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Ain't Got No Cigarettes: Memories of Music Legend Roger Miller
My head | Nita Nupress

Posted on 09/16/2006 5:58:25 PM PDT by Nita Nupress


Ain't Got No Cigarettes: Memories of Music Legend Roger Miller
By Lyle E Style

"It's an endless story about Roger. He was one of the cleverest people I've ever met in my life." (Waylon Jennings)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThis is my own review of Ain't Got No Cigarettes, the first Roger Miller book ever published. My review is based on reading the book (twice) and having several discussions with Lyle E Style, the author. He may stop by later to answer questions (as his schedule allows).

This one is a must-read, folks. And for you radio personalities who lurk, Lyle is very articulate. (YouTube.:-)

Roger Miller's spontaneous wit and creativity were legendary among his friends. Even today, they regard him as the most gifted songwriter/entertainer they've ever known. How do I know this? Because that's exactly what they told me in this book. 

Author Lyle E Style has compiled a remarkable account of a man whom we knew and loved as Roger, but who was also known in Nashville as "The Wild Child." This is no ordinary "biographical" type of book. You'll read it cover to cover, laughing out loud one minute and maybe shedding a tear the next. Go read the reviews on Lyle's website if you need to. . Better yet, go read the reviews and then buy the book. If you like country music, you won't regret this one. If you do, send it to me. I want another one.

Style spent four years tracking down friends and peers of Roger Miller to see what they remembered. As it turned out, they remembered plenty.

The King of The Road Finally Gets His Due

The Legend

Roger Miller himself needs no introduction. I'll do it anyway, though. There's always one in every crowd -- someone who can't remember the 1960s because he spent it with Janis Joplin in Haight-Ashbury, probably watching his hair grow. Also, those of you who weren't alive in the '60s or who lived on planet Venus may need a short background. (If you don't need the 3-paragraph bio, skip it.)

Image Hosted by

Roger Dean Miller (1936-1992) began writing songs at age five when he wrote a verse about his mother while walking to school. At age 11 he taught himself to play fiddle, followed by the guitar, banjo, drums, and piano. By the time Roger died in 1992 of cancer, he had written hundreds of songs. No doubt you remember Roger for those funny songs we all knew and loved such as "Dang Me" and "Chug-a-Lug," as well as his signature classic "King of the Road." Many people don't know that Roger was the voice of Alan-A-Dale the Rooster in the 1973 movie Robin Hood. He also wrote and sang several of the movie's songs ("Oo-de-lally", "Not in Nottingham" and "Whistle-Stop"). He was a regular on Johnny Carson and other TV shows. In 1985 this multi-faceted artist blazed new trails by writing the musical score for Big River, a Broadway play that swept the Tony Awards that year.

Roger Miller's remarkable songwriting skills and vocal chords earned him a total of 11 Grammys in the mid-1960s, a record that remained unbeaten until Michael Jackson and Thriller.  His rise to Nashville stardom actually began in the late '50s when other singers began covering his songs (Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, George Jones, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jim Reeves, Faron Young). In 1964 he released two songs ("Dang Me" and "Chug-a-Lug") on Smash Records that became overnight hits. Those two songs were unlike anything Nashville had ever seen. They also helped him walk away with Grammy awards in all five of his nominations, including that of Best New Country & Western Artist. Miller wasn't competing against slouches, either. Roger's unique style beat out such notables as Buck Owens, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Bobby Bare, Hank Williams, Jr., Sonny James, Dottie West, Bill Anderson, and Connie Smith.

By 1965 the British Invasion was in full swing, starting with the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. When Beatle-mania began sweeping the country, other British bands followed, such as Hermann's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Moody Blues, and The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton. Meanwhile, Roger Miller had crossed musical genres into pop, giving him another record-breaking year at the Grammy Awards. His song "King of The Road" beat out the Beatles' "Yesterday" in two separate categories. That year, Miller went home with awards in six of his nine nominations. Roger Miller's Grammy domination had been so complete, the rules were changed so it wouldn't happen again. (Source). One of his songs, "Dang Me," is in the Grammy Hall of Fame (More biography: Country Music Hall of Fame and

So, yeah. Roger Miller was big, all right. Plenty big.

