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JP1000
29 October 2007 @ 10:23 am

Porter Wagoner died last night of lung cancer. He wase was  80 years old. While I was never a major fan, I had grown to enjoy his music quite a bit over the last few years thanks to the RFD Network which re-runs his 1960’s TV program ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’ each Friday night at 7:30. It was on this weekly broadcast that Porter brought the 21 year old Dolly Parton to the world’s attention. If he had done nothing else, that would have ensured his place in history. But as a performer, Porter seemed to have gotten better with age.

 

His last album, entitled Wagonmaster, was produced by Marty Stuart and was released back in June. It’s a fantastic final album which I highly recommend. Marty Stuart did a great job producing it and giving Porter a perfectly framed platform for his talent. There is none of the glitz of modern country on this record.  It’s just straight-out traditional country with fiddles and slide guitar. It has both the bar room, honky tonk songs, as well as the maudlin narrative tunes which Porter was famous for.

 

It’s Porter’s maudlin tracks that I always liked best.

 

And the best of that genre on this album is called ‘Committed to Parkview’. It’s a song written by Johnny Cash that deals with the hopelessness of being institutionalized and the day-to-day life in a hospital. It’s not a subject normally covered in song. Leave it to Johnny to find it worth writing about.

 

On May 19th Porter was honored for his 50 years with the Grand Ole Opry with a show there that featured longtime friends and fellow musicians like Buck Trent, Marty Stuart, and Patty Loveless. The most powerful moment of the program was when Dolly Parton came out to sing the song ‘I Will Always Love You’. She introduced it by saying she wrote the song about Porter Wagoner. I had never heard that before, but it immediately made sense. It speaks volumes not just for the relationship between Dolly and Porter, but also the relationship that Porter obviously wanted that never happened.

 

If I should stay

Well, I would only be in your way

And so I'll go, and yet I know

That I'll think of you each step of my way

And I will always love you

I will always love you

 

Bitter-sweet memories

That's all I have, and all I'm taking with me

Good-bye, oh, please don't cry

'Cause we both know that I'm not

What you need

I will always love you

I will always love you

 

And I hope life, will treat you kind

And I hope that you have all

That you ever dreamed of

Oh, I do wish you joy

And I wish you happiness

But above all this

I wish you love

I love you, I will always love

 

Porter was always a very religious man and sang many, many gospel songs over the years. Whenever someone like that dies I always wonder if they were proved right or wrong in their hour of death.

 

I hope you made it over, Porter.

 
 
 
Current Music: Porter Wagoner - Wagonmaster