Opnieuw een stukje van het interview dat we in 2004 deden met Bill Clifton. Deze keer praat Bill voornamelijk over de periode dat A.P. ziek werd en uiteindelijk te overlijden kwam. de periode dat A.P. Carter in het ziekenhuis in Kingsport, Tennessee lag bleek dezelfde periode te zijn dat de voorbereidingen voor het Carter Family Memorial Album (een wat oudere LP van Bill Clifton op Starday) gemaakt werden. Ondanks het feit dat ik best een en ander gelezen heb over The Carter Family zijn dat soort kleine details mij altijd ontschoten… Veel plezier met lezen!
A.P. gets sick
I remember standing around the bed at night, and the bed was in the living room. He had asked if we could do some recording. And so somebody had a recording machine, a tape recorder or a wire recorder or whatever it was, I don’t remember it now. I guess it was a tape recorder around by then and brought it in and put it down. And so Gladys had to come in and sing too. Gladys never really did sing but she would answer his call when he’d say ‘now we need to record here’. And we would start singing songs and he would say: ‘we’ve already done that one’. And I would say: ‘oh, well what one do you want to record?’ hoping that he had something new that I hadn’t heard. But he was just having a recording session but he didn’t want to do all they’d done so I was waiting for him to come up with a song. And he didn’t have one so we would just sing a little bit and keep him company, really. And then he lived another six months after that but at that point Gladys thought he was gonna die because he hadn’t eaten for eight days when I went down there and [he] began to eat again. But did I go through that the last session when we talked, did I? Well, he had been ill for a while and I didn’t know that. I hadn’t been down there for a while and Gladys had phoned me up in where I lived, which was in Warrington, Virginia at the time. It was closer to Washington. I was working for a radio station in Washington DC that was owned by Connie B. Gay. And so I lived about fifty miles from Washington, in Warrington, Virginia. And Gladys called me up on a, I think it was a Wednesday, and said: ‘when do you plan to come down to see Daddy again?’ And I said: ‘Well, Gladys, I was hoping to come on the weekend. Is that all right?’ And she said: ‘I’m not sure daddy will be here on the weekend.’ ‘Are you all going somewhere?’ And she said: ‘No, but he hasn’t had anything to eat for eight days.’ And I said: ‘I’ll come tonight’. And I went down and drove down that night. The next day we talked a lot and he told me that everybody thought that he was going to die. He said: ‘They had the lawyer here writing the will’. He was of an age where he should have written a will but he hadn’t and so he said: ‘everybody thinks I’m going to die’. And I said: ‘You can’t now. It’s too late. I said: ‘Here we are in March and the weather’s turning warm’, and the stage hadn’t been set up for the park yet, ‘got to get up there and get that together, get your bookings lined up for the park’. Well, he didn’t run the park that summer and he didn’t fix the stage either but he did live through the summer. He passed away in November, before his birthday. But he would have been 69; I think it was, if he had lived till his birthday. I have to think that one through. I can never remember if it was 68 or 69. But he was 40 years older than me, exactly, and I have to do my math every time to remember which year he died in but I think he died in ’60, December of ’60 or was it December of ’61? I can never remember.
1960… 1960, yeah. So he would have been 69 had he lived to his birthday.
With these informal recordings, did anybody do anything with them? No, no they were just something we did. I suppose all those tapes were erased and used for something else. I mean, nobody had any money to buy tapes with in those days and I don’t even remember what kind of machine it was. It was probably one of those little machines that played 3¾ inches per second, not 7½. And even at 7½ [they] wouldn’t have been very good but [they would have] been better than 3¾ as far as the sound reproduction. But we didn’t really do anything serious that way, ever. It was just really to make him relax. At the point when he thought that he was going to die, or when everybody else thought that he was going to die, and people were sitting up with him all night, there was always a member of the family there, any hour of the day or night that would be sitting with him so that he wouldn’t be alone. But he wasn’t really strong enough to sing and I was the one picking the songs and he didn’t have any suggestions. And Gladys didn’t either. And it was usually just Gladys and myself. And sometimes one of his brothers would come in. Jim didn’t sing. He’d come in sometimes and Grant would come in. Now Grant used to play the fiddle. I never heard him play the fiddle hut he loved to hear fiddle players.
And whenever I brought a fiddle player through, like Smiley Hobbs one time, I brought Smiley in on the way down to a session, to the session to do The Carter Family album and Smiley sat there and played the fiddle all night, you know. Just sweated up a storm and just played all night and Grant stood there and listened to him but Grant never picked up the fiddle. But he used to, he was a fiddle player at one time, had played the fiddle. But Grant would come over and he would sometimes join in a little bit but not on the fiddle. He’d just know some of the songs, you know. There was really not much…