Imagine: you visit a cafeteria-style restaurant in some place like Lawton, Oklahoma or Plainview, Texas. You get in line with your tray, get some meatloaf and some jello, and sit down amongst the old folks who are here to take advantage of the $6.30 all-you-can-eat deal. (They're on a fixed income, you know.) Amazingly, a live music show starts, right there in the dining room. A couple about as old as the average patron of the restaurant cheerfully start singing old country/western hits with live guitar, and karaoke-type backing tapes. The man sings lead, and on some songs, like "Tennessee Waltz," he's okay if he keeps his voice down and stays within his narrow singing range. On the occasional rock'n'roll number, like Chuck Berry's "Memphis," he sounds like your dad singing in the shower. As the show proceeds, his vocal stylings gets worse and worse, as he creaks his way thru songs like "Rocky Top," and a disastrous version of Marty Robbin's "El Paso." You're cringing, but looking around, no-one seems to be complaining. Actually, they appreciate a little entertainment.
Bobby Joe Ryman and his wife Jackie Gershwin are pushing 70, but, at least as of a few years ago when this album was recorded, they toured American Mid- and South-western small towns playing daytime/early evening shows at various Furr's Family Dining restaurants. This kinda thing is fascinating to me - life on the bottom of the show-biz ladder. Whether you find this album depressing, hilarious, pathetic, wonderful or a bit of all-of-the-above, you must admit that Bobby & Jackie appear to be having a more rewarding life than most of their retiree peers: "Being on the road like this, I just fall in love with everybody here. It thrills me to death, to be able to work out here." Sure beats shuffleboard.
Bobby Joe Ryman with Jackie Gershwin "Tennessee To Texas"
[Due to circumstances beyond my control, I can't use mediafire now. After clicking the above link, scroll down for a choice of downloading options. You may have to wait a few secs. We apologize for the inconvenience.]
(Thanks once again to windy!)