“D.W.”

D.W.
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

D.W. Washington works for Mike Broussard
Mike was his sergeant in the war
More than forty years they been friends
D.W.’s from Detroit, moved to Vivian

Vivian ain’ got four thousand people there
But it’s big compared to Ida or Belcher
Louisiana Redbud Vivian celebrates
Every March with a parade and pancakes

Big hearts in a small town
Big hearts beatin’ on and on
Town’s bigger when they are around
Smaller when they’re gone

Vivian’s called th’ “Heart of the ArkLaTex”
Just a little town without enough paychecks
Named for a KCS executive’s daughter
Like Mena, Arkansas or DeRidder

Big hearts in a small town …

Mike owns a filling station and auto shop
Mike works on th’ cars, D.W. works the pump
Friday D.W. goes to Bossier, gets drunk
Monday, Mike rolls by and picks him up

© 2017 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

Vivian, Louisiana

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Vivian is a town in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, United States and is home to the Red Bud Festival. The population was 3,671 at the 2010 census, down from 4,031 in 2000.

Vivian is fifty miles from Texarkana, and that was about as close as you could get and still be in Louisiana. Vivian [is] surrounded by the smaller towns of Rodessa, Ida, Oil City, Belcher, Gilliam, and Hosston. Vivian was the ‘urban center’ where citizens from the smaller towns came to shop, go to the movies, join in the excitement of city life as it was. For local residents, Vivian was the hub of the universe. At least it was the ‘Heart of the ArkLaTex,’ as folks down there liked to claim.

Rosalie Broussard (1969- )

Rosalie Broussard was a troubled girl from a very young age.  Her parents worried about her spending long periods secluded in her room and not hearing a sound from behind her door.

They never knew about her intense love of books.  Yes, they knew she liked to read, and would take her to the library as often as she asked.  But they had no clear grasp of the kind of books she liked to read.  For example, she read and re-read Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”  In fact, she kept the book hidden under her bed, never returning it to the library.  She claimed that a boy threw the book out of the bus window while they were on the Red River bridge.  She saved her baby-sitting money and paid the library what they said she owed.

You could say Rosalie was precocious, sexually mature for her age.  She got herself pregnant before she was sixteen and decided to have the baby, a boy, whom she chose to name James (b. 1985) (see song “Jenny or James“).

Rosalie ran away when James was barely one year old, leaving the child to be raised by his grandparents, Mike and Ellen Broussard, but remaining in Louisiana.  She would come home every now and then and spend some time with the boy, but after Rosalie’s marriage to Tully Tate, she went to live in Mobile, Alabama, leaving James behind.

Rosalie and Tully had twin girls a few years later.  Throughout these early years of her marriage, Rosalie would run off from time to time, forcing Tully to find her and bring her back, only to run off again a few weeks later (see song “What Tully’s Done“).

Finally, Tully just gave up on her and let Rosalie go (see song “Rosalie“).

“Jenny or James”

Jenny or James
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

She just turned sixteen ’bout a week ago
Her mind is on the little life and how quick it’ll grow
She hangs out at the mall with a few of her friends
They talk about their problems like chipped nails and split ends

She hasn’t told her parents it’s still easy to hide
But not a day goes by she doesn’t think about what’s inside
She won’t take his money like Robert says she must
And sweep away the little life just like a little dust

Underneath her pillow she’s got a list of names
For a girl she thought of Jenny for boy she likes James
It’ll be all hers like nothin’s ever been
And she loves that now she’ll never be alone again
Alone again

She heads for the Pizza Hut to meet Robert for a talk
She hopes he doesn’t start and say it’s all her fault
He should be headin’ off to Tech and doesn’t want to hang around
Baggin’ groceries at Walmart while his buddies all leave town

He says, “it’s either me or it, you’re gonna have to choose”
She says, “it’s not an ‘it'” and knows then what she’s bound to do
Her mama holds her tight her daddy hangs his head
Two AM she feels a kick and sits bolt upright in her bed

Underneath her pillow she’s got a list of names …

© 1998 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule Music/Warner Music (BMI)

Tullison “Tully” Tate (1967-2013)

Tullison “Tully” Tate (1958-2013, Opelika, Alabama).

Ancestors: Jonathan Tate (1758-1833, Ulster, Ireland) Scots-Irish immigrant to colony of New York.  Joshua Tate (1828-1904, Perry County, Alabama).  Tullison Tate (1852-1924, Perry County, Alabama).  Hazel Tate (1886-1963, Linden, Alabama).  Joseph “Sonny” Tate (1946-2003, Opalika, Alabama).

Tully’s father was country singer Sonny Tate.  Tully married Rosalie Broussard (born Vivian, LA; father, Mike “Sarge” Broussard) who was an unstable woman and runs off repeatedly from the family home.   Initially after his marriage Tully and Rosalie lived in Mobile, Alabama but then they moved with their twin girls to Hosston, Louisiana. There he works at the Springhill pulp paper mill driving a timber truck and reconnects with his boyhood friends the Broussard and Thibodaux families.

Tully is a decent, hard-working, family man but who also likes to drink and party on occasion.  His primary worry in life is his wife, Rosalie, who will disappear from time to time, leaving the twins unsupervised.  For a while, Tully would track her down and bring her back home until, finally, he gives up and let’s her go (see song “What Tully’s Done“).

Although his job in Springhill ended when they shut down the paper mill, he and his girls remained in Hosston until his death in 2013 after a short illness (see song “Hosston to Bastrop“).

