life of buddy don, chaptur 29:
how i larnt to luv cuntry musik
nuther thang darlene n me gut us wuz a peeano, witch twuz a claude p. street of nashvul with the date of 1917. cost us $75 when that wuz more'n rent n couldnt neethur one of us ritely play it, witch her daddy woodnt let her have that mandlin nor the gittar they had even tho he couldnt play nuthin, so the peeano wuz a compromize. twuz a old upright that hadnt been tuned in ferever n it wuz as beat up as could be. but daddy n eli n brew cum over n helped me wedge it into our lil apartmint, witch that wuz when we wuz a'livin down on tennessee avenu.
them apartmints is gone now. sos harlows donuts n many other thangs thats dun been mentshuned, incloodin darlene.
no sooner did we have that peeano than i gut to tormintin darlene by playin it n lack ye dun no, i could play music better by ear than by musikal notayshun, n that proovd to be the case with peeano as well as mandlin. n that rite thar wood show ye the differnts tween us. she dint thank ye wuz a'really playin ifn ye couldnt read the musikal notayshun. i dint thank thay wuz much differnts in how ye gut the musik to cum out longs it wuz wurth lisnin to.
twernt the furst time i had been roun a peeano. lack i mentshuned oncet, virgils folks had em one, n we fooled roun on it many a time. n whenever my lil sister roena gut to whar she wonted to play, mama wuz able to cunvints daddy to git her one. that made me kindly mad on a counta frum the time i could reach the keybird on a peeano i could pick out meldies. but my daddy bleevd musik wuz fer gurls n that ifn ye permit a boy to larn it, ye mite change him into a queer, witch 'queer' n 'jap' wuz the only mean wurds daddy wood allow, the 'jap' wuz on a counta he dun fought in the pacific. twuz many years befor i had any noshun of why he wood use the wurd 'queer.'
sos i had sum idee of how ye spozed to pluck at a peeano keybird, n thats whut i dun ever chants i wood git. darlene n me dint stay in that furst place long, n the next'n we gut had two bedrooms, n that mint thay wuz a place whar darlene could go n study n git away frum me 'bangin on the peeano.' n that wuz ok on a counta i dint need innybidy a'listnin fer me to wonta play.
n play i did, as much as ever i could, till i had dun made me up some songs that dint have no wurds. n seemt lack i could git sum the sad feelins that wood git stuck in my chess to seep out into the musik n give me peace. n sumtimes i wood play whenever jc n lori n hoyt cum over fer them weejee parties, n thay wuz rite impresst, tho they wuz a mite curyas to no why everthang i playd sounded so melancholy. i couldnt splain it, but i reckon twuz sumthin to do with my thankin thay oughta be more to life than i wuz a gittin.
way i carrd on, ye wood thank i wuz the only one who wuznt gitten everthang outta life that wuz promissed n thats a widespred malady n miss concepshun that mos folks has, witch i dint reelize back then how everbidys speshul jes lack me.
reason i brang up that thar peeano is that after darlene wuz moved out n i had moved to kinston, twuz my only frien fer a while. i cant tell ye the sadness i felt oncet she wuz gone n seem lack even the saddest of meldies woodnt quit doot on a counta thay wuz a feelin in my throat that jes wood not let me be n thar cum a time, jes after i wuz let out of the mental hospital but befor they wood let me back into wurk, when i wonted to git that feelin out, n thats how i cum to rite songs with wurds.
firstn i rote wuz 'and now shes gone,' n durin that same week i rote bout ten songs usin meldies i had dun made n puttin wurds to em bout how i wuz feelin. n nex time i wuz over to the house, mama ast me wood i play, witch she wood always ast that, n i sed i mite, n then i gut to whar i wuz a'wontin to show off, so i sung that furst song i writ n time i wuz dun, thay wuz a sad feelin in the room n my mama had tears in her eyes.
but all my daddy could do wuz ast me how cum i sounded cuntry, n that hurt fer sum reason on a counta he wuz rite n twernt much i could do bout it.
thang wuz, in them daze, i hated cuntry musik, but thay wuz a bad trick played on me that changed all that.
i wuz a'wurkin midnites programmin cumputers. thay wuz this lil speaker in ever offus, witch they used it mosly to make announcemints or to let ye no thay wuz a fire drill, that kinda thang. only at nite, sumbidy had tricked it up to play wivk, n thats whar i larnt bout george jones n dolly parton n charly pride n tammy wynett n tom t hall n even the cuntry rap musik of cw mccall. whenever that cuntry stuff started, i turnt the speaker down as far as twood go, but ye could still here it.
thang i hated bout cuntry musik wuz how twuz bout sad stuff lack deevorce. fer the longest, whenever thay wuz a song bout deevorce cum on, i wood do my best to keep it out of my ears. i kep wunderin whut wuz the point of all that carryin on. n i probly never wooda larnt to luv cuntry ifn it hadnt been fer strang skinner.
on a counta ever now n agin, long bout 3 am, here cum strang, witch everbidy called him strang on a counta it wuz short fer strang bean, witch strang wuz bout as skinny as ye kin git n still have both skin n bones only he had a beer belly bout as big as a basketball, nuff to make him look pregnunt.
strang wuz the midnite superviser of the graveyard shif (they dint rotate) n he wood cum talk to me ever now n then on a counta we wuz the only two "perfeshnuls" thar on graveyard shif, witch they called innybidy who wusnt in a union job a perfeshnul as a way of buyin em off. n he new i wuz a goin thru a hard time bein separated n all, n he wuz the one tole me i wuznt over darlene whenever i thought i wuz. n he wood turn up the musik n ast me bout how this or that song fit with whut i wuz a feelin, n purty soon i gut to whar i wood fergit to turn that speaker down whenever i cum to work. n then i gut to whar i wuz a wishin i could turn it up.
how thangs goes! i had hated cuntry musik all my life, hated the way my daddy wood sang 'in the pines' while he wuz makin brakefuss, hated the cryin sound of a steel gittar.
but whenever darlene n me split up, the only musik that could talk to me wuz cuntry, n seem lack i had joined a new club whar ye unnerstand why folks lacks to hear sad songs bout broke harts. n thems the kinds of songs i rote my ownself fer the mos part.
on a counta a broke hart n that ole peeano wuz jes bout the only thangs i had lef that matterd.
them n darlene, that is, only i dint have her.