f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

March 26, 2006

actin’ naturally: buck owens is still picking and smiling

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:42 pm

I was a Buck Owens fan long before I knew it.   In my sheltered, urban,

Northeast childhood, “Act Naturally” was a Beatles song, released in 

1965, when I was fifteen — the flip side to the most covered song in record

history, “Yesterday— and the anthem, sung along with Ringo Starr, for my

youthful (and not-so-youthful) romantic failures. 


                                                                        record cover ActNaturallyLabel

Act Naturally (J. Russell – V. Morrison)

They’re gonna put me in the movies
they’re gonna make a big star out of me
We’ll make a film about a man that’s sad and lonely
and all I gotta do is act naturally

The biggest star in country music in the 1960s made not the slightest

dent on my psyche.  Not when he achieved 15 #1 hits in a row, nor when

he adopted the red, white and blue guitar, that became his trademark at the

end of that decade, to show his patriotism, while I concentrated on Viet Nam

War protestation.




It took me a few decades to realize that Buck Owens had his first #1

country hit with “Act Naturally” in 1963 (click here to hear Buck and Ringo

sing the tune together).   My ignorance was due in part to city-folk bias

against country music, which also kept me from becoming a fan of the

Hee-Haw tv show, where Buck was a co-host from 1969 to 1986.  (see

Washington Post Buck Owens obituary, March 26, 2006)


                                                                                 BucLogoN crystal palace


I missed out on a lot of fun and good honky-tonk music — even after

I became a big country music fan in the late ’70s (thanks to a few friends

who played in country-rock bands).  Buck went into a voluntary retirement,

just when I would have most appreciated his brand of guitar-driven, pared-

down, strong beat, “American music”. 

Streets of Bakersfield Lyrics
(Homer Joy)

You don’t know me but you don’t like me
You say you care less how I feel
But how many of you that sit and judge me
Have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

BucGlitter owens                                                             


It wasn’t until he recorded “Streets of Bakersfield,” in 1988, with country star

(and actor) Dwight Yokam (on the Buenas Noches ..” album), that I finally

focused on this remarkable man and musician, who seemed to enjoy himself

so much, even when singing about mean streets and broken hearts — and

even though he had to buck the sappy trend in Nashville country music, to create

his own “Bakersfield sound” in blue-collar California.


                                                                                                       DYoakam yoakam


In 2000, newer generations got to hear Buck Owens sing “Act Naturally” again,

on the soundtrack of Denzel Washington’s Remember the Titans (2000).  It

is sadly ironic that it took his death yesterday, to get millions of us to cue up

one of Buck’s albums and enjoy his music today.  Buck Owens deserves to

be remembered far beyond the Country Music community.  He is surely

still doing what comes most naturally to him — plucking that patriotic guitar,

tapping his foot, and smiling.  My foot is tapping, too.  Seventy-six years is

not enough for us, Buck, but thank you for taking us along your journey.


 BucOwensMug  You can find a 27-page, multimedia bio, at Buck’s official



p.s. This site with “Act Naturally” lyrics, has this sad link:   




  1. These are from the CD, Confessions of a Buckaholic:

    Four Quarters Gets me 2 Buck Songs
    Dr BLT
    words and music by Dr BLT (c)2007

    I’ll never forget:

    The Last Time I Saw Buck Owens
    Dr BLT
    words and music by Dr BLT (c)2007

    Comment by Dr BLT — March 9, 2007 @ 2:20 am

  2. Buck Owens, his voice, his music, his attitude toward life, will remain irreplaceable… The resurgence of his music right now is no surprise to me or those who knew him.. It’s just plain heart felt and honest…It may not always be “mainstream”… But it’s so natural and honest, that there will always be a place for it.

    Homer Joy

    Comment by Homer Joy — November 29, 2008 @ 12:27 am

  3. Hello, Homer. Many thanks for gracing this humble weblog and for penning “Streets of Bakersfield” and many other country winners for us to enjoy.

    Comment by David Giacalone — November 29, 2008 @ 12:38 am

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