Indertijd werd het eerste gedeelte van dit lange interview met Bill Clifton opgenomen in Nieuwe Pekela. Wellicht was een optreden in de Van Bommelhoeve in Harpel (een paar dagen eerder) daar de aanleiding voor. De opname van ‘Keep on the Sunny Side’, verderop in deze post, komt trouwens van dat optreden. Ondertussen is het interview voortgezet in Winterswijk waar Bill en Tineke destijds een vakantiehuisje hadden. Opnieuw praat Bill Clifton veel over A.P. Carter, maar nu is de aanleiding een andere. Hij begint te spreken over zijn muzieksmaak en vandaar komt hij vanzelf terecht bij de muziek van The Carter Family.
First Carter Family Records
Last time you told us a very moving story about how you found out that A.P. was not dead. Made me choke up a little bit, yeah.
During the last couple of weeks it raised the question with me: why did you want to go and look him up? What made you do that? I can only say that The Carter Family’s music spoke to me in no uncertain terms, better than any other music I’d heard in my life. And I had a little radio, when I was a child even I had a radio, which is common now but it wasn’t when I was a child, but I had one, I’d had the measles and had been in bed for several weeks and my parents bought me a little, back then it was called a tube radio, I mean they didn’t have these modem ones and I could listen to anything that was on the radio. It took me a while to find something I really liked but I listened to big band music. The Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey orchestras, Glenn Miller, what have you, Count Basie. Whoever was on and I also listened to some classical but not very much. I came to classical music much later in life. I love Mozart and Bach but I’m not a great classical music fan. I just like string music.
Do you mean the violins? Yeah, the violins and the violas and the cellos. And the flute, I like the flute very much and the harp. But it has to be not so much drums and orchestrated things for me; it’s really the string quartets that I like best. But that came much later in life. So I was listening mainly to whatever was on the radio. Back then it was the dance bands and the big orchestras. I had a sister named Anne, who was the next sister to me. I was the youngest in the family and she was the next to the youngest of live children, and Anne had found the Wheeling Jamboree, WWVA, on her radio and she told me how to find it and I began to the Wheeling Jamboree. But when I was old enough to buy records the people who were on the Jamboree were not people who were recording for big companies and so I couldn’t find records by those people. But when I went into the store, in those days the stores were owned by the record companies. And RCA owned a store in the city of Baltimore, which is the closest big city to where I lived, where I could buy records. And of course there was a Columbia shop and there was a Decca shop and that was it. So you either bought Decca records, Colombia records or RCA records, RCA Victor. Well, the shop that was most convenient shop me was the RCA Victor shop, so I went there and I bought three records. One was by The, I may have mentioned this earlier. And The Carter Family’s ‘Keep on the Sunny Side’ was on Bluebird with ‘When the world’s on fire’ on the other side. And I just, just couldn’t get enough of ‘Keep on the Sunny Side’. I thought it was the most wonderful thing I’d ever heard in my life. Well, whenever I had the money to buy another record I would go and buy another Carter Family record, if I could.
Before that time, you had never heard The Carter Family before that? I had never heard them. No, they were on radio at that time but, I’m talking about 1940, ’41 and ’42, but actually they were off of Del Rio, Texas (the Mexican border station that they were on) and had moved back and the last radio programs that they did were in Charlotte, North Carolina (WBT). Which I could have heard but I didn’t know how to get that radio station and I didn’t know anything about them being on. So, really, it was 194’ties… It was during the Second World War, it was 1942 or ’43 when I first started to buy records and they were off radio by then and I had never heard them on radio. In spite of the fact that I could have heard them on that border station, if I had known…
Had you only known… Had I only known? Yes, exactly. And I did listen to Del Rio after that. I mean, I found it eventually on the radio. But it was after their time. But it was their music that just lifted me; it just made me feel good. I can remember we had a big radio console, as you called them. A floor model radio and record player and it were only 78 records, in the hall, in the main part of the house. That was the only place I could play records.
Dat verhoal van Bill herken ik wel. Toun ik twaalf joar was en ik ook een poar weken zaik was, kreeg ik van mien moe een cassettebandje van Johnny Cash. Vanoaf dat moment was ik verkocht. Heul wat mensen hebben tegen mie zegd: ‘ast doe nait zaik wast west en nait dat cassettebandje van Johnny Cash hast kregen was het heul wat beter mit die oaflopen’. Het was een bandje op het Pickwick label mit Sun opnoamen.
Dei LP-serie van Old Homestead is ain van de mooiste LP-series dei er is mit aal dei radioshows van The Carter Family. Ik heb ze gries droait. Elke zutterdagmiddag op baanke liggen en den ogen dicht doun was het net of je er zelf bie waren. Veural in de haarfst en de winter…
Grappig hé dat dingen uit onze jeugd zo’n blijvende invloed hebben… Ik heb een LP van Johnny Cash met Sun-opnamen. Gesigneerd door zowel Johnny als June. Ik weet nog wel dat één van onze jongens af en toe naar Johnny Cash luisterde. Ik liet ‘um die LP zien. Hij was volledig verbijsterd… En ja, die serie van 4 LP’s op Old Homestead. Ik heb ze ook staan en ook regelmatig beluisterd. Sowieso vind ik de periode dan de ‘border radio’ een interessante periode…