Dad, Louie, Ferlin, a Bucket, and Music

I like my parents' music. I like it more every day.

I don't know exactly how to explain it, I am no musical scholar. I can only say that the rumbling bass and incessant riffs of my youth have receded into the background and the melodies, rhythms, and the voices (oh, the voices!) of the 1930's and 1940's are more front and center.

I got a Louis Prima CD for my birthday and am having a blast listening to this crazy guy. I was introduced to Prima by my dad. Not formally, of course, but because Dad had one of his albums. I don't remember ever hearing it, but I'm sure the folks listened at one time or another. Lately I've been hearing more of Prima as I listen to a station here that is devoted to this kind of music. Prima is compared to Louis Armstrong and for good reason, I suppose. Prima was a New Orleans guy and you can hear it in the music. Prima was Italian, which I did not know, and when I hear him, sometimes I hear Dean Martin coming out.

Prima's style could be described as frenetic, the album's liner notes say he and his band essentially invented the lounge act. Here, from the Tube of You, is Prima, Keely Smith (at one time married to him), and saxophonist Sam Butera, in all of their glory:

Keely Smith's job, besides her great voice, was to provide a stoic contrast to the antics of Prima and his orchestra - it was all part of the act.

Dad also liked country music and while I dip into that less liberally, there's a quite a bit of it that is growing on me, particularly the sounds of country swing and the rockabilly stuff. Dad went to school with country singer Ferlin Husky, who passed away just a few months ago. During the years when Ferlin was singing in Branson, Mom and Dad would try to go once or twice a year. Ferlin would be talking and ask if anybody there was from home and Dad would raise his hand and Ferlin would say, "Hello, Paul!" and then they'd have a conversation right in front of everybody. Here's Ferlin and Paul a few years earlier:

Ferlin is #20 and Dad is #22. This past July was the 12th anniversary of Dad's home-going and that caused me think about those two guys again.

One time during my childhood, I was in the back yard and for some reason I was talking to Dad about a bucket - either I was looking for one or lost one, or something. Dad grinned and said, "Does it have a hole in it?" I didn't get the reference and tried to explain what I needed and that I hadn't said anything about a hole. He just explained that there was a song about a bucket with a hole in it.

Well sure there was, a Hank Williams song to be exact. A lot of people (Robert Plant and Jimmy Page!) have covered it, but I'll give you Van Morrison, which might be my favorite version.

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