Thursday, January 20, 2022

Ralph Emery

When I was a young teen and a newly-minted country music fanatic, there were three late-night disc jockeys who mattered. These guys broadcast over clear channel 50,000-watt radio stations and thus, once midnight hit, if one was lucky and the sky was starry she could tune into two and sometimes all three channels. On summer nights, I would first try 1040, WHO with Mike Hoyer at the helm. This station was my safest bet. It was closest geographically to me and Mike never failed me. His catchphrase was "from coat to coast and border to border and then some." Mike's trademark was playing entire new albums starting around two o'clock in the morning, which is how I first became familiar with the latest releases by Tammy Wynette and Charley Pride, among others. Mike was a straightforward country music lover. He didn't chit chat; he simply introduced the music and offer a few tidbits about the track or the artist.

820 on the dial, WBAP was a bit scratchier, but Bill Mack's voice eventually became clearer as the night went on. There was no doubt where Bill's heart lay. He championed Texas artists, who became my favorites as well -- Johnny Bush, Cal Smith, and of course Ray Price. Bill's style was looser than Hoyer's. One could picture him leaned back in his chair, chawing with the truckers who obviously worshipped him. Bill's voice was like what I imagine smooth whiskey would taste.

WSM was the air castle of the south, and Ralph Emery was the king of the manor. At 650 on the dial and located in Nashville (with many many radio frequencies between my home and Tennessee jamming the airwaves) Ralph's show was a rare capture. Ralph was a jocular easy-going host, which was why so many country stars felt free to stop in and spend the night jawboning in his studio. I heard Marty Robbins one night banging on the piano, performing a de facto concert.

It was via Ralph's show that I first fell in love with some country singles that I am in love with to this day.  

In the eighties when TNN (The Nashville Network) came along, who but Ralph Emery could emcee the network's signature show, Nashville Now? I watched it every night, and I wasn't all that into country at the time. Everyone appeared on Ralph's show -- everyone -- from a tipsy Faron Young to the latest unsigned act (which, by the way, included some guy named Randy Travis who was working as a short-order cook). I was giddy when my favorite local bar band appeared one night. They'd recently signed a major label contract, and though their career ended up going nowhere, I was euphoric that a band I actually knew performed on Ralph Emery's show.

Before Nashville Now, Ralph had a syndicated half-hour show called Pop! Goes The Country! That was the first time I caught Lynn Anderson singing an obscure Stonewall Jackson song and fell in love with it (I already loved Lynn Anderson).

Ralph Emery was a country music facilitator; a shaman, a guru. There are very few country stars alive today who don't thank their lucky stars for Ralph Emery.  

Ralph Emery was with me most of my life. How many legends have most of us spent our lives with? He is country music to me. Mike Hoyer's passing in 1999 didn't merit a word in country music journals. When Bill Mack died in 2020 most writers focused on his authorship of LeAnn Rime's "Blue".

Ralph Emery passed away on January 15, 2022 and was thankfully given his due (although I will note that WSM's website has no mention of him -- shame and disgrace on you, WSM).

For the uninitiated, it's impossible to describe the impact he had on country music. I guess you had to be there.

Rest in peace, Ralph Emery. Those who are in the know love you.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Bye-Bye, 2021


The thing about being retired is that there are no mile markers. Shoot, I often even forget what day of the week it is. When one is gainfully employed, they're working for the weekend. Three or four-day holiday weekends are the best. Sure, Mondays suck, but there's always a reprieve just a few days away. This is a long-winded way of saying I don't really know what the heck happened in 2021. The days all run together. With Covid, my big outing is weekly grocery shopping. 

When I was first working from home after Covid hit, I tried to summarize in a blog post the things I learned each week. So I'll try that for the year 2021.