The Author

Lyle E Style seems to be a really nice guy from what I can tell. He's a songwriter, singer, and connoisseur of country music, especially that of the "Outlaw" variety. Style had never heard of Roger Miller until one Tuesday night in 1998 when he caught a music-filled tribute on TNN -- ``Roger Miller Remembered.''  Wanting to know more, Style began searching book and music stores but soon realized that detailed information about Roger Miller was not easy to find. Most of Roger's music had not been reissued, despite his discography of over 800 songs. Even harder to believe, no one had written a book. Style decided he couldn't do much about the first problem, the paucity of music, but he was soon crafting plans to remedy the second problem. Within two years Style had landed his first interview: Merle Haggard.

The Storytellers

Unbelievably, Style managed to snag face-time with such notable greats as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Buck Owens, Mel Tillis, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakum, and many, many others too numerous to list. (Full list is on Lyle's website). Some of the names you'll recognize instantly and some are more "behind the scenes," but all of them knew Roger in some capacity. As Style's 4-year journey progressed he was often told, "Oh, don't bother with him. He doesn't do interviews. Hasn't in years." Style asked them anyway, despite the well-meaning advice. And like so many others had done, the reclusive people were eager to talk about their friend and share their Roger-memories with the world. Even if it meant sharing some face-time with this stranger from Winnipeg. 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen I started reading this book it wasn't long before I noticed the same words being used repeatedly during the interviews. "Genius." "Brilliant." "Quick." "Witty." "Clever."  The words and phrases were everywhere. If a genuine respect and admiration for Roger Miller's creative genius was ever in doubt, this book dispels those doubts in a very big way.  Roger seems to be universally liked and admired by his peers in Nashville and beyond, which makes it even more astonishing that Lyle's book is the first one ever written.

"Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Roger Miller were real close friends, all four of us. It's a funny thing that none of us ever bring up Roger when we're together. It's too tender. You know, I don't know of anybody that would say anything bad about Roger. I don't think there is any bad. He was loved by everybody who knew him. I really cared a lot for him and I miss him every day." (Merle Haggard)

"[Roger]... was probably my favorite. He was the most talented singer, the most talented and gifted person of the century. He was exactly what he appears to be. He was sensitive, he was funny, he was highly intelligent, and I don't go a week that I don't think about him." (Mickey Newbury, songwriter)

To be honest, I was halfway expecting to find the obligatory, "Oh-he-was-such-a-fine-fellow" type of praise you often  see when a public figure diess. Instead of the faux praise, I was struck by all the seemingly genuine, heartfelt emotions.  Even if I tried, I couldn't convey the admiration shown in this book for Roger's songwriting talent.

"Roger was hands down the most creative articulator of words that we ever had in Nashville. ... Nobody else ever approached the cleverness with which he could handle a subject." (Ted Harris, songwriter)

The interviews weren't limited to the well-known, "famous" people such as Buck Owens and Roy Clark. Style showed some real insight by tracking down lesser-known country music "insiders," some of whom accompanied Roger on road trips for months at a time. This diversity helped give the book a well-rounded balance. 

One of the interviews was Sheb Wooley, who was Roger's brother-in-law. (You may remember him as a country music singer and the "Pete Nolan" character on Rawhide). Back when Sheb was nineteen and Roger was nine, Sheb would visit the Miller farm while courting Roger's sister (technically his cousin, but that's another story). When Sheb is asked if he and Roger ever sang together, he states: "...we would ride that old horse together, ride out across them prairies, singing them songs. He had a nice voice when he was a little kid. He was on pitch too.  He had a nice sense of humor even back then."

