Political Animal


May 04, 2013 7:56 AM Morning music: Lefty Frizzell

By Kathleen Geier

Today’s morning music clip features the great country singer Lefty Frizzell. Lefty was a huge influence on many, especially Willie Nelson (who turned 80 this week) and the late George Jones.

I remain continually thrilled and delighted that YouTube offers clips like this one — it’s a real Aladdin’s cave of cultural treasures. Pre-internet, the only way you could get to see music performers of the past was if you stumbled upon TV documentaries about music history or a particular performer’s life story. Even then, they’d usually only excerpt part of the song rather than showing the whole thing, and of course usually only the most popular mainstream performers tended to be featured.

But now, YouTube has made it possible for everyone to enjoy films of great performers that in the past, scholars and collectors aside, would never have seen the light of day. I’ve whiled away many happy hours on YouTube seeking videos like this one — not to mention the rare films, TV shows and TV commercials, and other cultural ephemera it offers. YouTube is one of the best things the internets ever invented, as far as I’m concerned.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • c u n d gulag on May 04, 2013 8:59 AM:

    Good Saturday morning, all!

    Yeah, Lefty was great.

    I probably shouldn't admit this, but I listened to, and then watched, Imus for almost two decades.

    Sure, his show had some really stupid moments on occasion - especially that last comment about the women's basketball team from Rutgers, which, the moment I heard the comment in question, I turned the TV off, and vowed that that was one straw too many for this old camel to bear - but for the most part, it was harmless fun, poking fun at self-important people (and, most of all, himself) he wasn't nearly as bad (and racist - imo) as Howard Stern, who I never liked.

    I used to laugh most of the time at, and with, Imus, and cringe a lot of other times, but Imus also had some great interviews with politicians (of both parties), and policy makers.

    And, you can criticize him for a lot, but he was a terrific interviewer - he asked questions no one else in the MSM asked - and he frequently got politicians in trouble. Just ask Alfonse D'Amato, who got in trouble for doing his impression of Judge Ito during the OJ trials, when Imus goaded the fool into it.

    But Imus was the one who kindled an interest in Country music in me.
    He played seminal Country music figures like Lefty, and other guys, like George, and Willie, and Johnny - and women like Patsy, Lynn, Loretta her sister Crystal, and the other great men and women from that era.

    And he turned me on to some modern Country I could tolerate - but, none of it is as good as those greats.

    When I got into R&R as a teenager (when I was young, I loved classical music - my Mom had two solo concerts at Carnegie Hall, doing classical aria's, and I got the highest grades you could get for playing the piano, in NY State's NISMA competitions, at the age of 13), my favorite band was "The Who," and I loved the whole British Invasion.
    And then, the psychodelic music from the 60's.
    And finally, Punk and New Wave.

    But when Imus played these old Country, and the old Rhythm & Blues, songs, I saw where those British boys roots were. And also, you could follow their influence into the psychodelic bands, and the Punkers and New Wavers.

    Sometimes the strangest, and most inappropriate sources, still have something to teach us.

  • buddy66 on May 04, 2013 10:07 AM:

    I once got in a fist fight over Lefty Frizzell. A hillbilly kid in the barracks assailed us every morning with "The Mom And Dad Waltz," I think it was called. One thing led to another after I parodied that whiny self-pitying song. You really got to hate a thing to end up duking it out with a 20-year-old paratrooper.

    But You're right about YouTube.

  • Sean Scallon on May 04, 2013 10:17 AM:

    "Iíve whiled away many happy hours on YouTube seeking videos like this one ó not to mention the rare films, TV shows and TV commercials, and other cultural ephemera it offers."

    You too? Glad we something in common.

  • registeredguest on May 04, 2013 11:22 AM:

    Agree re: youtube. You watch one video and then look at all the suggested videos leads you to find gems you had forgotten about or never knew. I've discovered all kinds of great music that way.

  • emjayay on May 04, 2013 12:00 PM:

  • Jim Bunnell on May 04, 2013 12:53 PM:

    I think Lefty had more influence on Merle Haggard than any of the others. I also think Merle is a greater song writer than any of the others.

  • TomParmenter on May 05, 2013 12:30 PM:

    And to make YouTube even better, there are many free applications through which you can download the songs themselves as MP3s. Since audio professionals sneer at MP3s, there isn't a hint of legal stigma to doing this. I use http://www.youtube-mp3.org but there are others.