It’s probably different from my ancestors. The fireplace is a wooden-wick candle on the coffee table and the radio is a laptop streaming the audio feed while I check football scores, but tonight I’m listening to the 5000th consecutive weekly performance of the Grand Ole Opry, going back to November 1925 when the WSM Barn Dance tried to draw a few listeners with an old champion fiddler and some Vanderbilt string band players renamed “The Gully Jumpers”.
Ever since the Ken Burns miniseries two years ago – the first two or three episodes of which have become recurring comfort viewing – I’ve put Willie’s Roadhouse on the first set of presets. I’ve set up a monthly support for Bluegrass Country out of the old patch on WAMU and begun listening to replays of the same old Eddie Stubbs shows I heard riding around northern Virginia twenty-some years ago. I play Boot Liquor on my SomaFM app which I never did before. And I’ve bought a Woodrow stick dulcimer and taught myself a dozen songs.
This music is a connection. To my past life in DC, to my past life in Nashville, to the Country Boy Eddie show on early mornings on channel 6 and the days when the very special grown-up parties were the ones where someone had brought banjos and guitars and would pick and grin live just like they did on Hee Haw.
There are not many things I have successfully fished out of the black hole of the past and hung onto successfully. But this is one. Saturday night, Music City USA, the Air Castle of the South, AM 650 WSM, the Graaaaand Oooooole Opryyyyyyyy.
Like Judge Hay said: Let ’em go, boys.