Wednesday, January 30, 2013

POETRY BREAK #13: "Canned Termaters" by S. Omar Barker

Albie's noteHollywood westerns have really dropped the ball in presenting the presence -- and preference -- of canned goods on the American Frontier and 19th century Cattle RangesAndy Adams, in one of his books, remarks that Camp cooks with true fully stocked Chuck Wagons were actually a luxury of only the richest outfits, and most trail hands practically lived on canned goods-- Peaches, Tomatoes and fish like Sardines being particular favorites. That's interesting, isn't it? Somehow we never saw Rowdy Yates or Trampas or Hoss Cartwright open a tin of smelly Kippered Herring... but I think it would have been a cool image somehow.

Richard W. Slatta's The Cowboy Encyclopedia comments, "On the trail, canned tomatoes helped to quench thirst. Philip Ashton Rollins notes that acidic tomato juice counteracted the ill effects of alkali dust inhaled by men on the trail. Even the greenest cook could whip up a batch of 'pooch,' stewed tomatoes mixed with bread and sugar."  The Culinary Arts Museum site notes, "Canned foods were sometimes carried on chuck wagons during cattle drives. On fancier wagons, canned tomatoes were considered the 'greatest prize of all.' Sometimes, cowboys carried cans of tomatoes while on the range to cut their thirst. It can be argued that tomato juice certainly tasted better than water from wagon barrels that often was alkaline and 'wiggling with wildlife.'"

Well, S. Omar Barker, all-time king of the cowboy poets, was NOT silent on the matter. Here, from his 1954 collection "Songs Of The Saddlemen," is a poetic tribute to:

Canned Termaters

by Squire Omar Barker

Them old time western cowboys mostly ate what they could git,

And drank what turned up handy, but I've heard them all admit

They sometimes got so tired of beans, of beef and even 'taters,

They'd purt near swap their saddles for a bait of canned termaters.

About the only stuff in cans them days was pork and beans,

Terrmaters, Eagle milk, and corn, and maybe some sardines;

And none of these was plentiful out where the cow trails ran,

For grub come mighty costly when you bought it in the can.

But sometimes in the wagon bed of big ranch operators

You'd find maybe a case or two of stuff called canned termaters.

Them old time cowhands never heard of vitamins an' such;

They never craved no fancy foods--at least not very much--

But, comin' in from cow-work where the dust was thick and hot,

Them juicy, cool termaters--well, they sure did hit the sport.

You even liked them better than you did dried apply pie,

And, when your outfit furnished them, you sure was livin' high.

Why, even when you et in town, you shocked them restrunt waiters

By turnin' fancy vittles down and eatin' canned termaters!

A-batchin' in the boars-nest, as the line camps then was called,

You often tired of cookin', and your appetite got stalled,

But if up there upon the shelf some canned termaters stood,

You'd "cut a can" for supper, and it sure did savor good.

Some days inside your slicker you would pack a can or two

Tied on behind your saddle. If the water holes was few

You'd "cut a can" and drink it as you jogged along the road,

And swear that canned termaters was the best fruit ever growed.

In town, the morning after you had helped the owl to hoot,

Your tongue would taste like leather from the top of some old boot,

Until you found a grocer that would trust you for a can,

And when you'd cut and drunk it, you was sure a diff'rent man.

That's how them oldsters tell it of the days when life was rough,

When ridin' men was rawhide men, and nothin' else but tough;

When men with hides and stummicks like on ol' bull alligator's,

Was still like kids for candy--when it come to canned termaters.
Mr. and Mrs. Omar Barker (circa the 1950s)


Monday, January 14, 2013

BIG AL's JOVIAL JUKEBOX #10 : "The Exodus Song" by PETER AND GORDON, 1966

OK, so if you've gotten to know me thru this little blog at all, there a few things you have come to learn about me.  One of them, surely, is that I am about as Pro-Israel as a guy can get.   I make no apologies for this... I am convinced of the rightness of it, not just Biblically, but historically, socially and  even pragmatically.   I have heard all the arguments-- whether religious ones or political ones-- from Preterists, Arab exchange students, Black MuslimsCovenant Theologians, Calvinist Re-constructionists, Obama democrats, old school Liberals [sometimes themselves Jewish] and even many of my fellow Libertarian-leaning Conservatives... but I still stand firm on this. 

