A great loss for country music

By The Mercury

  I was sorry to read last month of the death of Billie Jo Spears.

  If you’re thinking, “Who?”, you’re probably not alone. But if you were a country music fan in 1975, you will fondly remember Billie Jo and her hit song “Blanket on the Ground” (“Just because we are married, don’t mean we can’t slip arou-ou-ound.”).

  “Blanket” reached No. 1 on the country music charts that year and was one of 25 Top 40 country hits for the sultry-voiced entertainer between 1969 and 1984. Others included “Mr. Walker, It’s All Over,” “What I’ve Got in Mind,” “Misty Blue” and “If You Want Me.”

  I met Billie Jo — she and I were always on a first-name basis — in 1976, when I was working in Williamsport, Pa., and she appeared in a show there with country star Jim Ed Brown.

  I not only got to interview Ms. Spears, er, Billie Jo, but I was also privileged to have dinner with her at the Lycoming Hotel restaurant, one of the premier dining spots in Williamsport!

  I remember Billie Jo as being very gracious and appreciative of being interviewed for the nationally circulated publication I was working for then. And because she was at the height of her career, it was a rush for me to meet and talk about the country music industry with such a star.

  As happens with some stars — especially in country music, it seems — Billie Jo faded from view in the 1980s. But she never completely went away; she continued to tour, despite undergoing triple bypass heart surgery in 1993. She was scheduled to make a number of appearances in Great Britain — where she remained quite popular — later this year as part of a touring show called “Ladies of Country.”

  I only knew Billie Jo for a few hours a long time ago, but her death at 73 seemed to me like that of a not-so-old old friend.


  I saw the following ad last fall. I hope it worked. I’m considering posting a similar ad next autumn:


Free Sycamore Leaves (Manhattan)

Free leaves off my neighbor’s sycamore tree. These things are freaking huge! There are many uses for them: fall decorations, compost, or just dump them in your own neighbor’s yard to p—- him/her off. Feel free to come on by and get them out of his yard. It is obvious that he doesn’t want them because they will sit there all winter and blow every damn direction. PLEASE COME GET THESE!!!!



  A bumper sticker seen on a car in Manhattan bore the Coast Guard emblem and these words:

Support Search and Rescue

Get lost!



  “Up” seems to have more meanings than any other word in the English language. It is listed in the dictionary as an adverb, preposition, adjective, noun and verb.

  It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list. But when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

  At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP, and why are officers UP for election? Why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

  We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.

  People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

  A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

  When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it soaks UP the earth. When it does not rain, things dry UP.

  We seem pretty mixed UP about UP. To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, UP takes UP almost one-fourth of a page and can have UP to 30 definitions.

  If you are UP to it, you might try making UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with UP to 100.

  It’s time to wrap this UP. I’ve used UP my space. Just one more thing: What is the last thing you do every night and the first thing you do every morning?


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