Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Music - The Grand Ole Opry (1956)

When I was kid I always heard of this far-away place called Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. I also had a sense that I was missing out on something that was not only different, but perhaps even better than the more staid variety shows which emanated out of New York, or even Los Angeles.

In this show from the Ryman Auditorium; which was broadcast on April 18, 1956; the cast includes Carl Smith as host, with guests Buddy Ebsen; before Jed Clampett; Chet Atkins, Collins Kids, The Jordanaires; just before the Elvis madness; June Carter; before Johnny Cash; Lester Flatt and the recently departed Earl Scruggs, with comedienne Minnie Pearl, and a few others.

The show may be irritating to some; there are people who will find this show to be annoying. I find it interesting in several ways. It’s a visual record of what was funny to middle America during the 1950’s,; and as such helps to explain the politics and culture of the times. It was; mainly; still an agricultural society, and the entertainment that the people in the rural communities may not have been as sophisticated as that of the slicker network shows; but there is something very personable, and almost noble in these shows.

These were hard working, mainly unschooled folks, who made their own everything; including entertainment. And eventually, as Elvis and Carl and Johnny, along with Jerry Lee Lewis, broke the barriers separating the entertainment business, they became us and we became them. By that I mean that this is where it all began in popular music as we know it today. These are the roots of our modern day culture; even the various reality shows’ and American Idol took something of their formats from these seemingly unsophisticated shows.

I originally was going to post Hank Williams doing “I Saw the Light”, but the powers that control such things made the video not downloadable. It’s too bad for them, and good for me. Because without the inability to show the Hank Williams video, I would never have stumbled across the many other Grand Ole Opry shows  that are downloadable.

I don’t expect that many of my fellow Americans will enjoy this type of show anymore. It will probably get more hits out of Europe, where traditional American music is still revered. 

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