Chet and my dad

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Chet and my dad

Postby Doug Working » Mon May 21, 2018 7:40 am

Chet was a lot like the dad I didn't have. Anybody else feel that way?

Don't get me wrong. I had a dad, but he was emotionally distant, as was his dad to him, and back through the generations. Well, let me just say, that's an aspect of fatherhood that is indispensable, (Showing an emotional connection to your kids.)

Not that I didn't love my dad. I did. But I also loved Chet, too. Some people say the first time they heard Elvis's voice, it was MAGIC. Something about his voice just spoke to them and connected with them. Well, we all know the guitar has a voice, and the voice of Chet's guitar did that to me from the first time my ears heard it. I'll bet there is a lot of us here like that! Can I get an amen?

So my dad liked Roy Clark far better than he did Chet. In my dad's narrow musical view, Roy Clark could really "pick it out", (his term) and Chet couldn't. We know he was wrong. There is a LOT more to guitar playing than just playing at breakneck speed! But when Chet would make a TV appearance, I was glued to the screen, and dad rubbed it in. He mocked me. He mocked my admiration for Mr Guitar. He would say things like "Look at that! He's SLOW! He can't "pick it out!" He would cut down my hero. One time, Chet was playing "Zorba The Greek" on a TV show. As we all know, it starts out excruciatingly slow. Dad jabbed at me with sharp, critical words dissing Chet's playing. That hurt really bad.

And I had an old record player. Ancient by today's standards. Mom won it as a door prize at Bingo. (Yeah, she's still playing decades later!) First tunes I heard on it were "Bells Of St Mary's", "Centipede Boogie", "High Rockin' Swing", "Ain't We Got Fun", and such. I had never heard ANYTHING like that in my very young life!

I was in my room one day listening to Chet playing an arrangement of "Que Sera, Sera." In which he used a lot of dissonances. Dad heard it and said "He's playing out of tune!!"' In my heart, I knew better, but in our house, talking back to dad was a death wish. But it hurt me to the core. Dad knew exactly where to strike. But no matter WHAT he said, he wasn't going to dissuade me from listening to my hero, Mr Guitar.

Well, anyway, to make a long story short, one day, about '68 or '69 I suppose, me and dad were in his Oldsmobile, and he said he had a gift for me. Then he presented me with a shiney new copy of "Chet." ("Wabash Cannon Ball", "Oklahoma Hills", "Just Out Of Reach", "Truck Driver Blues" and more!) I was overwhelmed. This was my dad's attempt to break through the wall that he had created and reach out to his son. And I will never forget that as long as I live. It made me sense that beneath his hard outer shell, deep down inside, he really loved his son. I suppose the truth is that he just could not see what it was about Chet's music that I loved, but a course of my life had been set, and neither hell nor high water was going to change it!

I did back then, (and still do now) listened to "Just Out Of Reach" about a zillion times. That's when I discovered that Chet was not only able to play any tune, but able to find a TONE on the guitar that perfectly enhanced or expressed the song perfectly. As a boy I wondered "How does he DO THAT????" There was a time when I didn't even know what a thumb pick was and that he used one. I was a young lad in my room trying to imitate Chet with a flat pick!

I still love that cut and how he plays the very last chord feather soft. A perfect ending to an amazing expression of the melody by Mr Guitar's talented fingers.

Thanks dad. Your long gone, now, but I know you really did love me, deep in your heart, even though you never quite knew how to say it.
Doug Working
 
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Re: Chet and my dad

Postby Pickin Palmer » Mon May 21, 2018 10:45 am

Boy, am I glad that story had a happy ending, Doug. I was probably a bit older when my dad starting hearing me try to play Chet because I didn't find him until I was in the Navy and my dad didn't hear me until I was back home living with him whilst I attended college after the service. (I was 22.) He didn't go out of his way to demean Chet, but I did notice that he was a little negative when he insisted, "Oh, I'm sure that he's using overdub-recording techniques." When, we all know a lot of people couldn't believe Chet was making all that music by himself. In retrospect, I guess he was prolly trying to tell me "you suck as a guitar player - you might better spend all that time studying." Which, in retro-retrospect - he was right!!! My dad and Chet did keep me outta jail, though..... :D

He was gone by the time I moved to Columbus and found Terry Efaw and CAAS some 27 years ago - and, actually learned how to play Chet's style much better. I wish he could hear me now. I know he'd like it.

Palmer
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Re: Chet and my dad

Postby Doug Working » Mon May 21, 2018 7:13 pm

I kind of think that if my dad was still with us, he too would like my playing. (I'm good, but I sure ain't no Chet Atkins!)

