Country, Western & Gospel Music

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act, for example, have to hurry their barnyard chores to get to town for the show. Uncle Dave Macon, 84, a lusty banjo-beating folk singer, has been a farmer all his life at Ready-ville, Tenn. His son, Dorris, who plays a guitar, left the farm lately to become a house painter. Bill Monroe, Martin Presley, Sam and Kirk McGee, all favorites with Opry fans, are working farmers.
Dozen of others who started life in the backwoods have found jobs in town so they can do their Saturday-night stint on the Opry. Of the ebullient Gully Jumpers Act, for ex­ample, Sid Harkreader has become a clothing salesman and Claude Lampley is a floor finisher. Of the equally zany Fruit Jar Drinkers, whose act was originally so named be­cause the boys used to bring mountain dew in fruit jars to refresh themselves between appearances, Tommy Leffew is a barber and George Wilkerson is an iron molder. Herman Crook, leader of a popular brother act, is a cigar maker. Joe Talbot, who works with balladeer Hank Snow, is a law student.
It was Bill Monroe, incidentally, who dropped a remark which indicates the backwoodsman's indifference to material things. I'll never forget it. I wandered past his car one day as he was loading up for a personal-appearance tour. Sev­eral of his troupe were helping. Suddenly Bill straightened up, pushed back his hat, and scratched his head. "Dog my cats!" he drawled. "I done forgot something." He turned to one of his helpers. "Son," he said, "run down to the bank and git me a couple o'bags o' money." And nobody laughed but me. . . .
Comparatively few of the tunes you hear on hillbilly pro­grams are authentic old-timers. Most of them came out of the heads of modern entertainers, and few composer-artists have been more prolific than skinny, drawling Hank Wil­liams, a consistent leader of the hillbilly hit parade. His "Cold Cold Heart" is a current smash, and there have been others among his 200 songs. He earns upwards of $150,000 a year, owns two limousines, and a 500-acre stock farm.
This is a long haul, indeed, from Hank's boyhood as the child of a sickly sharecropper on a cotton patch out from Georgiana, Ala. To help keep the family in food, Hank shined shoes and sold peanuts from the time he was 6, and
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III