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How about a show featuring our missing country music heroes?

By: Keith Kappes
Columnist
Carter County Times

Sometimes, I come up with strange ideas about different things. Be warned that this could be one of them. Communications has been my life’s work so part of the blame goes to my chosen profession.

But then it might be a consequence of being 78 years old and realizing on a daily basis how many relatives, friends and others of my contemporaries are no longer with us.

And it could be the lingering bits and pieces of my depression in the aftermath of a terrible year for our state, nation and the world.

To be honest, I am a lover and collector of country music and I continue to get more listening pleasure from the so-called golden oldies than from most of the stuff now coming out of Nashville. That must be common because many American radio stations still program the old stuff.

In fact, I tried to break out of my latest funk by watching, for the third time, the incredible, 16-hour documentary by Ken Burns about the history of country music.

But it’s always a spooky feeling when I occasionally ask myself why so-and-so has not released any new music, only to find that he or she has been dead for years. 

For instance, can you believe that Waylon Jennings died way back in 2002, and that Tammy Wynette left us in 1998 and Marty Robbins sang his last gunfighter ballad in 1982, and that Lester Flatt took off his white Stetson hat for the last time in 1979?

I could go on with dozens of other names but the list gets sadder and sadder when I think of all of the talented folks that Tex Ritter named in his great song about “Hillbilly Heaven” before he rode off into the sunset. George Jones followed his example with names of singers in “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” before riding away on his tour bus.

I’m not sure if my concept of such a music show featuring deceased performers would work better on radio or on the Internet, perhaps both, but I’m positive that I came up with the perfect title:

The Graveyard Shift.

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com

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