“What Tully’s Done”

What Tully’s Done
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Tully left the girls at his sister Ruth’s
Took off for Baton Rouge
Barked the tires in all four gears
Their mama’s gone and run off again
Third time Tully’s seen I-10
And each time it’s a little more weird

Oh no, don’t you know
When she leaves he’s bound to follow
Least that’s what Tully’s done
Oh no, don’t you know
One damn day when she goes
Tully’s just gonna let her run

But today’s that ain’t where he’s at
He’ll track her down and bring her back
Hope she ain’t a mess
She left eggs frying in the pan
Tully waitin’ for that call again
From a stranger with a question and an address

Oh no, don’t you know …

Tully says, “Doc, what makes her be like that?”
Doc just looks away and gives his head a scratch
Tully says,”if it was just me I wouldn’t care,
Those kids need their mama there”

Oh no, don’t you know …

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule Music/Warner Music (BMI)

“Catch”

Catch
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

The month of April breaks my heart
There’s a good reason why it does
It’s the gravel crunch of Granddad’s car
And him telling me to get the gloves

As my mom got the table set
We’d go outside till it got too dark
But the thing that I remember best
Is walking in his shadow to the back yard

And we would play catch
In the soft glow of the sunset
And hardly say a word
The only sound you heard
Was the plop and the slap that’s catch

That was that until one year
The summer I turned thirteen
He’d come home but I’d disappear
It must’ve hurt him but he didn’t say a thing

I bet those gloves are still tied up
But the oil’s dry and the leather’s hard
Today I’d trade everything I’ve got
Just to see Granddad standing in the yard

And we would play catch …

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule/Warner Music (BMI)

Sonny Tate (1946-2003)

Sonny Tate (1936-2003) was born in Opalika, Alabama and displayed musical talent at an early age.  He could mimic Hank Williams and would stand on his father’s bar and entertain the patrons who were delighted with the youngster’s uncanny ability.  Sonny would later go on to have something of a professional career as a country singer but never making it really big.

He performed on the Lousiana Hayride and was even invited to perform at the Opry once when he had a Top-20 song, but they never invited him to join the Opry as a member.

After Sonny’s wife passed away, he was left to raise  his son Tully alone.  This he did despite still trying to carry on with his career as a singer.  Tully would travel with him and stand backstage as Sonny performed and was adopted by all the musicians and other performers something like a mascot. Sonny outlived Tully who predeceased him in 1993.

Sonny is remembered as someone who could sing and sell a song but not hold his liquor. He is also remembered as a loving grandfather to Tully’s son, Mike, who lived with Sonny until 2003 when Sonny passed away and Mike moved to Nashville.

Mike inherited Sonny’ guitar and had some dreams of following in Sonny’s footsteps as a country singer.

“Sonny’s Boy”

Sonny Tate was a country singer who had moderate success. He was a staple of the Louisiana Hayride, but appeared every now and then on the Grand Ol’ Opry stage. His son, Tully, was often with Sonny when he performed.

Sonny’s Boy
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

You probably don’t remember a hillbilly singer
Name of Sonny Tate
You know he never had a big record
But came close in ’68

Sang ’til he died still at the Hayride
In his sequined suit and the same ol’ toupee
Singin’ hits of other singers who get younger and younger
Drinking up payday

Sonny’s boy
Stands in the wings
While Sonny sings
Softly sings along
Sonny’s boy
In a ball cap and shorts
Rocking back and forth
Sang all of Sonny’s songs

Now Sonny may not seem someone to esteem
His life was disappointment and lies
But he was the boy’s dad, the only one he had
Ten feet tall in that boy’s eyes

Kept Sonny goin’ just knowin’
There was someone who looked up to him
When I’m back in town and the old crowd’s around
Talk always drifts back to them

Sonny’s boy stands in the wings …

You probably don’t remember a hillbilly singer
Name of Sonny Tate

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule/Warner Music (BMI)

The Louisiana Hayride

Louisiana Hayride was a radio and later television country music show broadcast from the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, that during its heyday from 1948 to 1960 helped to launch the careers of some of the greatest names in American country and western music. Elvis Presley performed on the radio version of the program in 1954 and made his first television appearance on the television version of Louisiana Hayride on March 3, 1955.

While the Opry, the Jubilee and the Hayride all showcased established stars, the Hayride was where talented, but virtual unknowns, were also given exposure to a large audience. Over the years, country music greats such as Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Jimmie Davis, Will Strahan, Slim Whitman, Floyd Cramer, Sonny James, Hank Snow, Faron Young, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Claude King, Jimmy Martin, George Jones, John and The Three Wise Men, Johnny Cash, Frankie Miller, Tex Ritter, Cowboy Jack Hunt & Little Joe Hunt of the Rhythm Ranch Hands, Nat Stuckey, and Lefty Frizzell, among many others, performed on Louisiana Hayride.

By mid-1954, a special 30-minute portion of Louisiana Hayride was being broadcast every Saturday on the AFN Pacific channel of the United Kingdom Scottish Forces Radio Network. On October 16 of that year, Elvis Presley appeared on the radio program. Presley’s performance of his newly released song from Sun Records called “That’s All Right Mama” brought a tepid response, according to former Hayride emcee Frank Page (1925-2013), but soon after Presley was nonetheless signed to a one-year contract for future appearances. The immediate and enormous demand for more of Presley’s new kind of rockabilly music actually resulted in a sharp decline in the popularity of the Louisiana Hayride that until that point had been strictly a country music venue. On March 3, 1955, Presley made his first television appearance on the television version of The Louisiana Hayride, carried by KSLA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Shreveport.

Within a few years, rock and roll had come to dominate the music scene, and on August 27, 1960, Louisiana Hayride ended its primary run