Thursday, May 29, 2008

Go, Jim Dandy!

A couple of months ago, I was sitting in Rose's sister's CRV, while Rose, Pam (sister), and Justin (nephew) were in some store, doing some shopping. I was sitting there listening to Outlaw Country on the Sirius satellite radio, when I realized I was hearing a real classic: Black Oak Arkansas's "Jim Dandy," (a song named after the lead singer, if I'm not mistaken). It was, almost literally, a blast from the past.

Picture me, some twenty-five years earlier, trying in my own quietly desperate way to develop some sort of individual identity, living in a dormitory housing more freshman students than there were in my whole high school. Worse, I was attending an east coast Ivy League university where I first heard rap music (although I admit I'd have an almost equally powerful blast from the past if I listened to Grandmaster Flash's "White Line" about now). It was a world very foreign to me.

Now, I had a single dorm room (no roommate), and back in those days, one of the things you could do was play records on your turntable, and I had a whole collection of obscure rock lp ("long-playing," that is) records scavenged from yard sales all over Licking County (this collection is long since dispersed on account of my conviction that "vinyl records are the piano rolls of the future," meaning eventually unplayable and hence valueless: I gave Jim the Grateful Dead records, I believe). Among the records I had, and played (I'll admit it), was the self-titled (or is it eponymous?) Black Oak Arkansas record. (I just looked it up on Amazon, and every song title was like the familiar name of nasty, cantankerous, straight-shooting old neighbor, the kind you're glad you moved away from, but that you still miss somehow, mostly for the straight-shooting).

So, once in a while, when I was in a funk and wanted some real country roots rock, I'd put the old Black Oak on and crank it up, to the frustration, no doubt, of my dorm mates. I suppose the only thing worse would have been if I'd been listening to the Osborne Brothers. I'd never say it was a great record, and I'd never say it was ever really a great favorite of mine (I probably listened to Thomas Dolby's Golden Age of Wireless a whole lot more), but I could probably listen to it with pleasure again--but mostly out of nostalgia, I'm sure. Warning--before you download anything from the Black Oak album, be aware that it has none of the smooth sound of "Jim Dandy": but of course, it's the rawness that you want when you listen to Black Oak Arkansas.

I'm not a fan of country music, in the main, I have to say, but Outlaw Country, on Sirius, is worth a listen: not only for the occasional oddity like "Jim Dandy," but for a lot of other reasons, too.

1 comment:

Jim said...

According to a Wikipedia article, the song "Jim Dandy" is actually a cover dating back to the 50s, if I remember correctly. Apparently E himself suggested that Black Oak Arkansas record it.

I think I've just revealed to the world that I looked up Black Oak Arkansas on Wikipedia.