To round out the interviews, Style even talked to Roger's Nashville doctor, Dr. Robert Ossoff, and to Manuel, Roger's clothing designer.  I suppose we could over-analyze here and make an argument that Styles' thoroughness was due to "obsession" and not "insight." People with obsessive traits do tend to write good books because of its arduous nature. We shouldn't make that leap, though. Manuel-the-clothier had a hilarious story to tell and only a thorough person could have found it. About the only people Style didn't track down were the pilots of all those Lear jets. Maybe he's saving that for Part 2.
The Interviewing & Editing

At Styles' insistence, the "Not-so-Famous" storytellers were included alongside the "The Famous." It was Styles' determination to save them that helped guide his choice of publisher. Some of the U.S. publishers wanted to chop the 'lesser-knowns,' who were arguably the people who knew Roger best. When push came to shove, Style seems to have taken notes from one of his heroes, Waylon. In true country music "Outlaw" fashion, Style chose a publisher that would give him more creative control over his work.

For the most part, Style asked the questions that you or I would have asked, which helped keep the reader focused. After asking a question, he would  prudently sit back and give the storytellers free reign. Sometimes they strayed off-topic, but in many ways, that's one of the big positives about the book. We get to hear all the side stories.

Occasionally, one of the storytellers would wander off-topic and you could see Style's "journalistic self-control" meander right out the door with him. But then again, how do you spend a three-day weekend with Waylon Jennings and not ask him about that trademark "Whoop! Whoop!" sound he makes? I think Style has addressed this somewhere else, but I'll say it more bluntly: Would you have told Waylon Arnold Jennings to get "back on topic" when he started telling you about that ongoing feud with Tompall Glaser? And would you have pulled out your "refocusing skills" if record producer Jack Clement -- THE Jack Clement, mind you -- started sharing all his stories about Elvis, Sam Phillips, Sun Studio, Jerry Lee Lewis, RCA, and Chet Atkins? 
This book is also unique because it has minimal clutter. Style has gotten a few emails from unhappy readers who wanted more author commentary. I disagree strongly. Mr. Style did not know Roger Miller. It was not his story to tell. The book probably would have benefited from having an expanded Index in the back to make stories easier to find again, but other than that, I wanted the stories!  If I want an expansive biography, I can find them on Wiki or Answer or at the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

As with all books, white space costs money. It's simple, really. The more verbiage Style wrote about a man he didn't know, the fewer 1st-hand stories I would get to read.


 (1st Person Stories + Author Verbiage)

(a.k.a. hatchet-job)


Total # of really cool Roger-stories
I get to read


The Drugs

Image Hosted by You knew I would get to it eventually. I have to. It was part of who Roger Miller was.

First, this is not a "tell-all" book in any way whatsoever. That's not what Style wanted and it's not what he delivered. But yes, Roger's friend tell us lots of stories about his drug use. Surprisingly, though, many are just as candid about their own. Evidently, rampant pill-popping was an considerable part of the Nashville music scene four decades ago. The quote below is toward the beginning of the book. Whether by design or not, its early placement in the text was an inkling of what may follow.  I don't want to be a spoiler here so I won't give you any more specifics. Go buy the book.

"Now, Lyle, don't go writing a whole bunch of stuff about speed and stuff and say I'm the only one who mentioned it. I don't want to be the only one. We were all doing it, every one of us. Everybody knew it and everybody used it. If you ask the next person you interview, "Did you do speed in the sixties?" Damn right they did! If they say, "No," they're lying. (Don Bowman)

Mr. Bowman, you needn't have worried.

So what about Roger's pill use? Why? A few of his friends talked about the "why" directly but I'll leave that to others to contemplate. If you're going to read this book, it would help to first read about his early childhood. Then when you read Lyle's book, it helps to puts things into perspective. It lets you see exactly what he had to overcome.  I've read the book twice already to digest everything that's in it. As soon as I get a chance I'll be reading it again. (Reading and rereading this book seems to be a common practice. It's that good.)

Roger's early childhood trauma left him with a wound that most of us can only imagine. By age three, he had lost all of his immediate family members to either death or separation: His father, his mother, both of his older brothers, and finally, the familiar surroundings he knew as "home." This type of inner hurt and pain would have made a lesser person curl up and die, at least on the inside, anyway. Roger was resilient, though, even as a 3-year old. Instead of curling up and dying, he learned how to survive.

