The Song Takes Me Back

Wirecutter posted a set of Tanya Tucker songs, including “Texas”:

My mother had this song on a cassette. Not a Tanya Tucker cassette; instead it was a Reader’s Digest collection of country hits, where two cassettes were packaged into an oversized binder that perhaps some people displayed on their shelves. This collection had a bunch of hits from the 1950s to the 1970s or perhaps the early 1980s–I remember it from 1984, but the Tanya Tucker song is from 1978.

My brother and I, when we shared the guest bedroom of my aunt’s house in St. Charles (before we moved into the basement), we would listen to those cassettes on a simple tape recorder. Not a radio/cassette combination–this was one of the type associated with recording things in an office, and it had an earphone. Not headphones: A single earbud before earbuds were the thing, which was just as well as it was not a stereo tape player–it only had a single speaker. We would lie on the floor in that bedroom, marveling in the cool of the air conditioning (whole house air conditioning, not the window kind we’d been used to).

As you know, this was not long after we might have moved to Texas, and the song mentions Milwaukee (“The beer stays cold in old Milwaukee”), further evidence we cited when we urchins tried to convince our uncle of the superiority of Milwaukee over St. Louis. Which I continue to assert to this day although I moved in the opposite direction when I had the chance.

When I hear the song (not so much watch the video above), I can almost catch the remembered experiential flavor of those afternoons that summer, listening to “Tall Oak Tree” by Dorsey Burnette, “Haunted House” by Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, “Bottle of Wine” by the Fireballs, and “Texas” by Tanya Tucker.

By the time my mother passed away, the binders were long gone, and the cassettes were in little plastic boxes instead. I think I might have let my brother have the cassettes along with most of my sainted mother’s bric-a-brac after she passed away. But I’ll go looking for them now as my weekend project.

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