Friday, February 15, 2008

The Country Music Hall Of Fame 2008

The 2008 inductees into the Country Music Hall Of Fame were announced this week.

A new twist this year is that the inductees will not be announced during the CMA awards telecast. They wouldn't want to waste valuable time that could be better used to showcase the latest eighteen-year-old sensation, or to feature another performance by someone like that country music stalwart, Sheryl Crow.

It's actually better for the inductees that they get their own separate ceremony. Frankly, most people who watch the CMA awards would have no clue who these people are, and these viewers would be irritated by having to endure such minutia. Bring on Bon Jovi!, they'd scream. Someone who's really country!

But, for those who might care, the inductees this year are:

Emmylou Harris
Tom T. Hall
The Statler Brothers
Pop Stoneman (posthumously)

Emmylou, as everyone is aware, has been a champion of country music for many, many years.

The first time I remember hearing Emmylou was when she did a duet of an old Louvin Brothers song, with Charlie Louvin himself ("If I Could Only Win Your Love"):

Of course, Emmylou was around long before that. She is indelibly linked to the late Gram Parsons, who in essence launched her career.

Through the years, she has recorded many classic songs, in addition to introducing fans to older songs that they may have forgotten.

Here is one of my favorites, from my favorite Emmylou album, "Elite Hotel". This song was written by Rodney Crowell, who is prominently featured in this video. The performance takes awhile to get going ~ there's a lot of, I guess, technical maneuvering prior to the song actually beginning, but it's worth watching, so stick with it. The song is, "Til I Gain Control Again".

Here's one more from Emmylou. This song was written by the late Townes Van Zandt. It was later recorded as a duet by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, but Emmy did it first. This performance is from 1977. The song is "Poncho And Lefty".

Tom T. Hall is probably better known as a songwriter than as a singer, although he had a string of hits on his own.

I found this video of Tom, along with Johnny Cash, performing a medley of his hits. (You will notice that Johnny plays a prominent role in this particular post).

As I said, Tom was probably better known for the songs he wrote for other artists, including, "You Always Come Back To Hurting Me", recorded by Johnny Rodriguez and "(If I Ever Fall In Love With A) Honky Tonk Girl", which was a hit for Faron Young.

Of course, Tom's best known song is this one:

It just struck me that this song actually has no chorus. It's all verses. So, it's the AAA (verse-verse-verse) song structure, as opposed to AABA (verse-verse-chorus-verse). It seems that most of Tom's songs didn't have choruses. That's sort of quirky. Of course, the song structure that's in style now looks something like A/#$!//B%-** (or something). And you'd better follow this rule, or you will never get a cut in Nashville!

The next inductee is (are?) The Statler Brothers.

I find it difficult to remember a time when the Statler Brothers weren't around. It seems like they've been on the country music scene forever.

They got their first career boost by becoming part of Johnny Cash's road show, and later his television program. And oh, by the way, they took their name from a brand of toilet paper.

Here's the Statler Brothers' first hit song (featuring the late Lew DeWitt):

Here is another Statlers hit, this one is from 1970. "Bed Of Roses":

I always loved when Johnny would do one of his gospel songs on his show, and would feature the entire cast. This performance not only includes the Statlers, but the Carter Sisters and Carl Perkins:

It's difficult to find a YouTube clip with Jimmy Fortune (who replaced Lew DeWitt). This is one of the few I could find, and poor Jimmy is reduced to singing June Carter's part. (On the actual recording of this song, it was Jan Howard who sang the female part, not June Carter. Just some useless trivia that I recall. I can barely remember my own name; yet, this I remember).

By the way, I should probably list the members of the Statler Brothers: Don Reid, Harold Reid, Phil Balsley, Lew DeWitt (originally), and Jimmy Fortune.

And now, for something completely different, here are the Brothers' alter egos, Lester (Roadhog) Moran & His Cadillac Cowboys, appearing on Nashville Now with Ralph Emery:

The posthumous inductee is Pop Stoneman. I don't know much about Mr. Stoneman, but I did manage to unearth some interesting facts:

In July and August 1927, Pop Stoneman helped Ralph Peer conduct the legendary Bristol sessions that led to the discovery of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. Ralph Peer was a talent scout, recording engineer and record producer in the field of music in the 1920s and 1930s, working for RCA Records. In August of 1927, while talent hunting in the southern states with Victor Records, Ralph Peer recorded both Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family in the same session at a makeshift studio in Bristol, Tennessee.

But back to Pop Stoneman, he and his wife had 14 children, and the family went on to form the Stonemans, a group that became popular in the bluegrass arena.

So, Pop Stoneman is being honored as an early pioneer of country music.

Next, I will be lobbying to get Bobby Bare inducted into the Hall Of Fame. I actually had to go to the Hall Of Fame website to make sure he wasn't already there. Couldn't believe it. Geez.

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