“Turn your radio on,

“Listen to the music in the air,

“Get in touch with God,

“Turn your radio on . . .”


The engine in my new-old Kia Sportage is not so much as a whisper. Tires are just about as quiet and from the Eastern Bypass the foothills of the Appalachians fade into a misty purple.

From speakers hidden somewhere in my new-old Kia Sportage, Merle Haggard is telling a story:

“I turned 21 in prison, doing life without parole . . .”

It is somewhere along the way that my mind wanders back to 1939 and my grandfather’s farmhouse at Pleasant Ridge in Choccolocco Valley.

Granddaddy has a battery-powered radio, a Silvertone. It’s half the size of a refrigerator and is played only for the noon news during the week, for the radio show “Lum ‘n Abner,” and the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night.

A one-mule wagon has brought us to listen to Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl from up there in Nashville. We’ll have a big supper of my grandmother’s chicken dumplings (best anywhere), listen to the Opry, and finally slide into a feather bed that lends itself to peaceful slumber.

I listen from the cockpit of my new-old Kia Sportage – it has all the whistles and bells – as Willie Nelson follows Merle with:

“In the twilight’s glow I still see her,

“Blue eyes crying in the rain.”

It was in that long ago that I got hooked on country music, but

Roy and Minnie have passed on and Willie and Merle are knocking at the pearly gates.

And all that, in a rambling sort of way, gets me to the changes from then to now.

Battery radios shrunk to table models when electricity finally reached the dirt roads out on the rural routes. Somewhere in there radios showed up in cars. My grandfather, the late Houston Smith, had a gorgeous black ‘48 Plymouth with a push-button radio in the dash.

Somewhere 78 records came along. My first meeting also came at my maternal grandfather’s house. The Rev. George D. Cobb  had a “victrola” you hand cranked.

LP vinyls followed, then came cassette tapes you could play in your car. CDs came along and made cassettes fuel for the trash pile.

I now have some sort of deal in my new-used Kia Sportage that puts the past in the past forever.

I have something called  Spotify that plays music in your house, on your PC and laptop, and through my “smart” phone in my new-used Kia Sportage.

If it’s been recorded, Spotify has it . . .

“Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina . . .”

Unless your life has hit the homestretch, that’s Al Jolson and you’ve never heard of him.

And my barn of LP vinyls, cassettes, and compact discs are just about as much use as Mr. Jolson, who died in 1950. I have an Al Jolson CD, but nothing by Bob Nolan . . .

“The scent of wild flowers in the air,

“Is just the touch of God’s hand . . .”

Nolan, co-founder of the Sons of The Pioneers, wrote and recorded The Touch of God’s Hand in 1935. He wrote something like 180 songs, including the classic Cool Water.

Nolan died in 1980, but he’s alive and well through Spotify in the “cockpit” of my new-old Kia Sportage.

Is there a message in this?

If there is, I can’t find it, even after six readings. Somewhere from beginning to the end, the whole deal took a U-turn, but stuff like that happens.

Hey! Maybe there is a message there after all. A lot of stuff doesn’t  turn out the way you planned . . .

I gotta get out of here . . . it’s getting worse ‘n worse ‘n . . .


George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email: gsmith731@gmail.com