Not a day of rest

Sunday 28 December 2014Crisp and clear 7 degreesMore cleaning.  The cleaning is not getting to me but Levon Helm is.  I don’t care if he loves this bar and the poor old dirt farmer ain’t got no corn, I just wish they would stop going on about it.  Told OH no Levon Helm tomorrow

On May 26, 1940, Mark Lavon Helm was the second of four children born to Nell and Diamond Helm in Elaine, Arkansas. Diamond was a cotton farmer who entertained occasionally as a musician. The Helm’s loved music and often sang together. They listened to The Grand Ole Opry and Sonny Boy Williamson and his King Biscuit Entertainers regularly on the radio. A favorite family pastime was attending traveling music shows in the area. According to his 1993 autobiography, This Wheel’s On Fire, Levon recalled seeing his first live show, Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, at six years old. His description: “This really tattooed my brain. I’ve never forgotten it.” Hearing performers like Monroe and Williamson on the radio was one thing, seeing them live made a huge impression. 

Diamond is a fabulous Christian name and I love the idea of an experience being tattooed on the brain.  Dolly Parton is another country classic singer and here is a little of her story.


Parton was born in Sevier County, Tennessee, the fourth of twelve children of Robert Lee Parton, a tobacco farmer, and his wife Avie Lee (née Owens).She has described her family as being “dirt poor”.Parton’s father paid the doctor who helped deliver her with a bag of oatmeal. She outlined her family’s poverty in her early songs: “Coat of Many Colors” and “In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)”. They lived in a rustic, one-room cabin in Locust Ridge, just north of the Greenbrier Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains, a predominantly Pentecostal area.Music played an important role in her early life, and her grandfather was a Pentecostal “Holy Roller” preacher.Many of her early performances were in church, along with her family. Her siblings are Willadeene (born 1940), David Wilburn (born 1942), Coy Denver (born 1943), Bobby Lee (born 1948), Stella Mae (born 1949), Cassie Nan (born 1951), Randel Huston (“Randy”; born 1953), Larry Gerald (July 1, 1955 – July 6, 1955), Floyd and Freida Estelle (twins; born 1957), and Rachel Ann (born 1959).Makes me wonder how different our lives would have been if we had been born ‘dirt poor’ – are we now too soft and have not made the most of the chances given to us because our lives have not been tough enough?

Last verse of Coat of Many Colours

But they didn’t understand it
And I tried to make them see
That one is only poor
Only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money
But I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
Made just for me 

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