The Life Of Jimmy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The death and life of a country singer from different points of view

Submitted: July 30, 2012

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Submitted: July 30, 2012

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The Life of Jimmy by Larrywomack.com

My Brother Jimmy as told by Eddie McFee

Jimmy knew the Good Book so well; he could have been a preacher.  He was kilt when a drunk driver hit him and Ester head-on somewhere near Carrollton Kentucky.  I’m told it was around midnight.  According to the police, he never knew what hit him.  Ester survived but she can hardly ever get out of the wheelchair.  I’ll bet she’s gained a hundred pounds.

They didn’t say if he’d been drinking but I’m sure he had.  I guess they didn’t say because it was the other fellow’s fault.  Jimmy like his liquor more than most, as did Ester.  She was his third wife in five years.  Jimmy liked women almost as much as Jim Beam on the rocks or straight out of the bottle.  He liked to buy them little airplane bottles and hid’em everywhere.

Jimmy had one bad eye from a brawl in a roadhouse just North of Nashville, somewhere near the Kentucky line. 

That night he was kilt; he was coming back from a gig that didn’t happen at a club in Covington Kentucky, which is basically Cincinnati. His steel guitar player didn’t show because he was a substitute for the Opry and got called to fill in.  The club manager fired Jimmy and the other guys on the spot.  He said that Jimmy wasn’t no good without his steel player.  Jimmy was pissed, but he knew he had to calm down.  His doctor had said if he got too upset, his blood pressure might go right through the top of his head.  Ester told me all of this later.

She also said that Jimmy said he’d just drink his pressure down, so they went to a place down the street to see old Jim Beam.

I loved my brother.  He was the only daddy I ever had.  My real daddy, who was a cab driver in Nashville, got hit over the head with a beer bottle when I was six year old.  I seen it.  Mamma, who by today’s standards, was retarded but could read a little.  We took care of her more than she took care of us.  My daddy had been wounded in the Second World War and got a little pension.  That’s basic what we lived on.

Momma loved to go to church.  We’d go every time the doors opened.  I liked the singing.  Jimmy, who was five years older than me, liked the preaching.  Momma got Jimmy a Holy Bible for Christmas once.  He read it cover to cover several times - once without stopping.

Sometimes Jimmy would read from the Bible when he was drunk and he could preach up the Armageddon or so it seemed.  Mamma would run around the room shouting, I’d roll around on the floor and, whichever wife Jimmy had at the time, would holler “Thank You Jesus” just like Jimmy told her to.  He knew that Good Book backwards and forwards.  Jimmy should have been a preacher instead of a roadhouse singer.

After he got that bad eye in that fight, it was hard for him to read the Bible and preach at the same time.  So Jimmy would just wave the Bible, quote the Scripture by heart and keep on preaching.  Amen

If he’d been a preacher, he might not be dead now.  And when he died, he would probably have had both good eyes.

At his funeral, our preacher said that the Lord had found a better purpose for Jimmy in heaven.  I thought,  “I’m glad the Lord is figuring out what to do with Jimmy in heaven and not me.  All he ever did on earth was to drink, chase women and sing sad country songs.” 

There’s already a lot of great country singers in heaven – Roy Acuff, Marty Robbins, Ernest Tubb and the like, so there won’t be any request for Jimmy to sing.  And, I doubt if women chasing goes on up there.  That leaves drinking.  A drinking man in teetotaler Heaven has got to be out of place.  

I’m sure the Lord will come up with something.  He always does.

My Son Jimmy as told by Edna McFee

It was almost thirdy year to the day that my husband died that my oldest son was kilt in a car wreck in Kentucky.  My son’s dying was worst than my husband dying.  Your babies ain’t supposed to die ‘for you do.  It don’t matter how old they was.

Jimmy was a country sanger and a good one.  He never made it to the Opry but he did sang over several radio stations.  He deserved a break but never got it.  Jimmy could put some of these new sangers to shame.  He had a heart and a soul that comes from livin’ a hard life which we did - me, Jimmy and my youngest son Eddie.

My husband was kilt, murdered; by a no count drunk who was trying to steal the little bit of money he’d made driving his cab.  Hit him over the head with a beer bottle.  Claude bled to death on the street right in front of me and Eddie.  It ain’t right for a boy to see his daddy die like that.

