Monday, May 30, 2016

Willie Nelson and My Grandma

I posted this video ('84 live in Austin, from a '73 song) on my Facebook page a couple of days ago. Got the following response from my cousin Lisa (a year younger than me; we were good friends as kids when our families would visit regularly):

"You know good music !! I love this music because of grandma fern !"

This surprised me because I don't remember my Me-maw (grandma Fern) playing any music at all when I visited. She lived in East Texas, and we would go out there maybe once a year until I was 12, when my parents divorced. My cousin Lisa and her dad and family lived in the same town, so she knew her more.

My main memories of Me-maw were when I got to stay with her for a whole week when I was 7 or so (in '72). I remember getting to rummage through her box of costume jewelry. I remember the fancily sculpted and nice-smelling tid-bits of soap by the sink in my bathroom. I remember the glamorous black-velvet paintings of Spanish ladies in her living room. I remember her mildly chastising me for saying the "beans, beans, a musical fruit" ditty while I was giggling in the back seat of her car.

Once I got home to my parents, I remember bursting out in tears; at the time, I didn't know why, but I later figured out: Me-maw had listened to me; she was nice to me. My parents weren't nice to me. My Me-maw hadn't coddled me, but...she'd listened to me. I could talk to a "big person."

It's interesting to me to hear my cousin Lisa say that she remembers our grandmother Fern via Willie's music. As I said, Lisa, living in the same town, knew her much better than I did. I just experienced my Me-maw's "polite" side. There was apparently a much earlier, wilder side that I'd also heard hints of. I missed the mid-point: what she really liked, in retrospect. And, pretty importantly, what she liked to listen to.

A side-note: While I was growing up, my parents had a total of about 8 albums in the house. An Elvis "Golden Greats" album (Dad). A Caterina Valente album (Mom). A Jim Nabors patriotic-songs album (Dad). A Mozart album (Mom). A Bill Cosby comedy album (Dad). Janis Joplin's "Pearl" (Dad). "Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang" and "Jungle Book" soundtrack albums garnered from gas-station promotions.


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