God Bless you, Roger Miller. You were just something else.


Lyle E. Style has accomplished two things with this book, either one of which could stand alone on its own merits. Style does both.

First, he provides us with a truly heartwarming account, however painful at times, of a legendary musical artist who has largely been forgotten. No doubt, there are other readers here who grew up listening to Roger Miller like I did. Those who go on to read Lyle's book will realize that, while we were listening to (and laughing at) all those funny, "cutesy" songs, many of Roger's musical masterpieces remained unheard. Or even worse, they were left unrecorded. It's as if some of his songs got stuck somewhere between Bakersfield and the dusty bank vaults of Tree Publishing (now Sony/CBS).

The second thing Mr. Style has done is give us an insider's glimpse into early Nashville in its heyday. We hear 1st-person narratives straight from those who lived it. Nashville in Roger Miller's day was a time of camaraderie between singers, songwriters, and even producers. Talent ruled the day, not young executives with lap tops. Grand Ol' Opry performers walked across the alley to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge for a drink between shows. Singers and songwriters met for guitar pulls to bounce songs off one another. Roger and Roy Clark would pull all-night joke marathons to see who would be left standing.  These stories and more are in these interviews.

Many of these storytellers have already passed away, and the graying music legends who remain aren't getting any younger. By gathering these legends all in one spot, Style, a Canadian, has preserved a valuable slice of our Americana history.

Even if you don't like Roger Miller's music or Roger Miller the man, you may find this book interesting for its historical value alone.


"All in all, it's safe to say there will never be another Roger Miller, not even close." (Fred Foster, songwriter)

TOPICS: Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS: bennies; bigriver; billanderson; billmack; billyjoeshaver; bjthomas; blackmollies; bobbybare; bobbybraddock; bobbygoldsboro; bobdylan; bobwills; bookreview; buckowens; captainmidnight; chetatkins; clintblack; countrymusic; cowboyclement; dangme; davidallencoe; dickclark; dietpills; donwilliams; drsnap; dwightyoakum; elvis; franksinatra; genius; georgelindsay; glencampbell; haggard; hankwilliams; hardlivin; harlanhoward; jackclement; jerryreed; jessiecolter; jimmydean; jimmydickens; jimreeves; jimstafford; johnnybush; johnnycash; kingoftheroad; kristofferson; learjets; lindarondstadt; lyleestyle; manuel; marktwainofmusic; martyrobbins; martystuart; meltillis; merle; merlekilgore; mickeygilley; mickeynewbury; minniepearl; nashville; oldyellers; porkybaines; pottymouths; raycharles; rca; richardpryor; roarin; rogermiller; royclark; royorbison; ryman; smothersbrothers; songwriting; speed; statlerbrothers; stevewariner; style; tennessee; thebeatles; thumbscarllile; tobykeith; tompallglaser; tootsies; treepublishing; uppers; vegas; waylon; waylonrules; whoopwhoop; willie
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To: okie01

Hey, I already told my Erick, OK, story last week! Forgot about Lefty, though. Didn't forget Sheb.

*Hey, Mister Purple People Eater, don't eat me!*

It was a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people-eater ...

Oh no, I can't do this one; can't remember all the variations on flying. "Sure looked good to me."

41 posted on 09/16/2006 7:49:47 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Gay State Conservative

... high from the highest tree ...
woman, would you weep for me?
blup, blup, blup ... (guitar sounds)

Well here I sit high, gettin' ideas ...
Ain't nothing but a fool would live like this ...
Out all night and runnin' wild ...
Woman sittin' home with a month-old child.

Dang me! Dang me!
They oughta take a rope and hang me ...
High from the highest tree ...
Woman, would you weep for me?

Just sittin' around drinkin' with the rest of the guys,
Six rounds were bought, and I bought five ...
Spent the groceries and half the rent ...
Lacked 14 dollars of havin' 27 cents ...

