Showing posts with label charlie daniels band. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charlie daniels band. Show all posts

Friday, November 3, 2017

1980 In Country Music...and Super Kid

It's hard to remember a particular year until one is reminded of the cultural touchstones of the day. By June 1 of 1980, I'd begun my new "career" as a hospital worker. It doesn't sound fancy, but it was by far the best job I'd had in my whole nine years of working life. Once my youngest child was old enough for me to feel safe leaving him in the distracted hands of his father, I'd begun looking for second shift jobs.

Retail came first. Please be nice to retail workers -- they get shitty pay and have to park a mile away in order to leave the prime parking spots for actual customers. On moonless nights in North Dakota in January, it's a long cold walk at nine thirty p.m. Of course, January is the dead time for stores, once all the unwanted Christmas gifts have been returned for store credit, so although one might be scheduled for eighteen working hours for the week, she will most likely get a phone call from her department manager at the last minute, informing her that "things are slow" and therefore she won't be needed that night. There was no vacation pay and certainly no health insurance, so I mentally had to calculate which monthly bill would not get paid on time.

The hospital, on the other hand, offered actual benefits. And "customers" weren't surly. They appreciated every single little kindness offered. And face it, the job was interesting. I was able to learn more than simply how to punch numbers into a cash register.*

*I learned something from every job I ever had. Don't discount life experiences.

 I would begin my shift at 3:30 in the afternoon, which left plenty of "kid time" during the day. My sons were four and two. We had no exciting "outings". We were poor, so a trip to the mall was our farthest journey, and it rarely ended well. Attempting to corral a toddler and a pre-schooler while browsing Woolworth's aisles only resulted in disapproving glares from store personnel. If I was feeling flush with cash, I'd purchase a '45 single from the record department and hope to make it all the way home without a tussle ensuing in the back seat, crushing my precious purchase to shiny black shards.

Cable TV was like manna from heaven, even though the fanciest channels available were WGN in Chicago and WTBS from Atlanta, which broadcast black and white reruns of James Garner's "Maverick" late at night. On June 1 something called a "news channel" debuted. Dave Walker and Lois Hart anchored its first newscast, which was memorable for Lois's hairdo. Imagine getting news anytime one wanted! What an alien concept! The channel called itself "CNN". Everyone said it wouldn't last; that it was a novelty. But we tuned in because it was new. 

Back home, my little brother had discovered something called a Rubik's Cube. It was a frustrating little box puzzle and thus "stupid". I hated that thing, but still I persisted in twisting it around, hoping a miracle would happen (it never did). 

Mom and Dad had bought a "VCR" and showed it off. I couldn't afford seven hundred dollars for an electronic gizmo, but I sure coveted theirs. My whole life I'd wanted the newest gadgets, because they would transform my life, and I scratched and clawed to get them. It wouldn't be too long before I bought a damn VCR, because I couldn't miss St. Elsewhere, which would be sacrilege, since I knew how hospitals worked!

I don't know why I attended movies with my mom. It's an alien concept to me, because Mom and I were never what you'd call bosom buddies; but we saw "Coal Miner's Daughter" together, which I've since seen approximately 10,000 times. (Did I mention we had HBO?)

Mom and I also saw "Urban Cowboy", which leads me (in a painfully roundabout way) to the top country songs of 1980.

Country music was dominated by Urban Cowboy. If one does not own the soundtrack album, they would not know.  Urban Cowboy and Kenny Rogers -- that basically sums up 1980. We country fans were on a quest to find something, anything, that would justify our faith in music. Country consisted of the old standbys and by those "new kids" who performed on the UC soundtrack...and by Eddie Rabbitt. 

And we actually tolerated songs like this:

Super Kid wanted badly to be a super-hero. He was four years old. He thus dived off an orange velvet La-Z-Boy rocker smack-dab onto the corner of the coffee table. And thus he broke his nose. I saw it happen in slow motion but was unable to stop it. A trip to the emergency room ensued. 

Thankfully, he was consoled by his all-time favorite TV show OF ALL TIME:

There were, of course, songs for us grown-ups, too.

And songs played on a PlaySkool record player, as rendered by the Chipmunks:

1980, to me, will be forever memorialized by Dolly Parton confronting Mister Hart; by Tommy Lee Jones; by a superkid breaking his nose, by Eddie Rabbitt and by Kenny Rogers and his white beard. By slender youth. By a chubby toddler mesmerized by a goofy LP recorded by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

By a faux-walnut paneled home and rooms separated by paper-thin walls. 