  • I learned that elected officials are incomprehensibly stupid. And power-mad. That's a bad combination. I learned that career bureaucrats easily fall in love with their images on a TV monitor and will spout any inane proclamation just to keep being invited back. 
  • I learned that it's possible to fall in love with a new pet, even after the agony of losing a long-time buddy. It took me a bit; I was hesitant to appear disloyal. But once we decided to adopt a new cat, we were determined not to leave the Humane Society empty-handed. Sasha (not her name then) leapt down from the cat tower and caressed my outstretched hand with her face, and I knew she was the one. I was used to a senior citizen cat and Sasha (nee Stuart Little, for some reason) was only about six months old. It was an adjustment, but not an entirely negative one. A somewhat exhausting one, nevertheless. Now she's a little over a year old and a bit more sedate (a bit). She likes to cuddle and she keeps my legs warm at night. We've settled into a routine and we would be lost without her.
  • I relearned that two-year-old boys are endlessly fascinating. (It'd been a while, after all.) My two grandsons are little originals. And smart like only newly-budded minds can be. I'd long forgotten how fresh and new the world can seem. Ollie informed me he doesn't like certain types of peppers his dad grows in the garden, which was news to Dad. He also was endlessly fascinated when I swaddled his teddy bear, and made me repeat the procedure until he felt confident enough to try it himself. Asher giggles uncontrollably at a big rubber ball being rolled back and forth. "Ready?" he began repeating, after I said it about a hundred times, rolling it over and over back to me.
  • I remembered that I actually like writing, but I'm not very ambitious. I found a writer I admire, in a TV interview, no less; and began reading snippets of his writing. My goal is to write as cleanly as he does. My proclivity has been to use too many modifiers, which in fact only exposes weak writing. If you have something to say, just say it. Perhaps my problem is, I don't have a whole lot to say. Regardless, I've begun revisiting a story I started a while back, and I'm trying to do better. I don't think I'll ever write another full-blown novel, but a novella is doable.
  • I am somewhat of a The Office groupie. I don't know how many times I've watched the entire series, but I like watching a show that doesn't offend my overblown sense of discerning taste. That kind of whittles the choices. Network television honestly reeks. I've even experimented with watching shows from the eighties that I used to view religiously, and I wonder how desperate we the viewing audience was back then. There really are essentially two sitcoms in all of TV history that are seminal. The rest can go to hell. I leave it to you to fill in the blank for the second one. Because you probably have a different opinion from me -- even though your opinion would be wrong.
  • I learned that today's country music is mostly really, really bad. I rather suspected that, but I did a couple of posts in which I reviewed the top ten hits of a given week; songs I had never in my life heard before, I don't even know how to define the tracks I forced myself to listen to, but "country" is not a term that springs to mind. To be fair, a couple of them were not technically bad -- not good enough to download, but not hideous. There may be hope, after all, but I doubt it.
  • I also learned that my musical prejudices may have been unfounded. If anyone asked me which decade was the worst for country music, "the seventies" would trip merrily off my tongue. The thing is, though, once I started creating Spotify playlists for the different decades, I found that my favorite one to listen to is from the decade of the seventies. How can that be? Has my whole musical life been a lie? Granted, I did cherry-pick the best of the best for my playlist, so there's that. I do like controlling my music.
  • I learned that podcasting, while it seemed like a no-brainer, is actually a "brainer".  I spent far too much time writing scripts and then recording them, and my estimated audience turned out to be (generously) two people (I think Anchor just didn't want me to feel bad.) I don't regret trying it. One has to try things.

It seems I didn't learn a ton of things in 2021. Quality trumps quantity, however. Every year has little milestones that might actually be big milestones. My life in 2021 wasn't bad, all things considered.

I don't know what 2022 will bring. Maybe I will become a world-renowned artist, or at least pick up my never-used art pencils and draw a picture. I could do that. 

Or I could stream The Office again.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Fake Country Band Album Reviews ~ Americana Edition



As commercial country veers ever-headlong into a concrete wall, it's no surprise that fans have turned to Americana music for sustenance. What's a better balm for the Strat guitar shredding so commonplace in today's country than the soothing strum and unamplified vocals of Americana?

Americana music hearkens back to a simpler, more depressive time, when nothing was good and when there was always a well-scuffed fiddle or a dented dulcimer propped up bestride the front porch, the better to capture life's stark bleakness.

With that in mind, in this episode I will review a few of the best (or in their words, worst) current Americana releases.

#3 ~ Worn-Out Farmers ~ Plow

Decatur, Arkansas phenoms Worn-Out Farmers burst onto the Americana scene this year with their debut release, "Plow". Sick and tired of cotton-pickin', three local boys, DuWayne Tubb (no relation to Ernest) and brothers Cosgrove and Mosgrove Fritts, gathered nightly at the local tavern to conjure a way out of their tiny township and toward the blinding neon of big city Fayetteville, though they knew the bright lights would never ease their dead-eyed melancholy. Nevertheless, after six Bud Lights Moss found that he could strum three chords on the proprietor's guitar, and DuWayne and Cos were able to approximate two-part harmony. 