Dang me! Dang me!
They oughta take a rope and hang me ...
High from the highest tree ...
Woman, would you weep for me?

Now, they say roses are red and violets are purple,
Sugar is sweet and so is maple surple ...
And I'm the seventh out of seven son ...
My pappy was a pistol, I'm a son of a gun.

Dang me! Dang me!
They oughta take a rope and hang me ...
High from the highest tree ...
Woman, would you weep for me?
Blup, blup, blup, blllblup ...

42 posted on 09/16/2006 7:59:31 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Nita Nupress

Oops, sorry. Already singing along with the tunes in my mind.

I drove my parents completely and totally out of their skulls on a very long road trip back east the summer I was 14, making Daddy run the radio "up and down the dial" to find every instance of "Dang Me" being played - all the way from Oklahoma to Niagara Falls and back. Weeks on end.

Fast forward. In Daddy's later days, one of the first tapes he bought for the car was ... Roger Miller's Greatest Hits. Lol, full circle. (I say "one of" because Miss Patsy Cline's greatest always came first.)

43 posted on 09/16/2006 8:04:38 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66; okie01; Petronski

I'm so very ashamed of you people. You didn't even catch that today, September 16, is the 3rd anniversary of Sheb Wooley passing away. Especially YOU, okie. You should know these things.

POP QUIZ: What day of the week this week did Johnny Cash pass away?

44 posted on 09/16/2006 8:14:44 PM PDT by Nita Nupress
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To: okie01

Even though I've seen the sign numerous times, I always discounted it because I truly thought Lefty was really "for real" from Saginaw, Michigan.

Possibly the son of a Saginaw fisherman, but that part didn't matter.

After my dad got a speeding ticket in the speed trap of Saginaw, Texas (where the big grain elevators were by the RR tracks), while on one of our numerous road trips, that was our song when anywhere near Foat Wuth.

Now, thousands of people live there and the speedway is there ... but back then, it was an empty highway coming in from Oklahoma and those were the biggest "buildings" on the horizon - those grain elevators.

Then we'd smell the stockyards and know we were almost to FW.

45 posted on 09/16/2006 8:14:45 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: okie01

Jim Ed Brown? Of "the Browns," right? The Three Bells. Little Jimmy Brown.

Oh, that song makes me weep ..

"From the village, hidden deep in the valley ... one rainy morning, dark and gray ... a soul winged its way to heaven ... Jimmy Brown had passed away ... bom bom bom bom ...

...and the little congregation .. .. prayed for guidance from above ... lead us not into temptation ... may his soul find the salvation ... of Thy great eternal love."

46 posted on 09/16/2006 8:29:02 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Bush_Democrat

"But you can be happy, if you've a mind to!"

47 posted on 09/16/2006 8:30:03 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: 80 Square Miles

Well, I guess somebody bombed something somewhere and everyone went to another thread to read about it.

*oh, well* I'll finish. My daddy's good friend was dating Dottie not long before she died. They all went to some football games together, but I never met her.

I did meet Lefty's son, David, and Dottie's daughter, Shelley, in Branson once - the year they had such a hit (in our parts) of "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma." Also loved their "Texas State of Mind." Never ran into them again.

There, I think I'm done now. I've "sung" both of those on the forum before.

48 posted on 09/16/2006 8:35:29 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Nita Nupress
September 12, 2003. It was a Friday mornin' comin' down...
49 posted on 09/16/2006 8:38:58 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: Rte66

You can keep talking. I'm listening. :)

50 posted on 09/16/2006 8:39:01 PM PDT by Nita Nupress
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To: Nita Nupress

I loved the man, and his music. His death was a great loss to the music world and his fans.

51 posted on 09/16/2006 8:39:48 PM PDT by ladyinred
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To: Nita Nupress

Thank you for the wonderful book review! You told me I'd hear more about the book, and here it is!

I have no way to get my hands on the book (long story), so I hope someone somewhere will tell me what the fight between Tompall and Waylon was about. If it's something I already knew but forgot, then I'll just ... well, be disappointed, I guess.

