Showing posts with label buenos noches from a lonely room. Show all posts
Showing posts with label buenos noches from a lonely room. Show all posts

Friday, October 11, 2019

Country Album Recommendations For The Uninitiated

Ken Burns' "Country Music" series has apparently sparked unprecedented interest among casual music dabblers. I don't picture regular PBS viewers as popular music connoisseurs; which is unfair, because I watch PBS. I will (with confidence), however, assume that the average public television watcher is unfamiliar with country music; or was, until Ken Burns came along.

I'd like to think this sudden interest isn't as fleeting as the "O Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack fad was in 2000; when it was suddenly considered hip to embrace Appalachian music. I'm not optimistic.

But for those uninitiated curiosity-seekers who may actually want to click an album download or two on Amazon, welcome! My recommendations won't be too country, because I understand that country music is an acquired taste.

If you liked "O Brother, Where Art Thou", you'll like Marty Stuart's "The Pilgrim" even more. Today The Pilgrim is regarded as a classic, even though it performed poorly on the charts when it was released in 1999. A concept album, it features the likes of George Jones, Earl Scruggs, Johnny Cash, and Emmylou Harris, among others ~ all names familiar to Ken Burns' viewing audience. Marty will be reissuing the album this year on its twentieth anniversary.

 My favorite:

"Buenos Noches From A Lonely Room". Dwight Yoakam has released too many albums to count, and most of them offer delicacies. This album, though, is perhaps my favorite. This was Dwight's third release, and I was just getting to know him when it came out. For country, Yoakam was definitely unconventional ~ in a good way. At least eight of the eleven tracks on this LP are keepers. That so rarely happens.

Don't ever forget that Dwight can rock:

Folks who watched "Country Music" may think that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was only about the circle being unbroken. Au contraire! In the nineteen eighties, there was no better country band than NGDB. "More Great Dirt" is a so-called greatest hits album, but let's be frank: most of us had never heard these songs before the LP came along.

I'm happy to report that I got to see NGDB in concert in their heyday. What began as a country-rock outfit happily came to embrace country in its entirety. This is a band to get to know! The album, released in 1989, boasts, by my count, seven out of ten superb tracks.

I regret that I can't find any live performances of the songs I like best from the album, but please enjoy:

Yep, these are all male artists (shoot me). But remember, I devoted a whole post to Emmylou Harris.

I do have more recommendations, but be forewarned: they're country.

Those will wait until we meet again.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Retro Album Review ~ Buenos Noches From A Lonely Room

I returned gently to the country music fold. I don't remember quite how it happened. I vaguely recollect sitting in my car, waiting for the kids to alight from the elementary school door, and apathetically punching the buttons on the car radio. Y93 was my go-to channel, but something boring was playing; maybe a Debbie Gibson song, so I clicked the preset for KQDY and caught something that actually sounded like country music ~ maybe Rosanne Cash or that new guy whose voice I liked but didn't know his name...George somebody.

That was all it took. I began to explore this "new" country. I purchase a cassette tape by the Sweethearts of the Radio and played it in the background while I did my housecleaning. I bought another one ~ it may have been the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ~ and I wore out those two tapes, not yet convinced to plunge full-bore back into the country cosmos. After all, country had betrayed me before.

But I was supremely curious. I began hitting the KQ94 button more regularly, and before long I simply left the car radio tuned to that channel. I found wonders! Yes, some of the old-timers were still around ~ The Oaks and Alabama ~ but there were all these new guys! Randy Travis and Ricky Van Shelton and Highway 101 and Kathy Mattea and Foster and Lloyd...and that new guy, George...

And I heard a song that was revelatory, "Guitars, Cadillacs". It combined everything I'd ever loved about country into a brash, bass-thumping, Telecaster twanging, two-step twirling slice of perfection.

This "Dwight" dude was different but familiar. He was no crooner ~ he had a Kentucky tenor that took a bit of adjustment for my ears to settle on. But I liked it. His songs tore at my heart, the way my mom and dad's country had once stabbed me in the gut, but better in a way I'd once only imagined sublime country could be.

When I finally took the dive and committed to country again, I became omnivorous. Now it was CD's, and I turned into the Musicland pest, scouring the racks every week for new glorious sounds.

Inevitably I stumbled upon "Buenos Noches From A Lonely Room".

Dwight's third album didn't foster many hits, but it set a marker that still stands. Country was always about singles. That changed briefly with Merle in the sixties, but nobody in country set out to make a statement. They only strived to make a dollar. Buenos Noches From A Lonely Room wasn't a concept album, but it became one. I purchased every one of Dwight Yoakam's CD's and this one ranks at the top. I've "liked" his later releases, but when I hear this one, it's fresh. It doesn't spoil with repetition. That's not an easy feat.

No live video, but this is the lead track:

Track 5:

Track 7:

Track 6:

Track 8 (and the number one ~ I heard this by Buck and his Buckaroos, so it wasn't relevatory like it was for others, and not, by any stretch my favorite):

Track 4:

There's not a lot in life that brings joy. 

This album does.