Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Here at Caffeinated Politics, we do not need to recall Elvis Presley because we never forgot.

The music and magic will never end.

1940’s Music Makes Impact, Dan Thomson Pens Perfectly-Toned Letter

Among the letters to the editors in the Sunday newspapers, the following one hit a note on the Madison isthmus. It allowed for a nice memory to be recalled.

Dan Thomson wrote a letter to the Wisconsin State Journal about how the SiriusXM 40’s station has produced a calm reassurance for the world in which we live.

James and I often listen to 40s Junction in our car as we tool about the city. We have a convertible and so at times, we get a look from a fellow driver who might smile and lift fingers for a snapping action as In The Mood or Pennsylvania 6-5000 fills the air.

I do think Thomson hit the mark when writing of that era “So when they played music, it was to celebrate.”

At night, when in my radio broadcasting days, I aired the Big Band Show on WDOR which featured the likes of Eddie Condon, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, and Cliff Edwards.  The music was spiced and filled with the verve that demands never be stopped from playing out over the airwaves.  I was delighted, therefore, when first encountering SiriusXM about 12 years ago.

I can assure my readers the studio speakers at the radio station were ramped up and the ‘local neighborhood disc jockey’ was bopping about the station as the Dorsey Brothers were spinning on the turntable.  By that time of night, I was working the station solo, and so the music went louder in proportion to the fewer people in the building. A special friend might come to the station about that time and wait until ‘the broadcast day’ was over with the playing of the National Anthem, and we would head out for breakfast at a local diner.  Good memories.

So with that intro…here are the thoughts of Madison’s Dan Thomson.

I got tired of news and contemporary music on the car radio, so on a whim I changed channels to music from the 1940s. It worked for me. That swing beat and those horns make me feel good.

People from the ’40s were super-positive. I caught this in a three-piece sequence the other day. First was, “My Melancholy Baby” — a total misnomer and not melancholy. Second was, “Zippity-do-da, Zippity-day.” The last was “Route 66.” 

But those folks in the 1940s ignored some other social issues. The playlist includes Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole along with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. But you would likely search in vain for Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” about lynchings in the South. 

After surviving the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, and coming together to fight and win World War II, Americans had the “We’re all in this together” attitude. So when they played music, it was to celebrate. We don’t feel anything to celebrate now because we clearly are not in this together.

From COVID to wildfires, to stomping out a return to poverty, we are not all in this together. That’s why I listen to music which is 70 to 80 years old.

Dan Thomson, Madison

Thanks, Dan!

Gregory Humphrey’s Tribute To Bill Anderson Makes Top Of Country Legend’s Website

Super pleased to find out tonight that my blog post this weekend on Bill Anderson made top billing on his website.

The country music legend celebrated 60 years on the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night. I wrote how I sang his songs as a boy while using the picnic table as a stage back home. And how my Aunt Evie, who lived next door, smiled about those ‘shows’ decades after the last one was performed.

Over time I have expressed how it felt when this little space on the intent highway has such a moment. Such as when the family of Porter Wagoner commented on my words following his passing, or the same type of interaction following the death of famed WSM announcer Grant Turner. In fact, my words about Turner are linked at the Tennessee Radio Hall Of Fame.

Tonight, I can say the picture below from Bill Anderson’s website tickles me completely and means more than money. After all, this has been a six-decade journey with smiles and memories still being made.

Bill Anderson Celebrates 60 Years On The Grand Ole Opry

It is not all politics here at Caffeinated Politics. This blog has always been home to the wide array of interests that make life delightful. From books, space, radio, and yes, the Grand Ole Opry. As such, it is time to post about Bill Anderson’s 60th anniversary this weekend at the Grand Ole Opry.

The Grand Ole Opry starts at 7 PM Central Time on WSM Radio, and don’t forget to catch Opry Live on Circle TV starting at 8PM Central Time.

Grand Ole Opry veteran Bill Anderson performs on the famed circle of wood at the center of the stage in the Grand Ole Opry House on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, in Nashville. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

I am not a fan of contemporary country music.  Too much of it is struggling to be more than just country, while in search of a broader audience.  For me, the classic country sound of many decades ago is where the tire meets the road.  It is one of the musical types I often gravitate to when putting music on the stereo.

As a child, I would impersonate Bill Anderson in the backyard at the family home.   The garden hose would be my microphone, and the picnic table the stage.  Aunt Evie who lived next door smiled about those ‘shows’ decades after the last one was performed. The thing is, as I always told her, I still knew all the words to those old songs.  They are just as fresh in my mind now as when they were played endlessly on my mom’s record player.  The fact is that I have found it easy to sing much like ‘Whispering Bill’ all my life.  In my late 20s and 30s, I had given up the picnic table circuit for karaoke shows, however. But that now, too, is in the rearview mirror.

I have been able to meet and talk with Bill Anderson on several occasions both in Wisconsin and in Nashville.  He is one of the Opry legends who have signed my guitar. And this weekend he gets his night in the limelight at the world famous Grand Ole Opry.

