‘Whipped by devil’s tail’

Photo by Gretchen Anderson from near Lake Shetek.

Dennis Morgan records ‘Ballad of Tracy Tornado’

By Seth Schmidt

The sights, sounds, and furies of a monster tornado ripping through his hometown a half-century ago are etched into Dennis Morgan’s brain like a live video feed.

“We watched it go through Tracy from beginning to end,” remembers the Nashville songwriter.  “If I live to be 800, I will never forget one second of that.”

Morgan was 15 when the June 13, 1968 Tracy Tornado struck.  Recently, he turned his memories of the epic tornado into a song, “The Ballad of the Tracy Tornado, 50 Years Later.”  Morgan shipped 300 CDs of the song to Tracy, with all proceeds earmarked for the Tracy Ambulance Service and Tracy Fire Departments.

“Those people helped a lot of people then (when the tornado struck) and they are still helping people,” Morgan said in telephone interview, from the Little Shop of Morgansongs in Nashville. “I wanted to do something to help them keep doing their good work.”

The Tracy Tornado CDs will be available for sale to the public on June 9, during the “Never Forget” events planned for the tornado’s 50th anniversary.

Morgan sings the lead on the song, while accompanying himself on the guitar.

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The song recounts how Morgan and his family saw the tornado approach Tracy from the vantage point of their farm west of town. Dennis was cleaning out the calf pen, and his dad, Lester, was out cultivating corn, “when momma yelled from the back step, there’s gonna be a storm.” Driving out of their farm “like a bat out of hell,” they picked up Lester from the field, before seeking refuge in a neighbor’s basement.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.