You could always count on the Statler encores
Published 7:58 pm Friday, August 10, 2018
I only got to see the Statler Brothers in person half a dozen times, mostly at the annual rodeo in the Astrodome. But every time I saw them, I thought one of the best parts of their concerts was when they did an encore. They would sing their last song, then walk across the stage greeting the people for a minute — the lights flashing and the music playing — then they would all come together again and sing one more — one for the road.
I thought of that this week and figured that — since we carried you back last week to the Statlers — it would only be fitting that we do a Statler-like encore this week. They wouldn’t expect anything different. The Statlers didn’t save their encores just for the end. Whenever they would sing “How Great Thou Art” and would crescendo to a brilliant, tip-top-of-the-scale ending, the lights would go out — a long silence — then tenor Jimmy Fortune would start the encore at the riveting chorus, “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee …”
If you were a sinner sitting out in the vast Astrodome it would make you want to walk up front and change your life right then and there. The Statlers were good at many things, but they made an art out the encore.
I guess we did the same with our family these 40-something years. We’ve now gone three generations into being fans of the boys from Virginia. That’d make two encores, instead of one.
In 2010 — 36 years after I first encountered the Statlers’ music — my kids Rachel and Mal bought me a collection of 60 of the Statlers’ greatest hits for Fathers’ Day. That was quite a gift, but I think the kids’ greatest gift came when I realized that they themselves became Statler Brother fans. Rach even passed the DNA down to my grandkids Connor-man and Pretty Eyes, although it didn’t necessarily come easy. Connor-man was 5-years-old in 2010 when my kids gave me that CD, and Rach thought she should test it out before giving it to me.
When Connor-man first heard the music while they were in the car, he hollered from the back seat:
“Mama, turn that off!”
Fortunately, I wasn’t there to hear such blasphemy, and I was very glad to hear that he came around after listening to a few rounds of “Do You Know you are my Sunshine,” “Susan When She Tried” and “Every Day Will Be Sunday By and By.”
He changed his tune, saying, “That’s OK, Mama, I like that pretty good.”
For the record, he is now back in good standing with his Popman. I even welcomed him to the club the next time we listened to the Statlers’ music together.
“Well,” I said. “Welcome to the Statler Brothers. Your life will never be the same.”
He just grinned, maybe not fully realizing how right I was. Pretty Eyes, fortunately, took the easy road. She is only 9 now, but she has been asking me for years to put on the Statlers whenever we get in the car. Those are the moments in life when you realize that maybe you did raise your kids and grandkids the right way.
This past week Pretty Eyes even had her own little Statler Brother concert in the back seat, using my phone to choose her favorite songs as we drove around town. I noticed that sometimes she’d play the same song twice, such as “Elizabeth,” “Atlanta Blue,” or “I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You.”
I had to smile every time I heard a repeat. I don’t know how she knew, but — somehow — she had figured out something important: When you go to a Statler concert, always expect an encore.