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The Elderly American Songbook: From Curly Putman & Billy Sherrill

Carl Putman, Jr.

Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr.

By Jim Miller

Curly Putman, Jr. grew up on Putman Mountain in Alabama, did a stint in the Navy aboard the Valley Forge and moved from job to job until he sat down one day and wrote “Green, Green Grass of Home.” Some years later he would meet Paul and Linda, a young couple from Liverpool, who would write and record “Junior’s Farm” with their rock group Wings.

Billy Sherrill

Billy Sherrill

Billy Sherrill started life in Alabama as Phil Campbell, a jazz wannabe with a saxophone. Knowing next to nothing about country music, he landed at Epic Records in Nashville where his pop music production values would transform the Nashville Sound. One day a pretty, blonde hopeful named Wynette Byrd walked into his life. Billy signed her to a contract, tacked “Tammy” onto her name, and it was off to the Country Music Hall of Fame for both the producer and his artist.

October, 1967, David Houston and Tammy Wynette teamed up to take My Elusive Dreams to #1 on the country charts and #89 on the Billboard Hot 100. With a well-deserved nod to Billy and Curly, here is….

My Elusive Choppers

You followed me to Wal*Mart
You followed me to K-Mart
We didn’t find ’em there so we moved on

You followed me to Home Depot
Things looked good, alas, but no
We didn’t find ’em there so we moved on

I know you’re tired of lookin’ for
Traipsin’ ’round from store to store
Dinner time won’t be the same
Without my false teeth

We shared a Coke at Arby’s
Stopped in at that book store
We didn’t find ’em there so we moved on

Down the street to Walgreen’s
Lingered at the magazines
We didn’t find ’em there so we moved on

Now we’re parked at Starbuck’s
Thinkin’ I’m flat out of luck
Guess I’ll learn to gum it from now on

[spoken]
Now, all we got is me and you
Rememberin’ how I used to chew

And still, you won’t let me go on alone

I know you’re tired of lookin’ for
Traipsin’ ’round from store to store
Dinner time won’t be the same
Without my false teeth

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in The Elderly American Songbook

 

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You know you’re old when….

Old couple over soup

Viejo y vieja comiendo sopa by Francisco de Goya

One of the ironies of aging–at least, in my own particular case–is that no matter how my chronological age cranks upward, my inner Peter Pan merrily cruises along at roughly 16, 17 years old.

If I can’t find my keys, it’s not because I forgot that I left them in my big boy britches; it’s because one of AnniePie’s damn cats played with them and failed to return them to the top nightstand drawer.

So it is one need become aware of a few outward signs of aging such as this smattering offered here for your consideration and contemplation. Heed, dear friends, the tell tale signs of cresting that proverbial hill. You know you are getting old when….

Illustration for story La Mère Bontemps" by Lorenz Frolich

Illustration for story La Mère Bontemps” by Lorenz Frølich (1820-1908)

Your posse wants to go for a night on the town, but you would rather stay home and curry comb the cat.

You go to Las Vegas for the buffets.

Your “Get Up and Go” is the name of your fiber supplement.

Your artsy fartsy apartment is just fartsy.

You plan a road trip to Canada for prescription meds.

Your mate starts softly singing “Light My Fire” so you go crank up the heating unit thermostat.

You still go fishing to get away from it all, but somehow you always forget to take any bait.

Photo by Kenneth Allen

Photo by Kenneth Allen

 

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in The Elderly American Songbook

 

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Elderly American Songbook: As Years Run By

As Years Run By

You must remember this. A watch goes on a wrist. And always check your fly.

Arthur "Dooley" Wilson, aka, Sam the piano player.

Arthur “Dooley” Wilson, aka, Sam the piano player.

Thoughts are often prone to drift as years run by.

And no matter where you roam, remember which way’s home. And keep you britches dry.
Just go where no one will see as years roll by.

Busfare and cell phone, have with you at all times,
Notes in your pockets not too hard to find,
Little reminders, clues to find your way
Back where you belong.

So keep those laces tied. Mind your step and stride. A hanky for your nose.
Home is where you fall asleep as years flow by…
Oh, yes, home is where you lay your head as years run by.

© Jim Miller 2013

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in The Elderly American Songbook

 

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Epicurious George

Credit for this little ditty goes to GOOGLE’s TV spot for its Nexus 7 tablet. There is a tune, living in my head; but since I can’t write music, you’ll just have to wing it if you want to sing it. Here, then, are the lyrics to

Epicurious George

George was a good little monkey.
That’s why we used him in the stew.
George was a tender little monkey.
We knew he would taste better than you.
We’ve had it up to here with missionaries.
Hardcore dogma makes you a tough and stringy lot.
But George was a tasty little monkey,
And won the place of honor in our pot.

