Shake Hands With
April 5, 2006
I just had one of those moments that makes a father swell with pride while getting a little misty, when you realize your son is a “chip off the old block.” We were/are watching the NCAA playoffs, and they played that Applebee’s commercial with the two acoustic guitar players wading in the surf, praising the seafood menu selections of said dining establishment to the tune of “Gilligan’s Island.”. The hecret turned to me and said “those guys are just ripping off Tenacious D and Marty Robbins.” I somehow managed to swallow the lump in my throat, and eek out the words “why yes son, they certainly are.”
I’m sure most of you don’t need the 411 on the unparalleled excellence of Tenacious D, and how that commercial IS indeed a rip on their approach and style, but the Marty Robbins factor was HUGE in the hecret’s analysis.
The fact is that for almost 10 years, he hadn’t been repeatedly exposed to the “Gilligan’s Island” theme as I had been religiously at 4 and 4:30pm after school every day. In fact, he had probably heard the GI theme only a few times in his life, and in retrospect, it does sound suspiciously like Sherwood Schwartz might have indeed procured the services of a certain country balladeer with the initials “MR” to spin the yarn of the ill-fated SS Minnow.
Over nearly a decade of road trips and running various errands securely fastened in the back seat, my son has been repeatedly exposed to the intricately spun
gunfighter and cowboy storytelling of Marty Robbins. MR is to country music what Sergio Leone was to the western movie genre...a rare breed of inspired genius able to capture lightning in a bottle with a unique style and flair all their own. Everyone knows the song “El Paso,” but I highly recommend purchasing or downloading songs from the above link. It will certainly enrich your life, and most likely put hair on your chest while you experience a mysterious desire to roll your own cigarette…
non-smokers are not excluded from this phenomenon. Marty weaves a melancholy, dusty tapestry unparalleled by any other of the type, save perhaps the likes of Red Sovine’s “Phantom 309” (made famous vicariously by PeeWee Herman’s “Large Marge.”)
Yes, had Marty had HIS way, on that doomed boat ride, the Skipper would have begun to feel a thing for Mary Ann deep in his heart, but that weasel of a Professor was cutting in on his deal. In his tortured mind, Old Skip would have been compelled to brandish a six-gun that like lightning flashed, and before the Prof had cleared leather, he would lie across the mast of the Minnow growing cold with the sting of hot lead in his chest, with his last breath confessing that a woman’s love is wasted when she loves a running gun/electronic transistor genius with an unlimited supply of khaki pants. Then, realizing the weight of his actions, Old Skip would have handed his captain’s hat to his first mate, given him a few words of wisdom, and taken a big plunge into the briny deep giving rest to his tortured soul once and for all, freeing himself of his deep rooted homosexual desire to sleep beneath his “little buddy” in a hammock for 7 or 8 seasons on an uncharted desert isle.
No, even though the tune might have rang true, a sitcom theme is no place for the hardcore Old West musical stylings of Marty Robbins. He would have never endorsed the ridiculous premise of seven shipwrecked people living in peaceful monogamy (save perhaps Lovey and Thurston) on a steady diet of pineapple, shortwave radio broadcasts, and the weekly thrill of possible rescue. The island would have been a place where love came with a price, and death came quickly to those not up for the challenge.
Nevertheless, the boy does have a keen ear. In time, he will learn what it is to roll along recklessly like a tumbleweed before a rainstorm, twisting like the Rio Grande across the landscape, only once remembering the touch of a woman.
Then, at the rest stop, we’ll put on some Van Halen after we pee, and sing “Top Jimmy” aloud as we fade into the San Antonio traffic among a sea of SUVs.
West Virginia Surf Report!