Showing posts with label alan jackson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label alan jackson. Show all posts

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Awards And Things

I haven't watched the CMA Awards since roughly 2001. Honestly, I don't know Luke Bryan from Jake Owen (seriously, I don't). I only know who Blake Shelton is because he had some minor hits early in the 2000's, when I still listened to country nominally, and when Blake still had extra-long hair. 

The CMA's were a decades-long mainstay for me, from the time when, as a teenager, I purchased a money order and mailed it to the Country Music Association in Nashville in order to become a voting member. The CMA's vetting process was rather rudimentary in the late sixties. I think I told them I was a radio executive or something. I take credit for putting Merle Haggard over the top in 1970 (not really; it was Merle's year).

Ever since I stopped listening to country music, I've satisfied my fleeting curiosity by reading next-day recaps of the awards show. 

So, I hear that Garth Brooks won Entertainer of the Year award this year. Did I fall asleep and wake up in 1992? How pitiful does country music have to be to be forced to reach back in time and bestow its highest award on an artist who was relevant twenty-five years ago? I wonder if Garth still climbs ropes on stage, or does he now shuffle in grasping his walker? I hear next year Charley Pride will be in contention. This is no knock on Garth, but more so an indictment of today's country music. This is what happens when you clutch "relevance" and sacrifice "music". 

I used to think that country would cycle through its bad periods and become good again. It happened so many times in my life. Just when I thought country was done, it surprised me. The mid-seventies was a bad time; an approximately ten year period of bad times, but then some artists who hadn't forgotten country music showed up on the scene and breathed life into it again. Even back as far as the sixties, in the period of Chet Atkins' slickly-produced middle-of-the-road singles, with the Anita Kerr Singers oohing and ahhing in the background of every song, Merle showed up and put the Nashville sellouts in their place. 

Now I think country is gone for good. 

In the western town I called home for most of my life, pretty much everybody listened to country. If somebody asked a random person, what's your favorite song, they might answer, "In My Life" by Collin Raye. Now, in the oh-so-sophisticated metropolitan area in which I live, nobody listens to country music. Nobody actually listens to music at all. A co-worker the other day, however, outside on a break, said, "I think I'll go back to listening to my old-time stuff, like Harper Valley PTA." In the eighteen years I've worked for my company, that was the first time I ever heard anyone say anything about country music, and what she said was a reference to a 1960's throwback.

Which brings me to the 2017 CMA's. 

I understand that Brad Paisley (who also is a bit long in the tooth, to be honest) did one of his famous parodies, this one implicitly criticizing the President. Really, Brad? Know your market, Brad. I'm not that big a Paisley fan to begin with, but for sure I won't be purchasing any of his albums now. But if it makes you feel good, Brad, knock yourself out. I understand there was a bit of controversy this year when the CMA decreed that the awards would be a "politics-free zone". I guess Brad didn't like that, so Brad went his own way. I personally endeavor to not offend the person who is signing my paycheck, but whatever, Brad. The last "political" moment I remember from the CMA's was when Charlie Rich torched the card naming John Denver the Entertainer of the Year. At least Charlie's gesture had purpose; meaning. John Denver wasn't a country artist and was an interloper. Brad Paisley simply doesn't like the President's tweets. Here's a suggestion, Brad: Don't read them.

Some other people, too, won some awards, but since I don't know them, I don't actually care.

And speaking of Harper Valley, PTA:

The inductees into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame were recently announced. In the "Non-Performing Songwriters" category, there is Bill Anderson. This was most likely news to Bill, since he's actually been performing since sometime in the early sixties. He has a band and everything. That's what happens when you don't do your research. 

Nevertheless, Bill Anderson has written some classic (classic!) country songs; such as:

You're welcome, Brad Paisley:

Proof that Bill Anderson was a "performing" songwriter:

In the "Performing Songwriters" category (in an upside-down world), we have Tom T. Hall. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Bill Anderson was more of a performing songwriter than Tom T. ever hoped to be, but let's not quibble.

Here's my beef with Tom T. Hall ~ he doesn't represent the epitome of songwriting. For one thing, he apparently disdains choruses. A chorus is the lifeblood of a song! Trust me. One can write the most inane dribble, but if they write a good chorus, all is forgiven. Tom went his own way, though. Every single song that Tom T. wrote is notable for its lack of a chorus. Such as:

Everybody hates this song, and with good reason:

I will admit that I purchased a Tom T. Hall album in the late sixties. Somebody told me to do so. I think it was called, "A Week In A County Jail". One of the tracks on the album was this one (note the absence of a chorus):

The only song I ever liked that Tom T. Hall wrote:

Then there's the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame says, you're somebody. You're really somebody. You've arrived. It's not easy to be a Hall of Fame inductee. You have to pay your dues. You have to slog through brittle bone-chilling December towns and put on a show for people who just want to see what you have to offer. They're not necessarily sold on you; you need to prove yourself. 

I saw Alan Jackson in concert. He was no Randy Travis, but he sure had the songs. I got as much out of an Alan Jackson concert as I would have by staying home and playing his CD's ~ he wasn't what one would call a dynamic performer. He didn't climb ropes. He was George Strait without the charisma. Don't care. He still had the songs.

If for nothing more than this song, he deserves his place in the Country Music Hall of Fame:

Thus ends my recap of awards and things. The good news ~ Bill Anderson. The bad news ~ Brad Paisley and his political biases. The retro news ~ Garth Brooks. 

The more things change, they really, seriously, don't.

I like the continuity.

Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees

The 2017 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame were announced on Wednesday.

The Hall of Fame is right to induct members from three classes:  Modern Era, Veterans Era, and Songwriter. The Veterans Era gives artists a second chance -- artists who are largely forgotten. It's like the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you don't get enough votes in the first few rounds, you're out of luck. You've gotta wait several years for the Veterans Committee to give you a pass or forget it. Your career meant nothing. You know, guys like Johnny Paycheck. Or of a more recent vintage, Dwight Yoakam (who will probably never get in, because, you know, California). The Hall could at least hold a mass induction -- all the artists they "forgot". Give them a plaque and an smattering of applause. Omitting them is like Jack Morris or Roger Maris (what?) being labeled inconsequential.

Nevertheless, the Hall tries its best, and sooner or later (mostly later) it gets around to the guys and gals without whom country music wouldn't exist.


Songwriter:  Don Schlitz

If you wanna talk about country music in the seventies and eighties, the name Don Schlitz had better roll off your tongue. There is magic in writing a hit song: one part formula, one part wisdom, one part luck, and one thousand parts heart. You have to mix all the parts together in just the right amounts to have a songwriting career like Don Schlitz has had.

