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Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm still a hard-core jazz guy, but I've discovered country's Moe Bandy

As Don Miller of Eastlake (a music lover if ever there were one) is forced to remind me every now and again, there is some redeeming quality in almost every form of music.

Some of it is difficult to find, but if you look hard enough, you will discover something of interest.

He began a recent communication by pointing out an example of music that is not worth listening to. The artist (?) is Daft Punk, and I must confess I have never heard of this person – or organization, whichever it is.

“A few days ago,” Don wrote a couple of weeks ago, “Daft Punk’s electronic funk grooves won big at the Grammys. Daft Punk, which sports helmets in public, won four awards.

“I doubt,” he continued, “that I will ever listen to Daft Punk.”

Since Don and I see eye-to-eye, or ear-to-ear, as it were, on most musical issues, I will second his opinion.
This will save me the trouble of ever having to make my own assessment of this group (?), since I won’t be tuning in on it/them.

But he turned back the clock a few years to remind me of a comment Buddy Rich, the greatest drummer who ever lived, once made about being allergic to country music.

“You said,” Don wrote, “‘Country music isn’t so bad after all. Some of it is very good.’ And I agree.”

I changed my opinion of country music because of the views (and remarkable talents) of my sister, brother-in-law, their two sons, and several visitations I made to Grand Ole Opry while in their company during trips to Nashville.

All of this, of course, is leading up to something. That “something” is a CD Don sent to me.

“Here is an example of country music that I think is very good,” he said. “If an alien came down from Mars and wanted to listen to some ‘good ole country music,’ this is what I would play for him.”

This comment takes several things for granted. For one, that the visitor from Mars would be a “he.” For all I know, it could be a “she.”

And for another, for all we know, the Mars in question could be an electric company in Mentor.
(I know, it’s not too funny. But I like to liven things up a little bit with humor once in a while.)

“When you get some extra listening time,” Dan Don said, “spend 25 minutes and 48 seconds listening to Moe Bandy. And remember, ‘She’s not really cheatin,’ she’s just gettin’ even.’”

Whenever Don sends me a CD, whether it’s Oscar Peterson, Anita O’Day or any other giant in the field of jazz, he always knows exactly how long it will take to play.

He must have a stop watch. But I digress.

I must confess I have never heard of Moe Bandy. That may be a failing on my part, because I suppose a really cool person who knew all about country music could recite chapter and verse of everything Moe had ever done – or recorded.

I started to call my sister in Nashville to ask her about him, but she changed the subject and we never back to talking about Moe.

But within a day or so, the lady of the house and I were motoring someplace (motoring is the same as driving) and I plugged in the CD Don sent me.

The first song, of course, was, “She’s Not Really Cheatin,’ She’s Just Gettin’ Even.”

I am here to tell you that it was sensational!

Now, I am not about to tell you I made some kind of a great discovery in the field of music. For all I know, perhaps everyone with even a nodding acquaintance with country music knows all there is to know about Moe Bandy.

I suppose I could have googled him, but that would have destroyed the mystique surrounding him. Not only had I never heard of him, but apparently Don Miller hadn’t heard of him either.

So what? I say. Who cares if everyone in Nashville already knows of our discovery? That’s one of the things that makes magical moments in music so exciting and so much fun.

It’s like reading “Hamlet” and saying, “I have just discovered a writer named William Shakespeare.” If it works for you, the rest of the world doesn’t matter.

My lady and I both loved the entire CD, including “Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul” (that would be, I presume, Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell), “Your Memory Is Showing All Over Me,” “Jesus in a Nashville Jail” and “Our Love Could Burn Atlanta Down Again.”

As I said on a previous occasion years ago, I now have a great affinity for country music, even though I remain a hard-core straight ahead jazz guy and an unrepentant be-bopper.

If Moe Bandy ever comes to Cleveland I will probably go to see him. That is, he isn’t my age, which might preclude him from moving too quickly for fear of stumbling and falling off the stage.


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