In 1940, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Maddox Brothers and Rose, and Spade Cooley traveled the west filling dance halls several nights a week with their mixture of two-step country, fiddles tunes, jazz, boogie and swing (which would come to be called Western Swing). Captain America was introduced by Timely Comics, and an issue with the Captain slugging Hitler in the Jaw sold nearly a million copies. The Invisible Man Returned to the big screen. And, on a hillside near Santa Cruz, CA, a mysterious gravitational anomaly was first observed. “Some say it’s a vortex of magma. Others say a space ship is buried at this mystery spot…” So begins the Official Mystery Spot Video.
By the mid 40s, in honky tonk bars scattered throughout the west and south, Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams sang to working class people, mixing country blues with western swing and using electric guitars and drums to get above the din. Meanwhile, science fiction began to take off, fueled by the invention of nuclear power and bombs, reports of UFO sightings, and the cold war. The Day The Earth Stood Still told the cautionary tale of an alien ship landing on Earth with a message that if people tried to spread their violence and nuclear weapons into space, their planet would be destroyed. Students learned to duck and cover under their desks as though that would protect them from a nuclear bomb.
By the late 50s, as cars become more common and reliable, individuals and families ventured out on cross country trips. While Sam Phillips drove from town to town trying to get disc jockeys to play his new Elvis records that were too country for the r&b stations, too r&b for the country stations, and too ragged for the pop playlists, families were driving the countries’ back roads looking for entertainment. Gravitational anomalies like the Mystery Spot, began popping up all over the country. At least 4 show up in Michigan. By this time, science fiction is huge. Countless classics hit the big screen- Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Earth Vs Flying Saucers. A new branch- the ultra low budget B movie, brings such gems as Plan 9 From Outer Space, I Married A Monster From Outer Space, and Teenagers From Outer Space. Songs like Flying Saucer Rock and Roll by Billy Riley and his Little Green Men could be heard on the radio. Rockabilly gets a good foothold in spite of not fitting neatly into the established radio formats. Teens and preteens for the first time, have spending money for soda fountains and entertainment, and those kids wanna dance.
As the 60s rolled in, the early baby boomers were hitting their teenage years. They had grown up ducking under their desks in practice drills for nuclear bombs. The Twilight Zone was on TV alongside Batman. Science fiction movies covered a similar span from creepy (Village Of The Damned) to parody (Santa Claus Conquers The Martians). Kennedy sets the goal of reaching the moon in ten years, and space becomes the new wild west frontier. Country music splits into camps. Nashville tries to move toward a wider audience with Patsy Cline, George Jones, Faron Young, Eddy Arnold and Chet Atkins. In Bakersfield and other western cities and towns, a more raw edged sound was still working the honky tonk circuit, with Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Jean Shepard and Speedy West. Partly facilitated with the women’s movement, the odd combination of country and go go rose up. Michelle arrived on the planet in March of 1961, riding the tail end of the baby boomer wave. It would be later that decade that she first experienced the mysterious gravitational anomaly at Mystery Ridge near East Tawas, MI.
Fast forward to the late 90s. Calvin and Michelle are camping with a bunch of friends on a hilly campsite. Their buddy Mike was sitting on a lawn chair, trying to play the guitar while leaning into the hill when he mysteriously falls uphill. As it was clear he and the guitar had survived unscathed, Michelle remarked “this must be Mystery Hill”, to which Calvin replied “Does that make us Mystery Hillbillies?”