Sometimes change isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While modern technology is wonderful, when you think about it, there is an awful lot to be said for simplicity, as well. Simplicity isn’t such a bad thing! Let me explain. The family and I will often gather around the TV to watch the “Country Reunion” tapes made available by Gabriel Communications.

These tapes feature various country musicians--and I do mean real, country musicians--all gathered in a room sharing songs and stories of their long and interesting careers. Chairs are sitting in a circle, so everyone in attendance has a clear view of each other. Some come with guitars in hand, others do not. However, it isn’t uncommon for any one of them to pass the guitars, guitar picks, and microphones around to share with those who didn’t bring one, so each person in attendance can take a turn to share a song and a story or two along the way.

You’ll hear Bobby Lord and Little Jimmy Dickens, ’Tater to those in the room. There’s Stan Hitchcock. I remember as a youngster sitting in front of the television set every week watching his weekly TV show. Bobby, ‘Tater and Stan can pretty much captivate anyone as they recall songs and stories of their careers. They will hold your interest, and bring you to laughter or maybe even tears.

There’s also Jeanne Seely, Skeeter “End Of The World” Davis and Jan Howard. Then there is Jumping Bill Carlisle ()who at 92 can still jump and deliver a spitfire rendition of “Do You Need Any Help”. The harmonies of Jim Ed Brown and his sisters, Maxine and Bonnie, are mesmerizing and flawless on such songs as “The Three Bells”or any song they care to sing! Kitty Wells, along with husband Johnny Wright, might show up, too. Jimmy Dean, who has a successful “sausage career”now, had a successful singing career at one point. When impersonating Roy Acuff or Johnny Cash, Del Reeves also has great comedic timing as well as musical talent. Both Del and Dean are characters and put Little Jimmy in the mix and you’ll laugh till you cry! They are funny, funny guys.

This list is selective, noting mostly musicians you can no longer hear, regardless of how you might long to, on most radio stations in spite of the fact most of them still are performing! Herein lies the simplicity, mentioned earlier. These singers are story tellers, pure and simple. Nothing outrageous, no gimmicks, just common folks who put their heart and soul into telling the story of their songs! They’re proud of their success but humbled by it, too. Simplicity, in my opinion, at its best.

Why can’t we hear these folks on the radio anymore? You can’t tell me “they’re too country?” Because if they are too country then what we have on the air waves today must be “too pop or rock” passing itself off as country! If they’re song lyrics are “too simple”, then what we have passing as lyrics on the radio today must be “really basic.” Apparently, the poetic license of many songwriters has expired. Are they really “too country” for country radio? If low-cut dresses, bare midriff, tight jeans, and cowboy hats qualify one to be “country,” then I’d much rather quit listening to radio altogether. Which basically at this point in time is exactly what I’ve done! I miss those simple stories about life itself, told with heart and soul. Today, we have “artists” who “perform.” Music today is the product of a software package not a warm human soul. Musicians of the past were each unique; every artist today sounds the same, as if they were forged on a Nashville assembly line. If you listen to the radio today, you will find it hard to tell where “country” ends and rock begins. A simple song, a simple performance but those in themselves packed a punch!

No, simplicity isn’t a bad thing! I wish more things in life went back to being simple. One rose smells so sweet. A simple melody and moving lyrics touches each of us deeply!

The family reunion tapes, by the way, if you haven’t gotten them, are well worth the price tag, if for nothing else but to preserve the wonderful stories and equally wonderful songs these musicians have contributed to the history of traditional country music.

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