By a mother's heart-piercing love.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Back To Work ~ 1979 ~ And Music

When my youngest son was 6 months old, I knew the jig was up, and that I would have to go back to work.

It had been a nice sabbatical, if you call toddler/infant duty a sabbatical, but I enjoyed it.  I would have been happy to stay home awhile longer.  Alas, the checkbook spoke to me and told me otherwise, so off to find a job I scurried.

There was one of those signs along the street in front of our complex, advertising, "Future Site of LaBelle's".  And as we drove past it, I announced, "That's where I'm going to work.".  The pluses were that it was approximately 3 blocks from my home, and well, that's about it.  But I decided that I was going to get a job there.

Did you ever apply for a job for which you had no qualifications whatsoever, but you took what little experience you did have and twisted it into something that looked faintly like what the job required?  Well, who hasn't?  I had run a cash register at my mom and dad's business, so there you go.  Cash register experience.  Voila.

I don't know if anybody even remembers LaBelle's Catalog Showroom.  It apparently became defunct sometime in the mid-1980's.  But for awhile there, it was the thing.  It was a forerunner, I guess, of those warehouse stores, but on a much more pitiful scale.

There would be one of each object displayed on the shelves, and people would take one of those little stubby pencils and an order form and write down the item number, hand it to somebody, and the warehouse guys (who were just standing around with nothing much to do) would get right on it.

I worked in the "Will Call" department, which apparently meant that I would "call" people when their order came meandering up on the conveyer belt.  Another qualification I had for the job, now that I think about it, was a good speaking voice.  Because once the item finally trudged through those leather hanging strips, out to the front of the store, I would grab the little microphone off its wall mounting and announce, "Gary Pompandreaus, your order is ready at register three.  Gary Pompandreaus, register three please."

(Now that I think about it, I'm not so sure that everybody loved having everybody else in the store know that they were there, so that they'd all come running up to the cash register, clamoring, "What'd you get?", but that's how LaBelle's rolled.)

And the whole "register three" bit was sort of unnecessary.  There were generally two of us working the registers, and therefore, it didn't exactly matter which register somebody strolled up to.  We'd ring 'em up, regardless.  I wasn't going to be an ass and say to them, "No, I said register three!", and make them move one slot over.  Although, in hindsight, it would have been fun to grab that mic again and scold people publicly for their malfeasance.

I liked the job.  Sure, it got crazy at Christmas time, but that actually was much more interesting than standing around on a Wednesday night, ringing up a purchase every 20 minutes or so.  That could get boring and uncomfortable, seeing as how we had to wear high heels.  So more customers meant less time thinking about how much our feet hurt.

I even liked working the "returns" register.  Of course, times were different then.  Everybody (mostly) was polite, and we had a generous return policy.  It made me feel good to make customers happy, by just handing them their money back.  It's not like that now, is it?  They want you to bring three forms of ID, the original receipt, and heaven forbid if you've (gasp!) opened the package!  And then they begrudgingly hand you a slip of paper as "store credit".  But customer service is not exactly geared toward the "customer" anymore, is it?  They shouldn't even label the counter "Customer Service".  They should call it the, "What the hell do you want?  You're bothering me!" counter.

At the time I worked at LaBelle's, the cabbage patch doll craze was in full swing.  People were nuts about those dolls.  I sort of felt out of the loop, being a mother of boys.  And sadly, had I wanted one of those grotesque, large-headed babies, I could have had my pick.  I could have perused the shelves, picked out whichever cabbage baby was the least ugly, and had it set aside for me.  Too bad I wasn't working at LaBelle's when Transformers were popular.  I would have saved TONS of money.

Sadly, for me, retail didn't pay worth crap.  So, I didn't stay at LaBelle's long.  And apparently, LaBelle's didn't stay at LaBelle's long, either.  They folded up just a few years after I had moved on.  Their marketing concept was quaint, but they couldn't compete with the WalMarts, et al.  And really, when you think about it, would you like to stand around waiting for your item to come trudging up a conveyer belt, when you could much more quickly grab your crock pot from a WalMart shelf, and stand in line for 20 minutes, waiting to pay for it?

