Pilgrims to Bakersfield

Lisa remembers a man of American music:

When Buck Owens and The Buckaroos burst on the scene in the late Fifties, Country Music was dominated by the corporate suits in Nashville and stringed, almost Pop-y arrangements were the standard. Suddenly with Buck, Country was back as the raw, hard-driving music of hard-living working men. It was a blast of fresh air (well air that seemed to be tinged with cow manure, barroom sawdust and the sweat of a hard day’s labor). Buck was the real deal: a Texas Dust Bowl refugee, a truck driver through the San Joaquin Valley, and a honky tonk musician who served his time in the Bakersfield bars. (Merle Haggard kicked it up a notch by robbing a Bakersfield honky-tonk which landed him in San Quentin.) Musicians from Gram Parsons to the Byrds to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones took notice and incorporated Buck’s influence.

So this trip down the coast makes perfect sense:

[W]hen Mom and I hit the road next week, one of our stops will be Buck Owens Crystal Palace in Bakersfield — the club and steak house where he played until the last night of his life. On March 25, 2006, Buck ate his favorite chicken-fried steak, then decided he didn’t feel up to his usual Friday night performance. But he met some fans in the lobby of the Palace who said they’d come all the way from Oregon to see him. Buck took to the stage saying, “If somebody’s come all that way, I’m gonna do the show and give it my best shot. I might groan and squeak, but I’ll see what I can do.” Buck finished the show, went home and died peacefully in his sleep.

I’m bringing this up for two reasons: to plug the piece I wrote after Buck’s death, and to respond to this later post of Lisa’s:

I Twittered about that Buck Owens post and the Tweet connected automatically to my Facebook page. Almost immediately dozens of readers showed up — most from metropolitan areas — and, according to my Secret Squirrel traffic detecting software, stayed on that post long enough to read the whole thing. But nobody commented. Hey, I know this was a tough one. Yeah, you are all City Sophisticates and you don’t want to admit that you’ve ever listened to Country Music. Let alone that you actually watched Hee Haw when you were kids. And, admit it, you LIKED IT.

By “nobody,” I assume she means me.

Besides, you never need an excuse to listen to Buck Owens: I gave “Under Your Spell Again” a spin while I was typing this.


  1. Charles Pergiel »

    14 March 2009 · 10:20 am

    I’m surprised that anyone who uses Twitter even knows who Buck Owens is.

  2. Lisa paul »

    14 March 2009 · 11:39 am

    Love the post you wrote, Charles! And we Buck Owens fans are EVERYWHERE. You’ll find us quietly humming his tunes and playing “Air Fender” in the most unlikely places.

  3. McGehee »

    15 March 2009 · 10:03 am

    I’m surprised that anyone who uses Twitter even knows who Buck Owens is.

    Or vice versa, in my case.

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