"' The Times Dispatch - Viewpoints

July 30, 2014 Edition

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Walnut Ridge
in the spotlight

John Bland
Publisher

The Commercial Appeal in Memphis has a web feature on the 100 best songs about Memphis, and "Memphis and Arkansas Bridge," in which a country boy wants to get home to Walnut Ridge, is number 59. Former TD editor Tom Moore, who is a longtime executive at Arkansas State University, shared this fact with us.

"Memphis and Arkansas Bridge" was written by Charlie Rich in 1970. About the song, the feature says, "It's a cautionary story about an Arkansas boy who becomes lost after he crosses the Mississippi into sinful Memphis, where he ends up "drinking with a bunch of hoods, and that ain't good" before finding himself in Nashville, with little understanding of how he got there.

The lyrics state, "Won't anybody tell me how do you get to the Memphis and the Arkansas Bridge, I'm just a poor country boy lost in the city and I want to go home to Walnut Ridge." John Beifuss, author of this post, said that Charlie Rich lived much of his life in East Memphis and is buried in Memphis' Memorial Park.

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Mike Doyle of Sedgwick, who is an instructor at Arkansas State University and station manager of KASU, noted that because "Ridge" rhymed with "Bridge," it was easy to write such a song. Mike is a former announcer of KRLW in Walnut Ridge.

Charlie Rich was familiar with Walnut Ridge, as he duck hunted with Charles Snapp in Lawrence County for years. Snapp noted, "While I would like to take credit for his song about WR, as in he always liked to come hunt here ... truth be, it was written before Charlie started hunting with me."

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A sports story by Troy Schulte in Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, shared a story that Ken Hatfield would tell his team when he wanted to motivate them.

Hatfield, former head Razorback football coach, told of the time when he and his Helena teammates were playing Walnut Ridge in a state American Legion baseball tournament. Helena fell behind early, trailing 4 to 13 behind Walnut Ridge as they started the final inning. However, Helena came back to win 14-13 and scored the winning run with only one out in the final inning.

Schulte quotes Hatfield as saying, "Everybody that played on that team, for the rest of their lives, do you think they'd ever say the game is over until the last man is out? Never. When you see it, experienced it, you know it's true."

The article states that Hatfield relayed this story to the players he coached at Air Force, Arkansas, Clemson and Rice during his 27-year career as a head coach. Schulte's says it is fitting for the current Razorbacks, who want to move on from last year's 3-9 record.

It is also a story that our Walnut Ridge players have never forgotten either.

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