Showing posts with label charlie rich. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charlie rich. Show all posts

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....

Curly Putman

Curly Putman died Sunday.

His name might not be familiar to you, but it certainly is to me. Putman was a songwriter extraordinaire. 

I suppose Curly Putman first entered my consciousness the same way all behind-the-scenes guys did for me in the sixties -- from reading the backs of album covers. I obviously wasn't a songwriter then, but I was fascinated to learn who wrote the songs I liked best. If they wrote at least two of my favorites (I had kind of a low bar) they were "good". Naturally, like most of my country music discoveries, I first found Curly's name on the back of a Tammy Wynette album. He was co-writer, with Bobby Braddock, of this:

And he wrote this one, again featuring Tammy Wynette, with David Houston (sorry, no David Houston live videos exist, apparently):

I just posted this video last week, and here I am again! I mistakenly thought Dolly wrote the song -- I hate when I mess up like that.

Give credit where credit is due:

Tanya Tucker was a revelation to me, at thirteen, because she was thirteen -- and I didn't do anything except go to school and play records, while she made records. Life wasn't fair. I digress, though. Curly wrote this song:

You know me; I like to throw in a few obscure songs every now and then just to flummox everyone. Actually, no, I like to relive songs that I like and haven't heard in decades. Nobody seems to remember Charlie Rich (I do). Here's another Curly Putman song, sung by Charlie:

Songwriters never know which songs will strike a chord. And how could we? We love our babies; we think they're cute as a button, while strangers take one glance and turn their heads away. Instead, they fixate on the mangy cat balled up in the corner of the living room, huddled under the end table, its fur askew. The cat we picked up at the shelter on a whim because we felt sorry for it. The cat that's howling out this melody:

Speaking of ugly children: this song isn't actually a homely child; it's just not the best country song ever, although many think it is (they're wrong). But like the Green Green Grass of Home, it will live forever, and a songwriter will gladly live with that.

Curly, I'm guessing, wouldn't have cited this as his favorite composition (I'd love to know which one he thought was his best), but ten million fans speak louder than pride, or something.

Here is George Jones:

Curly wrote more than two of my favorite songs, so that makes him a great songwriter. One great song makes one a great songwriter. 

Curly Putman cleared that bar easily.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Billy Sherrill, Epic Producer

As a kid just getting into country music, I didn't know what a record producer was. I had a vague notion that he was kind of an "overseer", making sure that everything synched up okay; and that the studio musicians rather went their own way, and the singer went his/her own way; and the producer? Well, he sat in the booth and every once in awhile spoke, "One more take" into the mic. Reading my album liners, I was more interested in who wrote the songs, because I figured if I liked one song by somebody, I might want to check out some others. Therefore, I read, "B. Thimble - S. Sanitary" (they never put the first names of the writers on the liner, so I didn't know who these guys - and they were mostly guys - were. And unless he was a songwriting phenom, it was always co-writes - much like now). So I didn't pay much heed to who the producer was; just like I also didn't understand that a movie director was some big deal.

But I always knew the name Billy Sherrill. First of all, Billy Sherrill was also part of a songwriting team - with Glenn Sutton (he, the ex-husband of Lynn Anderson, who didn't apparently grasp Lynn's appeal to country music purists. See this.)

So when Billy's name started showing up on Tammy Wynette albums, I noticed. For example, there was this (sorry, no live performance video, naturally). This song, by the by, was written by Johnny Paycheck:

Billy was David Houston's producer, too. Everybody has forgotten David Houston - he died young - but he had monster hits in the sixties. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I can't embed a performance of his song that made the charts cringe in 1967, "Almost Persuaded", which was a really maudlin dirge only rescued by the tinkling piano riff that caused drunks across the USA to drop a tear into their beer mugs. However, so as to not forget David Houston, here's a song he did with Barbara Mandrell:

Billy Sherrill's obituaries pounced on his embrace of the "countrypolitan" sound, but I disagree. Countrypolitan, to me, was Chet Atkins adding the Anita Kerr Singers to every recording that might have been country had it not been for the Anita Kerr Singers. As if Bobby Bare was going to take this group out on the road with him. He had, I'm sure, enough trouble just making the payroll for the actual players in the Bare band.

No, Billy Sherrill didn't forgo the steel guitar. Not at all. And he didn't add a bunch of chipmunks behind the vocalist to "smooth out" the sound. He was too smart for that. Yes, he liked the piano, and he was right. Get a load of this:

Billy also produced Tanya Tucker, who I hated because she was thirteen and I was thirteen, but she could actually sing, whereas I couldn't (I love Tanya Tucker, actually.)

