Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blast From The Past - Top Country Hits Of 1963

I thought it might be nice to get back into country music a little bit, since, you know, that's sort of my niche. I got sidetracked with some stuff that ticked me off (See: Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame), and other stuff, like American Idol. And by the way, I surrender. I wasn't going to post much about AI, but it's too good and/or bad to pass up.

But to get back into the country
groooove, I just randomly picked 1963. No reason, really. I just think it's kind of fun and eye-opening to review the hits from earlier days. You know, when it actually was country music.

Good old Wikipedia hasn't failed me yet. You can find just about anything there. If you're not picky about accuracy. But I figure, how hard is it to copy and paste info from Billboard Magazine? So, I'm relatively certain that Wik's list of top songs for any given year is probably correct.

We always like to start our shows with an uptempo number, so here we go:

BUCK OWENS & THE BUCKAROOS - ACT NATURALLY

This is a live performance! Lucky for me to have found this! From the syndicated Buck Owens TV show. Don't you love their BRIGHT! colorful outfits? (I guess guys don't call them "outfits").

They kick off the show with "Buckaroo", which I guess must have been the theme song of the show. It's so nice to see Don Rich again, by the way.

A common misconception is that Buck wrote "Act Naturally". It was actually written by Johnny Russell. Not that it's a big deal, but I like to give credit where it's due.

So, to sum up, a hit song from 1963 not written by Buck Owens; performed in some kind of Mayan temple, BRIGHT outfits; good beat; you can two-step to it.

Seems like this performance has it all.


DAVE DUDLEY - SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD

Is it just me, or does Dave seem kind of pissed off here? I guess being stuck in a tractor cab for six days would make anyone cranky. Suffice it to say, this is one dude you don't want to accidentally spill your drink on.

And he's hungry, too! That's just a recipe for disaster. I know he hasn't been eating well, because he had to stop to hitch up his pants in the middle of the song. He's obviously lost some weight while out on his run. And the little white pills, I hear, are good for weight loss, too.

To make matters worse, the only clean shirt he had to wear to the show was that yellow matador number. All in all, Dave was not in a good mood. Just ask the band, after he locked them out of the tour bus, and they had to hitchhike home that night.


BILL ANDERSON - STILL

Poor Bill. Jilted by his girl at the popcorn stand.

Little known fact ~ the reason she jilted him was because she just couldn't take his endless depressing recitations anymore.

She'd say something innocent, like, "How was your day?" And he'd launch into, "Another day, another hour, I just can't seem to get you off my mind."

"I think about your perfume as I'm making copies at the copy machine. Co-workers ask me what's wrong, and I say, oh, nothing. I'm just thinking about Sally's perfume again. And they nod. Because they can see just how much I miss your perfume".

"And then when I go to the little kitchenette to pour myself a cup of coffee, I see your laughing eyes in the coffee decanter, and I start to cry. Because I miss your laughing eyes. So, I pour a little cream in my coffee, and your eyes start to get all cloudy".

"And I sit down (on the floor, because there are no chairs in the little kitchenette), and I start to count on my fingers the hours until I can see you again."

"And Gus stops by, and he smiles, knowingly. He knows that I'm missing your laughing eyes......and your perfume."

"Eventually, I get up off the floor and go back to my cubicle. I start mindlessly shuffling papers at my desk, and in the papers, I see the swirl of your hair."

"So, in addition to your perfume and your laughing eyes, NOW I'm seeing the swirl of your golden hair."

"And my boss comes over, and he asks me, 'Did you get the Wilson report done yet?' And I look up at him with a tear in my eye. And he knows."

"He says, 'You've been writing another song about Sally with the cloudy eyes and the twirling hair and the Coty Emeraude cologne, haven't you?'"

"And I say, 'You're mostly right. It's LAUGHING eyes and SWIRLING hair. And it's HEAVEN SENT perfume'."

"But you get my drift."

"So, I've spent endless hours; okay maybe just eight hours, but they seemed endless, away from you, and now here you are."

"And you're asking me how my day was. Isn't that just like you? To ask how my day was."

"That's why I love you so much, and why I will never, ever be more than one step away from you."

"I'll be there in your thoughts, there in your dreams, there when you step outside in the morning to pick up your newspaper. That'll be me, parked at your curb, in the brown Chrysler Imperial. Trying to look inconspicuous. So, even if we're far apart (which can never happen, trust me), I love you STILL."

So, eventually Sally entered the witness protection program. Bill, to this day, writes letters to Sally (LONG letters). Ones that Sally will never read, because she has left no forwarding address.


SKEETER DAVIS - THE END OF THE WORLD

Here's Laura Ingalls, on the banks of Plum Creek, singing........

Oh, wait. That's not Laura Ingalls. That's Skeeter Davis!

One really can't begrudge the Little House On The Prairie attire, since this was a HUGE hit for Skeeter.

It was a cross-over hit!

I like it, but there's one thing that bugs me.....and that's the stilted recitation. Has she never seen Bill Anderson?? Wow, Skeeter, you should have learned from the master!

Why. Does my heart. Go on beating.
Why. Do these eyes. Of mine cry.

It's almost believable! But not exactly.

Anyway, kudos to Skeeter on a monster hit from 1963. And she was a really nice person. So just disregard my previous comments.


FLATT & SCRUGGS - THE BALLAD OF JED CLAMPETT

I couldn't find an actual performance by F&S, so this will have to suffice.

And who could forget this classic opener, anyway?

Of course, this video raises a lot of questions:

  • If you can just shoot at the ground and strike oil, where's my shotgun?
  • What happened to MRS. Clampett? I don't want to start any rumors or anything, but she never seemed to be mentioned on the show, even in passing. I don't know if Elly May was just dropped off on Jed's shack-step or what, but if there really WAS a Mrs. Clampett, apparently, nobody ever missed her. Again, I don't want to make any assumptions, but it seems like old Jed was pretty handy with that gun.
  • Who would take a dolt like Jethro along on a move to Beverly Hills? If I was in Jed's shoes, I would have just packed up in the dark of night and pushed my jalopy out to the main road, so no one would be the wiser.
  • What does, "Welllll, Doggies" mean?
  • Did Mr. Drysdale truly only have one customer at his bank? What the hell? How bad of a banker do you have to be, if you live in Beverly Hills, and the only customer you can get is some rube from Arkansas?

Well, these are my questions. I'm sure you have many of your own.


JOHNNY CASH - RING OF FIRE

While this is a 1968 performance, the song itself was recorded (and was a hit) in 1963. There were two versions of this video to choose from on YouTube, but I chose to go with the better quality one. Plus, by this time, Johnny'd stopped taking those "little white pills" that Dave Dudley had told him about, so he had a little more bulk on his frame.

The song was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore, and this performance featured not only the Carter Sisters, in their HOT PINK! dresses, but also a youngish-looking Carl Perkins.

A huge hit from the year 1963.


So, to sum up, there were a lot of big hit songs, most notably those from Patsy Cline, for which I could not find videos. Alas! I don't want to leave the impression that the ones I've included here were the only hits from that year. I wish, especially, that more videos from Patsy were available on YouTube. Maybe one day they will be.

I also couldn't find videos for "Abilene", "Detroit City", and "Ruby Ann", among others. Pity. I really like those songs. And my intent is not to exclude them.

But, as we say goodbye to 1963, let me leave you with this one. After the video, I do have a comment.

BOBBY BARE - 500 MILES AWAY FROM HOME

Okay, TWO comments.

1. If you want to learn how to do recitation correctly, Bill and Skeeter, here's someone from which to take notes.

2. CMA Hall Of Fame voters ~ Are you forgetting someone, per chance?? C'mon. It's time.




















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