George Smith: Who’s gonna play the Wabash Cannonball?
Jan 12, 2014 | 2993 views |  0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“Hear the whisper of the raindrops,

“Blowing soft against the window,

“And make believe you love me,

“One more time, for the good times.”

Those lines are from a song written by Kris Kristofferson and charted to the top of country music by Ray Price in 1970.

It is also poetry, as was so much of country music writing before Garth Brooks came along. Garth made a jillion dollars wearing black, jumping up and down, and shoving my music into “rockabilly” instead of hillbilly.

I don’t like rockabilly and don’t care for the term “hillbilly,” but I do love the music I grew up on. Earliest memory is listening to Roy Acuff and the Grand Ole Opry on my grandfather’s old Silvertone radio. “Willie ’n Waylon ’n the boys” pulled my money to the CD bins into the glory years of country.

Ray Price, who died Dec. 16, was certainly one of “the boys.” Price was 87 and had continued to tour and record until pancreatic cancer took him off the road a year or so ago.

For some reason, his death slid by me. Over the years his music did not. “For The Good Times” is still a top number out in my barn.

Frequently, especially when I’m wrecking another column idea, Mr. Price has held the stereo stage along with Eddy and Hank and Willie and Merle. They did and still do tell us stories of love, hurt, life’s troubles, and just about any other part of the lives we live. And while they may tell it to us in the simplicity of country, it is most often eloquent and in words most any writer would have loved to use.

Poetry … from Hank Williams Sr.:

“The silence of a falling star,

“Lights up a purple sky.”


“Did you ever see a robin weep,

“When leaves begin to die?”

That’s from “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” a song Elvis Presley called the best country song ever written.

Yeah, I know I’ve told you most of this before, but not today. Another truth is what really got me on another chapter of defending the old music and railing against the new was a story in our paper back in December.

‘Fans draw the ‘Line’ at country awards show.’

The show was the American Country Awards and the big winners were Luke Bryan and Florida-Georgia Line. I have no idea who or what a Luke Bryan is and the main thing I know about the Florida-Georgia Line is it separates Florida from Georgia.

Which goes to show you what I know about today’s so-called country music. In the story I learned Florida-Georgia Line is a musical group and Bryan was named artist of the year.

I went to Spotify (online) and listened to both. I knew from the first chords I hadn’t missed a thing by missing American Country Awards.

I also listened (briefly) to Blake Shelton, Trace Atkins, and Keith Urban and a couple of others. The “others” sounded like Shelton and Trace and Keith, which means they all sounded the same.

About the best thing you can say about today’s “country” is there have been no sightings of Garth recently. I think he’s retired, but the damage has been done.

When “Weeping Willie” sings you know it’s Nelson. When Merle sings you know it’s not Nelson.

From 1986 and George Jones there is this:

Who's gonna fill their shoes?

Who's gonna stand that tall?

Who's gonna play the Opry

And the Wabash Cannonball?

The answer is nobody.

And thanks for listening to an old codger’s rant …

George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email:

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