I don't even know if LaBelle's was a national chain.  I'm thinking it probably wasn't.  But for those of you who remember the store, here is one of their Christmas commercials (and really, cameras were dang expensive then!  I had me one of those SLR's, albeit a Minolta; not a Canon ~ purchased at LaBelle's with my employee discount ~ and I have lost all memory of the usurious amount I paid for that thing!  Now, we have digital crappy cameras, that you have to hold two feet from your face in order to focus on whatever object you're trying to snap, and you have little control, and generally, one lens, and you have to pull out your "memory card" and take it to a store and pick out your pics and have them print out, and most of them are throwaways, but dang!  Aren't those cameras cheap now!)

But 1979 wasn't just about getting back out into the working world.  There was also (country) music.

I have mostly foggy memories of many times of my life, but the music brings it all back.  That's what I love about music.

I will say, though, that nobody thought that 1979 country music was worth preserving on video, apparently, because most of it is just not there to share.  Maybe 1979 was a throwaway year?   I didn't think so.

But here is some of what I could find:

Don Williams ~ Tulsa Time

A haggard-looking Waylon Jennings ~ Amanda

Mel Tillis ~ Coca-Cola Cowboy

Charlie Daniels Band ~ The Devil Went Down To Georgia

T.G. Sheppard ~ Last Cheater's Waltz (sorry for the bad video quality)

Marty Robbins ~ All-Around Cowboy

Emmylou Harris ~ Blue Kentucky Girl (shhh, yes, you and I know that this was a Loretta Lynn song)

Oak Ridge Boys ~ Come On In

Hank Williams, Jr. ~ Family Tradition

(Hank, Jr. was always great at referring to himself in the third person ~ "Ol' Hank".  He couldn't quite pull it off like Jerry Lee did, though.  I once got up and walked out of a Hank Williams, Jr. concert.  Seriously, the only time I ever walked out of a concert.  In hindsight, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have walked out, but I would have stayed and been really bored.)

The Statler Brothers ~ How To Be a Country Star

Just give me some Jerry Lee Lewis any day (and he can call himself "Ol' Jerry Lee" as much as he wants, Hank.) ~ Rockin' My Life Away

Texas (When I Die) ~ Tanya Tucker

These videos, such as they are, remind me of how seminal 1979 really was in country music.  And those are just the videos I could find.  I couldn't find Eddie Rabbitt, nor Kenny Rogers, nor Anne Murray, among others.

I never before really put two and two together ~ my re-entry into the working life and my immersion in country radio.  But, you know, I had more important things on my mind then.

Two boys,

And not buying cabbage patch dolls.

Monday, November 10, 2008

CMA Awards - Welcome To The Eighties! - 1980

Here we go! We've made it to the eighties! I'm excited! Can't you tell from all the exclamation points!!

I'm just excited to have made it all the way through the seventies, and now on to a new decade! I'm predicting BIG THINGS for the eighties! A whole regime change, if you will. I sure hope that's true.

Realistically, however, progress came slowly back then to the world of country music. Country wasn't quick to just shove people aside (like they do now). Good grief, when you look at the country music world of today, good old George Strait must be the most stubborn man alive, cuz try as they might, they just can't push him off the cliff.

So, in 1980, we've got some holdovers from previous years.

The INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR was the Charlie Daniels Band. Here's a 1980'ish song:

I think this song was inspired by Ronald Reagan's election. I could be wrong. But Charlie's a big conservative supporter, so I think I'm right.

The INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR was (again!) Roy Clark. And the VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR were the Statler Brothers. Ahhh, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It might have been a new decade, but it was still the same old Roy and Harold, Don, Phil, and Lew.

As you know if you've read any of my 1970's CMA posts, my video options for the Statler Brothers are kind of running dry. But here's one I found that begins with a song by Johnny Cash, with the Statlers singing backup. Then the boys step out front to do "Bed Of Roses".

And, as you heard, Johnny really loves Scandinavia!

VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR was a bit of a surprise. Of course, this category had long been dominated by male/female pairings, but 1980 brought something different. A male/male pairing: Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley. Yes, that's right.

This video is of supremely bad quality, but, believe me, it's the best that I could find:

Alas, but a moment in time. A snapshot, if you will. But it still marked a most unusual win; one that could only happen in the year that was; 1980. Two "good old boys", never to be heard from again, but here they were. And they still have that oddly-shaped statuette on their mantles, even to this day.

The ALBUM OF THE YEAR was also sort of an anomaly. It was a soundtrack, with a bunch of Hollywood types, singing the songs of Lorett-y Lynn and Patsy Cline, among others. A soundtrack from, as I recall, the biggest movie of 1980, "Coal Miner's Daughter".