If it hadn’t been for the grace of God, the government and a few good neighbors, I don’t know how we would have buried daddy.  At the funeral, the preacher said some real nice things including thanking him for being in the war and helping to beat the Nazis. He was buried in the Veteran’s Cemetery with a gun salute and bugle music.  Proper like.

But that was long ago.  Deep inside, my son Jimmy was a real good person.  Though he did have some demons like us all.His was carousing and whiskey.  He onced got his eye poked out for reasons I don’t know why.

Jimmy was married three times.  All by a justice of the peace, though Jimmy was a Christian boy.I thought and hoped he’d be a preacher, but I think inside he might have loved his music more than he loved Jesus.  I onced gave Jimmy a Bible for Christmas.  He read it four or five times straight through.  Almost had it to memory.  He’d come in from sanging filled with the spirit, get me and Eddie out of bed and we’d have a service.  He would read the Bible and we would hoop and holler, just like in church.  Sometimes it would go on for more than an hour.  I loved those nights.  Filled with the spirit, overtaken with the joy and inspired by the Word.Amen.

Eddie seemed to like them evenings too.  Eddie has taken Jimmy’s death hard.  He’s sometimes so quiet; it’s hard to tell.But a momma can tell.  He and Jimmy didn’t spend much time together but they was brothers.  I don’t think Eddie approved with some of Jimmy’s goin’s  on. 

Eddie works at the plant and lives alone in a roomin’ house.  I wanted him to live at my place but he wanted a place of his own.  Said Jimmy’s in’s and out’s interrupted his sleep.  Even though Jimmy lived with me, I still saw Eddie more often; almost daily.  He’d come and check on me and bring me potato chips and Coca Cola.

Ester, Jimmy’s last wife now lives with me.  She’s had no place to go since the wreck.  They could barely pay their bills before it happened, so I told her she could stay.  I like the company.  Since she’s been in that wheel chair, she’s gotten so big, I can’t help her to the bathroom no more.  Thank the Lord; she can sometimes go by herself.  When it’s to hard for her now, she just calls 911 and they send over an ambulance to help.  Sometimes they take her to the emergency room where she gets pills that make it easier for her to go.

All and all though, life’s been pretty good to me.  I know that believing in the Lord helps.  Some day I’ll be up there with the Lord, Claude and Jimmy and what a great day that will be.  Claude will give me a big bear hug like he used to and Jimmy will look at me with both eyes and sing me a song.  Maybe he’ll even get Chet Atkins to play the guitar. 

Praise the Lord, Halleluiah!

My Late Husband Jimmy as told by Ester Thompson

Jimmy and me met in the Ron Dee Voo Lounge just outside Pembroke Kentucky.  Me and my mamma was waitressing there one night when Jimmy’s band was playing.  I brung him a beer from the manager Gus, whilst they was setting up.  At first Jimmy didn’t pay no attention to me.  He was having an argument with the drummer.  He didn’t even say thank you for the drink.  I few minutes later though he come over and asked if he could trade the beer for a Jim Beam on the rocks.  Gus obliged.I handed it to Jimmy and he chugged it down.

He was handsome but his eyes looked funny.  Jimmy told me later that one of his eyes was made out of glass.  It was easier to tell in daylight.  When the band would take a break, I’d bring Jimmy a Jim Beam on the rocks. 

We didn’t talk much on them breaks but around one o’clock when the band stopped playing, he come over to the bar and said, “Honey, you are the prettiest girl I ever saw.”

I knowed he was lying but it was nice to hear.  He asked if I’d be here tomorrow night.  I said yes and he said don’t make no plans for after the music stops.

I said, “You are being awfully bold.”

He said, “You can always walk away.”

I said, “I don’t plan to.”

That’s how it started and we been together ever since.  Up til’ he died.

Jimmy wasn’t the best husband I’d ever had but he was the sweetest when he wasn’t drinkin.’  Course I also like a drink or two when I’m partying, especially when I was listenin’ to Jimmy sang.  With a voice like that, the Lord will surely put him in the angel choir.  Jimmy always said that if Jesus could sing, he’d sang a country song.

