By Sean Dietrich
“Call today,” said the television announcer at two in the morning. “Order all the country hits from the fifties and sixties. Including the love songs you remember.” Then they played through a barrage of melodies that are stuck in my head even now.
Love songs. What happened to them? I want to know what teenagers have done with the world’s love music. And I’m talking about real ones, not songs about knocking boots in Nashville. I speak of tunes like “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” or the immortal George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which always makes me cry.
After a few weeks, Time-Life mailed me 18 CDs with 278 country songs. I played them during a seven-hour drive to Georgia while eating chili-cheese Fritos.
The first song to grace my stereo was “Crazy.” Then “Gentle On My Mind,” followed by “Okie From Muskogee.” You might not even know these songs, but that’s not important. They’re tender tunes, sweetly sung, with melodies that make you smile.
When I reached Lake City, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” By Jacksonville, I was singing along with Willie Nelson. Then, in my dark windshield, I could almost see my mother and daddy slow dancing in our den to “Tennessee Waltz” and “Faded Love.”
Look, I don’t mean to be critical. But truth is, modern music isn’t about love. Hormonal adolescents have taken over our world, and then they quit wearing underpants. They sport sunglasses indoors and use verbs I’ve never heard. George Jones is dead, and Willie looks a little less pink every day.
I suppose my grandmother was right when she said, “Today’s society isn’t interested in love. And, son, when folks quit singing about love, beware. That ain’t a world you want to live in.” Well, we’re not there yet, Grandmama, but you’d be awfully disappointed in us.
Because we’re pretty damn close.