I used to have HBO. And if you know HBO like I know HBO, you know that they repeat movies endlessly and relentlessly. So, back in the day, I think I saw the movie, "Coal Miner's Daughter", approximately 192 times. I can, to this day, quote lines from that movie. I also had a huge crush on Tommy Lee Jones. Course, Tommy's old now (who isn't?), but back then, he was a hunk.

Here (in case you've forgotten) are some scenes from "Coal Miner's Daughter" ("Put the backdrop back on the bed, darlin'.")

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR was a pleasant surprise: Emmylou Harris.

Emmylou got me into country albums. From Elite Hotel to Luxury Liner to Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town, Emmylou's albums were great! And she had a bunch of future legends in her band - like Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell.

You know we always leave Entertainer of the Year 'til last, so let's have a grouping of awards, shall we? Ol' Possum Jones got his act together around this time, and I'm sure we can agree that it paid off big time for him! Some say that this is the best country song of all time. I disagree, but I still think it's a good one, and look what came of it:


SINGLE OF THE YEAR - He Stopped Loving Her Today

SONG OF THE YEAR - written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman


Barbara Mandrell
Yes, Barbara won! Another opportunity to get up on stage and give a long......long acceptance speech! As we shall see in future retrospectives, Barbara climbed up on the Ryman stage many, many times to accept many, many awards. And she gave many, many long, rambling acceptance speeches. Sometimes they even ran out of time for the rest of the awards! (okay, I made up that part).
Don't get me wrong. I like Barbara Mandrell. But she did really become full of herself......really quickly. It got to the point, when I was watching the CMA's, when her name would be announced, I would mutter, "oh, for pete's sake", and then wander into the kitchen to make a snack, and when I came back, she was still talking.
But kudos anyway, Barbara, on the first (okay, second) of your many, many awards. Here's a song that I always liked:


Connie B. Gay
Connie B. Gay was a guy - don't let the name fool you. Odd name for a guy, but it maybe stood for Constantine? Mr. Gay was a music executive, and in fact, one of the first people to use the term "country music", as opposed to "hillbilly".
I vote for going back to calling it "hillbilly music". That would clear out some of the riff-raff. Cuz no self-respecting Carrie or Taylor or Tim or Kenny would stoop to calling themselves hillbillies. So, that'd only leave the ones who didn't mind (the good ones).

But, back to Connie B. Gay. He was part of the music scene in Washington, D.C. And he discovered and represented hillbillies - I mean "country artists" such as Jimmy Dean.

Here's a rare find. A clip from the Jimmy Dean Show, with Jimmy stepping in for Don Rich, and singing with Buck Owens and his Buckaroos.

Mr. Gay was also the founding president of the Country Music Association, so I guess if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't even be writing all these dang posts! Thanks, Mr. Gay!

I think the Sons of the Pioneers are cool. Can't you just picture the cowboys out on the range, rounding up those doggies, yodeling away to their heart's content; something like this:

You'll notice our entertainer of the year is right in there; right in the mix; talking, talking, talking; but finally there's another tune from the Sons, featuring Roy Rogers.

Well, I notice Johnny got in there rather quickly! Took the Country Music Association a bit longer to recognize some earlier pioneers - Faron Young, for example. In fact, that took until the year 2000! But let's not quibble. Johnny deserved to be in the Hall of Fame, and here's a medley of some of his songs (including one of my favorites, "I Still Miss Someone"):

So, there you go. A new decade. A fresh start. One classic country song. One classic movie. A novelty act named duo of the year. A long-winded entertainer. There's a little here for everyone!

I think this is going to be an interesting decade!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

CMA Awards - 1978

The CMA Awards website is sort of falling down on the job in 1978. Either that, or no one was named INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR. The nominees were Asleep At The Wheel, Chet Atkins (for group?), the Charlie Daniels Band, Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass, and Les Paul (again, not a group). But alas, there is no actual winner listed. Was this category accidentally left off the ballot? Was it a five-way tie? The possibilities are many. But I guess we'll never know, will we? Not that this is the biggest award of the night, but it probably was important to those nominated, I'd think.

So, in the interest of inclusiveness, I'll just pick a winner. Well, Les Paul is a legend, and deserves a category all his own, and Chet Atkins is also a legend and has already won countless times, and Danny Davis and his Brass don't have any room left on their mantles. That leaves Asleep At The Wheel and the Charlie Daniels Band.

Here's a representation of each:

Well, I just can't pick. Neither of these performances are technically "instrumentals", but they feature instruments! I love both these bands, so I'm just gonna call it a tie and move on. Weigh in with your choice, if you are so inclined.

The INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR was again Roy Clark. No videos; sorry. Nothing personal. It's just that there aren't too many videos of Roy available, and I've posted just about everything I could find. But good going, Roy! Apparently you learned how to make friends and influence people in Nashville!

Surprisingly, the FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR award again went to Crystal Gayle. I don't get it. I don't have any animosity towards Crystal; it's just that she was kind of a "blip" on the country music scene. She had one big (okay, huge) hit, and some other minor hits, but she's basically known for one song. One song does not a career make.

And try finding a video on YouTube that isn't "Brown Eyes". It's not easy! But here's one, and I don't have any recall of this song, but it seems nice:

Again, surprisingly, the SONG OF THE YEAR award went to Richard Leigh for a song that garnered Crystal the female vocalist award in 1977. That, of course, being, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue". I don't know about you, and I don't know anything about Richard Leigh, so no offense, Richard, but I don't think I even want to hear that song ever again. But if you have a hankering to hear it, check my post for 1977. It would be rather redundant to post it again.

Luckily for me, the CMA handed out the MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR award to someone different this time around! Change is nice. This song technically didn't earn Don Williams the award, since it was released later, but since he probably never won anything again, I thought I would post it, seeing as how it's probably my one and only opportunity:

The VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR award went to someone new in 1977 as well: Kenny Rogers and Dottie West.

Again, this was a short-lived pairing. Kenny went on to record duets with others, including Dolly Parton and Kim Carnes. And this was Dottie's sort of "pop" phase. It was a snapshot in time. Nothing that anyone's going to remember in the larger scheme of things, but this made it big in 1977:

As a breath of fresh air, the Statlers didn't win the VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR award. Nothin' against the Statlers - I like 'em! But it was just time for a change. These four guys gave the Statlers a run for their money, and they were huge in the late seventies. I saw them in concert at the North Dakota State Fair, and I was pretty excited about the whole thing, I must say.

Here's a song from around that time, that surely gave them the nod for vocal group of the year:


The SINGLE OF THE YEAR happens to be one of my personal favorites. Father-daughter team Jeannie and Royce Kendall - THE KENDALLS - had a very big hit with this song, and to me, it still holds up.

And I'll never forget my two-year-old singing along to "Heaven's Just A Sin Away":

ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Ronnie Milsap - It Was Almost Like A Song

I've been posting a lost of Ronnie Milsap videos lately, and I have sort of run out. I didn't realize that Ronnie had dominated the CMA awards for so many years, but kudos to him! I'm a big Ronnie Milsap fan. It's nice to be reminded that talent was, at one time, recognized.

Here's a Ronnie video, and if I posted it before, sorry. Again, there's not a lot of choices out there on YouTube.


I suppose some people view Dolly as one of those institutions that's always been there, sort of like George Washington. I, however, remember Dolly when she was simply the duet partner of Porter Wagoner. When she had her first singles, like "Somethin' Fishy"and "Dumb Blonde" on Monument Records. I guess I watched her career unfold. She, no doubt, helped Porter become relevant. Most of the duets they recorded were songs written by Dolly. Why has she endured, lo these forty-odd years later? I think because she's a great songwriter. And, to some, a great entertainer.

I never really liked Dolly "in person". Because she couldn't just sing the song, without offering some sort of commentary and endless giggling (while singing). Dolly does well singing harmony with others, such as Brad Paisley. Even Kenny Rogers. Just not in person. And Dolly has found a way to stay relevant through the years. In the early eighties, she reinvented herself as an actress. Who doesn't remember this:

I guess the reason that Dolly broke that glass ceiling (later to be broken by a few, but not by many) and be named Entertainer of the Year was probably due to this song, which is pop, and not country, but, hey, that's what they were looking for in 1978:


Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones did, I guess, "old time" music. Not really bluegrass, per se. Not really country. He actually could be a serious musician, but his stage persona overshadowed any seriousness that he might have had in him. I kid Grandpa Jones, but he seemed like a decent fellow, and he was entertaining. Of course, we all know him from Hee Haw, and here's a number featuring Stringbean, Roy Clark, and a bunch of others:

So, there you go, 1978. Things were starting to get back to "country" in some respects, but the Country Music Association was still stubbornly clinging to that pop stuff. Weird that the two could co-exist so seamlessly. And people accepted it. A crossroads, maybe. 1979 will tell the tale.