Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: XM radio's country oldies channel is my favorite because they play a high percentage of the music of the past. Broadcast stations just never play anything that makes me say “Wow, I haven't heard that one in years!”

Among their selections is Lefty Frizzell's “Long Black Veil,” which essentially tells the story of a man tried and hung for a murder he didn't commit.

Since his alibi required admitting he was horsing around with his best friend's wife, he chose instead to remain silent and take the rap.

This is one of three similar songs very popular at the same time, in the late '50s and early '60s.

Another one is “El Paso,” but it is the third one I hope you can identify.

In that tune, which I never hear anymore, the killer is still running from the posse.

Since he was last seen running into the jungle, everyone assumed he would be killed by the natives or the wildlife.

Unfortunately for him, he was unaware the case had been ruled self-defense. He was a free man but would never know it.

Is this enough information?
—Ray Firestone, Athens, Ala.

DEAR RAY: More than enough. Now if we can only get word of his exoneration to this poor fellow.

“The Long Black Veil” (Columbia 41384), a hit in the summer of '59, came first. A little over a year later, the Kingston Trio gave us “Everglades” (Capitol 4441), the tune you seek.

For the record, the suspect high-tailed it deep into the Florida Everglades, thus the title.

The “natives” are indeed mentioned, but not as a danger to him. Only that they had “seen him running through the Everglades.”

After missing for a few years, we learn “his girl had wed and his family gave him up for dead.”

Though the consensus is “If the skeeters don't get him then the gators will,” the story ends with him still “running like a dog through the Everglades, slipping like a frog through the slimy fog.”

DEAR JERRY: In the 1970s, one of the most popular TV shows was “Kung Fu,” starring David Carridine.

Often described as the first and only philosophical western, it quickly developed a huge cult following.

At the time, Warner Bros issued a soundtrack album (BS-2726), that includes snippets of some of the lessons taught at the Shaolin Temple in China.

Among them is one sentence by David Carridine's character, Kwai Chang Caine, about questions and answers.

I remember hearing all of the other spoken parts on the LP in the TV series, but other than the record I never heard Caine talk about this.

I have all the episodes on VHS tapes, but perhaps I just missed it. Any way you can dig into this mystery for me?
—Duane Neilsen, Chicago

DEAR GRASSHOPPER: At first I thought the only way to know would be to watch every one of the 63 episodes, but it seems you have already done that.

Then I discovered a recorded interview with David Carridine in which he reminisces about many “Kung Fu” topics — including the making of the soundtrack LP.

Here is the segment where David answers your question about questions and answers:

“As for the line I put into the long-playing record of the score:

“[In addition to the instrumental music] they put in little bits and pieces of the dialogue. They asked me say something, or to quote my favorite line in the show. So I said:

“We seek not to know the answers … but to understand the questions.”

“Well, that line became constantly quoted, but the truth is it was never used in the show. It's just the way I felt about it. I never actually said that at any time in the series, just on the LP record.

“I do think that was what the series was all about; trying to define some of the questions that we have.”

IZ ZAT SO? The first folk music album to reach No. 1 is the self-titled “The Kingston Trio,” issued in late 1958.

The second (1959: “The Kingston Trio at Large”), third (1959: “Here We Go Again!”), fourth (1960: “Sold Out”), and fifth (1960: “String Along”) chart-topping folk LPs are all by the Kingston Trio.

During this amazing two-year run, the Trio's only LP that did not hit No. 1 is “From the Hungry i.” That one peaked at No. 2.

No act is more responsible for introducing folk music to mainstream music buyers.

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