Let's start:

You get the picture.

Of course, we're always, as luck would have it, remembered for  things that seemed inconsequential at the time. I said something witty once -- I don't remember saying it, but I must have, because someone remembers it and they repeat it, ad nauseam, to every person they encounter. That's sort of like Don Schlitz's most-remembered song. It was probably a fun way to spend an afternoon with his songwriting buddies. And thirty some-odd years later, it's become a TV movie and a line everybody throws out every time they hear the words, "you gotta".

I saw Kenny Rogers in concert around 1980. When I say "saw", I mean I was in the nosebleed section of an arena in Duluth, Minnesota. I had a four-year-old and a two-year-old that I somehow convinced the ticket-taker I could balance on my lap, thus avoiding the expense of buying two additional tickets. I was on vacation with my mom and dad and the concert was an impulse decision.

Kenny was a little too "pop" for my country sensibilities, but shoot, I was on vacation! Thus, I threw caution to the wind.

Don was no doubt sitting around with his guitar one afternoon and hollered out, hey! How about this? It has a catchy chorus; who knows? Maybe in 2017 they'll make a funny commercial about it. It could happen! And The Gambler was born (luck, wisdom, formula, and heart).

It's an earworm if there ever was an earworm.

Veterans Era Artist:  Jerry Reed 

I'm not sure I'm on board with the selection of Jerry Reed, because to me, he will forever be known as Burt Reynolds' sidekick. I suppose that's not entirely fair. 

As songwriters go, well, eh. Trust me; I was around in the seventies. FM radio was new. FM radio in a car was a novelty; unless, I guess, you owned a Lincoln like my dad did (my dad wasn't rich, but he loved his cars). My dad owned a creme brulee Lincoln Continental -- a huge boat of a car -- that sometimes my mom slipped behind the wheel of and deigned to drive me somewhere. FM radio loved Jerry Reed. I was afraid to laugh, nay chuckle, in the presence of my mom, but this song made me laugh out loud:

Ironic, because smoking isn't too hilarious, in hindsight. Maybe I should blame Jerry Reed for setting me on that dark path. But I'll be magnanimous and give him a pass. I was quite impressionable at the time, though.

Jerry also wrote this song, which was recorded by a guy who, in his time, was a country music titan. Jimmy Dean, before he determined to make tasty sausage, had an actual network TV show -- on ABC -- and he introduced the early Muppets to a national audience. "Rowlf" got his start on Jimmy Dean's show, but that's neither here nor there. By the time Jimmy recorded this Jerry Reed song, Jimmy's career was on the downslide. Jimmy was known for doing recitations like "Big Bad John", but he did record this one:

Speaking of Burt Reynolds, one who surfs the channels for old kitschy movies might remember this:

Hot. When you're hot, you're hot. When you're not, you're not. Words to live by.

Remember Elvis Presley? Who above the age of eighty doesn't? Well, Jerry Reed wrote this song, too:

Okay, I'm not a rabid Jerry Reed fan, but he did what he did, and Burt and his toupee can thank Jerry for his bulging bank account.

And there you go. I never said I worshiped everybody who ever caught the eye of the HOF.

Modern Era Artist:  Alan Jackson

You know that kid in your sixth grade class? The one you suspected might be a bit "slow"? That kid had fortitude, though, boy. He plowed on. That kid never once gave up. Sure, he had to repeat the sixth grade, and he was way taller and beefier than the other boys in the classroom, but he kept on keeping on. He also had a wisp of a mustache, though no one commented on it or pointed it out. 

Well, that boy is Alan Jackson.

I like Alan; don't get me wrong. He knows how to write a hit song and he reveres the classics. And he has persistence. In the wonder that was country music in the eighties, Alan Jackson was the guy who was dependable. One could always lean on him to whip out a classic country tune, but I never once uttered the words, "Alan Jackson is my favorite singer."

I saw Alan Jackson once in concert. The word "charisma" doesn't rhyme with "Jackson". Among the top male artists from that era, in descending order of dynamic performances, it would go Garth, Dwight, Randy, George (Strait), Vince, with Alan Jackson bringing up the rear. (I never saw Clint or Ricky Van Shelton, so I cannot judge.) In fairness, Alan Jackson was a songwriter at heart who suddenly found himself with a few hit songs on his hands, and thus had to put together a stage show. Maybe he's better now. I don't exactly think so, but it's possible.

Being present at the dawn of Alan Jackson's career, I can say with authority that he recorded one good album, "A Lot About Livin' (And a Little 'bout Love)". One can't exactly count "Under The Influence", although I loved the hell out of it, but alas, it was an album of cover songs. The first album by Alan I purchased, though, was "Here In The Real World.". The first time I saw Alan Jackson on CMT, he'd made a video of a song called "Blue Blooded Woman". It wasn't a great song, but he certainly was tall! And he had a tall mustache to match. That was my first impression of Alan Jackson. His next song was miles better:

I'm just going to throw here some of my favorite Alan Jackson recordings, willy-nilly. My blog, my videos, I say.

So, let's look back, shall we?

Yes, this is a Jim Ed Brown song, but kudos to Alan for this version:

My all-time, most favorite, Alan Jackson recording is right here. For this song alone, I say give him whatever award you want to bestow. The video is awesome, too. Aside from "Here In The Real World", whose vibe is rudimentary, yet has that old-time country music twang, this song landed Alan smack-dab in the zenith of the eighth decade of the twentieth century.

Yee haw.

Bob McDill wrote this song. He was probably having a bad day, like all of us have from time to time. I think Bob was pissed off, and I don't blame him. At the time, everybody was jumping on the country bandwagon, because country was outselling every other genre of music, but pretenders? Ick. It's not as if we didn't know what they were up to. Alan no doubt found this song among the tapes he was given and who else but Alan would take it to heart?

In keeping with that theme, Alan got to record with his (and everybody's) idol, George Strait, and this is an excellent, excellent song:

As life goes, Alan is remembered most for two songs that, while not bad, per se, are annoying in their over-exposure. Plus, they're three-chord songs, essentially, and nobody has done great three-chord songs since Roger Miller was writing for Ray Price, and even those songs at least threw in a B chord for good measure.

Nevertheless, here we go:

All in all, Alan deserves this award, and you know he won't take it for granted. He reveres Hank and George (Jones) and George (Strait) and others who've essentially been forgotten, so having his portrait hanging in the Country Music Hall of Fame will be more than a throw-off for him. As it should be. Alan is a caretaker of country music, much like Marty Stuart, and much like (if I should be so bold to say) me. Music's past may be passe to some, but we don't get to here without scrubbing the "there". 

