Thursday, July 31, 2008

You might have noticed I have perhaps an excessive love of music.

We didn't have an abundance of records at my house when I was a kid, but what we did have was of impeccable quality. I remember specifically "Early Orbison" as well as an LP of James Bond tunes (no, I won't sing Underneath the Mango Tree for you , even though I could) and precious few others.

What I do most keenly remember is an album of songs by Jim Reeves who is forever cemented in my heart as one of the great voices of the 20th century.

Gentleman Jim.

Isn't it sad that no current entertainment icon really fits the bill to be called "gentleman" these days? Amusements abound, but true refinement is unfortunately a rarity.

It would be glorious if some velvet voiced baritone [catch me, I'm swooning!] stepped up to the hero plate on some massive scale, but instead, we'll suffice to admire the myriad acts of gentility carried out by all the lovely regular guys who surround us on a daily basis. That, of course, is enough, but it's so nice to hear a performer whose talents seem to be an extension of some great personal strength of character, rather than the happy accident of a dna crapshoot.

Jim Reeves is the embodiment of what is best about 20th century American music. Here was a honeyed voice, undemanding and yet undeniable, assertively melodic and utterly masculine. Jim Reeves is one of the greatest musicians of the entire epoch of recorded music.

44 years ago today, Jim Reeves piloted his craft from Batesville, Arkansas, a town I've traveled through every trip on the way to and from to visit my grandfolk every trip for nearly 30 years. Flying into a violent storm, Reeves died when he crashed the plane on its way to Nashville.

It's so odd to think about this marvelous talent who speaks to me even having been dead before my birth. It's incredible to think that someone long gone could so strike their imprint upon your entire perception of life, but that's not a new thing, either. We all need heroes, and as heroes go, I think Jim Reeves must have been an exceptional man.

You know that spacecraft that was shot into space mebbe 30 or so years ago with recordings of famous human events contained therein to communicate our worthiness(or lack thereof) to possible alien species out in the cosmic boonies?

Well, they probably included clips of The Captain and Tenille, but they should have included samples of Jim Reeves. I think he cast us all in a more favourable light.

Bless him.

Stand At Your Window by Jim Reeves
What's funny is this is SUCH a stalker song, and yet guided by Jim Reeves, it seems a lovely and wistful soft country song. Good stuff. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Jim Reeves rocks! I listened to him growing up, along with the wonderful story teller Red Sovine. I've heard all types of music, but those two were the great icons of my childhood.

* smiling*

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your Jim Reeves comments. I grew up listening to him and hearing stories of him from my uncle who had a gorcery store in Carthage Texas in the mid part of the 20th century. Fron what I have heard from those that knew him , he was deserving to the title "Gentleman Jim". If you are ever in the Carthage area, its worh a few minutes to go by his grave on hwy 79

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. Another icon I listened to as a kid was master storyteller Red Sovine.

I love all kinds of music, but it was Jim Reeves who stood out for me as well.

Buck said...

I didn't appreciate Mr. Reeves until much later in life, when I finally kicked that bias against country music (and musicians). But... better late than never, eh?

Isn't it sad that no current entertainment icon really fits the bill to be called "gentleman" these days?

How about Lyle Lovett? I think he fits the bill. But "Gentleman Lyle" just doesn't have the required onomatopoetic "ring"...

Anonymous said...

My grandmother went to school with Jim Reeves back in Panola County. She says he was charming even back then and she had a huge crush on him.

And I don't believe that it's possible to love music too much, Phlegm. Or at least it isn't so long as you're not stalking your favorite singer.