"How dang hard can this songwriting be?" DuWayne pondered. "Shoot, that dad-gum Tracy Lawrence made it big. I remember my grandpa playin' his tapes when I was a little tot, when he'd take me in his pickup to the feed store." 

With that touchstone in mind, the three pals set off to make their mark. "Write what you know, boys!" Hank, the tavern's owner admonished them as he slid beer cans down the bar in their direction. 

And so they did.

Their first release, "Plow", gained some traction on local radio. A relatable dirge, Plow resonated with local boys (and girls!) who appreciated the mournful lament for its authenticity. 

Nashville label Walnut Paneling caught wind of the local boys' success and quickly signed them, with the proviso that the group needed to add a brush-snare drummer to round out its sound. Designated leader DuWayne wasn't keen on incorporating "modern" touches, protesting that his "artistic vision" was being compromised, but the inclusion of Marty "Mutt" McNair proved to be the missing piece of the fame puzzle. From that day on, the hits dribbled. 

"Ham Sandwiches Again?" struck a chord with fans who were sick to death of wives slapping together ham and mayo sandwiches on white bread for their noonday field lunch. The line, "at least stick a little lettuce in it" became a clarion call for fans who pumped their fists and shouted it out at the boys' weekend concerts.

Other standout tracks on Plow include the melancholy "I Can't Get Parts For It" and the surprisingly upbeat "Gonna Take A Little Cat Nap". Fans are eagerly anticipating the release of Worn-Out Farmers' sophomore album, "Polled Hereford", due to drop sometime in the spring, around calving season. 


#2 ~ Abandoned Radiators ~ Unfortunate Leakage

The Abandoned Radiators exploded out of nowhere with the release of their first album, "Unfortunate Leakage". The LP burst onto the Americana scene and generated real steam among fans parched for an eruption of authentic, combustible music.

The Radiators first fizzed in clubs around their local Clovis, New Mexico hometown. Co-lead singer Johnny Bobe spent his teenage years picking garbage at the town dump, where he scored a nice porcelain bathroom sink and three wire-wheel hubcaps, among other treasures. The dump is also where he met the love of his life, Cindy Havarti, whose specialty was plucking bourbon-stained, damp jazz albums out of the pungent debris. Johnny took Cindy home to his packed storage shed, where she eyed his collection of discarded auto parts and fell madly in love. Eventually the two began to combine their bounty, gazed up into each other's eyes, and knew they'd found their life's calling. 

Neither of them had ever touched or even seen an acoustic guitar, not to mention a mandolin, but the scepter of Dizzy Gillespie convinced the couple that riches were theirs for the taking. They began collaborating at the Crimson And Clovis Inn on karaoke nights, and the besotted barstool patrons' enthusiastic clapping convinced Johnny and Cindy they had nowhere to go but up ~ to the stratosphere.

After a couple of months, Cindy spied a smashed guitar ~ at least she was pretty sure it was a guitar ~ atop a gaseous heap of smoldering junkyard Pampers and that sealed the deal. Cindy never did actually learn how to play the mysterious instrument, but hours of practice and jamming her fingers against random strings produced an original, otherworldly sound that made strangers at the C&C stop and stare. Desperate local record producer Ruben Rococo caught the duo's act one night when he stopped in for one last sip of liquor before he put an end to it all, and the (albeit) amateurs' act gave him one last straw to grasp onto. And the rest is history.

Ruben added his own on-key accompaniment to the duo's first recordings and slipped the completed disc across the local radio station's transom with a twenty-dollar bill, and voila! 

Purists will quibble about the discordant notes and off-key vocals on Unfortunate Leakage, but New Mexicans erupted with joy upon hearing tracks like "Psssssssstt" and the lament, "Honey, Do You Have Roadside Assistance?" 

AB has a full slate of concerts scheduled for the greater New Mexico area. Rumor has it they're adding a maracas shaker to the lineup.

