Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Hello Walls" - Faron Young (1961)

Willie Nelson wrote this song, and his jazz like version is wonderful in so many different ways; from the melody he plays so well, to the slightly deeper voice than that used here by Faron Young. But I would imagine that Willie Nelson still listens to this version, too. It has a certain purity about it, which eludes even Mr. Nelson’s talented fingers. And that’s hard to do!

The song went #1 on the Country and Western charts and eventually hit the Pop charts as well, where it enjoyed 13 week run before petering out. The following year saw the emergence of Mr. Nelson as a recording artist in his own right, and to no one’s surprise he included this song on his first album “And Then I Wrote” in 1962. It is still a staple of his performances and I believe it’s also the same guitar as well! That thing has more holes in it than there are craters on the moon.

I think what I like about this version is that it gives me a peek into the world which I knew I was missing out on as a kid in Brooklyn. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my childhood in Brooklyn for anything. It was a great training ground for many of the problems which come our way later in life. I often feel sorry for those who were not raised there.

But, at the same time, I am cognizant of the fact that there was this whole other way of living to which I was not privy, even though I was aware of its existence. My little 6 transistor made in Japan radio gave me a taste of it every night in the darkness of my bedroom, where I listened to anything coming over the dial. The goal was, of course, to get the Grand Ol’ Opry, but that was rarely possible. Wheeling, West Virginia was a long way off, and to get it well, you really needed to go to the roof of the 7 story apartment building we lived in at 1310 Avenue R and East 14th Street.

Now, going to the roof at night to listen to the radio was not the best idea, as my parents were very strict and our apartment was kind of like a prison camp. This was great training for my later adventures in the Navy, as I was used to regimentation and discipline. But there’s always more than one way to skin a cat, so I took a coil of thin copper wire which I got a the Hobby Shop on Avenue S, and ran up to the roof where I dropped the coil to right outside our second floor, rear window, which faced due South. Going back downstairs I took the wire in and hid it along the window jamb, where it was virtually invisible. At night I took the excess wire and attached it to my radio by winding it around the whole body and then connecting the loose end to the wire at the window.

This all sounds simple but had to be done after my brother was asleep. He was the type who would constantly run to my parents about anything I did at all which might be prohibited. Again, this was great training for the military and even jail, where snitches abound. You have to learn to work around them in order not get caught doing something wrong.

At any rate, these precautions were worth their weight in gold, as they opened up the whole world to me. Even today I keep 2 shortwave radios. And when the night is just right; preferably a cold, starlit one; I turn it on and listen to the static as it  gives way to news from the BBC, or the weather out of Belgium, along with a million voices speaking in tongues which I may not even recognize, but love hearing anyway. It reminds me that we are all connected, even if only by the the airwaves.

Hey, can you believe that this started out to be about Faron Young? 

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