“Name That Tune”

52 Pick-up 2.0 #4, 2/4/2020

Chet Carlson: “So, if we were to climb into Walt’s truck, the Silver Bullet, what would we find in the CD player?”

Boy, there’s a loaded question. We know from Walt’s experiences that he has a propensity toward boogie-woogie piano music that had been displayed all the way back in The Cold Dish. The sheriff doesn’t have too many furnishings in his little cabin, but one of them is a piano that his late wife refinished. Walt is actually a pretty good pianist and has tickled the ivories in the novels a few times over the years.

It’s interesting, but like most things, he seems to have a frightening knowledge of music, even though he doesn’t have too much of it in his life. I guess it’s difficult to have music playing in your unit while placing and receiving calls on the two-way. Also, there’s the scene where Walt doesn’t even know if his truck has a cd player.

There’s a short story, Unbalanced, from the first collection, Wait For Signs, where Walt picks up a girl headed for Billings, where they pull a CD from the door that Henry had purchased from the bargain-bin at the Flying-J truck stop. A Merle Haggard CD that the girl says sounds like it was badly recorded in a bourbon barrel.

There are specific instances I can remember quite vividly that include music, but I’d love to hear recollections of readers. Henry writing “Play Me” on Walt’s piano, Walt playing at the Red Pony on New Year’s, Vietnam Walt playing piano at the Boy Howdy Beau Coup Good Times Lounge, Cady and Walt dancing in the empty ballroom in Sheridan, Vic dancing to AC/DC on the jukebox at the Chicken Shack Bar and others…

I listen to music when I’m writing, I guess because I listen to music pretty much all the time because it’s such an enhancement to our lives. If you were to come to my ranch, you’d see walls of CDs in my writing loft, in the shop, and sliding around on the dash of every vehicle I own. I guess I should switch over to digital, but I like holding the music in my hands—kind of like books.

I guess the spirit of the question has to do with Walt’s tastes in music, which, to say the least, are varied. I think he’s got a marvelous knowledge of classical country music as witnessed from his knowledge of Spade Cooley, who killed his wife because she was supposedly having an affair with Roy Rogers. He’s also evidently a big fan of classical, jazz, blues, and to an extent rock and roll, but there appears to be something there, even if he is a known associate of Grace Slick… There’s a part in the next book where Vic makes the remark that it appears that he doesn’t like 60’s rock, and Walt says that’s because it reminds him of things, specifically the Tet Offensive.

Wide ranging, I guess that’s what I’d call Walt’s musical tastes. I think it reflects his personality in that there’s always something worth listening to, no matter what the genre—with the possible exception of Industrial-Death-Heavy-Metal music… Somehow, I just don’t see Walt listening to that.

See you on the trail,



One thought on ““Name That Tune”

  1. Walt is anything but predictable. I’m sure he’d listen to something that any other Sheriff of the west wouldn’t. I pictured him driving with Vic listening Bossa Nova…He’d
    be delighted and Vic horrified!


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