1985 in country music!
I'm not thrilled with my generator's random number, because 1985 was not a banner year for country. Country music was in that awkward stage -- between utter crap and greatness. There were some glimmers of hope, though. If one wants music that's really bad, they could pick basically any year between the late seventies and...well, 1985.
As the picture above denotes, however, ooh yes, there were glimmers.
I could waste yours and my time doing a corny countdown, but let's just start with the number one single of the year, shall we?
The deep, complicated reason why I love this song: IT'S COUNTRY.
"Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind" is essentially the perfect country song. But, oh, it's not just the song -- it's the sublime performance, from the tiny yodel in George's delivery to the heart-thumping twin fiddles to the four-four shuffle beat to the just-right steel guitar riff.
Readers of this blog know how I feel about George Strait. George, along with Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam, saved country music. It was almost dead and mercifully begging to be buried, and then George came along, like a vision.
I've told the story before of how I'd given up on country music; switched the dial on my radio in disgust; became enamored with MTV and real true (not facsimile) music. Then I happened to take the kids over to Mom and Dad's one evening and Mom popped in a VHS tape (yep!) of some hillbilly singer performing live somewhere in Texas. I thought, "What's this crap?" I didn't know any of the songs (they weren't being played on MTV). The singer was a "pretty boy" in a big cowboy hat -- no doubt another imposter trying to grab Merle Haggard's mantle. I went home that night more puzzled than impressed. But though I was loathe to admit it, this guy had something. And gradually, I began alternating between the rock station and the country station that I had to reprogram into my car radio.
So, yes and thank you, George Strait. Even hard-headed goofballs like me can learn something.
I wish I could say 1985 turned out to be a great year for my rediscovery of country music, but alas, it wasn't.
There was this girl singer that I'd first noticed a few years before. She wasn't hitting it big, but I liked her. I actually talked my mom into going to an indoor rodeo with me because I'd heard this gal would be performing...I guess in between the bulldogging and the steer wrestling competitions. (In a small town, we took our entertainment where we could find it.) Mom was about as impressed with Reba McEntire as I was the first time I saw George Strait. I, though, liked her because she was authentically country. That would sadly change later. Some musical lifespans are short.
Here is how she once was:
I am perplexed that the next song was released in 1985. It seems to me to be a latter Judds hit, because once again, the Judds I first discovered were singing "Mama He's Crazy", but maybe I just have time muddled in my brain. I apologize for not being able to find a better video -- I would love to know what happened to all the eighties music videos that were played on CMT, because they sure are nigh impossible to find. So, here's the best I could find:
Ricky Skaggs was a bluegrass artist who wanted to become a country star. And he did. But he's still a bluegrass artist. Be proud of who you are! I like bluegrass. 1985 could stand an infusion of bluegrass. Here's some:
Here's something good. Good. I love Rosanne Cash's voice; not crazy about her politics, but that's neither here nor there in the music realm. Rosanne Cash is how would-be singers would like to sound. That's damn high praise.
I really dislike Marie Osmond. I suppose it's not her fault, per se, but she signed on to do those weight loss commercials, where she poses in her deceptively slimming dress and looks down her nose at us, because she lost fifty pounds, because some big company gave her their program for free. Nevertheless, this is a good song -- mostly because of Dan Seals:
Not to be redundant, but c'mon. This, again, is a perfect country song. If you've ever spent a night out at a honky tonk and you hear the opening strains of this song, you're gonna go out on the dance floor and two-step -- it's decreed. Yep, this is George again:
I do believe that Alabama is the act I've seen live more times than any other. It's not that I'm a great Alabama fan; it's just that they toured incessantly and they kept showing up in my town. Again, we grabbed our entertainment where we could find it. I like them -- they're okay -- they certainly were a staple of my local country music station for about a decade. So, here they are:
It's a myth that The Highwaymen were a big phenomenon in 1985. But myths are okay. As long as we know the truth. And face it, here are some country music giants.
I love Ronnie Milsap -- is he still performing? I'm thinking 1975 was the first time I heard him, so he had a great run. There are those artists you just want to tuck inside your pocket and reach for them when you need a musical lift. You don't necessarily think about them very often, but they're there.
Woefully, I didn't see many of these artists live. I saw Ronnie, Alabama (three frickin' thousand times), Reba; and it was an unbelievable quest, traveling all the way to Montana only to find that the artist's bus got mired in a snowstorm in Wyoming and his Montana show was canceled; then a few months later, to a city much closer to home -- Fargo, North Dakota -- to finally, FINALLY! see George Strait in concert. I have no regrets -- I can at least say I saw George Strait live.
1985 wasn't that bad. One great song can make up for a year's worth of crap. And there was more than one good song that year.
It's kind of unreasonable to expect more than that.