Showing posts with label alabama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label alabama. Show all posts

Friday, November 11, 2022

Jeff Cook

It was once a running joke in my household. "Oh, Alabama is coming to town!" 

My hometown was small, about 40,000 souls, and while we had a brand new civic center, it took a few years for major country acts to catch wind of it. But Alabama found it right away. In fact, the first country concert I attended in that new building was by those four guys. It was around 1980, and they had no opening act that I can recall. I wasn't a big fan or really even a medium fan, but I craved the concert experience. We sat in the upper tier of seats and thus the band was but a speck. 

I heard them play songs like this:

The band wasn't my style. They played a lot of Southern Country Rock, arguably my least favorite sub-genre. But at least they showed up. In fact, if there was ever a harder touring country band than Alabama, I can't name it.
And they continued to show up, year after year. Thus the running joke. And I went a few more times, during which their music got better.

I never bought an Alabama album, but I bought the two singles above. It seemed they'd drifted further from their Lynyrd Skynyrd selves and toward a more commercial sound. Which to my ears was a definite plus. 
And boy, once Alabama took off, it took off. The band won Entertainer Of The Year at the CMA's three years in a row, not to mention the roughly 200 other major awards bestowed upon them. It's difficult to recall a time when Alabama didn't exist. 
In all four of the above videos, it's not actually Randy Owen who stands out, but Jeff Cook ~ Cook sawing the fiddle, Cook playing the double neck guitar. Jeff Cook singing harmony.

Maybe it was due to the years slipping by (both theirs and mine), but my favorite Alabama tracks are those the band released in the 90's.


The band, such as they are (sans the ailing Jeff Cook and the long-ago discarded Mark Herndon) appeared recently at an outdoor venue this summer not far from where I live. Did I go? No. Did I consider going? No. "Alabama is coming to town!" belongs to a time that no longer exists.

Nevertheless, everybody knows there would be no forty-year Alabama legacy if there hadn't been a Jeff Cook.

Rest in peace.



Saturday, May 2, 2020


I long had a love-hate relationship with Alabama. My hometown was relatively small and while we were initially visited by country stars (who traveled everywhere), by the nineteen seventies our concert options were paltry. We had a brand new venue and nothing to see there. Residents of big cities in the nineteen seventies wouldn't understand why someone would venture out to see Barry Manilow or Jay Leno. I saw them both. I saw lots of acts I wouldn't ordinarily choose because they were my only options for live entertainment.

But God bless Alabama. Alabama showed up a couple times a year. They must be more traveled than even Bob Dylan. That might be why I dismissed them -- they were so prevalent. It became a joke -- "Are you going to see Alabama...again?"

I never saw Alabama up close. I was always high up in the bleachers and I didn't fuss with binoculars. The band consisted of tiny claymation figures with big amps. But the Civic Center was packed to capacity.

Alabama was a new strain of country -- not really country; not rock. I really liked some of their tracks and I really hated others.I was still buying singles and "The Closer You Get" was one I plucked from the Woolworth bin:

Oh, play me....I liked this one, too. although this video edit would not be my choice :

Like all of us, Alabama matured. Once their initial flame began to flicker, they produced their best work: They'd become arrogant after winning all those CMA awards, and pretty much unbearable.It's not that they hadn't worked awfully hard for their success, but nobody likes a braggart.

There are some artists who stick around so long, one takes them for granted. Most stars burn out relatively quickly. Even those you think had a years' long string of stardom in actuality simply had several mega-hits clustered together. And frankly, few artists are able to maintain a label contract for more than a few years, especially now. In the so-called modern era of country music, those enduring artists include Alan Jackson, Merle Haggard, George Strait, and surprise! Alabama. While Merle kept recording hits into the eighties, after a time one did not jump with excitement at a new Haggard release. The same can be said for Jackson. George Strait remained the exception well into the 2000's. 

Then there was Alabama. I don't recall ever buying an Alabama album, and after the seventies I no longer spent money on singles. In the eighties and even the nineties, radio was the means by which most people caught new songs. I heard Alabama on my car radio throughout those decades and their songs barely registered beyond background music. It really wasn't until I was able to revisit some of their tracks via SiriusXM that I realized some of them were quite good.

