So lonesome I could cry
Mama loved hillbilly music.
Every morning she would turn on the radio and the first sounds that I would hear would be Mama’s singing, right along with the static and those hillbilly singers.
Her voice would kind of drown out the country music singers and it was her voice that I loved more than theirs.
Daddy didn’t like hillbilly music. Said it sounded like screeching tires and howling cats. We’d laugh “me and Mama” cause to us it was the most wonderful sound in the world.
Back then, the radio didn’t come in too clear. There would be gaps in the music and the music would give way to grinding but Mama never missed a beat. When the music came back, that hillbilly singer and Mama would be right along together.
“Mama, you ought to be on the radio,” I’d say.
“Oh, I can’t sing. I just love to try,” Mama would laugh and say.
Every Saturday night, me and Mama would get around the radio to listen to the Grand Ole Opry. Sometimes Mama would do a little hemming or put a patch on my blue jeans but most of the time, she just sat and listened. She didn’t sing along much with the stars of the Grand Ole Opry. They were coming to us live. Not like the records on the radio programs and she didn’t want to miss a bit of anything live from the Grand Ole Opry.
I’d sit at her feet and play paper dolls.
Daddy would go to bed early on Saturday night. He said all that squawking hurt his ears.
There would be a parade of hillbilly singers – Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, The Carters, Eddy Arnold, and Hank Williams. Mama said Hank Williams was the best of the bunch of them. She said he could say in music what people were feeling in their hearts.
The only time that we turned off the radio on Saturday night was if there was a singing in the auditorium at the school. Mama loved gospel music as much as she loved hillbilly music and we’d go to every gospel singing that came around.
Quartets would come from far away. Our favorite was the Tadlocks because Lester Senn played the piano for them. He was from Brundidge and he could “mortly tear up a piano” Mama always said. When he’d start going up and down those keys, folks would start clapping and patting their feet like they were just about to take off and fly. Sometimes, they’d get so happy they’d stand up and just about start dancing in the aisles.
Mama said if folks could play their way into heaven, Lester Senn was gonna have a front row seat.
Those were very special times that we shared, me and Mama. As time went on, we stopped going to singings. I don’t know why. Television had come into being so maybe they just stopped having singings at the schoolhouse.
And after a while, Mama stopped turning on the radio in the morning so the first sounds that I heard were no longer her voice singing along with the hillbilly singers. Life had picked up the pace and things changed.
Recently, Hank Williams’ voice was piped into a country cookin’ restaurant where I was waiting for a table, “I’m so lonesome I could cry,” Hank sang.
Like Mama said, Hank Williams could say in a song what others were feeling in their hearts. I don’t think I’ve heard any sadder words than, “The moon just went behind the clouds to hide its face and cry.” You can’t be any sadder than that.
That’s the way I feel every time my heart longs to hear Mama singing with the early morning radio just one more time.