#1 ~ Bingo Hall Bastards ~ Four Corners

The first time Penny Pinchet drove her grandma to the local bingo hall, she shook her head in disgust. "Gram, how can you spend your Social Security check on this lame time waster?" she asked as she pulled Grandma's walker from the trunk. When Grandma shuffled back to Penny's car later that evening with three hundred smackeroos clutched in her gnarled fist, Penny had second thoughts. Thenceforth Beulah, North Dakota's favorite diner waitress was hooked. The clack of the bingo numbers whirling inside their wire basket, the thunk of fifty daubers stamping paper cards in rhythm, the "ahhhs" of blue-haired wanna-be's when some old lady jumped up and shouted "Bingo!" were sweet music to Penny's ears. She even heard heard these reverberations in her dreams ~ on Tuesday and Thursday nights ~ and on early-bird Saturdays.

When Penny's boyfriend Glenn Brokaw started complaining and accusing her of cheating on him, she dragged him along to the bingo parlor. Glenn was a harder sell, but when he won fifty dollars by completing a letter X (thank you, B12!) he had to admit this bingo lark was kind of a rush. 

Before long Penny was ditching her shifts at Ewald's and Glenn starting calling in sick to his Massey Ferguson boss and slipping off to the midday Eat & Feat event, where they munched on nachos and searched the master table for exactly the right combination of cards. At last Grandma had to sit the two of them down. "Kids, I know you really love bingo, but to be honest, you're embarrassing me in front of my friends. Bingo is an old-timer's game. We like having a place to go where you hipsters can't find us. We like a little peace. No offense." 

Penny and Glenn exchanged chagrined glances. Grandma, sensing their unease, suggested, "How about you make a band?"

And that's how Bingo Hall Bastards came to be. Sure, the two of them tried one last time to return to the backlit building, but they found a hand-lettered sign on the door telling them, "Penny and Glenn are prohibited from entering these premises." Grandma had a lot of pull, it seemed.

One August night, still mourning their loss, Glenn picked up his brother Galen's guitar and began lazily strumming. Penny chimed in, emitting a low wail, a desolate cry. Thus, the hit "Blackout" was born. Before long Penny and Glenn found their new obsession. Songs tumbled out, like "Daubing My Heart" and the heart-wrenching "Oh 73".  

They packed up Glenn's Kia Sorrento and headed down the highway to the big city of Fargo, where they met with punk record head Kitty Pau, who figured, what the hell, what've I got to lose? She brought in her nephew Tom to tap a cymbal and before long The Bingo Hall Bastards were the toast of the greater Fargo-Moorhead area. And the rest is history.

Now their liquor lounge concerts are near sellouts, with girl fans sporting black mantillas and men doffing ebony armbands. Americana is nothing if not really, really, really sad. And the band's depressing ditties really spike the bars' alcohol sales.

So, there you have it ~ the top three Americana albums, in this humble critic's opinion, of 2021. Search out Spotify to sample these bands' formidable wares. 

Keep a Kleenex handy.


Friday, December 10, 2021

Mike Nesmith

My first teenage crush was the Monkees. But it was an odd crush ~ I claimed the group as my "friends".  At eleven my world was upended when my parents up and moved us to a new town in a new state. I was at that awkward age, and being painfully shy didn't help matters. Barely anyone in my new class talked to me, and I sure wasn't about to initiate a conversation. Thus, the highlight of my life was alighting the bus on a Monday afternoon, tromping up to our cramped apartment, and waiting 'til seven o'clock, when The Monkees TV show came on.

I had a study hall period in the middle of each day, a cavernous hollow room on the second floor of my turn of the century school. It held approximately one hundred desks, with the study hall teacher perched at his own desk high up on a stage in the front. I don't know what any of the other kids did (I suspect "studying" wasn't one of those things), but as for me, I whipped out a spiral notebook and my multi-color pens and wrote letters to each individual Monkee. I think Mickey got the green pen, Davy the red, Peter was assigned the blue, and Mike the purple. Of course I didn't actually mail any of the "letters" (duh); in hindsight I think they were a way for me to spill my guts and my loneliness. I took them very seriously.

I didn't even particularly like the TV show, except for the songs. But these guys were my friends, so I sat through a half hour of silliness in solidarity.

Most girls favored Davy Jones, but Mickey Dolenz was my favorite. Peter Tork was just a goofy guy who sometimes plinked the piano. Mike was a puzzle. He never got to sing lead on any of the hits. He just stood there strumming his guitar, wearing his green knit hat, but he seemed happy enough to be doing what he was doing. 

