Well, good morning there. You’ve caught me sitting here at the coffee table with a cup of coffee (what else would you use a coffee table for?) and watching an old VHS tape of “Fox & Hound” the kids are tuned in to. They just had breakfast about 30 minutes ago, and already my oldest is asking about a snack.
I woke up this morning earlier than usual because my partner cashed in a long overdue favor. She wanted to sleep late, and deservedly so. She never gets to snooze. That chore is usually reserved for me due to my strange and mostly unpredictable schedule during the week.
Getting up early gets my mind to thinking on a long list of randoms that don’t usually have a rhyme or reason for being in my head. One topic that is probably the most common, but least talked about is death. Yes, today death is on the brain (not mine, of course). There’s a song by Kris Kristopherson that’s floating around in my head too. A few gospel singers passed through too since I got a text from my good friend, Dwight as he sat in Cowboy Church this morning. Dwight’s a big fan of gospel music and one of the deepest bass singers I’ve ever known.
Let’s start with death and see if I don’t get tired of typing before I get to the other topics.
I don’t know what made me think of Barney Cannon this morning, but I did and looked him up on the Internet only to learn that ol‘ “Big Foot” Barney died last month. I was surprised to read that headline, especially since nobody from back home told me about it. I never met Barney, but our paths circled one another at radio stations across Northeast Texas years ago. His mother owned a flower shop down the road from me as a shirttail kid. My grandparents ran a flower shop too, so we had that in common. He hired on in radio while he was in high school. I did as well, even though it was 20 years later.
Even though I’d never met him, I once found an old business card at the radio station in Clarksville. It was a funky chartreuse colored card with the shape of a foot printed on it. “Big Foot Disco” in big bold letters were stamped on it, with Barney’s name and phone number. Based on the information on the card, it was apparent that Barney ran a mobile DJ service once upon a time. After stops in Clarksville at KCAR-AM, New Boston, Texarkana, and somewhere in Kentucky, he developed star status and a bit of a listener following in Shreveport at KWKH-AM. KTBS in Shreveport did a fine tribute you can see here, and wikipedia has a brief on his life here.
Another passing that’s been on my mind is Jason Hightower’s. He fought off cancer for years. I could’ve written several chapters about Jason’s influence on me, but procrastination corrupted the train of thought more than once this year. Jason hired me when I was a skinny kid fresh off the wagon in College Station. I’d move down there to go to school and, even though I promised my Mama I’d stay out of radio control rooms during my time at Texas A&M, I’m glad I broke that promise because I’d have never have met him. I had to honor of helping fulfill a musical request of Jason’s for the graveside portion of his funeral service. While he was country to the bone, Jason wanted a Dixieland Jazz band to play his funeral. It was a costly endeavor, but we made it happen and I’m glad the Paulin Brothers made the trip to East Texas. You can read more about Jason and his legacy here.
Both were voices that people came to depend on for a variety of things, but the one reason is probably the biggest privilege is the fact they were both comforting to their listeners. It’s one of the biggest honors any broadcaster can have, and that’s to be a comfort.
That song I was referring up at the beginning of this dispatch has a depressing tone overall, but it went to number 1 on the charts and I can’t tell you how many times people called asking for it when I was a disc jockey. Maybe it was because it was a comfort to hear too.