A Father’s Day Musical Tribute

A blogger on NPR’s website this week did a post called “What was your father’s favorite song?”  And suddenly, a song I swear I haven’t thought about for over 40 years popped into my head.  Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it? 

My religious beliefs fell more in line with my father’s (he claimed to be an agnostic, maybe because he didn’t have the guts to go all the way to “atheist”), while my mother was as fundamentalist Christian as you could get.  Talk about opposites attracting. 

My mother liked the pop music of the ’40’s and ’50’s, and so did I.  I played her records over and over (we had 78’s!)  I must have played Tommy Edwards’ “It’s All in the Game” a million times.    My father, meanwhile, loved country and gospel (in spite of that agnostic thing).  I was kind of okay with the gospel part, but I absolutely hated country music. 

So whenever he wanted to drive me crazy, which he apparently got a kick out of from time to time, he would sing a particular song.  That song was “Leona”, by Stonewall Jackson.  If they held a contest for worst country song ever, Leona would be it. 

Now, Leona is not the perfect country song, but it contains many important elements.  In the immortal words of David Allan Coe, it can’t be the perfect country song unless it mentions Momma, trains, trucks, prison, and getting drunk.  Leona has two of those qualities. 

Now, sometime in my 30’s, some country music gene in my brain switched on and I started loving country music.  At first, of course, I only liked the sanitized versions–you know, the quasi- Rock and Roll type.  But as I became more (or less?) sophisticated, I began to appreciate the artists of yesteryear a lot more. 

Regrettably, I haven’t been able to find a video of Stonewall Jackson singing Leona, so I’ll have to make do with the lyrics: 

Leona, Leona, tell him you’re through.  Tell him Leona, about me and you.  Tell him you’re married with a baby or two.  Tell him Leona, tell him you’re through. 

You laughed as I pleaded, and walked out the door.  To meet him, to kiss him, to shame me once more.  I knew where to find you, just follow the sign.  Dancing and dining, cocktails and wine. 

The sidewalk was crowded in front of the bar.  I heard the sireens [no, not a typo, it must be pronounced this way] of the black police car.  Two bodies lay crumpled, a woman and man.  His wife stood there by you, a gun in her hand. 

Leona, Leona, it’s over and through.  The baby is crying and calling for you.  For me there’s no difference, I’ve knew all along, that someday you’d leave me and now you are…gone.

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7 responses to “A Father’s Day Musical Tribute

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RHdlL8bAGo The song, but no video of him actually singing it.

  2. Wow, Jeff, thanks! It has so much more of an impact if you can listen to it. And isn’t it horrible? 🙂 Stonewall Jackson actually sang some good songs, this just isn’t one of them! It is, however, a classic.

  3. I did not get that gene from Daddy!

    The song I remember you (?) playing is “A Little Bit of Soap”.

  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6JOgslsHDc I loved that one hit wonder when I was a little kid. I had it on 45 and played it until it wore out.

  5. No matter how hard I tried I could not call up a memory of that song, but the instant I heard it on the video you provided, Jeff, it all came back to me and I could practically sing every word! And what a great song it is; it’s just perfect. It does sound like a record my mother would have had.

  6. Very good. I had a song on the periphery of my mind for about 40 years and couldn’t recall the name, the words, the artist, and only remembered a few bars of the melody.. Then, I was listening to the oldies channel on digital TV and I heard the song. It all came back and I had a lump in my throat I was so happy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbm1yfWi-e0 Now, I only have about a half dozen of those unidentifiable songs in my head and hope to hear them before I die.

  7. I have never heard that song and never heard of Skip and Flip 🙂 When I was a small child, my favorite song was “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” When I was trying to recall “A Little Bit of Soap”, this is the ONLY thing I could call up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tz2V3CIYA0. And what a great song that is too! “A little bit of Monica in my life…”

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