I read later that Mike didn't like being part of The Monkees, that the formulaic tunes picked for the group cramped his style. This turned out to be a myth.

“Quite the contrary,” he told Rolling Stone in 2013. “It was a nice part of the résumé. It was a fun for me, and a great time of my life..." (source)

Nesmith's roots were apparently in country rock, but to be honest, after the group broke up I didn't follow his career. I do know that Linda Ronstadt grabbed this Mike-penned song after the Monkees' producers nixed it for the group:

The last performance of the two remaining Monkees:

Mike Nesmith passed away December 10. Davy is gone, Peter is gone; now only Mickey remains.

Rest in peace, old friend.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Oblivious Listener Samples Today's Country Hits


I visit Saving Country Music every day ~ not sure why ~ because I generally just shrug and move along. I don't know any of the current artists like that "Moonpies" band or Ernest Tubb and his Turnpike Troubadours. I guess I mostly just log on to see if any country artists have died (honestly).

I'm woefully incurious. The minuscule number of videos I've sampled are awful ~ something that apparently passes for "music", but has no definitive genre, and definitely no soul. And the Americana artists are the worst. Strum-strum-strumming on an acoustic guitar and a sad, sappy vocal. And those are supposedly the good artists. Has everyone forgotten what country music is?

But, open-minded as I am 😉 I've once again decided to give a listen to the top ten hits of the week. I might be missing something. I hope I am. Maybe country music has magically regenerated after two decades in limbo (and all good Catholics know what the next step down is after limbo).

Ready? I'm not sure I am, but here we go:

#10 ~ You Probably Should Leave ~ Chris Stapleton (song starts at about 1:18)

Apparently there is no "official" video of this track, because...damn, nobody cool, like those codgers Alan Jackson or Rodney Crowell, makes music videos anymore. That's like, so eighties, man.

Okay, this is a blues jam. No offense, but with the right (standard blues) chords anybody can do the blues. I don't find this any better than anything done by Lee Roy Parnell, and certainly not as interesting. I understand that Stapleton has won a ton of country awards, so maybe this is where we are now in country.

I give this a B- just for not incorporating hip-hop and fake drums.


#9 ~ Tequila Little Time ~ Jon Pardi

Surprisingly, I kind of like this one. Hell, George Strait did a few flamenco-flavored songs in his day, too. And the Tijuana Brass accompaniment is actually right up my alley. 

I think Jon Pardi is one of those artists that Saving Country Music touts, but his voice is kind of weak. Perhaps he sounds better on other tracks.

Nevertheless, I give this one an A-. I wouldn't download it, but the video is cute and for a current country song it's inoffensive.


#8 ~ Buy Dirt ~ Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan

This track is innocuous. It won't stand the test of time, because country songwriters today have a compulsion to cram as many words into a line as humanly possible. Slow down! But the message is sweet and it draws upon the listener's yearning for an America that no longer exists. I've never heard of Jordan Davis, but I think I've watched a video of Luke Bryan doing a really putrid song. So, he's moved up in the world! 

I'm not sure what rating to give a song that is clearly pandering, but again, it's non-offensive, albeit pretty forgettable.

I'll go with a B+.


#7 ~ Chasing After You ~ Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris

Okay, I don't know what this is. Is that Kim Kardashian? This is just embarrassing. 


#6 ~ Whiskey And Rain ~ Michael Ray


This is definitely a country song, so plus-plus! I'm rather surprised it's hit #6 on the charts. I've never heard of Michael Ray. He's an adequate singer, although I abhor the tendency today to sing in an exaggerated southern drawl. Just sing in your normal voice, boys! That said, I like it. I wouldn't download it, but I like it.


#5 ~ Knowing You ~ Kenny Chesney

I had a hard time getting through this, but from the video comments it apparently has touched a lot of people. I'm not sure why. The same message has been delivered countless times in much better songs. All I can do is shrug and give it a:

C (and that's being generous)

#4 ~ Cold As You ~ Luke Combs

Truth be told, I never listen to a song I don't like all the way through. I know pretty quickly not to waste my time, but for the sake of this exercise, I forced myself to play the entire track. This is a guy whose voice I actually like, but this song pretty much reeks. I can't think of any aspect of it to recommend. Someone today who actually can sing needs to pick better songs, not squander his talent.

