Chet helped me win a buck

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Chet helped me win a buck

Postby Doug Working » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:48 pm

Got a little story to share. Happened last night.

Little background: I'm an actor. Act in theatrical productions. We are starting rehearsals for a new dark comedy that takes place in England, circa 1778. Our director is a typical director. Very eccentric. Gets hot under the collar quite easily. So last night we came in for rehearsals, several of us, and the director was HOT! Red in the face, that is. Sat us all down and proceeded to cuss the wall-paper off the wall, banging his fist on the table. Seems another theater has ripped him off to the tune of $700 bucks, landing us in the building we are currently in for rehearsal and performance. And we all heard it, as he went on for a good 15 minutes cussing up a storm. Burned our ears off!

Then, almost magically, he calmed down. His blood pressure settled and he started to act nice. He went on that he had a little challenge for us. He said something to the effect of he feels music has declined in quality, and today's music is not really music. (I have to agree.) He expressed that the old tunes, I mean the really, really OLD tunes were the real music. Said he had a recording of a very old tune, and if anyone in the room could "name that tune," we win a buck. Also if we could name the instrument it was being played on, we win a second buck. (Nice guy!)

So he turned on his player and the melody of a very familiar tune came through quite clearly. Every other actor around that table had not a clue. But yours truly felt my brain kick into full enlightenment as I realized I had heard Chet play that tune rather brilliantly on one of his early records. And I opened my mouth and out it came: "The Third Man Theme!"

Bingo!

So he opened up his wallet and I collected my greenback. Thanks Chet!

My point is that I know Chet once spent a lot of time in the record storage room of a radio station, spinning LP's, and learning every classic tune of great American music he could find. In short, he was diligent and EDUCATED HIMSELF. (Music wise.) he gave himself the equivalent of a college degree in music. I have ALWAYS admired him for that.

But Chet's music education has become in a very real sense, MY MUSIC EDUCATION. Thanks to Chet's wide knowledge of great melodies, I too am pretty doggone smart on tunes of the 40's, 50's. (The good stuff!) If it wasn't for Chet's influence, I probably would have never learned to distinguish great music from dirt. Those early childhood influences mean so much. They are invaluable; foundational.


I always enjoy reading about Chet's early influences as a boy, listening to Merle on the radio. I can close my eyes and see it. Nobody knew it back then, but musical history was in the making. One young boy sitting in front of an old radio, entranced and totally wrapped in the magical sounds streaming through the speaker. Trying to figure it out! Destined to pass that influence on to so very many of us. And it never gets old. Like an old, cozy episode of the Andy Griffith show, we never get tired of it. As long as there is a guitar strung up near by, we are forever wrapped in the magic of the music of the tall country gentleman from Tennessee.

So anyway, everyone, especially our director was totally stunned when I correctly "named that tune." I won a dollar, but I could not have done it without Chet. He's my secret!

As far as the instrument that the tune was played on....I didn't guess that and I didn't win that second dollar. Another guy did. It was a ZITHER!!!
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Re: Chet helped me win a buck

Postby DagerRande » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:00 pm

Doug, isn't it interesting how for those of us who grew up listening to Chet's music, we have a huge repertoire in our memory banks. I don't usually think much of it until I meet a new Chet fan who is still hearing "new" songs that Chet recorded and will probably never live long enough to hear each one hundreds or thousands of times like we have! We have a big advantage when it comes to recognition from a large data base!
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Re: Chet helped me win a buck

Postby bill raymond » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:20 pm

If you've never seen "The Third Man" (Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard) you should check it out. Music by Alex Karas, who played the zither. Interesting in that the melody is played with the thumb while bass and chords are strummed with the fingers, sort of reverse of guitar fingerstyle. There are shots of Karas playing the theme in the movie, probably some YouTube videos of it too.
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Re: Chet helped me win a buck

Postby Doug Working » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:14 pm

DagerRande wrote:Doug, isn't it interesting how for those of us who grew up listening to Chet's music, we have a huge repertoire in our memory banks. I don't usually think much of it until I meet a new Chet fan who is still hearing "new" songs that Chet recorded and will probably never live long enough to hear each one hundreds or thousands of times like we have! We have a big advantage when it comes to recognition from a large data base!


Yup. My point exactly. I consider myself a very lucky man. Some call it God, some call it fortune or fate, but this all started for me as a CHANCE EVENT, when mom and dad had a Chet vinyl album laying on their dresser, and I, just a young lad, CURIOUS as I was thought "Hmmmmmmm. What's this?" Then a minute later it was spinning around on mom's old phonograph record player that she won as a door prize at bingo (I told you guys about that), and my world was forever altered. My destiny was set. Upon my ears first hearing the flowing notes of Chet's guitar, ...well, I was in love.

So was it chance? Fate? I don't know. But I know it was my good fortune that day, because Chet's vast musical taste became mine. In all my life, I've never heard any other guitarist with such astounding VERSATILITY. I remember reading the liner notes on one of those old records, and it said (Chet plays) "Everything from Bach to rock, with every stop in between."

