Friday, June 20, 2008

Highway 101

It's difficult to convey the impact that Highway 101 had on my musical life.

In the mid-to-late-eighties, as a music lover who'd basically given up on country music, I decided to give it just one more chance. One more try.

I can't pinpoint exactly when I'd given up on country music. I think it was somewhere during the early eighties. I'd just had enough of Charley Pride doing remakes of pop hits. Finally admitted that Crystal Gayle was doing songs that, only in the most generous of minds, would be considered "country".

I switched over to the Top 40 radio, and didn't look back.

On the plus side, I found a lot of good-to-great rock songs, and I have fond memories to this day of the rock music of the eighties (as some of my previous posts make clear.)

Ironically, it turned out that I was somewhat behind the curve, when I finally decided to give country one more chance.

I've written this before, but here's who I missed: GEORGE STRAIT, Randy Travis, Clint Black, DWIGHT YOAKAM, ALAN JACKSON.

I remember turning my radio to the country station, and hearing some stuff that sounded pretty decent.

The first cassette tape (yes, CASSETTE TAPE) that I bought was by the Sweethearts Of The Rodeo. I would change the bedsheets and dust the furniture on Saturday mornings, with my boom box loaded with Sweethearts Of The Rodeo tunes. And it made me happy.

And, so it happened, my kids were at an age when they didn't need babysitters anymore, so my then-husband and I decided to take in some nightlife.

THE place to go, then, was the Dakota Lounge. Happily, it was only about 3 blocks from our house, so it was not only eye-opening, but convenient.

The Dakota Lounge had live acts. I remember it well. I had some definite favorites. Live 'n Kickin' was the best. The Back Behind The Barn Boys really packed 'em in. Firehouse was one of my personal favorites.

The acts started at 9:00. Before that, the sound system played the latest hits. If you showed up early, you'd get a table right in front of the bandstand.

And you'd order your Miller Lite and people-watch, and listen to some amazing tunes played over the sound system.

If you only listen to NEW! HOT! COUNTRY!, you have no idea what country music really is. Or should be.

You'd hear, "Guitars, Cadillacs", by Dwight Yoakam. You'd hear, "Fishin' In The Dark", by the Dirt Band. You'd hear, "Can't Win For Losing You', by Earl Thomas Conley. You'd hear, "Killin' Time", by Clint Black.


And you'd hear tunes, such as, "Somewhere Tonight", "Cry Cry Cry", and "(Do You Love Me) Just Say Yes", by a group called Highway 101.

Even if you didn't know how to two-step, these songs would pull you onto the dance floor.

Turns out that Paulette Carlson was from Minnesota. Paulette was country music's answer to Stevie Nicks. Not only did she have that distinctive voice, but she could write 'em, too! She wrote, "The Bed You Made For Me", among others.

Jack Daniels, Cactus Moser, Curtis Stone and Paulette Carlson. This was Highway 101. I don't care what line-up they came up with later. This was the nucleus of the band.

And they had great taste! They recorded Rodney Crowell's, "Somewhere Tonight". They recorded Roger Miller's, "Walkin' Talkin' Cryin' Barely Beatin' Broken Heart".

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Highway 101 at the North Dakota State Fair, and I have the picture to prove it:
Paulette Carlson gave me the courage to think that maybe even I could be a singer/songwriter.

Yes, it's taken me a lot of years to realize that. But I will always, always point to Paulette and to Highway 101 as a group, and most importantly, as a female singer/songwriter who had a major impact on my musical life, and on my personal journey to try to express whatever the heck it is that I need to express, musically.

Here's what I could find on YouTube:


Enjoy. And you're welcome!

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