The night he was kilt; we was coming back from Covington Kentucky, which is basically Cincinnati. When Jimmy’s steel player didn’t show the manager fired Jimmy on the spot.  I could see his blood pressure risin’ and suggested we go down the street for a quick one before we hit the road.The other boys headed back to Nashville.

Round Carrollton Kentucky, Jimmy had just past a semi, when an SUV came up on us fast, straight on.  There was no time to thank or do nothing.  Hit us straight on.  Jimmy took the brunt of the hit, so said the patrolman.  I fell out the door onto the road.  The next thing I remember was in the hospital at Louisville.  The said they brung me there in a helicopter but I have no memory of it.

In the hospital they told me Jimmy was dead.  I was so banged up and doped up I couldn’t even cry.  I must have passed out and didn’t come to agin til’ the next morning.  Been in this wheelchair ever since and won’t leave it til I meet my maker.

In some ways Jimmy was the only man I ever truly loved, even though we wasn’t together very long.  I thank Jesus for his mother.  She took me in like I was longtime kin and has been very nice to me.  Nicer than my own mother ever was. 

I know everything happens for a reason, but I’m havin’ trouble figuring this one out.  I guess I’ll know when I get to Heaven.  I hope the first thing that happens when I get there is that Jimmy will say, “Honey, you are the prettiest girl I ever saw.”

And then sang me a country song.

My Life as told by Jimmy McFee

Goddammit, watch where you’re going you big motherfucker.  Them trucks all act like they own I-65 and it’s been getting worst.  It use to take three hours to get to Covington Kentucky and now it’s four, if you’re lucky. It’s them Goddam trucks.

Lefty tried to call me before we left.  I hope he wasn’t trying to get out of comin’ up here.  I didn’t answer the phone because if that’s what the bastard was trying to do, I didn’t want to hear it because there was nothin’ I could do about it at this late date.

If he don’t show, he can kiss my ass.

Ester, pour a little Mr. Beam in my Diet Coke.  It will help to calm me down.

When it’s all said and sung.  I should have been a preacher who can sing, instead of a singer who should’a been a preacher.  More money in preaching and a lot less headaches.  You see a lot more preachers drivin’ nice cars and wearing fine suits than you do country sangers.

My momma and my brother have been none to happy with my life, so far.  I know they would have preferred me preachin’.  But a man has to do, what a man has to do. 

I ain’t had many accomplishments but I’m damn proud of the few I’ve had.  No Goddam Opry, though.  But it ain’t too late.  Sometime they don’t recognize you until you reach fifty.  I’ve got five more years to go and hundred more songs to write to get me there.

Goddam it! Stay in your fuckin’ lane.

I don’t like this club manager up here.  He’s an asshole, watches that clock like a hawk eyein’ a rabbit.  Says breaks are fifteen minute, no more.  I’d like for him to get up and sang as many songs as I do in an hour. 

I think when I get ready to retire, I’ll get me a place.  Run it in favor of the band instead of management. Might buy that place where we met.  The Do Drop Inn or sompthin’. 

Hit me again, Mr. Beam.

Tooly Johnson says it’s my eye that keeps me off the Opry.  He said there ain’t never been a cripple or a one-eyed-man on the Opry.  Been several Negras though.

Sometimes I think if I was to get a middlin’ hit, I’d get off the road.  We’d settle down into one of them new condos on music row and watch the rest of the world go by.  I hate going to gigs, packin’ and unpackin’, runnin’ a band and drivin’ home late at night.  But I shore do like entertainin’ the crowd.  When I get on stage, I’m in my own little world.  Right where Jesus wants me.  Amen.

Seen Hairl Hensley, that guy on WSM and that announces at the Opry, the other day at Sylvan Park.  Went up to him and introduced myself.  He said he knowed who I was and if I had a new record soon to send it to him.  I think when I get back, I’ll take him my old record.  He won’t know the difference.  Maybe he’ll play it on his show.  Wouldn’t that be a kick in the butt.

Goddam truck!

Ester, hit me one more time with Mr. Beam and turn on the radio, I need to hear a country song and get in the mood to face that son-of-a-bitchin’ manager when we get to Covington.


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