As you may have guessed, I like Wanda Jackson. With her growly high voice, firecracker presence and a blend of country and rockabilly, she is a singer after my own heart. In fact, I named my fourth daughter after her.
For many, many years rumors abounded in Melbourne that Wanda Jackson was going to tour. My hopes would be raised and I'd be eagle eyed on the look out for information. My ears would prick up as whisperings out and about at gigs went like this:
"Is she going to tour?" "I heard she was coming this Spring!" "Oh can you imagine seeing Wanda Jackson sing?"
And then one year, 2007, Wanda Jackson actually DID tour!!! She was almost 70 years old and I was 35 weeks pregnant with twins. Perhaps not the best moment in time for us to intersect.
But nothing was going to stop me from going to that gig! I pushed my swollen feet into some high heels, hid my cankles under trousers and s...t....r....e....t....c...h....e...d a mini dress over my ridiculously huge belly that was sticking out perpendicular from my torso.I clipped in my rockabilly fake hair pony tail and went to the gig.
To make it even harder, it was an all standing pub gig at the Corner Hotel in Richmond. It was a big crowd and many people there I knew. And there she was, Wanda Jackson, all shaking tassels, huge droplet diamond earrings and massive big high country singer hair ("The higher the hair, the closer to Jesus"!)
I don't think I have EVER been more uncomfortable in my life!
Firstly, everyone kept talking to me! Throughout the gig, people kept asking about the babies, how I was, when they were due etc. I wanted to scream "It's Wanda Jackson! I've been waiting for decades!! Just let me hear her!" Yes. Pregnancy hormones are fun, aren't they?
Instead of going ballistic I kept waddling around to find a peaceful spot where I could a)see the stage and
b)not be pestered by people I knew
and c) not have anyone use my belly to rest their beer on.
Standing there all evening with throbbing feet and a pelvic floor that felt like a trampoline with a herd of elephants on it(okay...too much information)I thought, if I survive this, I'm calling one of these babies Wanda.
And one week later I did just that. Fortunately, for my little Wanda, she was girl.
Wanda Jackson came back the next year when I was physically more able to enjoy her brand of country rockabilly(although I still wore uncomfortable shoes. What is wrong with me?)
I waited until the end of the gig and joined the queue for autographs. I had something for her - a little photo of our Wanda. It was a long queue and the ever gracious Wanda Jackson was a tiny pretty lady perched on a bar stool while her handsome gallant husband Wendell sold the merchandise. He saw me in the queue holding the photo and asked,
"Have you got something for Wanda?" So I told him. "Wanda!" he shouted out, grabbing her her arm and pulling her off the stool. "This lady called her baby after you!".
So yes, I jumped the queue and gave her the photo of our little Wanda and she signed these pictures of herself for our Wanda. I told them about the twins and the last gig and Wanda asked what we called the other baby. When I replied "Pepper" old Wendell and Wanda said in perfect synchronicity "Aww.....cute".
I have a few reservations about this album produced by Justin Townes Earle but I just love that Wanda is still rockin', still growling out those songs and still touring at 75 years old. Still that firecracker.