And thus time marches on.

The Country Music Hall of Fame induction announcement (brought to you by Vince Gill):

Friday, February 24, 2017

Does Today's Country Make Memories? Of Course.

Musical memories are tied up in many things. Mostly they're tied up in crisp ribbons of newness -- when one's synapses are popping and fizzing. There's a reason we remember music most from certain stages of our lives. For me it's when I was still formulating a whole person -- I'll go with age nine through eighteen -- and from when I was a giddy mom in my thirties. Not to be a buzz killer, but it's all downhill from there. You see, after a while nothing seems new. Do you get frustrated that Mom can't see the genius in the new track you just played for her? The one you are completely in love with? Wonder why Mom and Dad seem stuck in the fifties and can't appreciate the intricacies of beat and harmonies of the new girl/guy band whose single just hit number one on the charts? It's because they've heard it all before, and better. Mom and Dad aren't about making new memories; they are quite content with the ones they already have. They're not setting new markers. At some point, what music does is remind a person of a better time in their life. Maybe not better, but more alive. That's how life goes.

A seventy-year-old guy who is hip to the latest riff is a pathetic pretender. He's just trying to impress you with his hipness, and he is a liar. In the seclusion of his bathroom mirror, he's jamming to the Marcels crooning "Blue Moon". And there's nothing wrong with that. That old man needs to own it. After all, it brings him back to the time when he sported a duck tail and weighed one hundred and forty pounds and when he revved the engine of his Corvair outside a sweet little brunette's rambler and waited for her to tumble out her front door and squeeze in next to him in the front seat and he'd zoom to the drive-in movie theater and they'd neck and go a little far, but not quite far enough and his muscles would throb with unspent testosterone.

And what's wrong with that? The truth of life is, it's those moments that matter.

Or maybe it's the time when the kids are old enough to stay home alone and he takes that little brunette who's added a few extra pounds to her five-foot-two frame out to a honky tonk and wraps his arms around her and nuzzles her perfumed neck and pushes her across the dance floor, and the sawdust and spilled beer bouquet stirs longings that he thought he'd long ago forgot. And Joe Diffie is playing on the jukebox. He's never, as long as he's on this earth, going to forget Joe Diffie.

I am prone to foisting my musical memories on you on this blog. I've never quite conquered the urge to convince you that my music is sublime. I'm the duck-tailed seventy/nineteen-year-old relic. Just think of me as thirty-five years old:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

CMA 50 - A Look Back - 1995

The thing about the early-to-mid-nineties in country music was that one simply couldn't go wrong. Turn on the radio and you would be smacked in the ears with one good song after another after another. Ahhh, that's when I loved music. If the music pouring from the speakers had any one common denominator, it was that it! Other genres that hadn't yet taken hold didn't seep into the steel guitar twang; didn't interrupt a twin fiddles solo with a sudden record scratch. Classic rock wasn't apparently classic enough yet for country acts to begin re-recording its hits. Country music had an identity. Sure, it was always looked down upon by self-styled hipsters, but country fans were used to that and we tended to mingle with our own kind. And sure, I lived in flyover country and we were "simple folk", but even the young kids coming up begrudgingly admitted that some of that "old-time music" wasn't horrific.

I lived in a relatively small town, even though it was the capital city of my state, and there weren't many distractions. If we wanted to have a summer get-together, it was easy to reserve a shelter in one of the city parks. Teenagers hung out at the sandbar on the Missouri River; adults traipsed the mall. At home after work, we turned on CMT and watched the hot acts perform live on Ralph Emery's Nashville Now. And there was the radio -- always the radio.

The CMA nominee roster in 1995 was ripe with shining stars. It must have been hell for the members to narrow down their picks. I didn't agree with all of the choices, but ask me tomorrow and I could go another way. I loved most of the artists nominated. What do they call it -- an embarrassment of riches? It was.

The nominees and winners:

Female Vocalist of the Year
Reba McEntire
Pam Tillis
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Alison Krauss
Patty Loveless

This is so hard, because I love (love!) three of the five nominees. Couldn't they have had a tie?

Here is the recording that won Alison the statuette:

Here are a couple of alternatives for your consideration:

(Apparently the closest Dwight Yoakam would get to being on the CMA stage until 2016.)

Male Vocalist of the Year
John Berry
Alan Jackson
John Michael Montgomery
George Strait
Vince Gill

People with little knowledge of the past don't understand how huge Vince Gill was in the nineties. Trust me; he was huge. Who on this list has stood the test of time? Well, you can judge for yourself. There was a joke going around about John Michael Montgomery singing live without auto-tune and the result was undesirable. John Berry? Trust me; I'm not trying to be mean, but I have absolutely no cognizance of this man. I'm sure he must have had a hit song.

But back to Vince:  One of my (self-appointed) assignments for my mom and dad's fiftieth wedding anniversary surprise party was to create a tape (yes, tape) of fifty years of music that meant something to them. I made several trips to the record store in order to fulfill that task, but I loved doing it. After Dad, then Mom passed away, I came into possession of those two tapes. I'm afraid to play them, though, for fear I will break down in sobs. I ended the compilation with this:

Now that I've had my cry, let's move on to peppier and sillier things.

Music Video of the Year
Any Man of Mine - Shania Twain
Baby Likes To Rock It - The Tractors
I Don't Even Know Your Name - Alan Jackson
The Red Strokes - Garth Brooks
When Love Finds You - Vince Gill

What else could possibly win Video of the Year? The Tractors never had another hit. They didn't need one.

I don't generally feature the Musician of the Year because the musician nominees usually don't have videos to showcase their talents. But in 1995 they did.

Musician of the Year
Eddie Bayers
Paul Franklin
Mark O'Connor
Brent Mason
Matt Rollings

The winner (as an added bonus, Steve Wariner!):

The Single of the Year was "When You Say Nothing At All" by Alison Krauss.

Song of the Year (award to the songwriter)
Gone Country - Bob McDill
Independence Day - Gretchen Peters
How Can I Help You Say Goodbye - Burton Banks-Collins and Karen Taylor-Good
Thinkin' Problem - David Ball, Allen Shamblin, and Stuart Ziff
Don't Take The Girl - Larry Johnson and Craig Martin


Brooks and Dunn won Vocal Duo of the Year and the Vocal Group of the Year was The Mavericks. 1995 wasn't Brooks and Dunn's best year (don't worry; I'll be featuring them; count on it). The Mavericks, boy, let's give 'em credit where it's due, and they were due in 1995:

The Horizon Award, given to best newcomer, went to Alison Krauss, but my heart will always be with David Ball. I loved this song because it was so blatantly country, so "in your face country". My kids hated when the song came on the radio and I would flip the volume up, so I tended to torture them with it, just for fun:

After everything that's come before, it's almost anti-climatic to talk about the Entertainer of the Year, but that's the big one, after all.

