounded as good away from each other. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wagoner, who died over the weekend at age 80, "discovered" Dolly and brought her to Nashville in the '60s. The duo had a string of hits together, including "The Last Thing On My Mind," "Daddy Was an Old-Time Preacher Man," "Just Someone I Used to Know" and one of the greatest country records of all time, "Making Plans."

Porter was a big star in his own right. His hits included "Company's Comin'" and "A Satisfied Mind." He became best known for the flashy rhinestone outfits he continued to wear years after they went out of style on his regular Saturday night appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.

But when he and Dolly hooked up, something magical happened. My grandparents said they once saw the two of them standing in the bed of an old truck, singing in the parking lot at one of the shopping centers in Halls. They had no clue as to who either of them were, so they kept on walking.

I'm making plans for the heartaches/Cause you're making plans to leave...

Porter's music was simple and direct. He didn't have what you would call a good voice, but his songs were honest. You'd never catch him, for example, swinging from a rope.

Dolly apparently broke his heart when she left, destined for movies with Burt Reynolds, "9 to 5" and superstardom. Despite all those hits, I don't think she ever sounded as good without that tall fella in the flashy jacket.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said, "Porter Wagoner had a great style and a big heart. I'll miss him, but I am grateful to still have his music."

If you want to hear Porter Wagoner's greatest legacy, the one they'll still talk about years from now, find that "Greatest Hits" album of his with Dolly Parton. Skip all the way down to "Making Plans."

Now that, folks, was country music.

Godspeed, Porter.

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