(Don't let the alien-creature eyes on the right scare you!!)
I'm being (semi) facetious, really.
However, the fact remains that I have been lobbying for Bobby Bare since 2007. If you don't believe me, check this post.
And this post.
And this post.
And this post.
And this post.
Therefore, I was stunned when I read the news this week that Bobby has been named one of the three Country Music Hall of Fame inductees. He was elected in the Veterans category (you think?)
But let's start at the beginning. Speaking of veterans, "Cowboy" Jack Clement was a producer and engineer at Sun Records in Memphis, when he discovered this guy:
Jack also worked with the other big three at Sun: Johnny, Roy, and Carl; and he wrote this song for Johnny:
Later, Jack moved to RCA in Nashville, and produced a bunch of hit records for artists such as Bobby Bare, Charley Pride, and Waylon Jennings; and wrote more hits too, such as:
This is my favorite song written by Jack Clement:
Before Kenny eventually shed his cloak of faux-country authenticity, he was lucky enough to record two songs which shall live in...well, not "infamy". The opposite of infamy ~ "famy"?
That video brings back happy memories. I remember watching the Porter Wagoner Show on Saturday afternoons, and liking his new unknown girl singer a lot.
Kenny Rogers ~ what can one say? If one was alive in the nineteen seventies, she knows Kenny Rogers. His wild popularity in that decade cannot be underestimated. He was the singer of the decade. Kenny started out as a rock singer, with a group called the First Edition. They played on all the network variety shows in the sixties: Ed; the Smothers Brothers...I don't know ~ Laugh-In? Maybe not Laugh-In; but you couldn't turn on your TV and not see this group singing, "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)". Kids would basically buy any song whose title was slapped across the label of a 45 record back then.
Kenny had his big breakout moment when the group, now called Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, released this single (written by Mel Tillis):
You probably can't tell from the video, because Kenny is wearing giant wire-rims, but his eyes actually looked humanoid during this period.
Well, it wasn't long after that Kenny struck out on his own, now having earned some unsought country music cred. Thus, the First Edition was cast to the winds; I'm guessing never to be heard from again.
These songs were:
Without a doubt, "Lucille" is a catchy song; an earworm, if you will. Not a lot of three-quarter-time songs are written, which is a shame, because that rhythm pattern is indigenous to human beings; it is akin to being rocked in the cradle as a baby. My only quibble with the song is that it takes too long to get to the chorus ~ too much setup. It should have been shortened; compacted. I bet people turned the dial the first couple of times they heard it. "Too boring", they no doubt said to themselves. It was only after hearing the chorus one day (when they were not in control of the radio knob) that people said, Hey! This is good! And, on the plus side, I can sing along with it! Ta-DA! A hit.
Kenny's next cyclonic hit was an inferior song; but still catchy ~ again, because of the chorus. How many people, even today, utter the words (in some random situation), "You gotta know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em"? Well, there you go!
Kenny went on to record hits by such country luminaries as Lionel Ritchie.
I saw Kenny in concert once in the seventies. Granted, he was a teeny, tiny speck, but I can still say I saw him. I was on vacation with my mom and dad and my two little boys, and we discovered that Kenny was in town for a concert at the town's cavernous auditorium. We managed to snag tickets in the very top row. Kenny was a good entertainer. Oh, he was no Marty Robbins, but he still put on a good show.
I don't remember if he performed this song during the concert, but it is my favorite Kenny Rogers record. The only performance video available is one in which he incomprehensibly ratchets up the tempo, which basically ruins the song; so I decided to go with this static photo and the song performed in its original (good) version:
Naturally, I cannot leave the topic of Kenny Rogers without acknowledging this 1983 hit, written by the renowned country songwriter, Barry Gibb; and recorded as a duet with that unknown girl singer from the Porter Wagoner Show.
Let me just say, here and now, that if you had a radio in 1983, you couldn't outrun this song. Every freakin' time I got in my car to drive somewhere, this song was playing. It got far more radio play than the song warranted. Yes, yes, it was catchy....the first million times I heard it. Then it just got annoying as all hell. AND it made no sense; but why should I quibble?
Here ya go, and don't say I didn't warn you:
Congrats, Kenny. Can't say you didn't earn it.
Why have I thought, since forever, that Bobby Bare deserved to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame?
I don't know that it's anything I can put my finger on, exactly. Bobby sort of seeped into my consciousness, like a shadow in the night. I always knew he was there. I even bought his first greatest hits album (on RCA) back when I was a pre-adult. He was even there when I was a nine-year-old kid, and was creating my famous comic book with my cousin, which you would have to read about in my book (ha ~ snuck another plug in there, didn't I?)
I guess it just struck me one day that, wow, Bobby Bare has recorded a bunch of great songs! And why hasn't anyone formally recognized that?
In doing a (trust me, condensed) retrospective of Bobby's career, this blurb struck me as funny, and sort of typical of Bobby's life and the humor with which he's conducted his career:
Bobby also had a hit in the pop field, "The All-American Boy," released under the name Bill Parsons. He was drafted before he could tour with the hit, and the record label hired another singer to be Bill Parsons and cash in on its success.
Let's go back a (long) ways, shall we? To the early nineteen sixties:
And, well, you knew this one was coming (another song written by Mel Tillis ~ I guess both Bobby and Kenny Rogers can basically thank Mel Tillis for their careers)...
Bobby left RCA in 1970 and went to Mercury Records, where he had some monstrous hits, like:
And this (sorry, no performance video):
Both of the above songs were written by a little-known songwriter named Kris Kristofferson. Did I mention that Bobby was a wiz at discovering new, great talent?
Bobby tripped on back to RCA in 1973; long enough to record this song, which merits a chapter all it own in Rich Farmers (I only write about the important stuff, you know):
And, just for fun, he also recorded this song on RCA (and it's fun ~ c'mon!):
Wikipedia says this about Bobby Bare:
In nearly 50 years of making music, he has made many firsts in country music. Bare is credited for introducing Waylon Jennings to RCA. He is also one of the first to record from many well- known song writers such as Jack Clement, Harlan Howard, Billy Joe Shaver, Mickey Newbury, Tom T. Hall, Shel Silverstein...and Kris Kristofferson.
More like "way overdue deserving".
I want to say, thanks, Bobby Bare, for almost fifty years of great music.
And, I'm sure if Bobby knew me, he would thank me, too, for getting him inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
It's the least I could do, really. After all, he hung in there with me for practically my entire life.