Great Americans # 9 Singer Songwriter Steve Young

Steve Young is one of my alltime favorite singer songwriters.

I predict that, long term, this glorious artist will be more famous than his namesake, the great ’49ers quarterback, whom ranks as the 15th greatest quarterback of all time. Others put the football playing Steve Young in the top ten of quarterbacks.

At the moment the footballer is much more famous than the singer, whose birthday is coming up on the 12th of July.

Who wants to help me bridge the current gap in fame between these two men?

For those who know little about the singer, please listen to “My Oklahoma” written by Young’s wife, Terrye Newkirk, aka Cheryl Young.

The lyrics are gloriously free American words about being as one with the place you live in:

“Stars out in the morning
And the still rustle of corn
What a good place to be born

Clouds over the prairie
Till the wind blows them away
At the still start of the day

Hey, my Oklahoma
Are you still awaiting for me
With your gold plain waving free”

In “The Ballad Of William Sycamore” Young makes a song out of a Steven Vincent Benét poem in which the spirit of a man, hit hard by the loss of his sons in American wars at the Alamo and under Custer, finds redemption in reuniting with the land:

"Now I lie in the heart of the fat, black soil, Like the seed of the prairie-thistle; It has washed my bones with honey and oil And picked them clean as a whistle.

And my youth returns, like the rains of Spring, And my sons, like the wild-geese flying; And I lie and hear the meadow-lark sing And have much content in my dying.

Go play with the towns you have built of blocks, The towns where you would have bound me! I sleep in my earth like a tired fox, And my buffalo have found me."

In “Vison of A Child” , a song written for his son, Jubal, Young again finds union between the imagination and the natural world in lyrics like:

“Little Jubal boy
The woods and fields are dark
Except for the light of the moon and stars
So go on ahead
Through the portals of your dreams
Go on escape these earthly bars
And you can sail the silver streams
As you travel through your dreams
As you travel through the night”

A glorious voice.

For me, a great American.

Steve Young.

The singer.

Geoff Fox, 25th May, 2023, Down Under

Being A Woman #1 Tammy Wynette

Tammy Wynette’s mother gave her the wonderful gift of birth on the 5th of May, 1942. Tammy went on to become a legendary country music champion who fought like hell to get mothers more respect and articulate their needs.

Wynette channeled the spirit of Hank Williams away from the interests of men towards the deep concerns of women as mothers.

Her first number one hit was “I Don’t Wanna Play House”

“I don’t wanna play house; I know it can’t be fun.

I’ve watched mommy and daddy
And if that’s the way it’s done
I don’t wanna play house; It makes my mommy cry
‘Cause when she played house
My daddy said good-bye.”

In D-I-V-O-R-C-E she also wrote of the pain of family break-up:

“I spell out all the hurtin’ words
And turn my head when I speak
‘Cause I can’t spell away this hurt
That’s drippin’ down my cheek.”
Another number one hit.

In 1968 she graduated to song writing to co-create perhaps the greatest anthem to monogamous heterosexuality ever written: “Stand By Your Man.” (In the same year, Germaine Greer married for the only time for a few weeks.)

“Stand by your man, give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely.
Stand by your man, and show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can.
Stand by your man.”

God Bless Families. (Life is getting harder.)

And God Bless Tammy Wynette

Geoff Fox, Informal Midwife, 5th May, 2023, Down Under

Great Americans #2 Charley Pride

Charley Pride was a great American.

He was born on this date in 1934.

A poor sharecropper’s son in Mississippi.

A professional ballplayer at 17 years of age.

A veteran.

Country music’s Jackie Robinson.

29 Billboard Country number ones.

70 million records sold.

Country Music Hall Of Famer.

4 Grammy Awards.

He said: “I don’t care what the religion is called; as far as I’m concerned, one God, the God I adhere to, is in charge of all of them.”

And: “There are worse things than being thought a Republican.”

God Bless America.

The land of opportunity.

The land of the free.

Geoff Fox, 18th March, 2023, Down Under