30 November 2005

Instead of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my daughters, I took them to see “Walk the Line.” (We’d met Tommy Cash and visited Johnny & June’s empty house on Old Hickory Lake when we were last in Nashville.) I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, especially the music. Truly impressive acting and singing. As soon as we got home, I pulled out my well-worn Folsom Prison album and played it for the first time in years. I didn’t expect Faron to be in the movie, so I was thrilled to hear his voice singing a song. The similarity that struck me (although I’ll bet Faron and Johnny never discussed it) was that they both had cold unloving fathers who apparently preferred the son who died to the younger son who lived. Harlan Young and Ray Cash later attended the shows those younger sons headlined–I wonder if they ever expressed their pride.

FARON FORTY-FOUR YEARS AGO: A history-making concert took place November 29, 1961, at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Although Opry artists had performed onstage before, this was the first time an entire package show appeared there. Eight of the forty performers rated star billing: Faron, Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones, fiddler Tommy Jackson, and headliner Jim Reeves. The show was a fundraiser for the Musicians’ Aid Society of New York, which supported needy classical musicians. Faron and the Deputies and most of the performers flew to New York City in a chartered TWA aircraft with “Grand Ole Opry” painted on the side. The Deputies were Darrell McCall, Ben Keith, Odell Martin, and Roger Miller. Ben Keith told me, “I’d heard of Carnegie Hall ever since I was little, and never expected to play there. It was a beautiful place, and the acoustics were just perfect. I remember they had microphones suspended out, at a 45-degree angle, way out, like forty feet. The acoustics were so great you almost didn’t need a mike to sing on.”

INTERVIEW: I wanted to interview Angie Dickinson about being in Faron’s first movie, “Hidden Guns.” I sent several faxes to her agent, without response. After watching her A&E biography on TV in 2000, I sent another follow-up fax–even though the show said she turns down interviews about the men she’s known, because she doesn’t kiss and tell. One night I came home from work and heard a soft sexy voice on my recorder: “I’m calling for Diane Diekman. This is Angie Dickinson. Please don’t faint.” She apologized for taking so long to call me, and said she was going out of town for a movie and would call when she got back. She gave me her home phone number and told me to call if I didn’t hear from her. So I waited a month, called, and she answered the telephone. “Hidden Guns” was her first movie also, in her first year of show business, and in 1955 she still worked a second job. She was tickled to get the part in a movie with a country-western singing star, but was so nervous and excited about her new career that she was most excited about just having a job. She remembered Faron being very nice looking and with good Southern manners. “He was very quiet, very shy, very respectful,” she said, “that typical Elvis Presley good manners conduct.”

Debra in the Cornwall area of the United Kingdom would like to correspond with other Faron fans. She says, “I’m such a big fan of Faron and I love talking about my hero.” Her e-mail address is debra_from_uk@yahoo.com.

Jean and Alan Earle in Great Britain were good friends of Faron. Jean has been helpful in putting me in touch with British music business people. Her latest note says, “Hello Diane, thank you for all of the newsletters that you have kindly sent to us. We have found them most interesting. I have sent them all onto folk that I thought would also enjoy reading them. Have you had any good news, re printing of your book?”

Answer: The university press is ready to send the manuscript out for peer review. It will be the end of February before I get an answer from that company about a contract. Publishing is a long, slow process!

WEB SITE: For those who want Faron’s discography, there’s an excellent list–as well as copies of the album covers–for Faron and many other singers at http://www.luma-electronic.cz/lp/elpe.htm. (You might have to copy the address into your browser to get it to work.)

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