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Bringing Back the Spirit of Buck Owens: “Living Time” at the Crystal Palace
By Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT
Photo by Dr. BLT
To Phantom Tollbooth Visitors:
(You Dried Our) Crystal Tears
Words adapted from the Bible, Book of Ecclesiastes
Music by Pete Seger
It’s hard to turn on a country music radio station these days without hearing Clint Black’s big hit, Killing Time. But on April 4th, 2006, in Bakersfield, California, it was ‘Living’ Time at the Crystal Palace. With the death of our beloved hometown, honky-tonk hero, Buck Owens, we had just been through dying time, followed by crying time. On April, 4th, 2006, there was a resurrection of sorts at the very place where, days earlier, Buck’s coffin was placed, at the foot of the stage for a public viewing ceremony. Yes, thanks to Clint Black’s “killer” performance, it was ‘Living’ Time at the Crystal Palace. It was an historic momentthe official reopening of the Crystal Palace, after a period in which (with the exception of the wake) it was closed in honor of Buck Owens. On that historic morning, Clint Black breathed life back into the Crystal Palace and lit the darkened corners with his beloved “Blackness.”
The April showers we woke up to that morning mercilessly mimicked the tears we left behind on the Streets of Bakersfield at Buck’s funeral two days prior. The April showers didn’t stop scores of Buck Owens and Clint Black fans from showing up. With a handful of tunes; a few handshakes (my hand being one of the grateful recipients), and a few kind words, Clint Black dried our Crystal tears. He was the silver lining around the black cloud that showered the streets with those Crystal-teardrop-mimicking raindrops.
He was a knight in shining armor--one who wore a black hat and wielded a guitar like a silver sword. He came to save the day.
The last act to perform there was Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. What a tough act, and a tough legacy to follow! Clint masterfully and intimately delivered his handful of tunes at this free, jam-packed 8 am show. To show his respect and the esteem he held for Buck, he also sang one song Buck made famous: Together Again. The significance of the event, both historically and symbolically, could not be overstated. He also took questions, sang Happy Birthday to fans in attendance, spoke fondly of Buck Owens, and responded to questions and comments from the audience. He sang with warmth and grace. The spirit of Buck Owens seemed to inhabit the room, and it was as if Buck were smiling down from the heavens.
Thanks for the inspiration,
Mr. Black. Symbolically and historically, the significance of this
event cannot be overstated. You took the rain away. Your songs
were the May flowers planted, in the midst of April showers. You
left where Buck took off, turned our Crystal tears to triumph, and, as
the dark clouds gently parted, you quietly rode off into the sunset.
We hope you come back real soon!