Why do they call him ‘the possum’?

On the drive to church with dad in his truck, I had to suffer through the last half of “Grass Roots Gold”, a radio program about country music and the stories and origins of featured musicians.

I say suffer, because the closing “end credits” of the program is banjo music. Jangling banjo music doesn’t get me in the mood for church; it makes me afraid to go on canoe trips in the deep south. I stared out the window, banjo blaring, thinking that all was not well with my soul.

The next program on the radio featured songs that never made it to number one on the charts but were still getting radio play.

Songs like “Louisiana Saturday Night” which also didn’t make me feel like church, what with hearing about all the kin folk and the fun the singer was going to have with his wife when the lights went out.

Then a George Jones song came on.

The radio announcer referred to George Jones as The Possum.

I knew the lyrics.

I began to sing along, trying to be George-y in my intonation.

“…race is onnnn and here comes priiiiide in the baack stretch, heartache is goin’ for the –”

“Oh for crying out loud,” dad said, reaching over and flipping off the radio.

Granted, I don’t have a nice singing voice, but had I known that’s all it would take to get the radio off, I’d have sung along much, much earlier.

There was a short silence.

“Why do they call him ‘the possum’?” I asked dad.

“Maybe he likes to play dead,” he said, as he pulled into the church parking lot.

I laughed all the way from the truck to the church door.

3 responses

  1. Strangely, I've found myself beginning to appreciate Grassroots Gold during the last year or so…never imagined that I would begin to enjoy this type of music, but Montana has really had an effect on me!

    And FWIW: Grassroots Gold is from right here in Great Falls — Jim Lynn and Dave Wilson — Jim is the owner of one of my favorite restaurants here in town, and Dave is something a local institution in local radio.

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