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Music On Location

Apr 30

In Stories at 2:13am

I like all sorts of music, having grown up in the sixties and seventies. My musical whims are all over the lot, which is probably why Drew and Cali never allow me to plug in my playlists on location.

News came this week that George Jones died. I never photographed him, and only know a few songs of his, but there was a beautiful, suffering quality to his voice. Anybody desperate enough to drive a lawnmower eight miles to town just to get a drink has got something to sing about, for sure.

I did photograph one of the women of his tumultuous life, Tammy Wynette, down at her home, First Lady Acres, in Nashville. Like George, her life was a roller coaster of love, loss, and the lyrics that sprang from it. We only spent a day, but even in that day, I picked up on a wistfulness, a certain ambient pain that lingered around her.

She of course famously wrote, “Stand by Your Man,” of which she once said, “I spent fifteen minutes writing it, and a lifetime explaining it.”

The great thing about being a photog is that you meet people like Tammy. I was working for People Magazine, and one of the smartest, most wonderfully down to earth editors ever, MC Marden. MC was a fan, so I brought Tammy’s Stand by Your Man album with me, and had her sign it to MC, with the alteration: “MC—Stand by Your Magazine.” I believe MC still has it on her wall.

I also made a location snap that still makes me smile, of myself and Tammy reflected in her vanity mirror. I remember saying to her that right then I was the envy of a lot of men, getting a picture made with her. Ever the lady of the house, she smiled knowingly, and fluttered her eyes at me. She knew it was a photo shoot, and she was being flattered, but she liked it, nonetheless.

Music intertwines readily, emotionally with life, and the lives of the musicians who play it. Music sees you through, and it opens your heart. Strains of certain songs are evocative of time and place. Others are a warp speed return to a specific event or memory.

This is certainly true of country music, which I don’t claim to be all that knowledgeable about, but certainly listen to. My life is richer because Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris picked up a guitar and stepped to a microphone. And I do remember that day with Tammy Wynette.

More tk…




John Fowler says:

on April 30, 2013 at 4:07 am

As always, Joe, great memories well related. Being a photog IS great.

Mike says:

on April 30, 2013 at 4:29 am

Your flash is “on” your camera? What’s up with that? LOL
Great post.

Huy Tang says:

on April 30, 2013 at 6:20 am

Took me a few seconds to register that that was you in the last picture.

Jeff Remas says:

on April 30, 2013 at 7:37 am

Nice blog post, very touching and insightful. Now all I want to know is: Who is that young, thin guy in the bottom photo with the 70’s porn mustache?

Mark says:

on April 30, 2013 at 8:21 am


Bob says:

on April 30, 2013 at 9:04 am

thanks for the words & music…

Linda Kane Brinckerhoff says:

on April 30, 2013 at 9:56 am

Lovely piece.
Our lives are richer because YOU picked up a camera one day and learned to tell a good story.

P.S. Also glad you shaved off the mustache.

Amy says:

on April 30, 2013 at 11:30 am

Love the photo..I had the 8 track tape of Tammy Wynette singing this song….I know I know, totally dates me…!!

Ashley says:

on April 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Love these – beautiful lady :)

Libby says:

on April 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Joe you look like some strange parallel universe version if Jimmy Olson 😉

Nice story, I was sad to hear that George had passed. One of the greats, and Tammy too.

london wedding photos says:

on April 30, 2013 at 6:28 pm

superb images.. again…

Rodger says:

on April 30, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Joe I read a lot of photo blogs and I always look forward to yours because you don’t just write about photography, you write about life.

Tom Hohl says:

on May 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Great post. Funnier picture of you “back in the day” LOL

jk says:

on May 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Nice shot and story :-). I remember you saying “on camera flash is a disaster”.

Great taste of music! Im totally with you!

Andor says:

on May 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Awesome post again – how true about the power of songs!
…and just can’t stop smiling on that great shot with you and Tammy in the mirror :-)

Lehane says:

on May 7, 2013 at 6:30 pm

What was that thing on your lip?!? 😉

stephen says:

on May 25, 2013 at 1:43 am

dat ‘stache!

Grippi says:

on May 31, 2013 at 11:24 am

That mustache though… definitely needs a comeback.

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