I saw Alan Jackson in concert -- he wasn't the most scintillating entertainer -- but for hit records alone, he deserved to grab this award. 

Of all the years I've featured in this CMA retrospective, 1995 has to be one of the greatest. I'm awed by the talent here. Awed and sentimental.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

CMA 50 - A Look Back - 1968

The first year the CMA Awards were televised was 1968. NBC broadcast the show and Kraft was its sponsor. It used to be that October was country music month -- it was decreed throughout promos for the show:  "October is country music month." Today country music month is...ehh, whenever. 

The commercials between the performances and the award-handing featured a honey-voiced announcer extolling the fun, warm family desserts one could make with Kraft caramels. Ahh, caramel apples, crackly leaves of burnished orange dusting the sidewalks, the kids skipping home from school, greeted at the door with a tender hug from Mom.

Dad nursing a whiskey sour in his easy chair; Mom, her arms crossed, nursing time-worn resentments. The kids huddled in their rooms cranking their radios up loud to muffle the inevitable screaming match to come.

Oh, maybe that was just my house. 

Is it any wonder I wrapped my head and arms around the CMA's?

Before 1968, the only awards shows on TV were the Emmys and the Oscars. Today, pick a week and you'll find one or two statuette grabfests to suit your tastes. "Winning an award" is a mundane exercise. Shoot, I bet I've even won an award for something and I don't even know it (I'm thinking I probably sent my "representative" to scoop it up for me.)

Forty-eight years of televised CMA's has wrought some changes. There's no longer a category for Comedian of the Year or Instrumental Group. Vocal Group used to encompass not only groups but duos. Frankly there weren't that many vocal groups making records in 1968.

And we (okay, I) think today's music reeks? Take a gander at the nominees (and winners) of the various awards in '68:

Album of the Year
Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash
By The Time I Get To Phoenix - Glen Campbell
D-I-V-O-R-C-E - Tammy Wynette
Gentle on My Mind - Glen Campbell
The Best of Merle Haggard - Merle Haggard

Female Vocalist of the Year
Tammy Wynette
Lynn Anderson
Loretta Lynn
Dolly Parton
Jeannie C. Riley 

Male Vocalist of the Year
Glen Campbell
Eddy Arnold
Johnny Cash
Merle Haggard
Charley Pride

Single of the Year
Harper Valley PTA - Jeannie C. Riley
By The Time I Get To Phoenix - Glen Campbell
D-I-V-O-R-C-E - Tammy Wynette
Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
Honey - Bobby Goldsboro

Song of the Year
Honey - Bobby Russell (sorry, but one of the worst songs ever written)
D-I-V-O-R-C-E - Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman
Harper Valley PTA - Tom T. Hall
Little Green Apples - Bobby Russell (Is this guy gunning for the title of worst songwriter ever?)
Skip a Rope - Glen Douglas Tubb and Bobby Moran 

Vocal Group of the Year
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton
The Stoneman Family
Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann (?)
Bill Anderson and Jan Howard
Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

Entertainer of the Year
Glen Campbell
Eddy Arnold
Johnny Cash
Merle Haggard
Charley Pride 

FYI - the Instrumental Group of the Year was the Buckaroos (richly deserved) and the Comedian of the Year, if anyone cares, was Ben Colder (I guess you had to be there).

So, if we're (okay I'm) appalled by Beyonce performing on the 50th anniversary show, in 1968 we were appalled (appalled!) by Glen Campbell, who wasn't country, walking away with the biggest awards of the night.

I like Glen Campbell a whole lot -- now. I think Glen Campbell is a national treasure. That doesn't negate the fact that By The Time I Get To Phoenix wasn't country. It was...I don't know...easy listening, I guess. It sucked.

And don't even get me started on that musical blemish, "Honey". Oh. My. God. Horrible, horrible song.

Hindsight, though, is omniscient. Of course we know now that Tammy and Merle and...I guess that's about it from the above list...are majestic. Merle would have his day, and his arms full of awards, in 1970. Tammy started a long run in '68 that flowed into subsequent years. Porter and Dolly were royalty -- Dolly still is.

But if you can stand the cringe-worthiness, let's take a close look back, shall we?

(She was kinda dumb and kinda smart.)

For pure kitsch:

Here's some royalty:

Not to give 2016 short shrift, here's, I'm guessing, the best performance of the night:

Forty-eight years. A lot has changed and a lot hasn't. Talent is talent. The cool thing of the moment isn't cool at all.

I've suddenly got a craving for some Kraft caramels.

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, October 14, 2016


I guess this is the 50th anniversary of the CMA awards.

A bit about me:  I was a "countryholic" most of my life (thus the title of this blog), until country music changed and left me behind. I remember settling in, cross-legged, in front of our big living room TV when I was thirteen or so, devouring the CMA's. I rooted for my favorites to win -- I was even geeky enough to join the Country Music Association under false pretenses. (In those days one could claim to be anyone in the music industry and send in their fifteen dollar money order and become a voting member.)

Around the year 2000, things got wacky, as they say. The final nail in my country music coffin was Faith Hill, who had a single on the charts -- something to do with breathing -- and I said, what the hell? This isn't my country anymore!

I'm not ragging on Faith Hill; she was just the catalyst. There was lots of bad country music that year. So I gave up; removed the preset from my car radio, essentially stopped listening to music all together. Where was I going to go? To classic rock? I hate that stuff. And one can only hear the same oldies about a thousand times before they want to plummet off a cliff. Occasionally I would purchase the latest George Strait or Dwight Yoakam CD. Marty Stuart was my redemption angel. I grieved for country music, though -- the country I'd lost. I immersed myself in other interests -- mostly stupid politics, which, for someone like me is a losing game (trust me).

I found Twitter and became addicted. And on a whim, I decided to follow George Strait. That's where I found this video. For wont of anything better to do, I clicked on it.

I didn't plan to cry.

I never even liked some of these artists that much -- Charley Pride was okay; Dolly, too, was fine. I loved her duets with Porter. Randy I loved, yes. And seeing him sitting there, solitary; knowing the ravages he'd suffered, remembering the vibrancy of his stage presence the one time I'd seen him in concert -- well, that started the tears.

Then there was Ronnie Milsap. George, of course. Reba. Martina. Trisha. Brooks and Dunn. My man Alan. Glorious Vince. Even Rascal Flatts.

I don't even know who some of the artists in this video are. But when they started singing, "I Will Always Love You", I thought, hold on. You guys can't do this song -- not without Dolly.

Then there she was.

Dang, I am embarrassed for crying. I shouldn't be. It's good to mourn. And to celebrate, even if what's lost hurts a little.

I have my quibbles with the video -- artists who were left out and shouldn't have been. But shoot, I wasn't in charge.

I'm just thankful somebody actually remembered.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Eagles and Country Music

It may have hit country music lovers the hardest -- the news of Glenn Frey's passing.


Well, because Eagles music is country music. The Eagles can call it whatever they want to call it, but it's country music. Oh yes. Is it any coincidence that Don Henley has just released an album of country songs? No.

I said it before, but it's relevant here -- when I first became aware of the Eagles, I essentially dismissed them; no admission by me that I actually liked those songs. I was inured to the shuffle beat and the moaning cry of a steel guitar that'd roped me into country music in the first place. By the early seventies, though, country music (as I knew it) had gotten lost. I was consigned to listening to songs by people like Billy "Crash" Craddock and Dave & Sugar. People forget how disoriented country music became in that decade. We had Charlie Rich lighting a match to John Denver records, and it was like the 2016 presidential race -- who is pure? Who isn't? Who is that interloper? We hate him! Meanwhile, us little people were just trying to pluck one decent record out of the muck.

This is, I know, obscure, but Tanya Tucker's sister, LaCosta, released a decent album around that time. On it was a track called, "Best Of My Love". I liked it! I thought it was really cool and different. I had absolutely no clue. Eagles? Yes, I'd seen their "Best Of" album in the store, my genre of music, so whatever. Oh, this is an Eagles song? Well, what the hell?

Honest to God, this was how I was introduced to the Eagles:

Thus, I begrudgingly decided I'd give the Eagles a spin. By that I mean, I paid attention when their songs came on the radio. I still wouldn't buy an album that wasn't labeled "country". I heard "Take It Easy" and "Lyin' Eyes", which I thought was good, but too long. It did have something, though. I heard "Already Gone". I did appreciate the harmonies.

Gradually, the Eagles kind of seeped in. "New Kid In Town" caught my breath. I think that was the first single by the group that I actually laid down money for.

Years whizzed by, and in the early nineties, a bunch of country music stars I loved, like Diamond Rio and Brooks & Dunn and Vince Gill, got together and recorded an album called "Common Thread:  The Songs of the Eagles".

That's when it finally hit me: the Eagles are country!

One of the best female country singers ever and my favorite Eagles song:

(Even if one of Trisha's songs has become a perpetual earworm that hasn't subsided, even after all these months.)

Tell me the Eagles weren't country!

Come on!

They could call themselves whatever they wanted. They could deceive themselves, and us. But they were country. I guess they fooled everybody -- every post-hippie who liked them -- every disco'ing guy who dressed up in a powder-blue leisure suit and thought he was hip. But the Eagles, in their subversive way, embedded country music into everybody's consciousness, and nobody was the wiser.

Least of all, me.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2013 CMA Awards

Isn't video great? One no longer needs to slog through a boring awards show to get to the good parts. The good parts come neatly packaged on YouTube for the discerning viewer's enjoyment.

I don't even know half of the acts who performed or were nominated for the 2013 CMA awards, which is one of the reasons why I determined not to watch the telecast. Country music has passed me by, and I'm okay with that. I've accepted it now.

I will say, though, that a little history never hurt anybody. Of course, the 2013 awards offered very "little" history, unless you count the one-second wave from Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Bare, who was situated somewhere deep in the audience. At least they didn't shuttle him up to the balcony somewhere. Be grateful for small favors.

I am, believe it or not, well aware of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Carrie, because I did use to watch American Idol, and I was pulling for her all the way in whatever year that was. She was up against some retro-seventies guy who no one has ever heard from since, so there was very little contest, to be honest. I do remember, though, Simon telling Carrie that she needed to acquire a personality. Seems like she did:

Ahh, I love a good Obamacare joke - can't help it. It makes my heart glad.

I did try to watch a lot of the CMA performances. I thought, well, hell, maybe I'm missing out on somebody good, so I gave everybody a fair chance - if "fair chance" means ten to twenty seconds. I have the knack of making up my mind really quickly. Sorry, kids. None of you made the cut.

Unaware as I am, I had no idea that the CMA's actually featured a tribute to a guy nobody under age fifty has ever heard of - George Jones. See, back when country music was square, in a square Bobby Bare sort of way, George Jones was a big star. Some country music artists call him the "the voice". Of course, that was back when country music was country music, and not sort-of-but-actually-not-really-country music.

Nevertheless, it afforded me the opportunity to see the last of the country artists who still, somehow, manage to chart (for now), George Strait ("my" voice) and Alan Jackson (who sounds eerily like George; not saying he's emulated him or anything, but c'mon).

When George and Alan disappear from the scene, who'd going to be the standard-bearer for country music? Rascal Flatts (cough)?

Thus, I enjoyed this performance a lot, even though the cameraman was utterly befuddled, but that's okay. I knew who was singing what:

Sorry I somehow pasted this twice, and I can't seem to delete one, so choose whichever one you want, or better yet, watch it twice. It's worth it.

Unlike Bobby Bare, the other Hall of Fame inductee certainly got his moment in the sun. I'm speaking of Kenny Rogers, of course.

I will give Kenny this, though: he recorded a bunch of readily sung-along songs, and I actually enjoyed this a lot. But I'm a sucker for nostalgia. Don't know why Dolly wasn't there, but I'm not gonna quibble.

You might guess that the highlight of the evening for me was the Entertainer of the Year announcement.

Sure, I know why they gave it to George. He's quitting touring, you know. It was now or never.

I've read people's comments, carping that George isn't really an entertainer. Well, I was lucky enough to see him in concert. If your idea of entertainment is Lady Gaga-type choreography, then no.

If you like seeing somebody sing a song like it's supposed to be sung, then yea - George Strait is an entertainer.

Couldn't have happened to a better guy. I'm thrilled that it happened for George, and for me, before we both ride off into the sunset.

So, you see, while I didn't watch the awards live, I will concede that four pretty good things happened during the telecast.

I'm just glad that YouTube let me see them.

I'm thinking 2013 was my last chance.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The World Did Not Stop Turning (first published 9/9/11)

It never really does, does it?

If I was asked what my most powerful memory of September 11, 2001 is, I would say, it's not a memory. It's that the world changed, while I was just living in it.

I was born long after Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. My parents knew it, though.

I was in the third grade when President Kennedy was assassinated. They used to always ask, where were you when the President was killed? They don't really ask that anymore. Maybe it's because most of the population wasn't even alive back then, so the question would be moot. They'd probably look at you quizzically and ask, "President Kennedy? Was he the one after Lincoln?" (They don't quite teach US history as comprehensively as they used to).

But maybe it's because something much more horrific has overtaken that moment.

You see, when President Kennedy was shot, everybody was horrified, but they didn't think, my life is in danger! I could be next! That would be silly. He was the President; we were just "people".

On September 11, 2001, our blase attitude toward random violence was shattered. "Oh yea, those things happen overseas. Too bad for them, I guess", were things we couldn't utter anymore.

Tom Burnett was just trying to get home to his family. It was an average day; an average business trip.

The traders at Cantor Fitzgerald were just trying to get through their eight hours. Another long slog; just like every one of us endures every day.

Average, everyday stuff. We're preoccupied; thinking about what we have to do when our shift is over; looking forward to spending a few hours with our families. Writing out a shopping list. Sharing a laugh with our co-workers.

Then, in an instant; less than an instant, really, everything changes.

No, the world didn't stop turning that day. It would have been better if it had.

I think about the people who found themselves in unspeakable circumstances. Tom Burnett and his fellow passengers knew that they were going to die. Yet, they fought it to the end. We, as humans, have to do something. We're not going to sit and cry and accept that this is our fate. This thing, that was thrust upon us, as if we didn't have any say in the matter.

Those firemen knew; yes, they knew, that they were trudging up the stairs to face an inevitable conclusion. Yet, they still did it. They were going to fight this thing until the end.

The thing about September 11, 2001 is, we are stronger than you (al qaeda) can even comprehend. We don't go down without a fight.

And the world did not stop turning.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Well, This Is Kinda Neat!

I've been fixated on the song, Dreaming My Dreams, and today I found out about an interactive exhibit that the Country Music Hall of Fame has developed, called "Dreaming My Dreams". That's sort of eerie.

Nevertheless, this is awesome! I haven't explored the full range of this exhibit yet, but this is right up my alley! You can click on a 45-RPM record and hear it. Plus, there's tons of neat country-obsessive stuff to explore!

Big kudos to whoever thought this up! You know me; I'm an eighties country-kind-of gal, and this exhibit lets me indulge in all that eighties country stuff: George Strait, Dwight Yoakam, Alan Jackson, the Judds....ahhh....heaven. 

But wait! There's more! The exhibit goes back a long ways; back to Dolly and Johnny Paycheck and all those people; and back further still.. And it goes forward (for you forward-leaning fans); forward to now; today. 

One can get lost in this. It's a good way to get lost. 

Click on this and there is no need to thank me.  I"m just bringing you all the news that's fit to be brought. 

I am rarely floored by anything anymore. This thing floored me.


Friday, April 26, 2013

They Placed a Wreath Upon His Door

I thought George Jones would always be around.  He was always around ~ for my whole life.

My friend Alice and I, when we were tweens, religiously attended whatever cavalcade of stars was playing at the World War Memorial Building.  And, because we were kids with nothing much to do, we always managed to snag front-row seats, because we showed up a couple hours early and plopped ourselves down in the seats of general-admission honor.  In 1968, the same year we encountered Merle Haggard (in more ways than one), we also saw a package show with a new girl singer named Tammy Wynette and a bunch of other people we'd never heard of, including Tammy's husband, Don Chapel.  We liked Tammy ~ she'd had a few hits by then; Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad; Take Me To Your World; I Don't Wanna Play House.  She seemed unnaturally shy for a performer, though.

The star of that show, however, was George Jones.  As the closing act, he took the stage with his Jones Boys band (who'd actually been on stage the whole time, because they were the backup for...everybody), and kicked off hit after hit after hit.  White Lightning, The Race is On, Love Bug (I always preferred George's up-tempo numbers); Walk Through This World With Me, She Thinks I Still Care.  George, with his outdated crew cut, was energetic; having fun.

Midway through his set, George called Tammy back onto the stage.  The two of them sang some duets, and wow!  Tammy loosened up!  Now, she, too, seemed to be having fun.  The two of them locked eyes and sang to one another.  All of us were just bystanders by then.

A few weeks later, we heard a couple of disc jockeys joshing around on the air.  

"D'ja hear that Tammy Wynette is divorcing her husband to marry George Jones?"

"And get this; her next single is called D-I-V-O-R-C-E!"

Har har har har har.

Yep, George Jones definitely had an influence on Tammy.

It seems that George Jones had an influence on a lot of people.  Alan Jackson, for one, idolized him.  Keith Richards was a big fan.  It's said that Neil Young wanted to stop by backstage and meet George after one of his concerts, but George said no, because he'd never heard of the guy.

George had a lot of nicknames:  Possum, No-Show Jones, The Singer's Singer.

George was a stylist.  He didn't have a voice like George Strait; nor did he have a voice like Merle.  What George did have was a way to break your heart.

His instrument was like a rubber band stretched taut.  It dipped and it soared, and it dipped back down again.  George could turn one syllable into three or four; just by climbing that stairway and then descending it.  The reason people liked him so much was because the pain in his voice hit everybody in the gut.  It sounded real.

As I said, when I was a kid, I liked George's up-tempo numbers.  Like these: 

George Strait covered this one:

George, of course, had ballads, too, in the nineteen sixties.  Like this one:

My favorite from the late sixties came from the album surprisingly titled, "Good Year for the Roses".  Here's a remake; a duet with a silly-looking Alan Jackson:

And, naturally, there were the duets with Tammy:

And one many years later (they sure could make beautiful music together):


George recorded this one with James Taylor.  Sadly, there is no video of the two of them performing the song:


I've always contended that, no matter what anybody said, this next song is more gut-wrenching than, you know, that other one.

I saw George Jones live once again, three decades later.  He was on a bill with Vince Gill and Conway Twiitty.  I'd come to see Vince Gill.  George could still bring it, though; boy.  I didn't go to that show with Alice.  Time had passed and lives had splintered.  I don't know if Alice was in the audience that night.  If she was, she, too, was probably there to see Vince.  Vince was the headliner, and his career was glowing hot.  Alice most likely didn't remember the night in 1968 when we watched a romance blooming from the first row.  Life marches on, relentlessly.

Rest in peace, George Jones.  A whole slew of people are never going to forget you.

My dad loved this song...

He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today




Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Want My CMT

Well, here's the deal:  I was completely enamored of MTV in the 1980's.  Sure, one wouldn't call the music "rock"; more like rock-pop or something; but it was GOOD.

The one and only reason I switched back to country music was because I happened to flip my radio dial one day, while waiting in my car for my kids to be dismissed from school; and I heard a song by somebody named "George Strait".  I said to myself, well, that sounds good!  Maybe I've been missing out on something, lo these five or six years that I've been away from country music.  (Isn't it just like music to flip on you when you least expect it?  And suddenly become good, when you turned away from it because it was so putrid?)

After hearing a song by this "George Strait" guy, I chanced to give country music another go.  I honestly had never heard of any of these artists that were suddenly wafting out of my speakers.

The first cassette tape (remember those?) I purchased was by somebody who called themselves the Sweethearts of the Rodeo.

I carried my boom box around while pseudo-cleaning my house, and I played that tape endlessly.  Why I had glommed on to this particular group, I don't know.  I know that I was reticent to embrace George Strait, because my mom and dad thought he was so good, and I wasn't about to bow to Mom and Dad's whims.  While I was visiting them one evening, they popped in a VHS tape of a George Strait live concert, and I watched it half-hardheartedly between snippets of conversation, and I still didn't get it.  Or chose NOT to get it.  I came late to the George Strait party, but when I finally climbed aboard, I turned into a giggly adolescent girl; devouring anything and everything that had the Strait name attached.

Meanwhile, though, there was this other guy, who had sort of a nasally sound, but, boy!  Those guitars sure rang!  This was like Buck Owens and the Buckaroos on steroids.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  Even better than George Strait!

This was a weird time in music for me.  Number one, aside from SOTR (or, Sweethearts of the Rodeo), everybody I liked was male.  I'd come of age during the time of Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette and Lynn Anderson; but no girl singers (except for one) were even a blip on my country music radar.  What had happened since I'd been away? 

But when the girls were good, they were good:

I sat behind my steering wheel, parked in front of my kids' elementary school, when this song accosted me from my radio speaker.  The first time I heard it, I believe I actually swooned.  I simply wanted to hear it again...and again; but I had to wait for the damn album (or by this time, CD) to be released before I could listen to it as many times as I needed (George never made a music video for this song ~ huge mistake):

(Admittedly, that song wasn't from the eighties, but I just wanted to include it.)

This song, too, had no official music video, but wow ~ what a great song!

Speaking of George (again), and speaking of swooning, well, here I went again:

And, again, there was Dwight:

But it wasn't all George and Dwight.  It was Clint:

It was Randy:

And did I forget some girl singers?  Apparently!

Some guy I'd never heard of before recorded an album of songs that took the 1989 CMA award for album of the year, and I knelt in front of my TV that night; cheering him on:

Sitting at a table at the Dakota Lounge one Saturday night, this new guy managed to strangle my heart strings with this:

Another really great song to two-step to was this, by Steve Earle:

"Got a two-pack habit and a motel tan" ~ I so admire great lyric writers.  FOUR STARS on this song!

Country music in the eighties wasn't all George and Dwight and Randy and Clint; however.  I want to also feature some of my favorite eighties country by some artists that might not readily spring to mind when we think about that decade:

Foster and Lloyd:

Rosanne Cash:

Singing background vocals on Roseanne's song segues us into Vince Gill:

Singing background vocals on Vince's song leads us to Patty Loveless:

Singing background on nobody's here-to-fore mentioned songs, and unfortunately a video with poor sound quality (but I wanted to include it, just because), here is Steve Wariner:

(For unknown reasons, in the days when I went out dancing on a Saturday night, whenever the band played the part in "Lynda" that went, "I woke up screaming this morning", all the patrons were apparently obliged to scream.  Naturally, I abstained.)

Speaking of live music and dancing, this next song is essentially impossible to dance to.  I'm thinking it's because the tempo changes between the intro and the rest of the song; and then back again.  If you want to look really foolish out on the dance floor, try dancing to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and this:

Like Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea has a great voice, and I love this song:

Please don't forget Restless Heart (another song I love):

I have no doubt forgotten to include some artists.  After all, it was more than 20 years ago (really?)

You can shoot me now, but I just never was a big Garth Brooks fan.  I certainly didn't hate him; I was simply ambivalent.  That is why I have not included any Garth Brooks videos.  Feel free to hum, "If Tomorrow Never Comes". 

I do believe I have made my point, however.  The 1980's were the prime time for country music; and alas, it will never be the same again.  I don't begrudge anyone their taste in music.  I like a ton of stuff that would cause people to scratch their heads.  That's why we're called "individuals".  For me, however, I choose not to listen to "today's country".  But who knows?  If a Randy or an Alan or a Rodney comes around again, and shakes things up, chances are I would be right back listening to radio again.  Luckily, in the absence of that, I have music videos.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Today's Country Music Lesson

This is a relatively new song (2012).  I had not heard it before, since I do not listen to "country" radio, because they don't play country music.

Yes, that is incongruous.

I have no strong feelings about the song one way or the other, except that I'm somewhat shocked to learn that this has actually gotten airplay (see above).

But I thought it would make a good lesson in what makes a country song "country".

Can you pinpoint the characteristics?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bad Years In Country Music ~ Let's Not Forget The Nineties

I've been feeling a bit guilty about honing in on the decades of the seventies and eighties, when, in actuality, all decades have their allotment of bad music.  No doubt the sixties did, too, but that time frame would be more of a history lesson for me, as opposed to a clear remembrance.  (Don't worry; I'm sure I'll get to that decade as well).

Why pick on 1994?

Well, a quick scan of the charts points to the sad fact that a lot of the big names of the late eighties/early nineties had sort of peaked by then.  And thus, they were recording substandard songs.  Vince Gill, Tracy Lawrence, Brooks & Dunn, Pam Tillis, Ricky Van Shelton, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt....their big hits had already happened.  That's not to say that some of these guys didn't go on to record better songs later; but 1994 was apparently a watershed year (I always wanted to use the phrase "watershed year") in their careers. 

Also, in 1994, we saw the first appearances of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, et al, and we all know what that led to.  I don't think I have to paint a picture.

And remember John Michael Montgomery?  He'd had a big hit with "Life's A Dance", and everybody liked it, even though we had that lingering quibble that he didn't actually sing the song on key.  But we chose to overlook it.  By 1994, he, too, was on the downslide, and now he's known as the brother of that guy who sings in a duo about what his hometown looks like.

I'm not saying there weren't good, or even great songs, released in 1994.  Because there were.  But there was a lot of impossible-to-scrub-from-your-mind drivel, as well.  As evidenced by this (which appears to have been the top hit of the year):


There are so many things wrong with this song, it's a chore to even begin.  First of all, that thin, reedy voice.  But really, the voice is the least of this recording's issues.  It's the whole smarmy, "am I supposed to cry now?" vibe that it gives off.  One knows where the song is heading, after the middle of the first verse.  I don't know who wrote it (and I could look it up, but I'm not really that interested), and these guys (I'm just guessing it's "guys", plural, because, you know, that's the big fad ~ co-writing ~ as if it is impossible for one to actually write a whole song by oneself) don't really care that I hate this song, nor that anyone with any modicum of taste hates this song, because they made huge dollars from it, and he who laughs last....has the last laugh....or something.

And then there was Garth Brooks with "The Red Strokes".  I barely remember this song, and don't bother looking, because you will never find a Garth Brooks video online (except for a couple of grainy live performance videos), so I'm choosing to just ignore Garth Brooks for the rest of this post.  If and when he decides to stop hording his videos, maybe I'll give him his due.

But, of course, not everyone had horrible taste in 1994.  Just most people.  However, this song was a big, big hit, and it actually deserved it.

I've written about this song before, and you can call it "kitschy"; or call it whatever you want.  I love this song.  And it's a true original.


And then we had LITTLE TEXAS.

Little Texas had a couple of really good songs, and this one was the best.  Unfortunately (of course), apparently Little Texas, or what is left of them without Brady Seals, chooses not to share its videos online (they attended the Garth Brooks school of artist promotion).  So, in order to include this song, I had to go with this video, which was created, I'm sure, out of love.  But I'd rather have an actual video of the guys performing the song.

I don't know if VINCE GILL ever recorded a bad song.  This is a song he wrote about Amy Grant, when he really wasn't supposed to, but he did anyway.

Remember MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER?  I always liked her.  I guess she aged too much, and they didn't want her anymore.  Isn't that the way it goes?

You're probably asking yourself at this point, well, where are the actual BAD songs?  I mean, aside from Tim McGraw?  Well, you know me.  I prefer positive energy to negative, so I'm skipping a bunch of bad ones, and featuring the ones I like.

I know that tends to not prove my theory, but would I rather be right, or rather have fun?  I'll take fun.

So, here's one, by ALAN JACKSON:

We also had TRISHA YEARWOOD in 1994.  Trisha, unsurprisingly, adheres to her husband's (Garth's) theory regarding NOT sharing videos online, so, alas, we're stuck with this pale green (and who thinks that's an attractive color?) video of  "Xxx's and Ooo's" (and doesn't that actually read, "X's and ooohs"?  I think the spelling is off here.)

And then there was FAITH HILL.  I've got nothing against Faith.  Okay, I do.  But it's not necessarily because of this song.  Although I read that she'd never in her life heard the Janis Joplin version.  I'm thinking little Faith led a very sheltered life.  No, what I really have against Faith Hill is that she alone caused me to finally give up on country music.  But it was a later song that did it.  Something about breathing.  And one wouldn't think that breathing would be bad.  But it was.

EDIT:  Sorry, I removed this video.  It was kind enough to auto-play, and I like to make up my own mind whether to listen to/watch a video or not.  But you can find it online, if you search really hard (it's not on YouTube).

I don't think I remember where I was the first time I heard any song, except for this one.  I distinctly remember sitting in my parked car, waiting to pick up my kids from school, when this song came on the radio.  Why do I remember it?  I'll guess it was (a) because it was my very favorite singer, GEORGE STRAIT; and (b) because it was so good.  I almost swooned over this song.  Especially when he hit the high notes. 

Speaking of good, what about DWIGHT YOAKAM?

Let's not forget PATTY LOVELESS (she ranks right up there with Patsy and Tammy, really):

I didn't realize this next song was from 1994.  I have a quibble with a popular radio/TV host using this as his theme song, because I wonder if he ever actually listened to the whole song, aside from the tag line.  Because this song is pretty stark and dramatic, and it's not actually a patriotic song (duh).


I truly hate songs about tractors.  Because everyone who sings them has no clue about tractors.  They could just as well be singing about jumbo paper clips.  This one, however, seems more authentic; a slice of small-town life.  My dad would like this song, even though he hated John Deere tractors.


To help prove my point about bad music in 1994, Tim McGraw makes yet another appearance.  This video is striking, if for no other reason than for the odd way Tim wears his hat.   But I guess that's his "signature", isn't it?  Wearing one's hat like a dork ~ must be Tim McGraw!

And let's not even get into the offensiveness of this song.  Because, where does one start?

I remember getting up early in the morning, shuffling to the bathroom to get ready for work; flipping on the FM radio, and hearing this song, and just thinking about it.  Every morning.

I am an unabashed COLLIN RAYE fan.  I don't know Tom Douglas's work, but I know this song.  And Tom must have had a special, personal insight, in order to write this.  This proves that the best songs aren't necessarily written by the people whose names you know.  The song stands on its own.

Most people (I'm guessing) don't remember LARI WHITE.  I do.  I bought two of her CD's.  I think she was just great.  And here is one that proves it:

Like Lari White, you may not remember THE MAVERICKS  I always found the name, The Mavericks, ironic, because my best friend, Alice, was in a band called The Mavericks, until somebody raised a fuss, and said, hey, we've got that name!  Pick something different!  

But that's neither here nor there.  This Mavericks was headed by Raul Malo.  And here is a 1994 song, and a good one:

Speaking of tractors (you have to keep up ~ that was a few paragraphs back), what about THE TRACTORS?

Never had another hit song; but that's how the old train rolls,doesn't it?

I leave you with Baby Likes To Rock It:

So, my theory is essentially moot.  I thought 1994 was bad, but it really was sort of good.

Okay, I skipped a bunch.  I just couldn't bring myself to relive the bad parts of 1994.  But you can look it up, if you are a masochist.  Trust me, though, there was some bad stuff in 1994.

The thing was, though, the good outweighed the bad.  That's the thing about radio.

One can remember a year as being bad, but if they take a closer look, it's really that the bad stuff was so omnipresent, it obscured the good things.

Maybe it's just that 1994 was a harbinger of the bad times to come.  And believe me, there were bad times to come.

But I must say, I've enjoyed this look back (most of it).  So, it's a win-win.  I'd forgotten most of it, but that's what comes with old age.  One tends to forget things, or bundle them into one big thing; one that has no identifiable parameters, but rather, tends to be something we like to call the "good old days".

Lord, I guess I've finally crossed that threshold, haven't I?