Who’s Gonna Fill His Shoes?

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Sometimes our favorites memories of childhood aren’t the big aha Disneyland moments. Sometimes, they’re the simpler, everyday routines we cherished. When I was a kid I loved the smell of cigars in my father’s den, or the smell of leaded  gasoline being pumped in our car! I know, I’m weird.

I loved the way my Aunt Valerie bounced me on her knee and I was mesmerized by the trembles in my great-grandmother’s hand when she sewed. Some of my recollections even have a soundtrack, like when my grandfather would drive around and sing silly songs such as Skinamarinky-dinky-dink, Skinamarinky-doo, or when he’d play the ukelele in our little beach house, or when he would dance with my mother out on the floor of this honky-tonk and everyone would stop and stare at the pair they were!

I guess that’s where I got suckered in to old country music. Now don’t get me wrong, I blasted Guns N Roses as loud as I could get away with throughout my teenage years. My mother even confiscated the authentic concert t’shirt I proudly wore. But no matter how much I love Rock N Roll, pop, hair bands, or even hip-hop, it’s country music that seems to speak to me.

When I was young, I remember Saturday mornings. My mom would spin Conway Twitty’s Greatest Hits, or Alabama’s live album, or old George Jones on vinyl. She’d crank it up and we’d clean the house together. I never minded doing my chores when we could sing along. And since my mom can’t carry a tune in a bucket (her words, not mine), it never mattered if we were a little off-key. We could just sing and scrub! There’s just something about the pop and crackle of an old record as it plays through the house, and knowing right when that arm is gonna lift off the record, digital music may sound better, but it lacks that rustic character a vinyl album holds in those circuitous grooves.

When I heard that the Old Possum (George Jones) passed away, I immediately remembered the first time I understood how he stopped loving her today. I was a little girl, so my mama had to explain that whole “they placed a wreath upon his door” part. It was the saddest song I’d ever fallen in love with.

He may have stopped loving her today, but I wonder, who’s gonna fill his shoes?

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