#3 ~ If I Didn’t Love You ~ Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood


Carrie Underwood is a great singer. Too bad she doesn't do country songs. The other guy? Nah. On the plus side, this isn't as bad as that Kim Kardashian/Other Guy song. Sadly, though, it's not much better.



#2 ~ Thinking ‘Bout You ~ Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter

Eeek. All all current duets just bad? I don't know who either of these people are, nor do I really care to know. This track is definitely noisy, I'll give it that. There's a lot going on it, none of it good.


#1 ~ Same Boat ~ Zac Brown Band

Not bad. Catchy, though a heavily borrowed melody. The unexpected chord changes help, as do the fiddles. A good sing-along. I can't say anything bad about it except that it's unoriginal.



Well, on the whole, this was a depressing exercise. Bottom line, stop recording duets, people! 

The Jon Pardi song rated highest, and this Michael Ray guy shows some promise. I'm a bit taken aback that a couple of actual country songs made the top ten, so this time around I'm seeing a smidgen of movement toward actual country. Now if labels could only sign some good, standout singers.

It'll be a while before I attempt this analysis again. Trust me, it's torture.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Happy Happy Christmas Music


I try to listen to Christmas music at least once each year before the big day arrives. Sometimes I forget until Christmas Eve -- because I'm not a holiday music fanatic who tunes my car radio to the local oldies station on Thanksgiving in order to experience thirty days of Christmas tunes. Face it, even though a few great Christmas recordings exist, they're best doled out in small bytes. I'm not humming along to Holly Jolly Christmas in the dawning days of May.

And truth be told, Christmas tunes make me melancholy -- for days long gone, souls long gone. For a home that no longer exists except in winter-churned memories. Why do I want to remember? I can't recapture those days. I cry at least once every year when I push play on those tracks.

So as I am wont to do, I search out holiday tunes that are either quirky or cheesy. Those make me feel better. 

I also don't want to hear how certain songs are "overplayed". They're played once a year!  How sick of them could anyone be? "Oh, I heard that last December. I'm so over it." Buck up! I've played Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" every December for fifty years and I still like it.

Christmas gets special dispensation.

As a matter of fact, I've discovered Christmas songs that've become favorites only in the past few years. So it's all new to me. 

Like this one:


 And a different take on a classic:

And if you don't like these, may the lord have pity on you:

And speaking of cheesy, there's nothing like a sweaty Elvis in the middle of June hunka-hunka bumping out Blue Christmas:

To clean your palate:

For country flavor:

I try to keep my Christmas music light. It's really for the best. But if I'm gonna cry, there's no better song to cry over than this:

As you can tell, I'm ambivalent about Christmas. I'm always happy, or relieved, when the new year comes. That doesn't negate the fact that the day comes around every December 25, and the music featured here makes it mostly "jolly".

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Stonewall Jackson


Nineteen fifties country music was even before my time, but thanks to country radio (the way it used to be) I still managed to become familiar with many of the fifties and early sixties hits. To say country music was different in the fifties is like saying that what passes for country music now bears any resemblance to actual country. While admittedly there were some great singers making the charts like Ray Price and Faron Young, fans mostly gravitated toward what we might call "stylists", artists who were barely competent singers, but whose voices were instantly recognizable when they exploded out of the local tavern's juke box. For one, Hank Williams was still charting in the fifties, and his voice was nothing to write home about. Add in Webb Pierce, Carl Smith, and yes, Stonewall Jackson. That's not a knock. It was, in truth, mostly about the songs.

And Stonewall chose and even co-wrote some good ones. According to Wikipedia (if you can trust that) Jackson's two number ones were both songs I didn't particularly like - Waterloo and BJ The DJ. However, he had much better ones, like this:

Why I'm Walkin'

And this one is my favorite, although the performance could use some improvement:

A Wound Time Can't Erase

I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water
Help Stamp Out Loneliness
In hindsight, I guess Waterloo wasn't that bad. Not good, per se, but not awful:

Not many of the fifties giants remain. Marty Robbins is gone, Faron is gone, Ray Price is gone. And on and on. It was a time unique in musical history and I'm glad it's been preserved.
Stonewall Jackson passed away on December 4 at the age of eighty-nine. Thanks, Stonewall, for contributing to the advent of country music. 
My fifties country playlist: