The Story of Billy Bayou by Ken Bailey
THE STORY OF BILLY BAYOU, a.k.a. William "Billy" Brenton.
This is the earliest of Billy's CD's that I have, recorded back in 1991 -- and perhaps it was his first of all. It is a collection of truckin' songs, which he wrote and performs.
Interestingly, the opening song, titled, "I Am Billy Bayou," may be pretty much autobiographical. It introduces us both to the character on the CD, and as to how the real Billy may have come to have decided to record it in the first place.
As mentioned before, Billy grew up in Rangely in the '50s. After school, he served in Viet Nam, and, after returning to the states, took up truck driving.
Late one night, according to the song, we find a young trucker rocketing through the lonely darkness in his big rig, bound for Idaho.
On the CB, he gets to chatting with another trucker, and the subject comes up that he likes to sing.
"Sing us one of your songs, on the CB!" chimes the other throttle jockey, "It will help us stay awake!"
And so, Billy does. Soon, a third trucker wants in on the impromptu concert. And so the story goes.
This is the kind of country I love, country music the way it used to be ... with guitar riffs and cryin' steel guitars. And Billy sounds completely different on this one than on all the other CDs in the collection.
To wit -- his voice is not only younger but full of enthusiasm. He seems to love life and truck driving. He is outward bound. (On the other disks, he is older, wiser, and more reflective, and his songs are more revisiting the memories of days gone by -- a childhood picnic beneath a favorite cottonwood tree, for example -- inward bound).
"You sit up there, in your Air-Ride chair, with your mind on Idaho ..." and then turn around and head back home, to join your loved ones that you left behind, one of the other songs says.
Isn't life like that, as well? In our youth, we are outward bound, focused on our futures -- our careers our romances, things we want to do and build.
As we age, our focus changes. Eventually, we are on the return trip home, thinking of and revisiting the loves and happy memories we left behind in our earlier years when we headed out.
In the end, our focus brings us longing to return back home ...
...which, for Billy, and for me, would be Rangely. Figuratively, if not literally.