Israel is no ordinary nation, plain and simple... and therefore ordinary answers just don't satisfy.  When the USA abandons Israel as a nation and an ally, it will be to our great peril.  Mark it down.  Sorry if that offends you... but please just tolerate me, as I promise to surely tolerate you!

So... what does all this have to do with my "Jovial Jukebox?" Well, my latest installment in that series happens to be a pop song about Israel, recorded by a British invasion teen-idol duo back in 1966.  Peter And Gordon [real names Peter Asher and Gordon Waller... yep, good British Jews both] recorded this song for their Lady Godiva album-- which was a vinyl selection at home when I was a wee lad-- and did a great version of it.  My older brother Steve used to play it a lot and loved to sing along with it.  It was not a hit for them, but it is still remembered fondly in some quarters, judging by the Youtube comments.

The song itself started life as the hugely successful instrumental theme for the 1960 film EXODUS, adapted from the classic Leon Uris novel of the same name.   [By the way, I would heartily  recommend both the book and, to a lesser extent,  the movie.  Though both have been roundly criticized for alterations of certain historical facts-- I should say I still  think Uris actually used LESS "license" with historical facts than most other historical novelists have,  especially those writing today!--  They tell the story of the 1948 birth of modern Israel in a vigorous dramatic fashion.]   The theme, composed by Ernest Gold, was a huge international hit, and as a result many top song-writers submitted their lyrics to Gold, hoping to cash in on the inevitable "version with words."  Interestingly Gold is said to have rejected over 50 submissions-- even some by heavyweight Jewish song-writers like Carole King and Hal David, in favor of one from a famous singer known as Pat Boone.

Yep, you read that right... Pat Boone.  The lyrics of this song were supplied by none other than the fundamentalist Christian direct descendant of Dan'l Boone... the singer of "April Love" and "A Wonderful Time Up There"...  Mr. "White Buck Shoes" himself... THE Pat Boone!

Boone remembers how he came to write these lyrics {which, by the way, would earn him a pretty penny in writing royalties-- especially after Andy Williams and Edith Piaf would record his great lyrics) one Christmas eve when he had been listening to Gold's version several times on end::

“As I set the needle down, maybe for the 30th time, and the music goes “Bum Bum… Bum Bum,”  the words “This land… is mine”  came out of me,” said Boone.

“I had been reading about Ari Ben-Canaan in the book, and thinking about Moses and Joshua, and I realized that it had to be personal, one person’s statement – not a grand scheme statement; a declaration to the land and ownership to the land.

“When those four words came out, I said to myself, that’s it – that’s the whole story!

“And I grabbed something to write it down with, and immediately ‘God gave this land to me’ came out. And in 20 or 25 minutes, I had written the whole lyric, almost as fast as I could put the needle back on to hear the next passage.

“When I turned over the piece of paper I had written the words on, I realized that it was a Christmas card – and I had written on it what became the second Jewish national anthem. For me, that was so appropriate, because it was an amalgam of everything I believe coming together. This land is God’s covenant to his people, and it’s never going to change.”

So there you have it:  an American Evangelical Christian's Christmas Card to the [literal] Sons of Abraham!

And here is my personal favorite version... by 2 English Jews who made the song a pop classic:

 This land is mine, God gave this land to me
This brave and ancient land to me
And when the morning sun reveals her hills and plain
Then I see a land where children can run free. 

So take my hand and walk this land with me
And walk this lovely land with me
Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong.

Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong

To make this land our home
If I must fight, I'll fight to make this land our own
Until I die, this land is mine.

"Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.
Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.
For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee." -- Isaiah 41:11-13

UPDATE, Jan. 19, 2014:   I just love surf music, DelFi Records and The Lively Ones... so i couldn't help but add this instrumental version once I found on glorious Youtube! 

Check it out, also!



