The KMM Blog features true crime writer Robert A. Waters’ analysis of cold unsolved cases and commentary about modern and historical crimes. Kidnapping. Murder. Mayhem. They're as old as human history, and as fascinating.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
The 11 Saddest Country Songs of All
by Robert A. Waters
Rolling Stone magazine recently
released what it called the “40 Saddest Country Songs of All Time.”
On the premise that “even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a
while,” they found a few good ones. Unfortunately, there were too
many modern-day songs and not enough older and alternative tunes.
Those who have read my blog for very long know that one of my
passions is old-time hillbilly music. It's what I grew up hearing
and what I still listen to. So here are 11 songs the Rolling
Stone article left out.
Hank III does his best to live up to
his grandfather's name. Hard living, hard drugging, and hard
drinking seems to be the norm of the Williams clan, but they have
country music embedded in their DNA. This song is straight country,
and straight-out sad. No wonder it never made a blip on the modern
Written by the blind country
songwriter, Leon Payne, this song is the defining statement about
Hank's life. It's ironic since Hank wrote most of his own songs. In
many religious songs, there is redemption for sin, but in this song,
there is no redemption—the singer is going straight to Hell. This
is real country music written by real country people
who had, fortunately, never heard “Imagine” by the Beatles.
These Texas-based singers nail this old
“cheating” song. Their version has the feel of, shall we say,
authenticity. In other words, it sounds like they've been there,
done that (not saying they have, just saying the song has that
“feel”). Written by L. E. White, numerous country stars have
recorded it, including Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson,
and Tanya Tucker. But their versions are too commercial. I like the
Digby and Trevino raw, gritty version best.
Ted Daffan, a honky-tonk singer and
songwriter, penned this song in the 1940s. It's been recorded by
more than 100 country singers, including this version by Johnny Cash.
“Born to lose, I've lived my life in vain/Every dream has only
caused me pain...” Any song with those opening lines has to be sad
and has to be country.
Rolling Stone would NEVER admit
that a descendant of the great Southern General Thomas Jonathan
“Stonewall” Jackson could be a great country singer. But that he
is. “Leona” is written from the perspective of a cuckolded
husband and the tragic conclusion is right out of today's headlines.
Stonewall Jackson, the singer, had many hit songs, including
“Waterloo,” which crossed to the pop charts. Written by the well-known
Nashville songwriter, Cindy Walker, “Leona” never became a hit,
but is still one of my favorites.
Penned by country songwriters Jack
Anglin, Johnny Wright, and George Peck, this song is about a soldier
going off to war. If he comes back, he is reminded to meet his
sweetheart “down where the river bends.” Dwight Yoakam and Ralph
Stanley perform this bluegrass version of the song, and Stanley's high
tenor is guaranteed to send chills down your spine.
Written by Hank, this song
became a number one country hit for him, then crossed into the pop charts to
become Tony Bennett's first number one song. Hundreds of singers
have recorded it, and the song has become a standard, usually delivered with minimal feeling. Not so, Hank's version. The pain of his loss is raw and vicious and we know there'll be no happy endings here.
(How Rolling Stone could miss this song, I don't know.)
This song is a lament about a life gone
wrong by the singer who was called “too country for country music.”
While modern “country” singers listen to the Beatles, the
Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and rap, Oxford cut his teeth on real hillbilly
music—mostly Hank. God is the last resort for many a former
reprobate, and the title of this song says it all.
Any songwriter who can come up with a
title like “She Even Woke Me up to Say Goodbye,” has to be good.
Add to that “San Francisco Mabel Joy,” about a Georgia boy who
falls for a prostitute, kills her lover, and ends up doing 99 years in
prison, and you've got the makings ofreal
country music. It's a long, rambling song that could never make it
onto the country music charts.
This is arguably the greatest
country song of all time. Hank allegedly wrote it about his cheating
wife, Aubrey. Of course, the cheating was mutual, but... This song
has been recorded by almost every country singer in history. The
pain is palpable as Hank sings, “Your cheatin'
heart will tell on you.” Hank, who grew up dirt-poor in Alabama,
achieved fame and fortune beyond his wildest imaginings, but was
tormented by physical and emotional pain all his life. His songs
have been recorded by almost all country singers, and many pop
crooners. Going barefoot while selling peanuts during the
Depression, he could never have imagined the musical influence he
would exert. The writer of the Rolling Stone article should
be canned for not including this song.
On a gloomy spring
morning in southern Tennessee, the songbirds stopped singing. It was
April 6, 1862. Scattered gunfire erupted, quickly becoming a
continual roar as two armies slammed into each other. The weather
was cool and the rain unrelenting as the thunder of war drowned out
thunder from the skies.
fell by the hundreds, then thousands, on muddy battlefields, their
screams, their dying gasps overwhelmed by the din of fighting. A
blog entitled Oddly Historical described the
scene: “The bloodiest battle up to that point in the war,
two days of fighting produced 23,000 casualties on both sides. The
battlefield itself was a boggy, mud soaked hellhole. Medical
services on both Confederate and Union sides were woefully unprepared
for the scale of the slaughter, and many wounded were left to fend
for themselves among the watery morass.”
methods consisted mainly of amputation. There were no antibiotics
and no anesthesia. Before their limbs were sawed off, soldiers would
take a swig of whiskey, then “bite the bullet.” Shock killed
thousands, and infection even more.
