Death Valley Radio

Joel Priddy's 'Pulpatoon Pilgrimage'

Horton Foote on Charles Ives

From Horton Foote's Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood:

"I heard little classical music until I left Wharton. The most complicated piece I remember my mother playing on the piano was Ethelbert Nevin — 'Narcissus.' There was always around us a kind of music, though, certainly hymns and blues and what was called then race music. We could hear this music as we sat on our porch in the evenings.

"The blues and the race music would come to us from the flats, the name given a black section that was home to several barbecue restaurants and a barbershop for blacks on Caney Street.

"It would be joined, sometimes, far in the distance, by the sounds of a small Mexican band playing a Mexican waltz, or a neighborhood child practicing piano.

"The Baptist church was just a block away and these other musical sounds would be joined by their hymns on Wednesdays evenings at prayer meeting time.

"My mother was pianist and later organist for the Methodist church, and at an early age I attended church with her, both morning and evening services. Here I learned to sing and love many of the hymns: 'Blessed Assurance,' 'Jesus Loves Me,' 'In the Sweet By and By,' 'Shall We Gather at the River?'

"Sometimes those sounds would come together all at once: the hymns from the Baptist church, the blues or race music from the flats, the Mexican waltzes, and later my brother John Speed would have the radio tuned to a country-western station and that music would be added to the mix.

"I think that's why the music of Charles Ives has always meant so much to me. The sources he uses to quote in his symphonies and sonatas is often the kind of music I heard all around as I was growing up."

Horton Foote

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"Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood" © 1999-2010 Sunday Rock Corp.
"Pulpatoon Pilgrimage" © 2000-2010 Joel Priddy. / Published by AdHouse Books.
© 1998-2010  Ron Alden / Website Created: 01 May 1998 / Last Updated: 25 July 2003