George was a most delicious morsel.
Glad we were to have him for our feast.
So savory, so succulent, so saucy!
While you Christian types taste way to much of yeast.
In times past we might have served you gladly.
You see, back then our tastes weren’t so refined.
But George, such a delectable little monkey,
A first rate primate on which we dined.

 

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in The Elderly American Songbook

 

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Is it Christmas without Bourbon Balls?

Soak your balls with shots of whiskey! Fa-la-la-la-laaaaa, la-laa-la-laaa!
‘Tis a treat to make us frisky! Fa-la-la-la-laaaaa, la-laa-la-laaa!
Balls of chocolate laced with bourbon, Fa-la-la-la–la-la-la–la-la-la!
Packed with nuts and a wee more bourbon! Fa-la-la-laaaa–la-la-la-la!

Image

Christmas Bourbon Balls

Where I first heard of bourbon balls or how these chunky chocolate nuggets became a part of my personal Christmas traditions are mysteries lost in the fog of Yuletides past. All I can honestly offer today is that it is not Christmas around the cave until the bourbon balls roll out.

Two branches stem from the bourbon ball tree. One is kin to a cookie while the other is decidedly candy, both sharing deep Southern roots.  The candy traces back to 1919 when Ruth Hanly and Rebecca Gooch began a candy-making business in Frankfort, Ky. Long about 1938 Hanly combined their highly popular chocolate with Kentucky bourbon whiskey to create a confection the recipe for which remains a guarded family secret of the Rebecca Ruth Candy Co. to this day. These are not MY bourbon balls.

My bourbon balls are more cookie than candy, and recipes for these easy to make adult treats abound throughout the South. Not even GOOGLE, however, could provide a hint to their origin or history.

Traditional bourbon balls begin with vanilla wafers. Non-traditionalists may opt for shortbread cookies, ginger snaps, graham crackers, Oreos (do you really want to scrape off all that cream center?), etc. Heck, I’ve even pondered experimenting with Ritz crackers, but truth be told, I’ve not yet gotten far enough into my cups to try that variation.

Start with a double handful of cookies. If you tend toward lazy, dump ’em in a food processor or blender to reduce the cookies to fine crumbs. I prefer to double-bag ’em in plastic baggies and beat the crap out of ’em with my trusty rustic wooden rolling pin. This hands-on method will not produce the crumb uniformity of machine processing, but I feel SO much calmer when I’m done. Also, I prefer the more rustic, non-uniform crumb size.

Begin the batch with at least a healthy cup of crushed cookies in a large mixing bowl. Some folks prefer to bump it up to two cups of crumbs for a tamer product. You will have to experiment to find your particular comfort zone.

To the crumbs add two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and a generous cup of finely chopped nuts. Mix well.

Being a Southern concoction, pecans are, of course, the traditional nut of choice here. Free-thinking lefties, on the other hand, have been known to use hickory nuts, walnuts, hazel nuts, chestnuts, what have you. I’ve even heard rumors of some die-hard tree huggers using pine nuts, but that does get costly in a hurry. Whatever the nut you decide to go with, they will benefit from toasting before chopping, but that’s fodder for another blog.

The heart and soul of the bourbon ball is the whiskey. Bourbon whiskey. GOOD bourbon whiskey which comes from Kentucky. If you would not let it pass your lips straight, don’t put it in your balls! As you can see, my personal choice is Buffalo Trace (No, I do not get kickbacks from the distillery, but I remain open to offers!). Must one use bourbon whiskey? Well, yes, if one wants to make bourbon balls. However, you can use rum instead if you have a hankering to put some rum-pa-pum-pum in your Christmas celebrating. Same rule of quality applies.

So fetch down a small glass bowl in which to blend 1/4 cup of fine bourbon (yes, or rum!) with about a tablespoon and a half of light corn syrup. What happens if all you have is dark corn syrup? I suppose your balls will lean to the dark side, I do not know. Nor have I played with honey or molasses, although I am considering it. Use your own judgement. Have fun!

Thoroughly combine the bourbon/corn syrup mixture into the dry ingredients in the larger bowl. Incorporate it completely, then cover the dish with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to stiffen a bit. Half an hour should do it, but it will not hurt to let it sit longer.

When you are ready to roll your balls, sift about a cup of powdered sugar into a pie pan. Take about a heaping teaspoon or two of the mixture, form it into a ball and roll it in the sugar. Coating the balls in sugar retards alcohol evaporation, so do not omit this step! Seal the finished balls in an air-tight container, return them to the fridge and forget about ’em for at least a couple of days. Most purists will age them at least a week, but whose got that kind of will power, right? Take your balls out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature before serving. You also may want to roll them one more time in powdered sugar before presentation.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in The Elderly American Songbook

 

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