Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Green Snakes on the Ceiling

Turn west at the traffic light.  There's only one. Go over the low water crossing. Don't worry, it hasn't seen water for two and a half years.  Take the dirt road down by the river to the pavilion.  Just a tin roof and a cement slab circled by ancient live oaks.  Bring your cooler and your lawn chairs.

Everyone sits and waits, under the orange, pink and purple painted evening Texas sky.  Slowly, a figure steps up on the flat bed hay trailer parked at the end of the cement slab.  Big white cowboy hat, graying beard, fiddle in hand.  The small band starts to tune.  Plink plink, twang twang.  The steel guitar player slides the bar across the strings.

Finally, what we all drove miles through twisting, whitetail deer infested roads to see.  A real Texas Legend.  He brings the bow up to the fiddle and no one is left in their seats as Johnny Bush belts out his Texas mainstay "Green Snakes on the Ceiling."

If you have never watched a bunch of real Texans doing the Texas Two-Step to Green Snakes on the Ceiling, you may have a hard time grasping the deep seeded meaning in this act.  It's an Unofficial Law of Texas that you are not allowed to sit in your seat when certain songs are played, Green Snakes being one of them.  Now, someone who is not familiar with this ritual may be very confused as they watch 50 couples dancing to the same song, all supposedly doing the same Two-Step, because there are 50 different versions of the dance all happening at the same time.

Mothers teaching their 10 year old son to slowly step forward-forward-back.  Little girls perched atop their daddy's cowboy boots as they shuffle-shuffle-skip.  The aging ranch couple who dance so smooth that you would swear they were on ice skates.  The young farm hand, dancing quick-quick-slow-slow with the farmer's daughter (under the watchful eye of the farmer's wife) trying very hard not to step on her fancy new cowgirl boots.  Miss Turkey Fest still wearing her crown, now in bare feet instead of her high heel red satin pageant shoes, scandalously dancing very close with someone just a bit too old.  Twirls, twists, spins...fast, slow..and sometimes even a couple who actually boot scoot to the beat.
Johnny Bush...A Texas Legend
It's a tradition that doesn't seem to be fading, unlike many other traditions these days.  Everyone leaving their fields and cattle a little early, putting on a clean, starched pair of blue jeans and their "town" hat to go dance in a circle all night to old country music.  It can be out under the stars at night on a cement slab, in an old dance hall with a real wooden dance floor, or the linoleum tile floor of the community center.  No matter where it is, a few things are always the same:  there will be a fiddle, a steel guitar, cornmeal sprinkled on the floor, and the unspoken rule that you never sit when the band cranks up Green Snakes on the Ceiling.

The Farmer I Kiss and our good friends Allen and Michelle drove 66 miles to Menard, Texas last weekend to attend their First Annual Turkey Fest, in honor of the amazing turkey hunting the area provides.  We counted 105 deer on the sides of a 17 mile stretch of road going back to their cabin after the dance (a hint of the amazing deer hunting the area is also famous for.)  All to hear the amazing voice of Johnny Bush and to have the opportunity to dance to a live performance from the Legend himself singing Green Snakes on the Ceiling.  It was a great trip!
Scootin' a boot with the Farmer I Kiss


  1. I love all the songs you included here Suzie! I miss dancing nights from my night in Texas. I really enjoyed this! Hopefully I can make it back out to TX and keep brushing up on my two steps.

  2. Brings back old memories, Suzie. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Mike! I had a great time putting all the music together for this post. I grew up on Bob Wills, and yes, he is still the King. Johnny Bush's voice has just gotten better and smoother over the years and last weekend, it sounded as good as I have ever heard.

  3. Suzie...I love your comments. You speak the truth. I would love to listen and dance to Johnny Bush live! We will enjoy a few good Johnny Bush songs with Jody Nix tonight in San Angelo. I do enjoy your blog...reminds me so much of those "good ol' days"!

    1. Thanks Cindy! Have a great time at Jody's tonight!!