With the coming of winter and the early darkness along with the colder temperatures, I get more time to sit and actually listen to the Opry shows each weekend. During the summer it is pretty busy with outdoor activities so while I tend to hear most of the Opry shows, it is with my attention divided among other things. But come winter, I usually go up to my desk and while I am catching up on my paperwork or other small projects, I will listen.
Over the past several weeks the shows have been pretty good. But I thought something was missing and I think I hit on it. A while back, Jean Shepard was on and sang, "Wabash Cannonball" and I thought, wow, that is the first time I have heard that great Roy Acuff song sang on the Opry in a long, long time. For years and years, we got used to hearing that song each week, but since Roy passed away, I bet it hasn't been heard from the Opry stage more than a handful of times.
And it is the same with some of the other great songs in the history of country music. I know Jack Greene will occasionally sing "Walking the Floor Over You", but not often. And when was the last time you heard anyone sing such classic songs as "I'm Moving On", "Carroll County Accident", "8 More Miles to Louisville" "Thanks a Lot", or "El Paso"? How about the last time you heard any Hank Snow, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Grandpa Jones, Faron Young, Porter Wagoner, Marty Robbins or Carl Smith song at the Opry? The weekend after Billy Grammer died, Vince Gill started the show with that great song, "Gotta Travel On", and it sounded great. And I thought of Billy as Vince sang it. You name an artist from the 1950s into the 1970s, and you can name their classic hit.
While today's artists and younger Opry members have their own hit songs, they just don't seem to have the staying power of those great old hits. And, while I don't expect the Opry's newer members to go back and sing these old songs each and every week, once in a while it would be nice to hear a classic number. This past weekend, Del McCoury did "Christmas Time's-A-Comin" and it sounded great. And once in a while I will hear Jeannie Seely do a Dottie West or Patsy Cline song. Mandy Barnett almost always reaches back into country music history to pick out a song. Lorrie Morgan will do "Candy Kisses", and the bluegrass groups will go back and sing a Bill Monroe or Flatt & Scruggs song every now and then.
As I post the classic line ups, I will sometimes think back and try to remember if I listened to that particular show or not and what I remember from it. And when I list those shows and I see the names of the artists that have passed on, I think back to such wonderful memories. I know we all think of the "big stars", but I also think back to Cousin Jody, Lonzo & Oscar, Bill Carlisle, The 4 Guys, Brother Oswald, all of whom were not the biggest names, but great entertainers.
Like I said, I don't expect today's Opry stars to sing those older songs. But sometimes I think that it wouldn't be so bad to hear some of those classic songs again from the Opry stage.