'And I'm sure missin' you'...
Heard a song this morning that might just get my elusive "favorite" vote. It took me back, better than a time machine, to the innocent bliss of youth. I can still see my mom standing over the radio, swaying back and forth to its rhythms.
There's a full moon over Tulsa, I hope that it's shining on you...
Country music hit a period in the '70s and '80s when duets were all the rage. I guess Conway and Loretta started it, or maybe George and Tammy. By 1980, David Frizzell (Lefty's brother) and Shelly West (Dottie's daughter) had found themselves with a potential smash hit of a song -- but no recording contract.
The song was "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" and it took Clint Eastwood and an ape to get the single released. (This is a great story!)
David Frizzell has said he knew "Oklahoma" was going to be a hit the moment he heard it. It was a career-defining moment for him and West (although she has lived in country music infamy thanks to a little song called "Jose Cuervo"). But they couldn't get the darn thing recorded.
Good ol' Clint heard the song and went bonkers. "That's great," he said. "We'll put it in the next movie."
And that happened to be the picture with the ape -- "Any Which Way You Can," the 1980 sequel to his 1978 mega-hit "Every Which Way But Loose." I may be crazy, but I've always loved those movies. I mean, it's Clint Eastwood and an ape! How much better does it get?
True to his work, Clint featured the song on the soundtrack. It shot to No. 1 and has become a country classic. My mother loved the song; it will forever make me think of her.
You're the reason God made Oklahoma, and I'm sure missin' you...
There is a sweetness to the song, an old-fashioned romantic innocence, that for whatever reason has become passe. It lacks the gritty (and guilty) pleasures of something like "After the Fire is Gone" as well as the "I bet they're fighting in real life" aspect of the Jones/Wynette discography (or the irony of "We're Gonna Hold On.")
But this simple snippet about an Oklahoma cowboy in love with the green-eyed rancher's daughter that moved to Los Angeles remains something special, a frozen-in-time remembrance of a simpler day.
Besides, if mom likes it, it's got to be good, right?