Saturday, August 14, 2004

Johnny Horton

Dude, I am really depressed. So I'm in Nashville, home of country music (which I generally abhor, as I believe I recounted in my previous post). A co-worker and I aer walking around the city at night, and we decide to check out a couple stores. We go into a country music store, where I figure I'll never find anything I would ever want to buy, and we look around a little bit. Just as we're leaving, I remember the one country musician whose work I respect and enjoy -- Johnny Horton, the Singing American! I go back to the music shelves, look through, and sure enough there are a few Horton compilations. I flip through them, and they don't have The Singing American, but all the comps have the three tracks I'm looking for -- The War of New Orleans, North to Alaska, and When It's Springtime In Alaska (It's Forty Below). I grab one of them, and wonder of wonders, I'm buying a CD from a country music store! I should've known never to do that . . .

I listen to my favorite tracks on the way home. "In 1814 we took a little trip / Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip". It's hard to believe, but these are formative songs to my musical youth. My Glenwood Bible Church missions trips (to Oklahoma and then Colorado) were the first time I ever heard Ghoti Hook, after the youth pastor put Samson onto one of his mix minidiscs. The Battle of New Orleans was right after that on the mix, so we would listen to one and then the other over and over again. Ask my friend Nick, and he can verify this. Maybe my brother also. Of course, Ghoti Hook would soon serve as my gateway into Christian punk music. For some reason, Johnny Horton never did the same thing for country.

Anyways, back to Nashville. This morning (meaning half-an-hour ago), I stuck the Horton CD in to give it a listen. Just for kicks, I checked out Audioscrobbler to see what it said were similar bands to Johnny. See, I kinda had this theory started up that Johnny Horton bears a secret resemblance to punk music, because I've met a few other punks who appreciate him. I go to his track listing page, and I see this. WHAT?! I do a Google search (I think it's the first time I've typed into Google a word I would never say aloud) and Lileks, a site which I read all the time anyway, confirms it here.

Now I'm stuck. Do I still keep the CD as a memento of my youth? Do I get cynical and realize that one of my biggest musical memories was based on a song by a racist? Arrrgh.

Lessons to learn: (1) Always check your musicians online before a purchase. (2) Someone online will always have had the same experience that you've just had, and will have written on it better than you will. (3) Never buy music from country music stores.


Anonymous said...

That is terribly disgusting. I can't believe people can be so cruel. Hmmm I wouldn't know what to do if it were me. I guess my first thought would be to just copy whatever songs I do want to the computer and then completely destroy the actual cd. But even just ripping the music and keeping it on the computer is a way of supporting the artist... and I don't think I could ever bring myself to support someone so judgmental and low... soooo I'd prolly just end up getting rid of it altogether.
I'm not much help. lol.


UndercoverPunk said...

Forgot to say that Johnny Horton has been dead for over forty years. I don't know whether that makes a difference in your thoughts, Chrissy, or in anyone else's.

Anonymous said...

Well dead or not, it still doesn't seem right to me somehow. I didn't necessarily mean supporting him financially, I just meant him and his work in general. I dunno, my grandfather can have some pretty racist views at times but I never got rid of him. lol. Though he was never quite as harsh as johnny. I just really really hate that word. It's been used on some of my closest friends and it's just so boorish and crass. But I guess around the time he lived, a lot more people shared his opinion than they do now, but that still doesn't justify it.

Yea, I really am no help at all... just a rambler. lol.

UndercoverPunk said...

I should probably update this, since I'm getting a Google hit or two on this.

JOHNNY HORTON WAS NOT A RACIST. There was an artist in the South, by the stage name of Johnny Rebel, whose songs were very racist and offensive. Because (1) both artists' first names were Johnny, (2) Horton had a song titled "Johnny Rebel", and (3) the two artists' musical styles are similar, many people including myself have confused the two. But they are different people.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, real racists probably get tickled thinking Johnny Horton was a racist, file-sharing songs with his name attached.

For the record, his late 50s songs were rockabilly country styled, meaning RnB based. No real rockabilly can be a racist (unless as a commercial move - which rockabilly never is!). If anyone is interested in the early rockin' songs, check out a double CD 'Honky Tonk Man'. The first CD is your ticket.

-David in Texas