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People’s music ain’t all that bad

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I grew up on country western music.

Doesn't mean I liked it. In fact, whenever our dad plopped a scratchy record onto the hi-fi in the corner of the dining room, I'd cover my ears and screech. "This so-called MUSIC hurts my ears. It sounds like cats fighting. It sounds like small ungifted girls practicing the violin."

"This so-called MUSIC is the music of the people," countered our dad. "And don't you forget it."

Then (grinning), he'd crank it up so that the caterwauling of Hank Williams drowned out my 16-year-old girl "Papa-you-totally-done-me-wrong" protests. I had no choice but to give many highly injured sniffs and skulk into the privacy of my room where I sprayed Sun-In in my hair and searched for snatches of REAL music on the AM/FM radio. Jethro Tull. Styx. Bad Company. Grand Funk Railroad. The Who. Deep Purple. Uriah Heep. Led Zeppelin. ESPECIALLY Led Zeppelin.

I loved Led Zeppelin best of all. Loved the way that Jimmy Page drove his guitar — sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes both ways in the same song. Loved the way that John Bonham manhandled those drums. Loved the way that wild-haired lead-singing thing, Robert Plant, shouted and sighed, pranced and moaned his way through lyrics inspired by JRR Tolkien.

(Hey. Wait a minute. This reminds me of something. There's an individual living quietly among us in the greater Salt Lake Valley who almost took me to a Led Zeppelin concert at the Salt Palace once when we were both students at Provo High School. In the end, however, he invited another girl. A cuter girl. A girl who went on to date him and wait for him and eventually to marry him . . .

I still have not forgiven this individual for leaving me home that night long ago. Nor will I. In fact, I long to divulge his name. Right here. Right now. But I won't, because I am a highly trained professional newspaper columnist, committed to protecting the privacy of my sources.

Also, I like his wife.

But HE knows who he is. And HE better watch his back.

Ha! Ha! Kidding about the "watch his back" part! Just like to mess with former PHS classmates now and then!) Especially the ones WHO DONE ME WRONG! Anyway. Back to my original point, which is that I hate, hate, HATE country western music. Except that I don't. Not anymore.

Things started to shift the year our family lived back East. There I was, mildly isolated with five young sons in a WASP-y town — the only mom on the block without a nanny and a housekeeper. I liked it there fine — even better than fine — but living around all that East Coast striving for money and position and recognition made me hungry for something different.

One morning I turned on the radio to a New York City (how weird is this!) CW station and found what I was looking for in the earthy songs my father likes; songs being requested by people with thick urban accents who'd probably never seen an actual cow except under saran in a case at the corner deli . . .

At this moment I'm partial to the lyrics of Johnny Cash, having heard them given fresh treatment by the likes of Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, Little Richard and Keb' Mo' on the terrific "Kindred Spirits" CD. I always love a good train song, but honey, if I could ever write a you-done-me-wrong song as good as "Big River," I would certainly die with a smile on this face.

Instead, I'm leaving that up to you. Not the smiling part. The writing part. So here you go, kids. Turn your Heart Break into your Big Break. Write some lyrics and send them along to the First Annual Deseret News Valentine's Day Love-Gone-Wrong CW Song contest.

(Come on. What do you got to lose?)


E-mail: acannon@desnews.com