I know how hard it was to get Hag to sit down for an interview. I arranged one of the few he ever gave. Had a huge crush on him for a while, too - just a "friend crush" type of thing. He's much nicer than people give him (or he gives himself) credit for.

Sounds like the book is a great read, so maybe it'll magically appear on my doorstep some time or something. I was a big Roger Miller fan and didn't know "the rest of the story" about his life.

Thank you again!

52 posted on 09/16/2006 8:43:06 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66
That would be right -- Jim Ed of The Browns.

I can remember those Saginaw elevators, too. Lived in Foat Wuth back in the early fifties, but went back and forth to Oklahoma a lot on Hwy 81.

After Decatur, the next thing you looked for were those elevators. And that is all there was...

53 posted on 09/16/2006 8:44:19 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: okie01

Abso-bloomin'-lutely the *only* thing along that stretch, with Boss Hawg hidin' behind the filling station.

LOL, remember the "Eighter from Decatur" signs at both ends of town? That was after Bowie and Fruitland - I've even written about those on FR - about Wagonseller's and all the produce stands.

Hwy 81 - think how many business execs in this world have had to make that same trek in someone's limo or nice car, from the evil Halliburton offices in Duncan to DFW (those that didn't fly private).

54 posted on 09/16/2006 8:51:27 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66
"Eighter From Decatur" -- those signs are still there, aren't they?

My trek on 81 was back and forth to northern Oklahoma (Medford, north of Enid) -- all the way on 81. Back in the fifties, it took all friggin' day. You left at dawn and, coming South, the sun usually set around Bowie.

It's been my observation that there is almost incestuous relationship between Hwy 81 and red beer.

Up and down the entire extent of 81 -- from Pembina, ND to Laredo -- 90% of the red beer consumed in the United States is consumed within fifty miles on either side of Hwy 81.

There is "The Bible Belt". And then there is "The Red Beer Suspender"...

55 posted on 09/16/2006 9:14:53 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: okie01

I haven't been thru there in quite a while, but yes, the signs were still there last time. I just tried to find a pic for you in an online search, but no luck - guess that's a "snake eyes" instead of a "square eighter," lol.

Medford, huh? I know the area, but not really well. The mental picture I have is of huge combines, both in the fields and on the highway (always in front of me, lol.)

That means you went through Chickasha, though, which was my dad's hometown. I lived farther east in OK and also in OKC, at various times.

Red beer? I don't know about that. Is it Bloody Mary mix and beer - I don't drink either one, so I've missed that! Sounds like it follows red dirt around, though!

56 posted on 09/16/2006 10:11:09 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Nita Nupress
"Well the moon is high,
and so am I.
The stars are out
and so will I
be pretty soon"
I think I know every song on the greatest hits album.
One died
and a buryin'
Some cried
and six cared for me.
Lord I wanna be free.
57 posted on 09/17/2006 12:58:04 AM PDT by BruceysMom (I'm surrounded by liberals But its ok I'm reloading.)
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To: Clemenza
Great songwriter and performer. "England Swings" is one of my favorites.

From my tired old mem-ry:

En-ga-lund swings like a pendulum do
Bobbies on by-sickles,
Two by two

Westminster abby
the tower of Big Ben
the rosy red cheeks of the little chil-dren...

58 posted on 09/17/2006 3:58:27 AM PDT by backhoe (Just an Old Keyboard Cowboy, Ridin' the Trakball into the Dawn of Information)
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To: Nita Nupress
I really, really need to get Cash's book.

It's extremely interesting. I got it at the library, so I don't have it on the shelf. Like watching a train wreck, sometimes - he was very honest.

59 posted on 09/17/2006 4:34:06 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Actually, I'm in my pajamas now.)
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To: BruceysMom
I think I know every song on the greatest hits album.

I'm with you there. Picked it up 30 years later and STILL knew every word on that album.

60 posted on 09/17/2006 6:41:43 AM PDT by Nita Nupress
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