Today’s guest post comes from tim
roger millers birthday is today. he’s not around to enjoy it anymore but he left something behind for us to enjoy in his absence.
roger miller was a blip on the screen in the 60’s when his hits , dang me, do wacka doo, king of the road and you can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd were topping the charts. i enjoyed them and thought they were good songs. i gave them more credit than the equivalent guitarzan by ray stevens which sort of appealed to the same demographic.
king of the road upon inspection is a tune that offers a view of another mans shoes that is not really given enough credit for how different it was from everything else out there and if you actually went into the thoughts behind dang me and do wacka doo they show that there was a serious thought behind the semi babble top 40 pop effort of the times.
my first marriage gave me many unique memories two wonderful kids and one mother in law that insisted on knowing exactly what gift to buy for christmas and birthdays before she went out to shopping . i told her album collections were the way to go. dylan, the stones the beatles, roger miller and she chose roger miller. i already had too many dylan albums and most of the beatles so if it comes down to the stones or roger miller , roger miller won.
each album was 8 dollars and 50 was the budget so 6 was the number of roger miller albums I received . I had no idea you could get so much music form 6 albums. in addition to king of the road, do whacka do and dang me there were tunes like husbands and wives and other heartfelt balads he was incredible at writing that never made the radio and….there was an album called big river which was roger millers broadway musical i had no knowledge of at all at that point. it turned out to be a turning point for me and roger.
he spent three years writing big river. unlike all his other efforts he put time and energy into the production and it showed. he even played pap on broadway when john goodman had to leave the broadway production to take the role of dan conner on the tv series roseanne. if you haven’t heard the album recording of the musical do it. it is the best musical ever.
that fistful of roger miller albums caused a backwards biography of roger miller that informed me that while he was a kindred spirit he had a troubled history with many problems starting when his dad died during the depression in the dustbowl era of oklahoma and he and his two brothers were each shipped off to live with a different uncle.
shep wolley was another relative who taught roger to play violin and introduced him to the nashville end of showbusiness where roger got his start writing tunes for ray price and someone else on the grand ol opry and then befriended chet atkins and johnny cash and became part of the nashville scene. along the way he burned through life with ex-wives drug problems bouts with depression and kind of a death wish outlook on his career.
he was given one of those tv show in the 60’s. remember them all, the nat king cole show, ed sullivan, dean martin, red skelton, jimmy dean, judy garland, johnny cash, well they cut rogers out after the first 13 weeks, showing up for work was not a good job description for roger who did best shooting from the hip and writing songs when inspired.
while i am fortunate enough to be able to claim no depression, drugs and relationships had taken their toll and offered their challenges.
sometimes you are attracted to a guy and then find out the creative juices that he oozed were not a celebration of life but a pressure relief valve. if its in there its just gotta come out. when it does how you deal with it determines where it goes from there.
there are lots of roger miller clips out there on you tube. its like looking into steve goodman or john prine or a bag of lays potato chips once you get started its hard to stop. you guys are all fine but i may need to do some serious accessing.
name a creative artist who you would consider a kindred spirit.