Sunday, March 26, 2006

Buck Owens, The Movie

(64) Buck Owens, The Movie

Never gonna happen.

Unlike Johnny Cash and Elvis, this guy’s life was not a soap opera… or at least not a soap opera that would sell movie tickets and DVDs.

No question he was a huge star and an innovator. But if he had drug or booze or Jesus problems, he kept ‘em quiet. Counted his money. Bought regular businesses. Kept to himself. Didn’t do a whole lot of touring or other performing after the end of “Hee-Haw.” Sold a gazillion records. Most of them sounded aike – the Fats Domino/Frank Sinatra /Abba school of hit recording: got one decent song, change it around a little every few months and you’ll soon have a dozen good songs and they’ll all sell.

And continue to sell for decades. And why not? They were (and are) damned good.

Owens did some rebellious things. Like putting Bakersfield, California on the map and not hanging out in Nashville like the rest of the country crowd. Didn’t call his stuff “country music,” either. “American Music” was his phrase. And to back that up, he played a red, white and blue guitar.

He had a nasty snarling face without a trace of down home country good natured beer brawler in it.

Was he a nasty snarling guy? Who knows. Who cares. You like his stuff or you don’t. There was a lot to like.

But there’s no movie in it.

Who would make a movie out of a guy who showed up for his bookings – on time and ready to work? Where’s the dramatic tension? Where’s the tragic-comedy? Where’s the PLOT!

No big crusade for getting your high school GED, like Waylon Jennings. No amusement park like Dolly Parton.

No Buck Owens impersonators.

No mob ties.

This space has long spoken the idea that everything you need to know about an artist is contained in his or her work, and that the more you know about their personal side, the less you like or respect them.

Not much danger of knowing the guy better either from his obituaries or even from his fan friendly website.

Don’t expect a movie and don’t expect the erection of a Graceland style shrine. Tour buses. Pink Cadillacs. Nah.

Unlikely you’ll even get to see the original lyrics to the songs he wrote. He didn’t write them down. Said if he couldn’t remember them, the songs weren’t worth doing.

Of course the lyrics are out there for the reading. But not in his handwriting.

You wanna know about Buck?

Play “Act Naturally” or “Waiting In Your Welfare Line” or “Tiger By The Tail.” That’s all you need to know.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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