But as the Battle
of Shiloh ebbed, a medical mystery began to play itself out.
Overnight, hundreds of soldiers from both sides, lying in those
marshy pools, miraculously began to heal. These soldiers noticed
that their wounds would glow green, and then the healing would begin.
The grateful men called the strange-colored healing agent “Angel's
Glow,” attributing their miraculous cures to divine intervention.
medical researchers of later years discounted these claims as legend.
But a grain of doubt always clouded any assertions that the healings
were false. Why did hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers suddenly
recover from their wounds at Shiloh when less severely wounded men
died in other battles?
microbiologist Phyllis Martin. When her teenage son visited Shiloh
Battlefield, his curiosity was piqued. At the time, Martin was
researching the healing properties of a bacteria called P.
the help of her son, Bill, and his friend, John Curtis, Martin made a
remarkable discovery that might explain the historical mystery. P.
lives inside nematodes of the soil. These nematodes eat insect larva
and P. luminescens
releases toxins that kill the larva. The toxins of P.
inhibit the growth of deadly bacteria. And P.
glows green as it does its work. Martin theorized that this
“glowing bacteria entered soldiers' wounds when nematodes attacked
the insect larva [that] are naturally attracted to such injuries.
The resulting infestation would wipe out any of the normal, disease
causing bacteria found in wounds.”
On the battlefield, wounded soldiers
likely cursed the mud-soaked misery of impending death. What they
didn't know was that the very conditions they found abominable may
have been the conditions that healed them.
Some of these
soldiers survived the war and told their families about “Angel's
Glow,” and how it saved their lives. While scientists scoffed, the
stories became part of the folklore of war. Now there seems to have
been a basis of truth to the bizarre assertions.
Army Veteran John Hendricks Stopped a Mass Shooting
by Robert A.
The lives of
innocent victims matter. That's why almost 13 million Americans now
have permits to carry concealed weapons. Many would-be victims,
going about their day-to-day activities, have used guns to
successfully defend their own lives as well as the lives of others.
Here a few of their stories.
Chicago, an Uber driver with a permit to carry a concealed weapon
stopped a mass shooting. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Everardo
fire into a crowdof
pedestrians. John Hendricks, the Uber driver, who just happened to
be at the scene where the shooting took place, pulled out his own gun
and fired six rounds at Custodio. Hit in the shin, thigh, and
abdomen, the shooter collapsed on the street. He was taken to the
hospital with non-life-threatening wounds. No one in the crowd was
hit by gunfire. Hendricks, an army veteran who has a concealed carry
permit and valid firearms identification card, was not charged.
Custodio, however, will be indicted on numerous counts, including
Augusta, Georgia, two long-time crooks attempted to hold up the
Subway restaurant on Gordon Highway. Howard Maurice Harris
and Cornelius Lamar Harrison
allegedly entered the sandwich shop armed with crow bars. One of the
suspects ordered a 14-year-old customer to go to the back of the
business. The suspect then struck the teen in the back of the head
with the metal bar, injuring him. The boy's mother, an employee,
retrieved a handgun from her purse and fired at the assailant. The
robbers fled, but the employee ran outside and fired again. At some
point, Harrison was struck in the abdomen. He died a few hours
later. Police were soon summoned to a local hospital where they
found Harris and arrested him. The injured teen received
numerous stitches to close his wounds. Both suspects were wanted in
North Carolina for various crimes. Police told reporters that the
employee, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, will not be
91-year-old Eastpointe, Michigan man parked his car in a Rite Aid
store parking lot. As soon as he stepped out, he was approached by
who, according to the intended victim, was acting “erratically.”
When the victim attempted to retreat back into his car, Ashford
approached in a threatening manner, carrying a “piece of metal
fashioned as a weapon.” After shouting several warnings, the
intended victim opened fire. Prosecutor Eric Smith told reporters
that “this elderly man’s self-defense is an
entirely appropriate use of force. Facing imminent assault, he
announced that he was armed, made attempts to withdraw, warned again
that he held a weapon, and fired only when completely necessary.”
The intended victim had a concealed carry permit and was not charged.
“This is a textbook case for why concealed pistol licenses are
issued in the first place,” Smith said. “American citizens have
the right to protect themselves in the face of clear assault.”
Ashford faces several charges.
In South King County, Washington,
Steven Blacktongue, wearing a mask, entered a 7-11 store and
attacked a customer with a hatchet. He then moved behind the counter
and struck the clerk in the abdomen with the deadly weapon. The
customer, who had a permit to carry a gun, shot Blacktongue dead
before he could cause serious injury to the clerk. Blacktongue had a
long criminal history of felonious assaults, and had served time in
prison for assault and drug offenses. The customer who stopped what
could have been a brutal murder will not be charged.
And so it goes. Day after day,
law-abiding citizens who have permits to carry concealed weapons stop
violent criminals. And day after day, the New York Times and
other major news organizations refuse to carry their stories.