Sunday, February 17, 2013

BIG AL'S JOVIAL JUKEBOX #11: "I Watched It All On My Radio" by Lionel Cartwright, 1990


Albie's note:  I like songs about things we can all relate to... songs that pay an interesting tribute to some formative things in all of our lives.  This one is a great tribute to the late lamented American Transistor Radio [though, of course, it wasn't always American made!] by Country Singer Lionel Cartwright. 

It's surprisingly hard to remind people-- even hardcore country fans-- of Lionel C.  I say "surprisingly," because ol' Lionel actually had a pretty darn good run of chart success in the late '80s and early '90s: twelve charted singles, 2 Top 20's, 3 Top 10's, and 3 Top 5 hits, and one number one country song, "Leap of Faith." 

It may be the fact that Cartwright's music was unbelievably clean and positive-- not a cheatin' or drankin' song among all those singles-- that has blocked him out of country fandom's collective memory [a similar thing seems to have happened to the legacies of Paul Overstreet and Holly Dunn, to name just two others.]

It's a shame because Cartwright was a really great talent.  Proficient on mandolin, guitar, piano and fiddle, he wrote or co-wrote the vast majority of the songs he recorded, and had a fine distinctive singing voice.  Wikipedia says he is now a worship pastor in Nashville and has recently recorded an independent album which he thinks is his best ever.  Good for him!

I always appreciated this song and could relate to every last word of it.  How many of us-- especially those of us with rural backgrounds-- had a transistor radio and listened to it every night under the covers? I know I did.  The only part of this song that does NOT ring true for me is the part about tuning in the Grand Ol' Opry.  I probably would have done that if I could have, but apparently historic Nashville station WSM-- the "Air Castle Of The South"-- had powered down by the time of my 1970s childhood and could not any longer be picked up in as far away as  Arizona.  Bummer.

But other than that it all rings perfectly true! Ball games [especially Dodger games from L.A.'s KNX], late night preachers, CCR and the Byrds, the EBS test,  and the brassy tones of "The Star Spangled Banner"...

Yep... Check, check and double check!  :)

So.... Enjoy this old video-- [complete with Lionel sportin' the early '90s obligatory "mullet"]-- and the lyrics to this great song-- a number 8 country hit from 1990-- co-written with song-writing legend Don Schlitz:


I had a six-transister when I was a kid

Under my pillow, I kept it hid

When the lights went out, and no one could see

Over the airwaves, the world came to me



I'd go through the stations 'til I found a game

I knew how they played by the sounds of their names

The sluggers hit homers, those pitchers threw smoke

And I watched it all on my radio



At the crack of the bat, I knew how far it'd go

And I watched it all on my radio

I watched it all on my radio



When the ball game was over, the wrap-up complete

I'd search through the static 'til I found a beat

The Beatles and Creedence, The Stones and The Byrds

You should have seen all the groups that I heard!



And on Saturday night when the skies were all clear

A station from Nashville sometimes would appear

The steel guitars and soft southern twang

The stars of the Grand Ole Opry would sing



And I had a seat on the very front row

And I watched it all on my radio

I watched it all on my radio



And right about midnight, some Preacher came on

To tell me what's right, to tell me what's wrong

And there was a test at the sound of the beep

"It was only a test" the voice would repeat

And the National Anthem would sing me to sleep



I had a six-transister when I was a kid

Under my pillow, I kept it hid

When the lights went out, and no one could see

Over the airwaves, the world came to me



And I had a seat on the very front row

And I watched it all on my radio

I watched it all on my radio!


Picture at top: An actual Vintage "Six-transistor"

Below:  A lucky kid with a much larger reciever!


PEACE

2 comments:

Oscar said...

Reminds me of the times I had a crystal set. I would do the same thing.

Albie The Good said...

OSCAR: Never had a crystal set, myself... but that was mostly 'cuz I wasn't smart enuff to build one! :)

Thanks for stoppin' by as usual, brother!