Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It Was a Different Time

I found my way to a YouTube posting of an early Johnny Cash performance. He's singing There You Go on the television show Ranch Party. This is from the mid or late 1950s. Just Johnny, a bassist, and an electric guitar player (the Tennessee Two). It made me realize how different music on TV has become.

Look at Johnny Cash here. He's so darkly slicked-back. He looks rather like Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo. Dig the gold jacket. And he's soooo restrained.

Meanwhile, the bass player, Marshall Grant, is just boppin' and poppin' back there. You can't tell from this still shot, but he's chewing a big 'ol wad of gum; out of time with the tune.

And then, there's Luther Perkins, the guitar payer. He's playing a classic country-style Fender Telecaster. I played a Tele in my youth, and I always focus-in on them when I see one played.

Perkins is playing a very restrained "plunkety-plunk" lead-line throughout the song. This still is from his solo (you know, the part where the guitarist usually grimaces and poses and wrings the poor guitar's neck).

There's not a note out of place in his solo. There's not a lot of flash or fire, either. It's perfect, but it's so under control. There's a moment just at the end of the solo when Cash leans back and, I think, calls a chord change out to Perkins.

This is classic stuff, but it is also remarkably stiff and the players, with the exception of a happy, bouncy Grant, seem oddly uncomfortable.

(Via Mr. Dante Fontana's Visual Guidance LTD)


Nancy Willing said...

This is coooool!!!

Anonymous said...

The Wikipedia entry on Perkins says he always played an Esquire, never a Telecaster.

Matt M. #29 (Oh, Man! My blog and Wikipedia habit is getting out of hand. Soon I'll be as bad as you.)

Mike Mahaffie said...

Good Catch Matt!

Looks like the Esquire was the precursor to the Telecaster (Ain't wikipedia fun?). It has the same basic body shape. I was going mostly by the headstock, though, which is fairly distinctive.

Johi said...

Absolutely awesome entry. Yes, it has changed, and I'd say it was BETTER back then. Music had character!
It's an Esquire, yes.

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