And this, I don't think, is any kind of "politan":

I'm not gonna say that Billy "inherited" George Jones, but I will point out that George had a different producer before he hooked up with Tammy. George was, no doubt, grateful for serendipity.

There are, of course, two recordings that will forever cement Billy Sherrill in the annals of country music. The first one he co-wrote with Tammy:

Historians will debate for eons the cultural impact of "Stand By Your Man". It was a song of its time, and that time was 1968 - 47 years ago! Calm down, everyone! Claudette Colbert is no longer hitching up her skirt and thumbing a ride on a country road with Clark Gable, either! Yes, Tammy divorced George. How dare she, when she sang like an angel about how she'd forgive every one of his transgressions?

Here's the deal - it was a song! I was around and listening to country radio when that song hit the airwaves. Know what I like about it? I like the last chorus, where Tammy slides up the scale full throttle and sells it. The secret about good music is, the lyrics don't mean a fig. That's why they call it music. It's melodic. And if you've got a great singer, the lyrics don't matter. Just ask Sinatra and his dooby-dooby-do's.

And that song will last centuries longer than Rose Garden or Achy Breaky Heart or any other song one can name that wriggled its way into becoming an ear worm.

The other song that Billy Sherrill will be remembered for is one that, in a poll of folks who mimic what everybody else says, is the greatest country song of all time. Ahh, contraire! But I'm not here tonight to argue. This recording was done piecemeal, because George was rather - battered - and couldn't make it through a three-minute song if his life depended on it. Heck, he often couldn't even show up for his own concerts. George was down and almost out before Billy Sherrill saved his career with his patience and persistence.

The key to this song, in my opinion, is the key change, which naturally builds tension. Secondly, the twin fiddle glissando that stabs you in the gut. The recitation? I'm thinking that was George just not being able to sing. A good song is sound. That's what a good producer creates.

Billy Sherrill was a good, nay, a great producer. Now I know what producers do - they create. Create glory. It doesn't matter if the words are a fairy tale; it doesn't matter if the singer had to come back to the studio fifty times in order to splice it together just right. It's the sound that comes out of our radio, or our turntable, or our computer that matters. We don't care how much peptic distress the creation caused. We care about what our ears, what our heart, hears.

Good job, Billy Sherrill.

And thanks for the magic.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Which Artist Do You Wish You'd Seen Live Before It Was Too Late?

Entertainment Weekly posed this question after the passing of George Jones:  Which artist do you wish you'd seen live before it was too late?

I can giddily say that I"m not very deficient in the concert category.  I've seen a whole bunch.  I've seen so many that I've forgotten some of them.

I've seen Dwight Yoakam twice.  I've seen Marty Stuart.  I finally (finally!) got to see George Strait.

I saw artists in their prime, which is the best way to see them:  Merle Haggard, George Jones, Buck Owens, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Faron Young, Marty Robbins.

Alan Jackson, Ronnie Milsap, Vince Gill, Gary Stewart (although hardly anyone even, sadly, remembers him), The Oak Ridge Boys, Highway 101, Gordon Lightfoot; Garth Brooks.

Paul McCartney.

Brian Wilson.

I, too, though, have a list of artists I wish I'd seen.


When John Lennon was killed, I realized my chance would never come.  Up until 1980, I'd held out hope that the four lads would reunite; maybe for a final goodbye tour.  I've read that their brief foray into live performing was unsatisfying for both the band and the fans.  Too much screaming; too little actual sound.  A goodbye tour, though, could have been different.  More efficiently managed.  I think I would have mortgaged my house to buy Beatles tickets.  Some bastard put a swift stop to all that, though, didn't he?


Granted, I don't smoke anything besides nicotine cancer sticks; and one probably needs to be smoking something else to fully appreciate a live concert performance by Jim Morrison and the Doors; but wouldn't that have been something to talk about?  They all say that Jim Morrison wasn't a good singer, but I don't get that.  I think he was as good a singer as anybody; and he most certainly had a stage presence that could not be denied.


Admittedly, I would have had only a short window of time to see Buddy Holly live, since he died in 1959.  And, had I seen him between ages one and four, I may not have had a lucid recollection.  I bet the teens, then, though, had a rockin' good time, jitterbugging in the aisle during his concerts.


I was what you'd call an early Waylon adapter.  Way back in 1967, I thought Waylon Jennings was an undiscovered fruit just waiting to be plucked.  Weirdly, it took until about 1975, when Waylon had let his hair grow out, and had visited Willie in Austin a couple or three times, for people to acquire some common sense and notice him.  I wasn't keen on the scraggly Waylon, but my son sure liked him showing his hands and not his face on TV, during the Friday night Dukes of Hazzard opening.


