As a fan though, my reactions are usually opposite of the norm. So, back in the late 1960's when I heard ole Verlon Thompson play at the Lookeba-Sickles (Oklahoma) high school gymnasium, I thought Elvis or Johnny Cash had come to our small town. It was that exciting to me. I confess referral to the late 60's as I can't remember if it was 1968 or 1969? Despite the memory loss of exact dates, as a young six or seven year old kid hearing a live performance for the first time, it made quite an impact. One that evidently floats around in the back of a much older mind with a recall of it being truly a sensational experience. If I had to guess, I'd say it was 1969.
From that moment, It would be about 1979 until my ears would hear the music of Verlon Thompson once again. Between then and then, the only tie to his existence would be that my mom fixed his mom's hair near once a week or so. I just remember that (Darwettia) was Verlon Thompson's mom.
In my opinion, the vocal, writing and guitar pickin' abilities of Verlon Thompson are much overlooked and somewhat under appreciated. This not being the fault or intention of anyone. Just circumstances of that old hometown phenomenon. "Cain't be nobody that good from round here?" We probably should also consider a few generations have come and gone since Verlon moved to Nashville to hone his trade. From there, he has journeyed a great many places to share his authentically fashioned compositions.
Maybe, through this blogUmentary, a chosen few from our younger generations will learn of who he is, where he's from and what he's done. If it influences any talented individuals towards the thought process of a career in the music industry, then that would make the effort worthwhile for sure.
Working as an on-air personality in the late 1970's at a radio station in western Oklahoma, somehow, what I think would be one of Thompson's first recorded efforts showed up in our album bin. I have to admit, that one impacting performance from my younger years influenced me to a point of spinning that album a bit more than others. "Don't Follow A Plow Boy" was one of my favorites and honestly the only cut I can recall. Coming from a family with farming roots, I could easily relate to and enjoy the words he shared with western Oklahoma's traditional country music radio listeners. This at a time when Alabama, Kenny Rogers and many others were preparing to throw country music tradition right out the window as our "elbow hung out and we were rollin' free."
From that moment of spinning that first album in the late 1970's, it would be the early 1990's before I picked up on the trail of Thompson's music again. While moving closer to the big city and enjoying the fruits of cable TV, I just happened to catch a video on the picture tube entitled "She's The One." I can distinctly remember thinking, hey, that's Verlon Thompson!
Between then and now, I've tapped in to the enjoyment of surfing the world wide web and discovering a multitude of songs written and performed by Thompson that can be found floating around in cyberspace. These discovered mostly at a cyberspace station called YouTube. Most have heard of it and it is easy to search and find numerous Thompson performances that, to me, are most pleasurable to listen to and visually enjoy. One of my favorites to date is an original tune Thompson performs with Shawn Camp on the Porch Stage at the 2010 Suwannee Springfest in Live Oak, Florida, entitled "He Left The Road."
For those who've taken the time to view the video performances included with this blogUmentary, I'm confident most will have developed an appreciation for the true talents of Oklahoma's own Verlon Thompson. Doesn't matter if you like the music style or not, no one can deny the depth of pure and natural talent that exists.
Except for a brief commercialized attempt in the early 90's, there's been no synthetic sound effects, no extravagant light systems, no major awards and no major press coverage. Just a solitary man with a creative songwriting mind and six strings that seem to captivate live audiences everywhere he goes. Very similar to the unaccompanied young man I remember performing on that small high school auditorium stage back in 1969. Or, was it 1968?
Before concluding what has been one of the more interesting and fun pieces to research and write, I share one last song discovered to be representative of one of Oklahoma's greatest songsmith talents. "The Ballad Of Stringbean And Estelle" is a most enchanting piece of music written by Thompson, Sam Bush and Guy Clark. It's lyrics capture the story of the murder of well known Nashville, Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw banjo playing star David "Stringbean" Aekman. Aekman and his wife Estelle were murdered by John Brown and his cousin Marvin Brown during a home invasion robbery on November 10, 1973.
Four plus decades following this "atrocious" crime, many are deservedly disturbed that Brown has been set free from his "life without parole" prison sentence. Of course, now we can only wonder if there may be one last challenging verse to be composed for inclusion in "The Ballad Of Stringbean And Estelle?"