Music on Mondays (9-29-14)—Tie me kangaroo down sport

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My mother died in 2012 at the age of 81. I had only seen her twice since my wise old grandmother adopted me in 1965.

The last time was in the late 1990s at a Mardi Gras party at my sister’s house in Slidell, Louisiana.

We got into a discussion of music, and that’s when she told me that I was a singer at a very young age.

Apparently I liked to lay on the floorboard in the back of the car and sing along with whatever was playing on the radio, or beg mom and dad to play certain records at home so I could sing along.

She could remember the names of only four songs that I loved singing along to, and here they are:

“I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash, 1956

“The Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant, 1956

“Tom Dooley” by The Kingston Trio, 1958

“Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport” by Rolf Harris, 1963

I was only one in 1956, and three in 1958, so those probably are records that mom and dad had at home.

Those last two are pretty gruesome songs for a young boy to be singing….

By 1963, age 8, yeah, I probably was singing everywhere since I was in the school chorus at that time.

I sang in school choruses through twelfth grade, and then joined the Century Singers at Texas A&M University. After college I sang in the Chancel Choirs at whatever church I was attending, as well as community choruses.

When I came to San Diego in 1993, I joined the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego. Since then I also have sang with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (at the time it was the largest Gay Men’s Chorus in the world with over 350 men) and then back with the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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44 thoughts on “Music on Mondays (9-29-14)—Tie me kangaroo down sport

    1. songtothesirens

      My own father was very musically inclined: piano, guitar, banjo flute and sliding trombone. I remember he was always trying to master one or the other part of “Dueling Banjos” which to this day is one of my favorite Bluegrass songs.

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      1. songtothesirens

        I have always like Johnny Cash…..even when I was little. I loved “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Ghostriders.” Still do love Johnny Cash 🙂

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    1. songtothesirens

      I did not hear that song until I was traveling across east Texas boud for Louisiana one Christmas. I had always heard of it; just never heard it. Well, there are two types of radio stations in the east Texas hill country (or so it seems), Evangelical and C&W. So, on that trip across a gloomy Texas, I finally heard “A Boy Named Sue”, and it was hilarious 🙂

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        1. songtothesirens

          I thought it might be indicative of Texas radio, but I didn’t want to make a sweeping generalization. I had my suspicions though 🙂

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      1. mythreemoggies

        I had a work colleague last year discussing with another about whether it was true Boys can have girls names. I interrupted and said “John Wayne the actor is called by another on his birth certificate” and then I played this Johnny Cash song in the office and everyone started laughing 🙂

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        1. songtothesirens

          It is absolutely true…I have known a couple of guys that had girls names. The one that sticks out is an old high school friend whose parents called him Ashley (his middle name which he hated)….Isn’t John Wayne’s real name Leslie or something like that?

          Yep, I had to be in Texas before I ever heard that song….probably the only Johnny Cash song I hadn’t heard……so there I am laughing at the song (I had headphones on), and my Mom and her husband thought I had gone over the edge 🙂

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          1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

            Johnny Cash’s original name was J. R. Cash. Initials were initials for absolutely nothing. However, when he joined the military, they wouldn’t let him use initials as his name even though initials were his name, so he took the name John R. Cash, eventually becoming Johnny Cash.

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            1. songtothesirens

              I never knew that. It is interesting that such an innocuous thing as having initials for your name, and not being allowed to use them essentially allowed him to become one of the all time (in my opinion) great country singers. He could sort of remake himself by deciding on a name.

              I have no idea what I would call myself if given the chance….

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              1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

                I almost changed my name to Bryan Lynn Austin. Ultimately I simply dropped my last name Kirk and took my middle name Ray as my last name. So I have no middle name anymore. Just Russel Ray.

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                1. songtothesirens

                  That works….when my Mom remarried she used her maidename’s first initial as her middle initial, and used her husband’s last name.

                  I am glad you did not change it to Bryan Lynn Austin, though…..Russel Ray works 🙂

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            1. songtothesirens

              That’s right….I had forgotten. I knew it was something really girly like Leslie, etc. I did not, however, know his original last name was Morrison…..interesting the was Old Hollywood and to some extent new Hollywood would have actors change their names, and even appearance to better suit the ideal the studio had in mind.

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  1. Pingback: Music on Mondays (9-29-14)—Tie me kangaroo down sport | Ta hendene til din kjære – se på dem og hold dem hardt Disse hendene skal du følge, leie og lede. Du skal få føle på varmen fra dem og kjenne en inderlig glede. De skal stryke deg og de ska

  2. songtothesirens

    A couple of those songs may have been a bit morbid for such a young child, but what they all had in common was harmony and an infectious rythym. Even, the Johnny Cash song has a great percussion section. Have you ever noticed how many of his songs seem to have the rythym of a train?

    I have always been a little jealous of people who can sing….I sound great in the shower, and when I am driving 🙂 Other times, not so much. I have no sense of melody which is why I gave up the violin. I am much better with the underlying rythym of a song. I should have taken up the drums back when schools still had band and orchestra programs 🙂

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      1. songtothesirens

        “Drum Line” just made me wish all the more that I had taken up drums. I have a great sense of rythym but just no sense of melody. Maybe that is why I was always playing second violin? 🙂

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          1. songtothesirens

            Yep, I am certain the people on the bus here think I am nuts because I am always plugged in and air drumming my way through any song with a good beat. If they think I am crazier than they are, I get left alone….but I really like air-drumming 🙂

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  3. Pingback: This Was Inspired By A “Comment Discussion” About Music And Memory | A Bipolar Journey Through The Rabbit Hole

  4. stregajewellry

    LOL, Russel, these were great old memories. I loved singing along. My friends and I would dress up n movie star clothes and put on “shows”. I remember one of my dad’s favorite sounds was El Paso. These were all great sing-alongs. Such fun.

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