Phillip Thompson

Crime Fiction writer

RIP, Possum

RIP, Possum

I’ve spent the last couple of days talking music with a musician friend as I try to determine if I want to produce a book trailer for Deep Blood. The music of such a trailer is huge part of the appeal, and I’d want to get it just right. This started a wide-ranging conversation of musical styles, from blues to rock to country, from George Jones to Social Distortion. And I found it interesting, maybe even a little unsettling, that I seem to be leaning toward a more country sound than rock. Especially since I started writing this post — and George Jones’ name — before I learned of his passing yesterday. I’m old enough to have grown up during what could arguably be the golden age of country music — or, as some would say, “real” country music. Regardless of the argument, Jones breathed very rarified air in the country music world.

But I’ve never really been a fan of country music, even though I grew up in the South during the heyday of legends such as Jones, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich, et al, and it was the only music allowed in my house. Actually, that’s precisely the reason I’ve never been a fan of country music. I rebelled against it — and, more significantly, my father. As soon as I was able, I was buying Aerosmith, Kiss, Van Halen and Frampton eight-tracks and cranking it up as loud as I could. Just to piss the old man off, at least at first. Until I started really liking the music. Wasn’t too much longer after that that the “Southern Fried Boogie” era started — ZZ Top, Charlie Daniels, The Atlanta Rhythm Section, the Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet, Grinderswitch, .38 Special and, of course, the undisputed kings, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then came the blues.

My first blues album came from a now-closed record shop in Columbus, Miss. John Lee Hooker. I’d seen him do a version of “Boom Boom” in The Blues Brothers and had to have it. I followed that with B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Eric Clapton (kind of a crossover there), Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy … and then I discovered Stevie Ray Vaughan. I heard Stevie Ray for the first in, of course, Memphis. I was driving over the Mississippi River bridge, headed into Arkansas toward Fort Sill, Okla., when “Cold Shot” came over the radio (Rock 103, naturally). Man, I was mesmerized. By then, nearly every cassette and record I owned was a blues record, or blues-based rock, and Stevie Ray became the mainstay of my music.

But I also stayed with rock and roll. Bob Seger, Mellencamp, The Clash, U2, Guns N Roses, the Cult, The Police.  Granted, a pretty wide range, but rock and roll nonetheless. I’m still there today.

So, as I ponder the music for a possible trailer, it seems odd that I’m hearing Lucinda Williams in my head. I posted her “Pineola” on Facebook the other night because I couldn’t get it out of my head. And Johnny Paycheck. And Merle Haggard. And now, George Jones. Seems that I may have a rock and roll heart, but I still have plenty of country in my soul.

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