Freedom from Blog

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hee Haw Heaven

I have a confession. As a kid in South Carolina, I grew up on Hee Haw. If I were a red state patriot like Ben Domenench, I'd use this as a demonstration of my essential virtue, the source of my homespun superiority to all you yankee snobs. But that would be rude, and it's not exactly like I grew up on a farm anyway. Still, I always liked the show: the corny humor, the Honies (in their cut-offs!), and the music, which I absorbed much more than I probably knew at the time.

So this morning I'd like to mark the passing of Hee Haw's great co-host, Buck Owens. I don't know how much attention this is getting nationally, but in Nashville, this is a big deal. If you only knew Buck Owens from the show, you might think he was just a studio-made country star--a redneck Davey Jones (that was a Monkees reference, for all you younguns'). He was much more. Long before Hee Haw, Buck made a big impact on country music. As a small-time TV show host, he was the first to put an unknown Loretta Lynn on screen, and Merle Haggard got his start playing bass in Buck's band, the Buckaroos. As a musician, Buck created the "Bakersfield Sound," a rockin' alternative to Nashville studio polish, something like a Honky Tonk version of the Byrds. The Beatles loved Buck so much that they covered one of his songs on Help!, and he was probably the single biggest influence on Dwight Yoakum, who, to my mind, is the lord of all things country. It's not hard to see Buck as a forerunner of the "alt country" that I love today: Wilco, Son Volt, the Jayhawks, Steve Earle, Lucinda and Emmylou. Farewell, Buck.


At 12:59 PM, Blogger Paul said...

I don't know if anyone else is old enough on this list to remember HH, but as a 10 year old or so in the north I loved the country campiness and watched it every week. I sometimes still repeat some of the lines in my head:

"I'm a pickin' and I'm a grinnin'" or "I searched the world over and I thought I found true love, you met another and THIBBBBBBBBB, you were gone!"


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