Word came today that Joe Conley, the actor who played Ike Godsey throughout the run of The Waltons, passed away this weekend.
I was a great closet fan of The Waltons. The program was way too square to be cool and therefore I mostly hid my affection for the program while I was in upper elementary and junior high school. But, I loved the program and at some point- likely in my thirties- I rediscovered the program on VHS and allowed myself to embrace the program openly. Three or four years ago, I found the DVD package of the (admittedly uneven and chronologically challenged) series’ movies and went on a tear of memories.
I quite vividly recall the first time I saw the program. My mother, sister, and I were living in a two-bedroom welfare apartment in Edmonton after mom left the farm, taking us with her. We were obviously poor, and I can remember us going down the hallway to another family’s apartment- where they had cable- and watching an early episode of the series. This was likely the winter of 1973. The wholesomeness of the program, its appeal to the entire family, was the attraction for my mother.
I remember crying while watching that program that evening, and not for the last time. I know that whenever I watched the program, tears were not too far away.
I first heard of the band Covered Grass yesterday when Bluegrass Today ran a piece about the group’s new album, Toogaroo. Within that piece, “Good Night John Boy” was mentioned, and that led me to search out the album on eMusic today, and download it. “Good Night John Boy” is not the greatest song I’ve heard this week, but it seemed destined to be this week’s Fervor Coulee Roots Song of the Week because, as I was listening, I mentally noted that the lyricist has chosen to mention two elements of the show I always appreciated- they name dropped Ike Godsey, and inferred that you could count on- every Sunday night- having a good cry while watching the program. It actually ran through my head that this might be the Roots Song of the Week.
When I read later today of Joe Conley’s death, I knew that I needed to post about the song.
I haven’t listened to the entire album, but I am confident I will enjoy it. Covered Grass hails from Germany, and I usually find something appealing within albums that originate from outside the bluegrass mainstream. “Good Night John Boy” refreshes the pleasant memories associated with the Walton clan and the events that occurred on Walton’s Mountain. The picking on the song is bright and lively, and the lead vocals of Corina Aurin suit their fresh interpretation of bluegrass. To his/her credit, the lyricist doesn’t try to cram too much Waltons’ trivia into the song’s verses- rather, the songwriter uses broad strokes to capture images and emotions evoked by the program.
A video of “Good Night John Boy” can be found HERE. The video comes from last year, and the album Toogaroo was released in March.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald