Sunday, August 30, 2009

Item From the Past: "Freeze a Yankee"

On August 25, 1978, a girl named Kathy B. broke my thumb. While I was still wearing the splint, I told people that and got weird reactions. "We were dancing," I said. That didn't seem to clarify things, since I still got weird reactions. "Really, that's what we were doing." People didn't believe it, somehow. Pretty soon I gave up explaining it.

But that's just what happened. We were at a party with a sizable number of other kids. I don't know that I was exactly dancing with Kathy, a sometime girlfriend of one of my group, though she didn't attend our high school. I was just dancing in her vicinity. She was wearing some kind of hard-soled shoes. My hand went down, her foot went up, and they made contact. I didn't find out I had a cracked knuckle until the next day, at the emergency room.

But that's not what brings that evening to mind. Someone at the party had a 45 of the song "Freeze a Yankee" and he played it for us at least once, probably a few times, and we were greatly entertained. I never heard it again after that until today, when I found it on YouTube (where else?). Occasionally over the years I'd mention the song, but no one else -- the non-Texans, that is -- had ever heard of it. The group that cut the record was from Dallas, it seems, and whatever success they had with it was mostly in Texas. For reasons that might be obvious once you listen to the song.

The Gov. Briscoe mentioned in the song is none other than Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe, who was in office from 1973 to 1979. I'm not sure what he might have said that inspired the lyric -- some bravado about keeping Texas oil for Texans, maybe, though I'm pretty sure the governor of Texas wouldn't have had much power to impede interstate commerce. But it may be the only song anywhere that mentions Briscoe, who is still alive and who also happens to be one of the largest landowners in the country.

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