Buzz Martin: Where There Walks a Logger There Walks a Man (Ripchord Records, 1968)


“If you want a real experience and care to test your luck, just go out and buy yourself a used logging truck…” is the how this strange, but extremely heartfelt album begins.  It offers a sneak peak into a profession that very few know about. Even if you think you do, there is always more to learn about, especially the lexicon used by the loggers, particuraly from the Washington state area. Buzz illuminates each song to life through story. His tunes provide just enough detail and clever phrasing that one can picture theirself being a part of the event (even if it’s just from a casual observer’s point of view).  These songs don’t feature an overtly machismo attitude, yet rather a suprising humbleness that makes this lp a repeat listener.

Have you ever bought something used and felf buyer’s remorse? The first tune on Buzz’s album is a story about the dangers of buying a used logging truck, yet the freedom associated with doing it your way, as well as the reminiscence about the good times with your used rig when it was working properly.

Whistle Punk Pete, is about a guy that really wanted to be a hook tender and head rigger in the worst way. Unfortunately, he wasn’t built for it. Pete eventually finds self realization through marrying Myrtle, when she asks him to hook up her girdle. Only then does he declare he’s a hook tender after all!

Where There Walks a Logger, is the title track with a nice C&W style chorus with steel guitar, and like Buzz’s other compositions, tell a humorous story about how the dangers of logging  which can lead to death, yet it is a proud profession. Hearing this tune will  transplant the listener  to a back-woods bar juke box–sipping cheap beer and inhaling copious ammounts of cigarette smoke, while at the same time, on will be able to smell the bacon frying and the coffee lingering in the air.

Sick of Setting Chokers, is a story about a guy who ventured up from the south yet feeling  dissolutioned from climbing the steep hill sides, to setting chokers, as well as getting dirty, feeling homesick, and complaing of having to work in the never ending Washington rain.

Fire Danger is a song about shutting down a logging operation because of a danger of fire, although more about the egos of big shot college grads citing pages from a handbook explaining why.

Unemployment Compensation, focuses on a logger not being able to log until the ground is stable again, and the aggravation of having to draw unemployment instead of being able to do what the men in that part of the country love best–logging.

Hoot Owlin’ Again, refers to being excited about having good weather to work in (who doesn’t like that if they work out doors?), instead of the usual rain associated with Washington state area , and of course celebrating in the taverns afterwards.

Loggers Home Brew, tells the story about drinking too much of his buddies home brew (not brewed in the most sanitary of conditions) and waking up with a banger of a hangover, yet eventually becoming hooked on the home brew and craving more and more.

Frozen Logger, is centered around a 40 year old bar maid meeting a logger, who reminds her of her recently passed logger husband. They have eyes for each other probably through the abundant whiskey, embrace. He eventually goes on his way, forgetting his mackinaw. Despite the dropping temperature, he saunters home without a care. As the mercury continues to drop, he buttons up his vest, only eventually freezing to death at a million degrees below zero.

Little Olde Model A,  was a standard vehicle of almost every old time logger. Buzz is proud of his Model A, and aparently his ladies love dhis little olde Model A as well, especially when running out of gas on a back road after dusk.

Although you can probably find a copy of this album on the Internet, most have been played past their life expectancies on cheap decks. I’m fairly certain that the average logger didn’t have a Fairchild or even a Gerrard turntable. Heck, even the cd that is out there sounds like it was recorded from a LP as there are some deep scratches prevailent in the recording. I’m not sure if the master tapes exist for this, but this is really an outsider gem of a record celebrating the highs and lows of the logging sub-culture, and deserves to be rediscovered again and available to a larger audience.

A vinyl reissue I’m sure would make Buzz smile down from heaven to know that his work wil be still appreciated for generations to come.

Spotify does have the cd. You can listen to it HERE.

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