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Classified Intel: Music and Me – Part One

Gather intel on our agents every Friday. Classified information was gathered on the background of Agent 086, Codename: Dusty.

I recently took a Birkman personality assessment. It revealed a lot of interesting things about me, but one thing it revealed is that music is a necessity to my existence. I was told that it needs to be a significant part of my life.

It’s true. I have always loved music. Classical, country, blues, rock, gospel, soul … I like almost all kinds. Rap … not so much, but I’m not really convinced that rap is music anyhow. Then again, it could be that I find someone spouting obscenities in rhythm (almost) while grabbing their crotch to be beyond my artistic threshold. Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon.

Music has a visceral effect on me. I’ve enjoyed it all my life. I can remember standing up in the front seat of my mother’s car when I was small and singing “Ring of Fire” along with the radio at the top of my lungs. And, I remember her playing George Jones favorites like “Walk Through This World with Me,” “Window Up Above” and “The Race Is On.” We listened to a lot of Ray Price, Merle Haggard and Jim Reeves back then, too. It is really weird to hear a song come on the radio that I know I haven’t heard in at least 40 years, but somehow I can still remember almost every word. Many times, I don’t even know who the artist is.

My first real job was as a disc jockey at my small hometown radio station, KXOX, in Sweetwater, Texas. Back then it was serious business being a disc jockey. I had to go to Dallas and take a Federal Communications Commission exam to get my Third class radio-telephone license to be on the air.

It was the perfect gig for me. We got all of the newest music from promotion companies. I had the sunrise shift on Sundays, so I played gospel and listened to some real hellfire-and-brimstone preachers as well. I also worked a weekday country shift in the late afternoons right before Johnny Rangel came in to do the Spanish (it may be more politically correct to say Latino or Mexican here … not sure) music shift. I liked the Santana-type of Spanish music, but I never liked all the accordion in the traditional Spanish music.

The real fun was that I got to work a few rock shifts at night … when they cut the transmission power to 250 watts. That was probably a good thing. During the day, it was a whopping 1,000 watts. I remember a few interesting and odd evenings at the station when people would wander up to the back door and want to “visit.”

At KXOX. Circa 1974.
At KXOX, circa 1974.

When I was really small, we attended church revivals. My mother would sing and play the piano, and yes, sometimes she would make me sing as well. I didn’t like that so much … I’m not comfortable with crowds.

To be continued …