Albie's note: Here is an old sermon outline by the late, great Baptist Preacher MAZE JACKSON that originally appeared in his magazine THE PREACHER'S GOLDMINE.   "Brother Maze," as he preferred to be called, is one of my true heroes in the Christian faith. I remember listening to his radio program THE TRUCK DRIVER'S SPECIAL on 30,000 watt Trucker station KWKH-- out of Shreveport, LA, o'course!-- when I was just an insomniac teen-ager with an AM radio on a ranch in Sonoita, AZ.  Although reading this outline is a poor substitute for hearing the great man's legendary, booming voice, [sample it HERE] one can still feel the heart of the great man even in these scant words.  Enjoy, and remember... 

 "His Eye Is On The Sparrow, and I KNOW He watches me!"

 TEXT: Matthew 10:29-31:
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."


"One of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." The Sparrow is one of the least among birds. A hair of the head is about as worthless and useless a thing as you can think of. But though we be insignificant as the sparrow and worthless as a hair of the head, God looks after each one of us. He knows us by name.


He does not promise that the sparrow shall never fall, but that it shall not take place without Him.


"Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul." God would take care of His weakest children by urging them to prize the soul above the body.


"Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." The theme is God's care of His People, and He would take care of them by urging every one of them to confess Him before the world.


Around this text about the sparrows are the words: "I came not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother.''


"He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is n6t worthy of me.'' The cross of Jesus means all of Calvary and if we would be safe, let us not shrink from bearing with Him His reproach.


"He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." A life of self-sacrifice for the sake of Christ will make a large and better self, and a life of self-seeking will result in a little impoverished self.


Maze Jackson [1922-1996]
And here-- by golly!-- is an archival recording of his radio show.  It's just how I used to hear it-- right down to the good old AM static! :)

"I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds." 
-- JER. 5:5


POETRY BREAK #12: "Dickens In Camp" by Bret Harte

NOTE from Frederick S. Myrtle introduction to the  1922 Deluxe Edition Of This Poem:

"Dickens In Camp" is held by many admirers of Bret Harte to be his masterpiece of verse. The poem is so held for the evident sincerity and depth of feeling it displays as well as for the unusual quality of its poetic expression...

When word of the passing of "The Master," as he reverently styled [Dickens], reached Bret Harte while he was in San Rafael [CA.]. He immediately sent a dispatch across the bay to San Francisco to hold back the forthcoming publication of his "Overland Monthly" for twenty-four hours, and ere that time had elapsed the poetic tribute to which the title was given of "Dickens in Camp" had been composed and sent on its way to magazine headquarters in the Western metropolis. That was in July, 1870...

In the twining of English holly and Western pine upon the great English novelist's grave the poet expresses a happy thought. He calls East and West together in common appreciation of one whose influence was not merely local but worldwide. He invites the old world and the new to kneel together at the altar of sentiment, an appeal to the emotions which never fails to touch a responsive chord in the heart of humanity.


Above the pines the moon was slowly drifting,
The river sang below;
The dim Sierras, far beyond, uplifting
Their minarets of snow.

The roaring camp-fire, with rude humor, painted
The ruddy tints of health
On haggard face and form that drooped and fainted
In the fierce race for wealth;

Till one arose, and from his pack's scant treasure
A hoarded volume drew,
And cards were dropped from hands of listless leisure
To hear the tale anew;

And then, while round them shadows gathered faster,
And as the firelight fell,
He read aloud the book wherein the Master
Had writ of "Little Nell."

Perhaps 'twas boyish fancy,—for the reader
Was youngest of them all,—
But, as he read, from clustering pine and cedar
A silence seemed to fall;

The fir-trees, gathering closer in the shadows,
Listened in every spray,
While the whole camp, with "Nell" on English meadows,
Wandered and lost their way.

And so in mountain solitudes—o'ertaken
As by some spell divine—
Their cares dropped from them like the needles shaken
From out the gusty pine.

Lost is that camp, and wasted all its fire:
And he who wrought that spell?—
Ah, towering pine and stately Kentish spire,
Ye have one tale to tell!

Lost is that camp! but let its fragrant story
Blend with the breath that thrills
With hop-vines' incense all the pensive glory
That fills the Kentish hills.

And on that grave where English oak and holly
And laurel wreaths intwine,
Deem it not all a too presumptuous folly,—
This spray of Western Pine!

 Bret Harte [1836-1902]

The "Master" surrounded by his creations