Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Shadow of Dallas

Right after guys discovered that there were easier and tastier things to do besides chase mammoths across the frozen tundra I grew up in the shadow of Dallas.

Now way back in the olden days Dallas was still a banker’s city and because of that things were a bit different. Bankers do not like being noticed nor do they like people who like being noticed, worse yet the guys with “REAL” money hate being noticed and they work even harder than bankers not to get noticed so that they can make even more money by doing things that bankers might find too risky or dangerous and so they could charge a lot more for their money and make a lot more money with their money and that’s why the worst sin in Dallas was being noticed.

Now you might think that that would have no effect on chitlins growing up in the shadow of Dallas and if it had been any other place except the shadow of Dallas you’d be right, but since it was in the shadow of Dallas it was pretty darned pervasive.

Bankers hate flashy cars, flashy clothes, flashy gatherings and flashy wives. The second worst thing you could do in the shadow of Dallas was to be divorced.

All of this boiled down to a city where time was fixed around nineteen-thirty-eight. Men wore suits, women hats and gloves, big bands played, marriage was forever and there was no Rock ‘N’ Roll. No Country and Western either although we called it hilly-billy music back then and the wild and crazy sounds like the Four Preps or the Four Freshmen or God forbid, the Lennon sisters were not to be heard inside the halls of the country club.

So to listen to anything besides KIXL, 104 and 104.5 on your FM dial, the home that loyal listeners and adult music built in Dallas was just not done by descent people.

Then along came Gordon Mclendon who stuck a fifty thousand watt transmitter on the 1190 signal and Rhythm and Blues with songs by folks who were not white had a place in Big D.

To make matters worse, about the same time a guy called Wolfman Jack powered up XERF a five hundred thousand watt pirate station in Mexico and blasted anything in his path right off the dial.

“Awa right chicks and chums, this is the ole Wolfman comin’ atcha at the speeeeed of sound on XERF from beautiful Via Cuneo, Mexico, spinnin’ the sounds and blowing the tunes till the dawn’s early light, so break out your high heeled sneakers and your LUV wagen and let’s get this party started.”

It was pandemonium!

So how I wound up being a jazz man is a strange and curious tale. I guess having parents who were older than the average might have had something to do with it. Dad having a band in high school and being a Benny Goodman fan and blowing on a liquorish stick, but believing Glenn Miller was the next thing to the Texas Longhorns which if you didn’t live in Texas while Saint Darrell was in Austin you won’t understand but think of it this way God, apple pie and the flag were way down on the list. So Glenn Miller was the Big Guy.

And in all of this I developed a love of jazz, not the nice, respectable, intellectual jazz that could be played on your High Fidelity turntable, but the low-down, dirty, smoky, jazz-club lounge music of Getz and Brubeck, Guarldi, Shearing and Shavers.

Maybe Lana Cantrell should take the blame, I bought all of her albums, yes, we called them albums and I especially loved the Sixth of Lana. I even eventually played the record and that was it. I never recovered. I’ll be a jazz man till I die, cruising the lounges and lurking in the dark, filling my lungs with second-hand smoke, if I’m lucky and hearing the SOUND.

Which is why I mention this at all, working as an artist is a lonely job, you don’t have a coffee clatch, a water cooler or any office parties, you have to cram the time in between the chores and the kids and the wash and there’s barely a second for yourself and if there is you don’t have hand free to change the CD in the player or to dig out the ipod so you do it in silence or you do it to the screams and complaints of the family.

No I think family is important, but it isn’t very inspirational for a creative sound track. It’s sort of like listening to the theme of Jaws, you know something horrible is coming; it’s just a matter of time.

But there is an answer. Computers are wonderful and when they work they are even better and what they do better than anything is do the things that you don’t have time for like picking out a good sound track for your work.

Radio Tuna

This is your one-stop shop for any kind of music you like and once you’ve selected it it is hands-free.

Me, I favor Jazz Groove but you might like one of the funny stations which play Country and Western or Rock or other children’s music.

The next time you think your head is going to explode, try tuning in Radio Tuna, it’s free and if you bought your computer in the last ten years it will be able to play it so don’t worry. Just pick a station and get your groove on

“Whoopee, whoopee, Rock n Roll, Rock N Roll everybody Ole Wolfman Jack gotacha you the action, gonna bring it on down…”

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