Monday, July 16, 2012

I Heard the Jukebox Playing: Kitty Wells, RIP

It was the end of summer school, and I'd made my way back to the place in London I'd stayed at the beginning, a homey and tatty family-run place called Lindsey House Hotel in Sussex Gardens, £6 per night with one bath per floor. When I arrived, after settling in, the first thing I noticed was the music. Downstairs in the breakfast area just off the kitchen, an AM radio station was playing a forlorn song and it wasn't long before I recognized what it was -- Kitty Wells' "I Heard the Jukebox Playing." Wow. London, England and Kitty Wells, Tennessee. Mournful Country & Western well at home in the great island metropolis. 

And that is the music of Kitty Wells. Songs of heartache and endurance. Songs so pitiful you have to laugh or cry even at some of the titles. These are adult subjects, songs about married people and parents, divorce and treachery, an abundance of alcohol and broken phone calls. Not "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" but "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" (1952). "Cold and Lonely (Is the Forecast Tonight)," "Release Me," and one of the greatest Country songs of all that I've ever heard, "Making Believe" (1954). Let's not forget "Don't Hang Around, He's Married To Me," "Meanwhile, Down at Joe's," and the inevitable "A Woman Half My Age." Dust on the Bible and Kitty's Choice, indeed. Brutal. But brilliant, too, as an English girlfriend might have said. Rest in Peace, Kitty Wells (1919-2012), rest in peace.

Today's Rune: Gateway.       


jodi said...

Erik, I can't believe how many of these songs I know. I have a cousin named Kitty, but you don't hear that name much anymore!

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm pretty sure my mom liked Kitty wells. I certainly remember hearing her name mentioned around the house.