Mar 18

Soapy songs

This is how it works at dinner time. The Yankee cooks it and I clean up after it. Sometimes the division of labor is fair, sometimes it works to my benefit. Well, it always works to my benefit, because when I wash the dishes and clean the stovetop and the counters I get to turn on a Pandora station. The evening station of choice is anchored on Sam Cooke, which is always the right way to go. And that particular Pandora station is well-managed.

So while the simple meals are best because it involves fewer dishes, a good run of songs means you don’t mind a bit of extra scrubbing.

At any rate, I decided, for some reason to make note of the songs. And that seemed like a good reason to make gifs. So here we are: The Dishwashing Sessions.

That’s a great set, right?

Mar 18

Old dusty books

Back to the books! This part of the site is devoted to my grandfather’s books. I never got to know the man, he died a few months after I was born, but over the years, I’ve been given a few of his things. Including a lot of books.

If you click the link above you’ll see the books already uploaded to the site. Right now we’re checking out a few publications he had when he was a bit older, because almost 60-year-old advertisements are always fun. And so here we have the November 1960 Reader’s Digest:

Click the cover and you’ll get today’s installment, which gives us pages five through eight in our quick flip through this book as I attempt to once again make this a weekly feature. Also, check out the main section and you can see a classic literature book, some great science illustrations, some notes, newspaper clippings from his youth and more.

Slow day around these parts. Spring break for students, most of the faculty and staff have ducked out of town too. So it is quiet and sunny everywhere, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Let’s celebrate with song! I heard Lake Street Dive at lunch today and that meant I stayed in the restaurant for three more minutes to enjoy the tune. Now you can enjoy it too:

The TV group made for a cool photo essay feature in an alumni magazine. I don’t think I’ve shared that here yet, but here they are now.

Nov 17

Two social media stories

I put something fun on Instagram, and something funny on Twitter, today. Check them out here:

I've been listening to these CDs of church signings we used to go to in Alabama. This big city guy recorded them. (And that's how they might see him, because this is a proper country church.) He had decent gear and used it fairly well.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

After a few years of trying, in 2005 he figured out that tiny, little no A/C church. His recording sounds like an amphitheater with a 450-member national choral arrangement in four part harmony. (Mind you, this is my phone recording a CD playback from my car stereo.) Then the guy included just about all of my favorite hymns from the book on his CD. It was worth every, I dunno, $5 he wanted for it. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Track six is I'm Winging My Way Back Home, which has six syllables I sing better than anything else in the 750-plus song catalog.

I can't correctly sing any other part of the song right in this arrangement, but those few notes …

A post shared by Kenny Smith (@kennydsmith) on

And here’s my Twitter tale of the day:

And follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Oct 17

Enjoy some pictures

Back to work today, but we’re kind of dragging after a long weekend. So there’s not a lot going on today, or maybe for much of the week, who knows. So here are some pictures of pictures.

We were out at this hipster restaurant in Louisville on Saturday evening. In the hallway there were several quality prints of old country music acts. Here’s one now:

Merle Haggard knew hard times. He was in and out of jails as a teen and finally a series of prison circumstances convinced him to turn his life around. And then he heard Johnny Cash perform at San Quentin. Haggard returned to music and launched a career that included more than three dozen number one hits. The Working Man passed away just last year.

The restaurant, I’m guessing, was named after him, too.

And here’s Ramona and Grandpa Jones:

They met at WLW, Cincinnati, in the 1940s and were married for 52 years. She was an acclaimed fiddler. He became a legend. They both starred on Hee Haw. Born Ramona Riggins, in Indiana, she remarried after Grandpa died in 1998. She played professionally for more than half a century and passed away in 2015, at 91.

And this is Johnny Cash:

That photo was taken in January 1968, the day he recorded his live record at Folsom Prison. The record was released that May and “At Folsom Prison” was, of course, a huge success and revitalized Cash’s career. It hit number one on the country charts and landed in the top 15 of the national album chart. It climbed to number seven on charts in both Norway and the U.K.

May 17

The Indigo Girls show

We went to a rock ‘n’ roll show tonight:


Which means there’s fuzzy video from a dark room, but the sound is pretty decent. Well, the performance was great; the recording of the sound was not bad. I’ve been listening to the Indigo Girls for more than 20 years now, and so have most of the people in the audience. We’re all aging together, people! Except for the young people. They are somehow not moving at all.

Anyway, this song is almost 30 years old and who knows how many times they have played it over the years, but Amy and Emily still put a lot of energy into it:

I think they’re singing the “time is not on my side” line with a bit more emphasis these days. Who isn’t, though, right?

Look! This song is only 20 years old and I have no idea how that happened!

While you play that, a little story. I don’t sing in front of people really at all. I sing a lot, in private. In public I’ll sing in church and that’s about it. I’d rather stand in front of hundreds or thousands of people and give a speech — hey, I have! — than sing in front of four people. It’s just a shy, privacy, thing.

When The Yankee and I had just started dating we sang this together on a road trip. And I always think about that when I hear that song, that part of the song, when the shy singer was trying to pretend to hit a note. Voice, just like anything else, can be a great vulnerability if you choose to see it that way, but there I was, sharing it out loud, on a supremely sunny springtime day somewhere in south Georgia. I still don’t sing around people. But I sing with her. (She sings Emily’s parts because I can’t.)

Yeah, it is a banjo and a mandolin, and yet the back half of that song is some of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll. It’d be pretty high up on a folk list, too.

Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll shows … The Yankee has seen the Indigo Girls something like nine times over the years and I’m at six, I believe. Chickenman is still crazy good:

You could get into whole essays on who, or what the Chickenman is. This is the Internet, of course people have launched into historical allusions, literary metaphors and references to Springsteen lines and 1960s radio programs and all manner of things. I met a Chickenman once. I’ll never not think it wasn’t The Chickenman.

(Aside: I felt a tiny bit let down that they didn’t do the Mountain Top medley.)

Isn’t it weird how things can become biographical, even if you didn’t consciously intend for that to happen? There was this one 12-mile stretch of road, an almost-home road, where I’d pop this in play it three good times before the drive was over.

Each of the three times I’d sing it differently. All were probably sung poorly, but they had feeling. A loud and noisy and jangly feeling. It makes for a good show.