Country and Western.
Twenty odd years ago Granny and Beloved Daughter took a holiday together on the other side of the Atlantic. Beloved Daughter was about to go off to university; the trip was a farewell in a way to Granny's and her life together through her childhood and adolescence. It was a good trip, if tinged, for Granny , with that kind of sadness you start encountering when your children grow up; arriving at a life where, from time to time, you find yourself saying a glad hullo to your adult children, and then, all too soon, saying goodbye. Which is as it should be: you have your life; they have theirs.
In the course of this American trip they visited a weird and wonderful friend in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The friend is an artist and an ex-nun, a high priestess of the God-as-Mother movement. She is also a fervent American. In her usual attire of cut off jeans and jerkin she marched Granny and Beloved Daughter off to the New Mexico state rodeo where she whooped and yelled just like the rest of the audience, waved the American flag and sang the Star Spangled Banner lustily, with tears in her eyes.
Granny will not detail all the spangled lycra jumpsuits, all the spangled Stetsons, the men and women on horses and falling off them, that filled the arena for most of the evening. She will concentrate on one almost - much more - mythic event. The guest appearance of the singer, Johnny Cash.
He was at this point in his career definitely past his best. Clad as always in tight black shirt and jeans, he looked - she is sad to admit - somewhat tubby. Though his voice still was gravelled and earthy he did not sing any of his more rabble-rousing evocations of felons and felony and prison life - At Folsom Prison the most famous example; he confined himself to folksy country and western ballads about such matters as his Momma's Apple Pie. Not stuff Granny much cares for, nor did she then (unlike - by the look of her - the ex-nun artist friend.) This went on for a while. But then he threw up a hand - pointed up to the left of him, spoke into his microphone: I want to introduce June Carter, he said. And with her -THE CARTER FAMILY.
And that was it; the music, the arena, everything and everyone erupted into wild bluegrass hill-billy stuff. Granny and Beloved Daughter were soon yelling, clapping, stomping with the rest. It was enormous, electric, heart-stopping. Granny, writing this, and listening to one of her Carter family albums as she does so, is pretty much rocking now, all over again, remembering it.
Jump forward many many years to last Saturday; to Beloved Son-in-Law's 50th Birthday Party. (No, Granny will say little about what it feels like to have a fifty-year-old son-in-law; one not very sweet word will do it: OLD.) Beloved son-in-law is not only musical but has had a hankering to be a performing musician for many years. In particular, since seeing the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line, he has rather wanted to be Johnny Cash. With a group of friends, he got together and rehearsed a country and western set - as lead singer he'd learned a bit of guitar to go with it. One of the songs was 'At Folsom Prison.' Come the party the group had got it all together, they performed with enthusiasm, not half badly. So far, so expected. But then Beloved Son in Law comes back for the encores. With him comes Beloved Eldest Granddaughter, aged ten. Whom he introduces. They are going to perform together.
Now Granny has expected this. She has heard the BEG performing and thought: she'll do alright. Beloved Daughter has said she thinks BEG may retreat when she sees all the people and not perform there. She was wrong. Eldest Granddaughter performs; and how - belting out 'At Folsom Prison' like.. well...let's just say Granny had not expected this. Beloved child is a performer; she has a VOICE. And how. Granny was almost in tears, so was Beloved Daughter, so she saw was Granddaughter's godmother, standing alongside her. So in fact was Beloved Eldest Granddaughter, who up till this moment probably hadn't known herself just what she could do, but if she didn't believe it had the cheering, clapping audience to prove just how good she was. Her mother had to pick up the pieces afterwards: BEG as shocked as anyone else. Can this be my granddaughter? Granny was thinking. And then; yes. THIS IS MY GRANDDAUGHTER.
She has more than one granddaughter, though. Next thing was she was having to rescue second Beloved Granddaughter, also at the party. This granddaughter, nearly two years younger is not a happy bunny at the moment, for all kinds of reasons. Her cousin's triumph was just too much. 'She's gone and locked herself in the Ladies,' cried Beloved Son, 'I can't go in there. Could you get her out.' Granny goes into the Ladies and knocks on the locked door. 'I'm here,' she says. 'You can come out.' A wail follows. 'But I HAVEN'T GOT ANY TALENTS.' (Second granddaughter is a performer too, in other ways.) Granny spends a fair amount of time explaining that this is NOT TRUE. Second Granddaughter is convinced enough in due course to emerge. Oh the agony of being a child, granny thinks. Worse than being old. Much worse.
But what an evening. She still cannot get At Folsom Prison out of her head. She goes to sleep hearing it, wakes up hearing it. Her only regret is that Johnny Cash did not sing it at the Albuquerque Rodeo. His Momma's Apple Pie wasn't the same thing at all.
PS. There is video of Eldest Granddaughter performing. Granny will enjoy that. Fortunately there is also a lovely video clip of Second Granddaughter dancing very nicely. Granny will enjoy that too, and she does hope it will help make Second Granddaughter feel better.
PPS. Beloved Son-in-Law was given a banjo - no, whoops, sorry a UKELELE - for his birthday. It'll be George Formby at the next party no doubt; Granny doesn't think Beloved Eldest Granddaughter - or Second Granddaughter for that matter - will be joining in with this.......not quite yet, anyway.
The blushing bride she looks divine,
The bridegroom is just doing fine,
I'd rather have his job than mine,
When I'm cleaning windows.
Labels: England and family