Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The smoothest voice in country music


I had never been to the WDVX Blue Plate Special.

Glad I went, though. There's nothing like a live radio show and good music to get your Tuesday off to a great start.

Plus, it gave us an opportunity to get caught back up with RobinElla. She only sang for 30 minutes -- it could have been for the whole hour and then some as far as we were concerned -- but her set was great, as always.

The highlight was a cover of an old Don Williams song I haven't thought about in a mess of Sundays, "Listen to the Radio."

Listen to the radio, oh listen to the radio
Let's spend the night together
Baby don't go, they sing it on the radio


My thoughts jumped back in time a decade or so. Pal Drew and I took a quick jaunt up I-75 one Saturday night to Renfro Valley, Ky., and hung out in a big, converted barn for a couple of hours.

Don Williams came in, wearing that same old hat he's had forever. He sat on a stool and sang. He didn't swing from ropes. He didn't bust his guitar. He didn't rely on overblown (forgive the pun) pyrotechnics.

Nope, he just made music.

I can remember being a little boy and playing my mom's "Don Williams' Greatest Hits" (MCA label) album on my little Fischer Price record player. These days, the lyrics to his hit "Amanda" mean quite a bit more than they did in the early 1980s.

Now I'm crowdin' 30, and still wearin' jeans...

My mom loved the song "Ghost Story" that was a cut on that album. I bet I haven't heard it in 20 years.

Anyway, that Saturday night in Kentucky, I wanted Don to sing "Amanda," of course, which he did. I also wanted him to sing my favorite waltz of his, "She's In Love with a Rodeo Man." He didn't, but I listened to it in the car on the way home.

I do remember he sang "Good Ol' Boys Like Me," which is an understated, "says more than you know" kind of a tune; and "Heartbeat in the Darkness;" as well as "Shadowlands," a pretty little ballad he recorded later in his career, after the hits stopped.

My favorite Don Williams song? Oh, can't name just one. "Amanda," certainly. And "Rodeo Man" and "Rake and Ramblin' Man" and "Good Ol' Boys Like Me" and "Lord I Hope This Day Is Good" and "I'm Just a Country Boy" and 10 others.

I also just love that John Prine song he did, what was it called? Oh, yeah -- "Love Is On A Roll." And the one about "If Hollywood Don't Need You (Honey I Still Do)."

Well, I hope you make the big time/I hope your dreams come true/But if Hollywood don't need you, honey I still do...

But "Listen to the Radio"? Hadn't thought about it in years.

What a special memory it brought back. Good songs are like that.

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