Sunday, November 29, 2009

Merle Travis Time - When the Music Was Crisp, and Show-Bidness Was Fun

Born this day in 1917, Merle Travis - the inventor of the syncopated style of guitar playing, known as "Travis Pickin'" or "Chicken Pickin'" would be 92 years old today.

Just look at that grin and the way the guitar looks like part of his body. That's our boy Merle.

Merle Travis was a guitar player, singer and songwriter who's heyday was in the post-war 1940's and into the 1950's. A genial guy with a really pleasant voice and a knack for writing catchy songs that made him a top-notch front man, his amazingly clean and crisp guitar style made him a much sought after side man as well. Travis sounded good and he made everyone else sound better!

Here he is singing one of his most famous songs, a song made even more famous when it was covered by Tennessee Ernie Ford. And yes, that is Tex Ritter (John's dad) introducing the man:

And here's Merle and that "Pea-Picker" hisself, Tennessee Ernie with Molly Bee. Travis is mainly playing support here and it shows how generous he could be. On top of that, this is one of the all-time classic country-honky-tonk songs of all time. Though this song could be played in a very maudlin fashion, Tennessee Ernie is in rollicking good-time form, showing that happy feeling you get hearing Merle's guitar:

I guess that's just it. His voice was clean and clear. His songs were melodious and euphonious. But that crisp, clean enunciation on his guitar just makes your heart bounce. All this combined with his light stage presence combined for making a sound that is welcome at any time.

Here he is doing one of his own songs, a duet about laying it on much too thick when you're sweet-talking that plays great! Singing with Judy Hayden and being backed by a really slick band:

And here he is for one last one for you today:

What a great laid-back but up-beat sound and just look at that sh*t-eating grin. He really looks like he's having a great time and he's inviting you to come along for the ride.

Thanks Merle! You made that guitar sing and you make our hearts bounce!


Burl Ives said...

Oh by golly
Have a Holly Jolly
Christmas this year!

Jeff Overturf said...

Don't worry Burl. Christmas posts are-a comin'. As a matter of fact, your old pal Rudolph will be my topic on Wednesday the 2nd!

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