Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The way they used to be

Two a.m. and I'm up again. So, let me rant a minute or two on something that doesn't matter.

Most boys will tell you they want to be a firefighter when they grow up. Or a police officer. Or a big league ballplayer.

Well, I guess I've always been a weird kid. You want to hear something funny?

I wanted to be an Oak Ridge Boy.

Yes, as a lad I would tell people that I was going to grow up to be a member of the Oak Ridge Boys. I loved those guys. My first concert, in fact, was a trip to Stokely Athletics Center in 1984 to see them on their "Steppin' Out!" tour.

And I guess I never have lost an affection for their music.

Dewayne Lawson sent a text message tonight to give me about 10 minutes' worth of advanced warning that the Boys were going to be on DirecTV -- live in concert!

"Up next!" Dewayne texted. "William Lee Golden in HD!"

I felt the nostalgic tinge of childhood.

Turns out it lasted 15 seconds.

Instead of the classic, mostly well-dressed and well-coiffed quartet I remember from childhood, out came Richard Sterban looking like he'd slid headfirst into a midlife crisis. Normally dressed in a natty suit and tie, tonight he sported an outfit that should make men his age blush. HIs slicked back hair has given way to a long, flowing embarrassment. William Lee Golden went from being amusing mountain man to long-haired freak in desperate need of a bath. Even Duane Allen looked like an aging Baby Boomer trying too hard to look 18 again.

It was sad.

They sang an obnoxious tune composed by Shooter Jennings. I turned it off about two minutes in and surfed over to YouTube to find a classic 1982 clip from "The Tonight Show."

Some things are best left in their era. The Oaks have continued to perform (and thankfully worked out a deal to get Golden back in the fold). When they do what they do, it works. But this was downright nauseating. It's a lesson few aging stars learn. If you doubt what I say listen to a recent Tom Jones single. Ugh.

Then there was all this talk on Facebook. I signed off in disgust. What can I say? I was country when country wasn't cool.

Ah well. I'll always have 1983 and "Ozark Mountain Jubilee," Elvira and Bobby Sue, the Y'all Come Back Saloon and I Wish You Could Have Turned My Head (And Left my Heart Alone). Back then it was simple. It was sorta lowbrow but it was fun. And it wasn't so pretentious.

And neither were the Oak Ridge Boys.

Sometimes it wouldn't bother me one damn bit if pop culture of the moment went up in flames.

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