When in the third grade my parents had tickets to see Bill Anderson and his singing partner at the time, Jan Howard, in Waupaca.  As the show date approached I came down with the stomach flu.  My mom said we probably would need to miss the concert.  Somehow, someway the flu was put aside and we all attended.  It was Jan Howard that missed the show that night for being sick!

Many decades from now someone, somewhere will be singing a Bill Anderson song.  His legacy is as much from the words he penned as the performing artist he became.  So on behalf of a grateful nation, Caffeinated Politics wants to congratulate Bill Anderson on 60 years at the World-Famous Grand Ole Opry.

So let’s go back to a time when country music had flavor and spice.  Bill Anderson as a young man in a suit that sparkled, as he sings his standard “Bright Lights And Country Music”.  At the end of each performance at the Grand Ole Opry Anderson leaves the stage with a line from this song.

This weekend will be no different.

Johnny Bush Dies, Still Sings On My MP3 Player

As I concluded the needed tasks this week so to prepare the flower beds, trees, and lawn for the winter season I had my mp3 player pumping music. I own two of them so that one is always charged and ready to accompany me with the tasks ahead. And on each one there are songs by Johnny Bush. From the classic country-side of your blogger and my past radio days comes the sad news of his death.

The singer and songwriter known for his distinctive operatic voice and for writing the top-10 hit “Whiskey River,” died at age 85. His start has one of those perfectly nostalgic feelings as an uncle who hosted a radio program on Houston’s KTHT-AM encouraged Bush and his brother to perform on the air. So many of the classic country music stars had a radio component to their initial start in the business.

In his later years, Bush was asked whether he’d retire after a remarkable career that spanned decades.

“Retire from what? Breathing?” he asked rhetorically. “People only retire from jobs they hate. Performing is not a job-it’s what I do and what I love.”

When it comes to selecting a song that gives a true feel for the range, tone, and feel of Bush’s voice this is the one I feel does it perfectly.

Ryman Auditorium Gets Major News Coverage From CBS Sunday Morning


In late June, theRyman Auditorium – a Nashville landmark for more than 125 years, and one-time home to the Grand Ole Opry – reopened for tours after closing due to COVID-19. CBS Correspondent Mark Strassmann looks at the history of the Ryman, which has hosted not just country musicians but also legends of folk, rock and hip hop; and talks with some of the artists (including Sheryl Crow and Ketch Secor, of Old Crow Medicine Show) who have graced its stage.

Jimmy Capps, Grand Ole Opry Member, Dead At 81

In so many performances at the Grand Ole Opry and on reunion videos, Jimmy Capps was a face that always was welcoming. 


Guitarist Jimmy Capps, a member of the Musicians Hall of Fame who played on such timeless country songs as Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning,” has died at 81. Capps was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry, playing lead guitar in the house band. A rep for the Opry confirmed his death.

Born May 25th, 1939, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Capps began playing guitar when he was 12. In 1958, he auditioned for the Louvin Brothers’ band and was ultimately asked to join the sibling duo by Charlie Louvin. “Thanks to Charlie…I guess I owe my whole career to him,” Capps said in his 2018 autobiography The Man in Black. “That one split-second decision that he made is the reason I am here. That decision made all the difference in my life.”

Capps made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage with the Louvins, performing their murder ballad “Knoxville Girl,” and became an Opry member in 1959. He joined the Opry house band in 1967, playing lead guitar behind the radio show’s guest artists every week up until his death.

Memory Of Saturday Night, WSM, And The Grand Ole Opry!

I am a huge classic country music fan—-mostly music prior to 1970–and love the Grand Ole Opry. I was able to tell the following story, and its meaning to me, nearly 30 years ago on a tour bus as we left Kentucky and headed southwards to Music City. I took the little microphone used by the driver and let my feelings flow.  This story came from my heart then and does so again on this post.

The story goes that a family in West Virginia, which played music at barn dances and weddings almost every Saturday night, finally had a free weekend. So instead of picking up the banjo, lap organ, quill harp, or fiddle instead put some biscuits and fried chicken into a basket and started to walk towards the nearest high hill in their area. With a couple blankets in their arms they made their way to the top of the hill, and while looking down saw friends and neighbors walking up from all points of the compass. They each carried food and blankets, in preparation for a night of fun. When at last all gathered they spread their blankets on the ground, and shared dinner and conversations. As the sun set, one of them who had driven an old truck to the top of the hill removed a radio from the bed of the vehicle and hooked it to the truck battery. The radio was then tuned to WSM out of Nashville, Tennessee, and there under the stars these folks listened, clapped, danced, and sang along to the Grand Ole Opry. If you try you can imagine the scene as the AM signal whistled and crackled in the nighttime air. That same mood is still created these many decades later in homes around the country, and now thanks to the internet, around the world as well though the crackle of the signal is absent.