Seriously though, it was a weird situation in my home as a boy. Here was my dad who wasn't impressed with Chet, but instead loved Roy Clark, yet still, on my 12'th or 13'th year on this earth, he got me a guitar for Christmas. Go figure!! Maybe he thought I'd be another Roy Clark? I guess I'll never know what he was thinking. My most likely theory is that he couldn't help it, because he was being guided by an irresistible, guiding hand!

Actually, it goes back way farther than that. I vividly recall my dad had an 8mm Bell and Howell movie camera, and he used it a LOT to take silent home movies. One of those movies revealed me at about three or four years old on Christmas. Mom and dad got me a huge, toy guitar. Watching it, I could see myself excitedly ripping open the wrapping, then pretending to strum it grinin' my little boy grin from ear to ear. So it goes back to probably '58 or '59! The guitar was SEMINAL in my life.

Mom got us kids a toy Magnus chord organ, and as kids we had a blast on it. Then there were the 45's and full LP's mom always bought for that record player I mentioned. We were not shy about playing the crap out of the records. So even music itself was seminal for me.

But anyway, yeah, I still think dad would be proud to hear me pick, now. His problem was that his dad never told him that he loved him, and so dad never had an example to follow. He did Hs best. Always took care of us. Insert Chet's daddy song right here in this spot.

I'm hoping my pastor will let me sing the daddy song for our church in June, when that magical annual day comes around.
That's what made this post come to mind, considering Father's Day is nigh.
Doug Working
 
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Re: Chet and my dad

Postby DagerRande » Tue May 22, 2018 7:08 pm

Doug, the difference between Roy Clark and Chet wasn't really about speed. It was also about the fact that Roy Clark was basically and single-note player. You never heard any complex articulation of multiple notes going their own directions simultaneously with Roy. Also, have you ever heard Roy play without any backup? But now that I think about speed, listen to Chet playing "Get On With It"!

Talking about fathers, my dad was never into instrumental guitar. I took him to see Chet once in 1980 and he was disappointed that the emphasis was on guitar playing rather than singing. He took me to see Buck Owens in 1967
and that was much more "his thing"!
Rande Dager

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Re: Chet and my dad

Postby Doug Working » Thu May 24, 2018 5:21 pm

I know exactly what you are saying. I know it. You know it. All Chet fans know it. But in my dad's mind, well, in his simple mind as far as guitar playing goes, speed was IT. It was the ultimate measure of a guitarists' chops, And nothing, but NOTHING could convince him otherwise. *sigh*

Seems you and me talked about "Get On With It" once.

Daff

P.s.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy Roy's playing. He is a great player. Very flashy! Superb showmanship. But I agree with what you said. He chose a flat pick as opposed to a thumb pick, and couldn't do the wonderful things Chet could do employing his right hand fingers to full use. Strange, when you think about it, because when Roy picked banjo he sure could use his right hand fingers. Must have just been his preference, I suppose.
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Re: Chet and my dad

Postby headgremlin » Fri May 25, 2018 7:53 am

Doug,

I went to the CAAS conventions the first ten years and I remember being in the main stage area and hearing Bill Spann or somebody tell those in attendance, "Okay, all you guitar pickers, put your hand in your pocket. Now, on the count of three, I want to see everyone hold up their hand and show us the thumb pick." After the count of three, the speaker would say, "That's good, but all you who didn't put up your thumb pick, you will go upstairs and watch Roy Clark videos."

I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Roy lives here. He has always been the showman

Jere
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Re: Chet and my dad

Postby DagerRande » Fri May 25, 2018 12:20 pm

Jere, are you Jere Uncapher who had that huge detailed collection of Chet's albums? By "detailed" I mean having 2 of the same album just because the cover came in 2 different colors!
Rande Dager

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Re: Chet and my dad

Postby headgremlin » Fri May 25, 2018 1:22 pm

Rande,

Yes, I'm the same one and am still collecting anything pertaining to Chet. If I see a difference to a cover or label, That goes into the collection. I've been collecting since 1968. I had a discography available but that was about 3 computers ago and is now very obsolete. But I hear from people who still look through their copies.

Jere
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Re: Chet and my dad

Postby DagerRande » Fri May 25, 2018 5:13 pm

Thanks, Jere. My clue was the spelling of your first name. I'll never forget your extensive discography!
Rande Dager

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Re: Chet and my dad

Postby Doug Working » Mon May 28, 2018 5:36 pm

headgremlin wrote:Doug,

I went to the CAAS conventions the first ten years and I remember being in the main stage area and hearing Bill Spann or somebody tell those in attendance, "Okay, all you guitar pickers, put your hand in your pocket. Now, on the count of three, I want to see everyone hold up their hand and show us the thumb pick." After the count of three, the speaker would say, "That's good, but all you who didn't put up your thumb pick, you will go upstairs and watch Roy Clark videos."

I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Roy lives here. He has always been the showman

Jere


LMBO!!!
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