Or another one that said "Chet Atkins. If he'd decided to become a farmer, we'd all be taking six foot high green beans for granted."

And through the years, I discovered that the guys who wrote those liner notes sure knew what they were talking about. Chet could play literally ANYTHING, providing it fell under the banner of GOOD MUSIC. True music, that is.

Fellas, rap does not count.

But I digress.

I'm just grateful to have had fate touch me that day as a little boy. I feel I truly have a grasp on what AUTHENTIC music is, and I consider myself a melody man, thanks to Chet. Always searching for the greatest melodies of all time, trying to arrange them on my guitar to create something beautiful for whoever listens, as Chet did. Following in his footsteps as best as I could, but knowing I will never fill them.

And I feel so SORRY for those kids these days who continually listen to crap, thinking it's music, but being totally ignorant of the real deal. THEY DON'T HAVE A CLUE. Poor kids.

Anyway, ran into our director today, and he said "I can't figure out how you knew that song was the "Third Man Theme!"

I just smiled and kept it to myself.
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Re: Chet helped me win a buck

Postby Doug Working » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:16 pm

bill raymond wrote:If you've never seen "The Third Man" (Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard) you should check it out. Music by Alex Karas, who played the zither. Interesting in that the melody is played with the thumb while bass and chords are strummed with the fingers, sort of reverse of guitar fingerstyle. There are shots of Karas playing the theme in the movie, probably some YouTube videos of it too.


I'll have to keep an eye out for it on TCM, which channel I watch all the time.
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Re: Chet helped me win a buck

Postby Pickin Palmer » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:32 am

Actor, huh? Quite a good writer, as well, Doug.

I got used to “screaming” directors early on when I was in choirs and pop singing groups in high school – seems like all the really good ones wear their emotions right on their shirt sleeves – where it is instantly accessible. (lol) I did notice that they (usually) only “went off” on talent they knew could benefit from a “little adjustment.”

But, even with that knowledge I learned early on I got sideswiped just a few years ago (25, actually) just before I found Terry Efaw (Chet Pickin' Contest Winner) here in Columbus, Ohio and learned how to play Chet's stuff better. (Didn't need choirs, after that.) One of the members in my church choir picked up on the fact I was “in need” of something more than just church music, so he suggested I join another local community choir that was preparing to perform their Spring show that was several short segments of popular musicals - Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, Brigadoon, etc. I had never been in a group like that before and really enjoyed the different music and weekly rehearsals for several months leading up to show. During that time I did notice that the choir was made up of “older” somewhat eccentric folks, but very nice and welcoming.

THEN, came the MONTH FROM HELL! The month just before the show. They started out by having “try outs” for solos and special parts – which I had no intentions of attempting. I was there just to have fun. Fun? “Nay, nay,” saith the director, and most of the members – that all turned into VICIOUS THESPIANS!! Turns out they were all retired show people – some ex-professionals. All those very nice people all started scratching each others eyes out, screaming and hollering at each other – AND, ME!! The story goes on and on (I was forced to take one of those leads,) but the actual four performances were an experience I will value the rest of my life (as it helps with my pre-gig jitters, now days) and the cast party after the last show was when all those VICIOUS people turned back into "lovely little ol' ladies".... Have I ever done it, again? NOOOOO WAAAAY! I've got Chet to practice, now... Don't need anybody yelling at me....
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Re: Chet helped me win a buck

Postby Doug Working » Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:42 pm

The thespians I work with are real sweet people. Some of the nicest people I ever met. I've made a lot of good friends.

I started in acting late 1990's, because I am a magician. I was taught as a young magician that it's beneficial for a magician to get all the stage experience he can...acting, mime, dance...the "performance arts."

So I started and loved it so much I never stopped.

Just like guitar!! I'll be doing it till my last breath.

I've done so MANY things in my life. Military service, Guitar, ventriloquism, voice-over, writing , poetry, chess...

Not to mention raising a family and taking care of a deathly sick wife for twenty years.

I never slow down. Every day is gold to be mined.
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Re: Chet helped me win a buck

Postby Pickin Palmer » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:51 am

We are all magicians here, Doug. "Hey, Senior - you sound like Chet!" Thank you - thank you - you prolly want me to play another... LOLOLOL
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Re: Chet helped me win a buck

Postby Doug Working » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:40 pm

Lol! Truth be told, the magic of Chet's sound is the hardest thing in the world to imitate, because Chet had a whole LOT of tricks in his fingerboard repertoire! Tricks and licks, shall we call 'em?

And his fingers were the best at PRESTIDIGITATION on the fingerboard! (That word literally means fast hands; fast digits; fast fingers!) Remember what Merle said? 'And your fingers move so quick, like a monkey pickin' ticks." Is anything faster, just watch it go past ya!"

Oh, the latter part was Chet. The first part was Merle.

Anyway, Chet sure had some magic in those fingers of his. Very, VERY hard to imitate his tricks, but we here never grow tired of tryin'!

So here's to the guitar magic of Mr Guitar!

Doug
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