Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sometimes You Just Cain't Win

This song has a history and I'll try to keep it short. The first time I heard it was early 1970, when I and my pregnant wife, Joyce, were living in Farmington NM. I had just gotten out of the army and we were pondering our future. I had an offer of an electronics job from National Cash Register but it was in Gallup NM. We were living in a $50 a month rent house on Vine Street, about three blocks north of Main, and right there on Main Street was The Copper Penny, a bar once owned by a good friend of the Tucker family.

So one Friday night I walked down to the Penny and checked out the band. Before I went into the army in March of 1967 I had played in a couple of bars in town. I asked if I could sit in on a couple of numbers and it was fun. I hadn't played in a bar in over three years. At the break the bass player, Max Herrera, came over and spoke the immortal words, "Hey Fenner, wanna play some lead?" Of course I wanted to play some lead.

The job was in Cortez CO, about 70 miles away. Friday and Saturday night, $35 a night. The band was Max, a drummer, me and the front man, Smoky Stover. None of us knew the other, but Smoky knew many old C&W songs that were quite easy to follow. It was an excellent, low-pressure opportunity for me to teach myself some C&W licks.

The job lasted for the rest of the year and I got to know Smoky. He had been a "lawman" most of his life, but loved to sing so he did them both somehow. He even wrote some tunes and one of them was recorded by George Jones.


Smoky and his wife and I would drive up to Cortez every Friday and Saturday and she'd sit next to the bandstand, and Smoky would put on his huge cowboy hat and start singing. On the breaks I'd go out and smoke. It was a great way to spend those nights and $280 a month wasn't bad, either.

Later on, Linda Ronstadt sang the song on an album and my daughter, Naomi, used to sing it around the house when we were living on Gallagher Street in Las Cruces NM. I happen to have a recording we made on the 4th of July when Naomi was a teenager. Maybe 1985? You can tell it's the 4th because on the recording is the sound of a bottle rocket going off in the street outside the house.