Admittedly, I like this one because it has a classic country vibe, but there's nothing wrong with that:

I can't find a performance video of this song that I like, so look at the pretty pictures instead. This might be my favorite Alabama track:

The cool thing about the next track, to me, is the subtle background vocals that add a touch of spice to the recording:

For many years the band personified the southern rock aura; the Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams, Jr. mien. Many people worship that. I'm not one of those people. That may have been why I casually tossed off their live performances. I wouldn't mind seeing the more mature Alabama, though.

I chuckled when in my research I learned that Alabama performed their final show in October, 2004 in Bismarck, North Dakota. That's about thirty years after I first saw them live -- in Bismarck, North Dakota. I wonder how many class of '73 country-hating gray hairs were in the audience that night. Maybe they went because there weren't any other entertainment options in town. 

Or maybe they went to show appreciation for a thirty-plus year career.

Friday, July 12, 2019

When Your Band's Name Gets You Fired

Some asshat at an event called the Du Quoin State Fair in Illinois decided to fire the band Confederate Railroad from its grandstand lineup (after signing a contract with them) because of their name. The band was scheduled to perform with Restless Heart and Shenandoah under the banner “90s Country Reloaded Day” (one of my all-time favorite country eras).

The "woke" imbecile went on to state:

“While every artist has a right to expression, we believe this decision is in the best interest of serving all the people in our state.”

Confederate Railroad was formed in 1987 and hit its stride in the early nineties with country hits like "Queen of Memphis", "She Took It Like a Man",  and "Trashy Women" (not a personal favorite). While not by any means one of my preferred bands, they were innocuous; and you know, I never gave the band's name a second thought. Every band needs a name, after all.

In the case of the Blah Blah Blah State Fair, apparently some annoying political blogger (is there any other kind?) complained that someone's (his) fragile feelings would be hurt by a band he'd never in his life heard of taking the stage in front know, people. And who reads blogs anyway? Apparently only beta boys from the Illinois Ag Department.

Here's the deal, Ag Dude:  It's just a name.

Coming up with a band name can be a tedious process or a spur-of-the-moment one. Sure, you could use a random word generator, which would produce a result like Fungus Quarry; or you could fret about it for months and quibble with your band mates until the resulting animus causes the group to break up. And if you do decide to stay together and ultimately land upon a name that everyone is okay with, then hit the big time, how could you know that some thirty years later a quivering mouse will pull the covers over his head and sob because your moniker has triggered infantile PTSD?

Sure, it starts with Confederate Railroad, but where does it end? We could dissect every country band name and find something to enrage us.

For instance, did you know that Oak Ridge, Tennessee was the place where in 1942 the first atomic bomb was built? Bye bye, Oak Ridge Boys. Sorry.

The name Asleep At The Wheel offends me because it promotes drowsy driving. Ray Benson, you had a great run. Now it's over.

I suppose you didn't know that The Statler Brothers were named after a brand of facial tissue. Is tissue bio-degradable? The environment is too precious to risk it. Harold, Don, et al ~ you've gotta go.

Restless Heart? Making fun of cardiac patients? Real sensitive.

Don't even get me started on Alabama. Roy Moore? Come on...

When it comes to Diamond Rio, I'm stringently opposed to sullying the earth to mine precious stones for the top one per cent to flash.

Oh, so you call yourselves Highway 101? I'd suggest Bike Lane 101 as an alternative. Need I explain?

The Judds ~ I don't know what "Judds" are, but I'm pretty certain I'm opposed to them.

Soon all the billboards will advertise, "Band ~ Your Name Here ~ Coming Soon!", and one can roll the dice on purchasing tickets for the show.

I'd vent my rage at the dolts who work for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, but it's all so silly (except not silly for the band, who lost a crucial paycheck).

I will calm everyone's nerves by posting this:

Friday, June 23, 2017

1983 Was Not A Red-Letter Year In Country Music

In 1983 I was still driving my '76 Chevy Malibu. I liked it. It fit. It was also the first brand-new car I'd ever owned, so I felt like I had moved up in the world. I'd graduated from a used powder blue 1966 Chevrolet Impala to a they-saw-me-coming '74 Chevy Vega hatchback with the hue and texture of a can of Campbell's Cream of Tomato soup. Each of those cars had cost a couple hundred dollars at the most; the Malibu I had to finance! Sign papers for! The Malibu had a sometimes-it-works air conditioning system and tan folding faux leather seats. It was perfect, and it wasn't orange!

I didn't have far to travel in my tiny town -- my longest drive was north along Ninth Street to Mom and Dad's house; a fifteen-minute cruise if the stoplights didn't hit just right. I visited Mom and Dad a lot on sunny afternoons  -- my kids were in elementary school and I worked second shift. My days were free and Dad and Mom were my tether. Easing the Malibu into their driveway and spying Dad bent over in the front yard, yanking weeds from the flower bed, felt like home, even though I'd never ever lived in that house. I knew Mom would be upstairs in the kitchen, running a damp rag across the counter top, checking the Mr. Coffee to determine if it'd stopped dripping. I'd pull out a chair from the dining room table and Mom would offer me coffee and a slice of pie and we'd talk about nothing much. Dad would broach the stairs, swiping a handkerchief across his brow; pour himself a cup and ease his butt into an adjoining seat. I have no recollection of what those conversations entailed, but I remember that when I turned to go home, I always felt better -- stronger somehow.

Music was in the doldrums. I was on the verge of giving up on country, and soon I would. Shelly West was still basking in the after-glow of the Urban Cowboy fad and Crystal Gayle was a novelty, famous for her ridiculously long hair and the fact that she was Loretta Lynn's little sister. Sylvia was a producer's creation -- another try at Chet's Nashville Sound that was a long-time gone and hardly lamented. Alabama was still hanging around, as they were wont to do. Merle was on a down-slide; Charley Pride was still grasping onto the tattered shreds of his once-red-hot career. Even the artists I loved, like Ronnie Milsap and the Oaks, were looking at their careers in the rear-view mirror. John Conlee had exhausted his one big hit. Much like the late sixties, producers paired male and female voices, but the result was pop pap; as opposed to "After The Fire Is Gone". Country was lost and needed someone to save it. That someone hadn't yet ridden over the horizon.

Still, like any year in music, there were gems.

Alabama was on it's next-to-last gasp:

I think the first time I became aware of the Oak Ridge Boys was when they recorded Rodney Crowell's "Leavin' Louisiana In The Broad Daylight". Then I did a bit of digging and found that they were once a gospel band. As a Midwesterner, I was oblivious to gospel music. Alice and I, though, had seen the Statesmen as an opening act at one of the many country concerts we'd attended, and we'd gotten on board. The deep bass voice, the tenor, and the harmony parts had roped us in. The call and response.

For a time, country gospel became our new obsession. Of course, we were fourteen, so everything to us was brand new.

That history cemented my love for the Oak Ridge Boys, who had this hit song in 1983:

Along about July, a couple of old hands rode to the rescue:

Along about 1979, I talked Mom into attending an indoor rodeo with me. I told her that a new country artist would be performing in between the barrel racing and the calf roping. In the west, rodeos were not considered weird or corny. I'd been to lots of rodeos -- I was familiar with the eight-second rule for bull riders. It's not so much that I was a rodeo fan, but that live entertainment was sorely lacking in our town. We went to whatever the box office put forth. I was, however, enamored with Reba McEntire and had never seen her in person, so....

 Later, I would resent Reba for unnaturally expanding the boundaries of what could be called "country". She took advantage of her fame. She loved on-stage costume changes and male background dancers. But she was country once, and I'm happy I could introduce Mom to her voice.

The Number Eighty-Seven song of the year flew past me, because I'd by then long abandoned country music (as it had abandoned me).  It's funny how life works. Eighty-seven? Truly? This song rests firmly within my top twenty country songs of all time, and it only reached eighty-seven on the charts? Country fans needed a firm shake. (And speaking of rodeos):

The truth, though, sad as it may be, is that on my drive up Ninth Street to Mom and Dad's, with the seventeen-story Capitol Building casting its shadow across my sun visor, is that THIS is the song that 1983 will be remembered for. 

I remember that drive, and that day, so succinctly. I remember muttering to myself, "If I hear this song one more time, I'm going to stab my radio with a serrated carving knife."

Funny how time works. The song doesn't seem so bad now, thirty-four years after the fact. 


Friday, November 4, 2016

The CMA'S at Fifty

I have lots of thoughts about fifty years of the Country Music Association awards, and I'm the one to share them, because I watched the very first telecast in 1968.

I didn't watch this year, but I'll catch up on the videos. I'm prepared to be disappointed, but who knows? Maybe I won't be. But I think I will.

Fifty is a momentous milestone. Fifty years of country music!

I remember 1970, when Merle Haggard collected every award except female vocalist of the year. I remember a tipsy Charlie Rich pulling a lighter out of his pocket and setting fire to the card that read, "John Denver". I remember Alan Jackson stopping in mid-song and breaking into a rendition of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" in protest of George Jones not being invited to perform on the awards telecast. I remember when Alabama was a foregone conclusion to be named Vocal Group of the Year and the other four bands just filled out Alabama's dance card. I remember Rodney Crowell winning Album of the Year in 1988 for "Diamonds and Dirt", and thinking, I guess the CMA members do have taste after all.

But that's all for another day.

I will say this, however:  Randy Travis.

Stay tuned....

Friday, August 5, 2016

My Random Number Generator Gave Me....

1985 in country music!

I'm not thrilled with my generator's random number, because 1985 was not a banner year for country. Country music was in that awkward stage -- between utter crap and greatness. There were some glimmers of hope, though. If one wants music that's really bad, they could pick basically any year between the late seventies and...well, 1985.

As the picture above denotes, however, ooh yes, there were glimmers.

I could waste yours and my time doing a corny countdown, but let's just start with the number one single of the year, shall we?

The deep, complicated reason why I love this song:  IT'S COUNTRY.

"Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind" is essentially the perfect country song. But, oh, it's not just the song -- it's the sublime performance, from the tiny yodel in George's delivery to the heart-thumping twin fiddles to the four-four shuffle beat to the just-right steel guitar riff.

Readers of this blog know how I feel about George Strait. George, along with Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam, saved country music. It was almost dead and mercifully begging to be buried, and then George came along, like a vision.

I've told the story before of how I'd given up on country music; switched the dial on my radio in disgust; became enamored with MTV and real true (not facsimile) music. Then I happened to take the kids over to Mom and Dad's one evening and Mom popped in a VHS tape (yep!) of some hillbilly singer performing live somewhere in Texas. I thought, "What's this crap?" I didn't know any of the songs (they weren't being played on MTV). The singer was a "pretty boy" in a big cowboy hat -- no doubt another imposter trying to grab Merle Haggard's mantle. I went home that night more puzzled than impressed. But though I was loathe to admit it, this guy had something. And gradually, I began alternating between the rock station and the country station that I had to reprogram into my car radio.

So, yes and thank you, George Strait. Even hard-headed goofballs like me can learn something.

I wish I could say 1985 turned out to be a great year for my rediscovery of country music, but alas, it wasn't.

There was this girl singer that I'd first noticed a few years before. She wasn't hitting it big, but I liked her. I actually talked my mom into going to an indoor rodeo with me because I'd heard this gal would be performing...I guess in between the bulldogging and the steer wrestling competitions. (In a small town, we took our entertainment where we could find it.) Mom was about as impressed with Reba McEntire as I was the first time I saw George Strait. I, though, liked her because she was authentically country. That would sadly change later. Some musical lifespans are short.

Here is how she once was:

I am perplexed that the next song was released in 1985. It seems to me to be a latter Judds hit, because once again, the Judds I first discovered were singing "Mama He's Crazy", but maybe I just have time muddled in my brain. I apologize for not being able to find a better video -- I would love to know what happened to all the eighties music videos that were played on CMT, because they sure are nigh impossible to find. So, here's the best I could find:

Ricky Skaggs was a bluegrass artist who wanted to become a country star. And he did. But he's still a bluegrass artist. Be proud of who you are! I like bluegrass. 1985 could stand an infusion of bluegrass. Here's some:

Here's something good. Good. I love Rosanne Cash's voice; not crazy about her politics, but that's neither here nor there in the music realm. Rosanne Cash is how would-be singers would like to sound. That's damn high praise.

I really dislike Marie Osmond. I suppose it's not her fault, per se, but she signed on to do those weight loss commercials, where she poses in her deceptively slimming dress and looks down her nose at us, because she lost fifty pounds, because some big company gave her their program for free. Nevertheless, this is a good song -- mostly because of Dan Seals:

Not to be redundant, but c'mon. This, again, is a perfect country song. If you've ever spent a night out at a honky tonk and you hear the opening strains of this song, you're gonna go out on the dance floor and two-step -- it's decreed. Yep, this is George again:

I do believe that Alabama is the act I've seen live more times than any other. It's not that I'm a great Alabama fan; it's just that they toured incessantly and they kept showing up in my town. Again, we grabbed our entertainment where we could find it. I like them -- they're okay -- they certainly were a staple of my local country music station for about a decade. So, here they are:

It's a myth that The Highwaymen were a big phenomenon in 1985. But myths are okay. As long as we know the truth. And face it, here are some country music giants.

I love Ronnie Milsap -- is he still performing? I'm thinking 1975 was the first time I heard him, so he had a great run.  There are those artists you just want to tuck inside your pocket and reach for them when you need a musical lift. You don't necessarily think about them very often, but they're there.

Woefully, I didn't see many of these artists live. I saw Ronnie, Alabama (three frickin' thousand times), Reba; and it was an unbelievable quest, traveling all the way to Montana only to find that the artist's bus got mired in a snowstorm in Wyoming and his Montana show was canceled; then a few months later, to a city much closer to home -- Fargo, North Dakota -- to finally, FINALLY! see George Strait in concert. I have no regrets -- I can at least say I saw George Strait live. 

1985 wasn't that bad. One great song can make up for a year's worth of crap. And there was more than one good song that year.

It's kind of unreasonable to expect more than that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The CMA Awards - Goin' For More In '84!

Wow, is it 1984 already? Those first few years of the eighties went by fast!

Looking back to the year 1984, one finds that nothing earth-shattering happened in the world of news. But we don't really care about the news anyway, do we? We care about the important stuff, like TV and music. That's the stuff we remember.

So, in pop music, this song was popular and won Grammy awards. Tina was, here, about 72 years old, I believe. So today, that would make her 96 years old, and she's still going out on tour! That's stamina!

A truly classic acceptance speech from the Oscar Awards in 1984 was delivered by somebody we all really, really like.......Sally Field. I mean it; we like her; we really, really like her.

The big three television networks were still serving up their hot piping cauldron of crap; namely prime-time soaps, such as Dynasty and Dallas and any other show that started with the letter "D". There was this show, however, that cracked the top 20:

My brother, and my other brother, were big fans of this show.

But on to the topic at hand - the 1984 CMA Awards.

I bet you can't guess who the INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR was. No, really. Guess.

If you guessed anyone other than CHET ATKINS, then you haven't been paying attention. Because he, I estimate, won this award approximately 267 times.

For the second straight year, RICKY SKAGGS and his BAND* won the INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR award.

*band to be named later (actually, Kentucky Thunder)

Here's a gospel tune from the band*:

And, as long as we're talking about two-fers, the MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR statuette was once again presented to LEE GREENWOOD.

Not surprisingly, if you type "Lee Greenwood" in the YouTube search field, all you get is one song! Over and over. Yes, that one. I can attest, however, that Lee did record other songs. I have a CD of Lee's, and it doesn't just have one track. Just to set the record straight.

So, I switched over to, and I did find two Lee Greenwood videos. And yes, one of them is that song. But here's another one (featuring, apparently, Patrick Duffy from that number one prime-time soap, Dallas):

And, after a brief sabbatical, THE STATLER BROTHERS were once again back on top, reclaiming the award for VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR.

Yes, Alabama had kind of swooped in for three years and absconded with the award, but now the Brothers were back! Man, can you imagine if someone had pilfered Chet Atkins's award??

Here are Harold, Phil, Don, and now Jimmy Fortune, doing their version of an old ditty:

A new face appeared in 1984 to claim the FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR award. And much like Barbara Mandrell, we would see this artist standing at the podium many, many times in years to come.

I searched hard to find a video of when this lady was still "country" (and before she had some "work done", I'm guessing). After scrolling through many pages, I found one! This song was recorded a few years after the 1984 awards, but my criteria was to find a country song, so here's 1984's female vocalist of the year, REBA MCENTIRE:

The SONG OF THE YEAR was written by Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar. And yes, I know these are country awards, but the one and only video of Gary Morris performing this song has been removed from YouTube. So, here's the version that everyone remembers anyway (sorry, Gary, but it's true). From that weepie movie (and I mean that in a good way), Beaches, here's THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS, courtesy of Bette Midler:

Both the ALBUM OF THE YEAR and SINGLE OF THE YEAR belonged to Anne Murray this year. For something that was so popular, you'd think there'd be a video available. But no.

But, you know, I can't just NOT include this. It won two awards, for pete's sake. So, here's a picture to look at, while you listen to the album and single of the year, "A Little Good News":

I've been sort of saving the VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR category, because it's just so odd and quirky. You know, ol' Willie likes to record duets with, well, everyone. So, here he was, just doing his usual thing, recording duets. He had the guy from Spain drop by the studio one day. They slapped together a little number, and lo and behold, they ended up winning the vocal duo award! Yes, that's right. WILLIE NELSON and JULIO IGLESIAS. And here they are! (And sorry, the audio does tend to cut out on this, but it's the only video available).

Of course, whenever I think of this song, I'm reminded of this, and it's a hoot:

On the HORIZON, here comes a duo that sure could sing country like it was meant to be sung. Sometimes we don't appreciate artists enough when they are on the scene. It takes hindsight to realize just how great they were. I'll admit, Naomi annoyed me a lot. But when she was singing harmony with Wynonna, (as opposed to talking and acting out) well, it was sublime. Here are the 1984 HORIZON AWARD winners, The Judds:

That brings us, of course, to the big award of the night, ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR. Yes, these guys kept on winning a whole bunch of awards through the years (although not vocal group in 1984, snickered Harold Reid). And yes, in retrospect, they deserved all the kudos they received. Here's a 1984 song. Just one of many from their multi-decade career. The 1984 ENTERTAINERS OF THE YEAR, ALABAMA:


Anyone who knows anything about the history of country music surely has heard of Ralph Peer. In 1925, Ralph Peer set out on an odyssey to discover new talent to record for "Victor Records". He traveled to Appalachia, where he found a couple of acts that country-philes may have heard of. And once he found them, he recorded them in the field. Here's one of them:

Here's another:

Without Jimmie Rodgers and without the original Carter Family, well, there wouldn't be country music. And no one would've heard them if it hadn't been for Ralph Peer.

Floyd Tillman

Floyd Tillman came from Willie's old stompin' grounds in Texas, and was an early influence on Willie. Floyd specialized in that musical genre that was indiginous to Texas, western swing. He also had a very distinctive style of singing, as represented here, with his biggest hit song, "Slippin' Around":

Here's another song written by Floyd Tillman, performed here by Shelby Lynne; "I Love You So Much (It Hurts Me)":

So, country music expanded its horizons a bit in 1984, welcoming a pop singer from Spain and a country-pop singer from Canada, while still recognizing the contributions from states such as ALABAMA. 1984 saw the rise of future legends The Judds and Reba McEntire. And we can't forget that Chet Atkins was apparently the most famous country star of the UNIVERSE.

I'm looking forward to 1985, if for no other reason than to find out if Chet wins again!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The CMA Awards - Yippee For 1983!

Greetings once again, fellow time travelers! I'm still here; still countin' 'em down, year by year.

And this time around, it's 1983! Yes, ten years after I graduated from high school!

Looking back to the news of 1983, I see that a record budget deficit was projected - ha! If only they knew! That's small change! Peanuts really, compared to now!

In pop culture, they were still making those new-fangled things called "music videos". This was one of the top hits (videos) of 1983:

On the TV front, apparently (since every time I search for events of 1983, this comes up), it was the final season of M*A*S*H. Now, yea, I watched M*A*S*H, too, but in the larger scheme of things, this was NOT the best television series ever. Not even close.

We lost a couple of music greats in 1983. Here's Karen Carpenter:

Dennis Wilson (and here, he is forced to keep time by clapping his hands):

But, back to country music.

We (again) saw some repeats in 1983; the first being the SONG OF THE YEAR. Now, I'm not here to judge, but I just think that the CMA's needed to stop repeating themselves. It's all well and good that they really (really) liked certain songs and certain recordings. But surely there was enough new material each year to choose something new.

But no. They liked what they liked, and therefore, once again, the SONG OF THE YEAR was this (as written by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, and Mark James - a true group effort):

ALWAYS ON MY MIND (and yes, this is a different video, because I really hate repeating myself)

And yes. CHET ATKINS was (again) the INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR. And no, I'm not posting any more Chet videos, because frankly, this is getting out of hand.

was, again, named FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR. As I've mentioned before, the CMA's are but a snapshot in time. And Janie certainly had her time. But to be honest, she didn't really have too many hits. I basically remember Janie Fricke as a duet partner to Johnny Duncan. (That's not necessarily a bad thing to be remembered for).

So, here's a duet:

(Did I say previously that 1982 was the most boring year ever for the CMA's? I want to change my vote.)

We can kill a couple of birds here, with the ALBUM OF THE YEAR and the VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR. I promised you earlier that ALABAMA would get their fair share of awards, and I didn't steer you wrong.


ALBUM OF THE YEAR - The Closer You Get - Alabama

Luckily for all of us, there was something new on the scene, and that was the SINGLE OF THE YEAR. Good ol' John Anderson.

Here's an acoustic version of the SINGLE OF THE YEAR, "Swingin'":

And, as if that wasn't enough, we also had a new VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR! Yes kids. Something pretty good.........pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty good.


The INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR, this year, 1983, was the RICKY SKAGGS BAND. Apparently, they didn't have an actual name back then, but they came to be known as KENTUCKY THUNDER. Here they are, in later years:

EDIT: Okay, this is actually NOT Kentucky Thunder. It's the Del McCoury Band. But Ricky is featured here.

Is it just me, or is this stuff great? There was a time when I hated bluegrass. Now I LOVE it. It is one of the purest forms of music. Kind of reminds you of what music was like before the "suits" got their hands on it.....and ruined it.

The MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR in 1983 was Lee Greenwood. And it was because of this song:

Yes, I'll admit, I'm a sucker for a good patriotic song. And, as patriotic songs go, this one is pretty hard to beat. I like the Star Spangled Banner, too, but this song ranks right up there.

I didn't even know that Lee himself wrote this song. So kudos to you, Lee Greenwood! This song has served us well in trying times. It kind of says it all. And it's been a staple of Republican stump speeches for lo these many years.

Of course, that leads us to the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR category. Had I been Randy, Jeff, Teddy, and Mark, I wouldn't have wanted to follow Lee Greenwood. Who would? But, after all, this was the primo award of the evening, and ALABAMA captured it!

Here they go:

As anthems go, this one is pret-ty, pret-ty good, too. It's no God Bless The USA, but it's still good! Congrats to Alabama for winning the entertainer of the year award for 1983!

Hall of Fame

Little Jimmy Dickens

Whereas, in 1982, three folks were inducted into the hall of fame, in 1983, only one person received that honor. Little Jimmy Dickens.

Yes, he's Little. Thus the name.

Here he is, with Brad Paisley, on his 60th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ol' Opry:

So, 1983, much like 1982, was not the most exciting year ever for the CMA awards. But it still had its high points. Namely, Lee Greenwood, John Anderson, and - don't forget - Alabama. A mixed bag, to be sure.

But we've got our fingers crossed for 1984!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The CMA Awards - What's New In 1982!

I don't like to prejudice you right off the bat, but welcome to one of the most boring awards years ever!

Yes, 1982. I think people were feeling kind of apathetic. "Oh, just pick someone. We don't really care."

And, in scanning the news events of the year, it appears that nothing really happened.

Even in pop culture, things looked bleak. The most popular TV shows were horrid - empty calories, to be sure: Dynasty, Dallas, Falcon Crest, The Love Boat, Magnum, PI, The A Team:

Popular music? Ish. Here are some of the hit songs: Ebony and Ivory, Abracadabra (I wanna reach out and grab ya), I Can't Go For That (oh no - no can do!), I Love Rock and Roll (which is basically the title repeated over and over).

The movies were atrocious. If it hadn't been for E.T., I think everyone would have just stayed home and watched The Love Boat.

So, that kind of tells you what's coming, in the world of the CMA awards.

To start things off, CHET ATKINS was named INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR for the thousandth time. Again, who doesn't love Chet Atkins? But I'm thinkin' there were some other guys around, playing instruments, too.

The VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR once again were DAVID FRIZZELL and SHELLY WEST. As I mentioned in my 1981 post, there are no videos available of David and Shelly performing. Now, seeing as how one can find pretty much anything they could ever dream of on YouTube, I just have this nagging suspicion that there's some kind of legal stuff involved with the "no videos" situation.

But, two can play at that game.

If we can't have David and Shelly, then let's go with the relatives. First, here's Mom:

Despite the hair, this is still one of the best country songs ever (and Dottie wrote it).

And now - David's brother:

Wow, one of Merle Haggard's heroes - can you tell? I never realized just HOW similar their voices are. Hearing this (and not seeing it), I would be hard-pressed to tell if it was Lefty or Merle.

So, the lack of David/Shelly videos actually opened up an opportunity for me to post some superior performances. Ha ha! I win again!

The INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR and VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR were once again ALABAMA. The introduction to this video states 1983, but this song was released in 1982 - I looked it up. With introductions by two of my all-time faves, Tammy Wynette and Ray Stevens, here's Mountain Music:

Some great fiddling by Jeff Cook!

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR was awarded to someone new this time - JANIE FRICKE.

An interesting fact about Janie is that she began her career as a background singer in Nashville. During that period, she recorded an uncredited vocal part for a single released by Johnny Duncan, "Stranger" (written by Kris Kristofferson). Nobody knew who the female singer was, and there was a bunch of speculation about who it could be. (Hers was, to me, the best part of the recording). This event led to Janie's solo recording career. Again, there is no video of this song, but here's a nice picture of a radio to look at while you listen to it:

And here's the actual Janie, in person:

It's relatively easy to wrap up three categories at once; those being SINGLE OF THE YEAR, ALBUM OF THE YEAR, and SONG OF THE YEAR.

Ya gotta love Willie. He's just a likeable guy. Watching him perform, you just feel relaxed (as is Willie from......well, you know).

So, Willie scored big at the 1982 awards, as did writers Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, and Mark James, with:

ALWAYS ON MY MIND - Single of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year

(How many writers does it take to write a hit song? Insert your own punch line here.)

Kind of an interesting development in 1982 was that the person who won the HORIZON AWARD (for best newcomer) also won the MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR award. I guess his career was on a fast track!

Well, this guy has had quite a career, and to think it all started with the Horizon Award. Ricky is a bluegrass artist at heart, but he managed to co-mingle bluegrass and country and shake up country music a bit.


(This is one of them new-fangled "music videos". Sorry I couldn't find any older live performances by Ricky, so this'll have to do.)

That leads us, of course, to the big event of the evening, ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR.

I'll just say right now, I blew it by posting their "better" song already above, but since I want to stay chronologically correct, here's a song that was released in 1981, just in time for the 1982 awards.

Don't worry - they had A BUNCH of other songs, and won A BUNCH of other awards in years to come, so there'll be more opportunities to watch:



There were three inductees in 1982. I think the CMA figured they'd better start playing catch-up, and fast.

Roy Horton

This whole CMA blogging thing has given me an education in the roots of country music, since I am unfamiliar with some of these names. For example, Roy Horton.

Roy started his career around 1939, as a bass player. He backed up a guy called Red River Dave (not to be confused with my Red River Dave).

In the 1940's he became a promoter with Peer-Southern Music, and helped to promote the careers of artists such as Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family, Bill Monroe, among many others.

Here's some rare (and very cool) footage of Jimmy Rodgers (another of Merle's heroes, by the way), singing, "Waiting For A Train" :

Lefty Frizzell

I swear, I had no idea when I posted a video of Lefty above, that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982. Weird coincidence!

Lefty recorded many, many classic songs. For some reason, he's not well remembered, except by the likes of Merle Haggard. And I'm not sure why.

He obviously had a huge influence on other artists (notice in this video how George Jones apparently picked up a few style pointers).

I'm thoroughly enjoying watching videos of Lefty, and while this one is of really poor quality (from an early, early Porter Wagoner Show performance), it's still a lot of fun to see:

Here's one more:

Lefty died at the very young age of 47 in 1975, after a hard-lived life. That happens a lot to true artists. The ones who make it "to December" (like Merle), I think are basically just lucky.

Marty Robbins

Well, gee. I wrote a whole long blog post about Marty Robbins awhile back, because you can't write about Marty in a couple of sentences. If you want to read my post about Marty, click here (and then scroll up, because for whatever reason, the links always land you at the bottom of the post! It's aggravating.)

So, all I can really say is that when I watch videos of Marty, I realize once again what we lost when Marty passed away. He was only 57.

Marty was also a hero of Merle's, so somehow these posts tend to develop a continuity all their own.

Here's Marty, as only Marty can be:

So, there you go; 1982. If it hadn't been for the Hall of Fame inductees, it would have been a relatively boring year.

But we always manage to find something fun, and this time was no exception.