Brad Goins Thursday, February 5, 2015 Comments Off on THE LA. ROOTS OF ELVIS’ SUCCESS


The La. Roots Of Elvis’ Success

For some reason, KnowLA, the online encyclopedia of all things Louisiana, was recently promoting a story by Agnes Scott College scholar Tracey E.W. Laird on Elvis Presley’s history with the Louisiana Hayride musical program, which was held live and broadcast on radio and television half a century ago in Shreveport.

Even those who aren’t big fans of Elvis may know he got his start on the Hayride show. Beginning in 1954, Elvis enjoyed a year-and-a-half-long gig with the Hayride. During that time, people at the Hayride tried to figure out what to call the kind of music Elvis had come up with. They finally settled on the term “rockabilly.”

I learned a few things from Laird’s story. Elvis came to the Hayride in the first place because the Grand Ole Opry had refused to give him a gig. Also, I learned that the Hayride died when rockabilly did — though perhaps just by chance. One of the musicians launched by the Hayride was Johnny Horton. He died in a car accident in 1960 — the same year that was the last for the Hayride.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that Johnny Horton played rockabilly; only that rockabilly lost its commercial appeal in the 1960s. Laird claims that to this day, music historians still debate why the Hayride ended when it did.

To learn more, visit and search for “Louisiana Hayride.” You can also find out about any other Louisiana topic you want to research.

As for author Laird, her alma mater, Agnes Scott College, is in Atlanta. (She also has a degree from Loyola.) If anybody knows about popular music, it’s Laird. Her history of Austin City Limits has been published by no less a house than Oxford University Press, the same publisher who’s released her history of Louisiana Hayride.



Street Crime In Scott

Worried about crime? Don’t be. As long as you don’t live in Scott, La., you’re OK.

It may be true that Scott has a population of only 8,000. But the criminals there are tough.

Consider this crime report; the Jan. 8 headline from KLFY News 10 read, “‘Cowgirl Lane’ stolen!”

When I read that, I thought that possibly, just possibly, someone had stolen an entire road. While that wouldn’t be the most violent crime I’d ever heard of, I felt sure it would have been some mighty damn industrious criminals who could pull it off.

But it turned out that — in spite of the headline — it wasn’t a road that was stolen; it was a road sign. Here’s the whole story exactly as it was reported:

“The Scott Police Department is investigating the theft of a private driveway street sign, reading ‘Cowgirl Lane.’ It happened at about 11:12 PM on Dec. 27 in the 300 block of Le Violon Road. A dark colored newer model truck, possibly a Ford F150 extended cab, can be seen by the victim’s surveillance video stopping on the roadway. A white male passenger, wearing a tan colored jacket, exits the vehicle and shakes the sign until it comes loose from the post. Please contact Detective C——- L—-.”

Let me read between the lines here.

First point: this dreadful deed took place at around 11:12. That means it didn’t take place at around 11:11. Nor did it take place around 11:13. It took place around 11:12.

Then there’s the camera that took the photo of the perpetrator’s truck. The photo was taken by “the victim’s surveillance video.” Let me repeat that: “the victim’s surveillance video.”

Given the text I have to work with, logic compels me to conclude that the victim is either the street (that is, Cowgirl Lane) or the street sign. Based on the limited data I have, I’m strongly inclined to assume that the victim is the street sign.

This, then, was no victimless crime. It was a first in the annals of crime. It was the first time that the victim of a crime was made of metal. If a journalist in Scott should manage to obtain a statement from the street sign in which it claims that it feels it has been victimized, I am convinced new journalistic ground will have been broken. Perhaps we can erect a replacement street sign in the newly broken ground.

If you find yourself at a house party in the Lafayette area and you see a Cowgirl Lane sign on a wall, do me a favor and call the Scott police. The people of Scott need closure on this case. They need to find the sign; start the healing process; and start finding ways to come together again as a community.

I put myself in their shoes. I know that if someone stole my street’s sign — assuming that it has one — I’d find it a real challenge to keep putting one foot in front of another. Especially if I were trying to locate my street.



New Higher Ed Policy Lasts One Semester

A while back, the Up Fronter expressed his astonishment when Gov. Bobby Jindal announced that he wasn’t going to cut Louisiana higher ed anymore. I mean, how can a guy drop his favorite hobby just like that?

If I were smarter than I am, I would have known that Jindal’s change of heart would be short-lived. The Daily Advocate recently reported that one [anonymous] person working on the 2015 state budget said that Louisianans should expect $300 million in cuts to the state’s universities this session. Kristy Nichols — Jindal’s budget supervisor — later told the Advocate that figure should be bumped up to $400 million.

Boys, we’re back in the education-cuttin’ business! The Advocate — naively, I think — bought Jindal’s claim that low oil prices were the cause of the cuts to higher education in Louisiana.

Others have different opinions. The Louisiana Budget Project wrote, “the current-year budget is propped up with nearly $1 billion in one-time revenues that won’t be available in 2015-16 — and that’s the real reason why cuts are coming.”

I think a deep-rooted disdain for higher ed is probably another reason. Who can resist a politician who loves an easy target?


For Those Who Want To Hear The News

If you know someone who can’t see or who has serious difficulties with sight, keep in mind that WRBH 88.3 in New Orleans is the only FM radio station for the visually impaired in the country. It’s one of only three FM reading services on the planet.

WRBH offers 24 hours of programming, 365 days a year.

The station’s revamped web site,, streams live broadcasts worldwide. The site uses screen-reading programs preferred by the blind and visually impaired; these programs can quickly scan the site’s pages to find the information that’s important to the user.

Material read on WRBH includes The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, other weekly and monthly magazines, short stories, and both fiction and non-fiction books, including current best sellers. For a schedule, visit the programming or “News and Events” sections of the site.

WRBH is a tax-deductible nonprofit entity that relies on donations and grants.




Gut Check

I may have been premature in writing that the pre-Christmas corporate wimp-out about the movie The Interview was a colossal failure of nerve. The day after the terrorist massacre at the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the Washington Post editorial staff did a big gut check and passed with flying colors.

The Post chose to run the cartoon on account of which 12 people were murdered. It appeared on the editorial page of the Jan. 8 issue exactly as it had previously run in Charlie Hebdo.

I know the decision must have created a high level of stress in the editorial board staff. I hope it will be some consolation to them to consider that their distress is part of an extremely courageous act undertaken to preserve freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The Post headline — an obvious reference to the staff of Charlie Hebdo — read “The defenders of freedom.”

On the same day, the New York Times featured an editorial by U.S. philosopher Jason Stanley, who’d been scheduled to give a speech in Paris on the day of the massacre. Running late to begin with, he found his way blocked by the massive police presence in downtown Paris.

In his piece, Stanley called Charlie Hebdo “a satirical newspaper famed for ridiculing authority in all its incarnations.” He also wrote this: “Satire is the ultimate method by which reason can address power. With the use of satire, even those without control of resources can, with merely the use of a pen, bring figures of authority down to earth.”

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