As a non-cool kid listening to country radio in the late nineteen sixties, I heard a few records by a guy named Charlie Rich.  I liked him.  He was soulful; a standout from the regular country fare.

Little did he, or anybody else, know that all it would take was a six-bar piano intro to turn him into a huge star.  

Charlie Rich was a bit dangerous.  I remember him as a presenter on the CMA Awards, announcing John Denver as Entertainer of the Year; and pulling a cigarette lighter out of his pocket and setting fire to the envelope containing Denver's name.  We all felt a bit of catharsis when Charlie did that.  I wonder what the hell Charlie would make of somebody like Taylor Swift.  Don your hazard-mat suit, Taylor!


Just because Eddie Rabbitt died young is no reason to forget him.  In a short span of time, Eddie created songs that are earworms to this day.  Drivin' My Life Away; I Love a Rainy Night.  Those were the eighties hits.  Eddie Rabbitt, though, had other songs that nobody but country fans would know.  Better songs.   He was a New Jersey boy who must have aimed his radio antenna toward WSM in Nashville on late school nights; because he sure did get it right.


Nope, I never saw him.  But one has to put it all in perspective.  Sure, Johnny had a hit TV show starting in, what?  1969?  That's when the Man in Black persona took root.  Before that, though, Johnny Cash was just a guy who did three-chord songs, backed by a three-piece band; and mostly, all the songs sounded the same.  Johnny Cash was famous for who he was; not for what he sang.  More power to him.

I still wish I could say I'd seen him live, though.  I think (in the recesses of my memory) I actually had the chance to see him live once.  I don't know why Alice and I passed up the opportunity.  We weren't exactly picky about who we would see.  Maybe the fact that even I could strum Folsom Prison Blues on my acoustic guitar led me to an attitude of disdain.  I can't speak for Alice.


Granted, Hank Williams died in 1953; two years before I was born.

That doesn't make me wish any less that I'd seen him in concert, though. 

The absolute biggest, best thing that ever happened to country music; when the farmhands were contenting themselves listening to Hank Snow and Red Foley; was Hank Williams.

Finally!  Somebody who could write a decent song; and who had the balls to perform it properly!

Yea, I would have liked to see him.  I believe he would have put on a hell of a show.


I was nine years old when Patsy Cline was killed in a plane crash, and I didn't even know who she was!  (Granted, I was a kid.)

I think it must be hard for girl singers.  Everybody wants something to aspire to.  Something they can do better than anybody else.  But when the bar was set about 60 years ago, that has to be disheartening.  "No matter how good I do, I'm never gonna be better than Patsy Cline."

Well, sometimes life sucks.  And sometimes we have a video record like this:

One would think that I could come up with an even ten; but I honestly can't.  

Funny, I never wanted to see Elvis.  I guess it was a different generation.     

There are performers still alive that I haven't seen; and wish I could.  Time's running out, though:

Ray Price
Jerry Lee Lewis

I think maybe I should look at the glass as half full.   I've been damn lucky; or I was in the right place at the right time.

I honestly need to appreciate those experiences more.



Friday, October 10, 2008

The CMA Awards - 1974

It was after these awards, I think; or maybe it was following 1975's, that a group of disgruntled country music entertainers got together and formed their own association. I think they called it the "Pissed Off Brigade" or something (no, I'm sure that wasn't what they called it). But it is true, that an alternate association was formed, to counter the "pop-ishness" leanings of the Country Music Association.

Now, maybe it was 1975, because looking at this year's winners' list, I'm not finding too much of what you'd call non-country.

Unless they were po'd because Charlie McCoy and Danny Davis kept winning. "We hate harmonicas!", they whined. "It's like a cat screeching!" "Oh, and enough with the trumpets! Oy! I can hardly hear myself think with that thing blowing!"

"And also, what's with Charlie Rich and his hat? Is he trying to be Frank Sinatra or somebody? We don't need that riff-raff hangin' around the Ryman!"

So, I guess I gave away the Instrumentalist of the Year and Instrumental Group of the Year winners. Oops. And I don't think they really hated Charlie Rich - at least I hope not.

No, what they were upset about, and it's sort of silly in hindsight, was the Female Vocalist of the Year winner.

Yes, I suppose her hit song wasn't technically country - at least not typical 1974 country. Now it would never get played on country radio, because it would be too country.

But it was harmless enough. I don't know what all the fuss was about. I like the song myself.

And, you know, she wasn't exactly depriving another deserving soul of the prize. The other nominees were Loretta Lynn (and I think she got more than her share of awards, don't you?), Anne Murray (oh, a paragon of country music), Dolly Parton (who also carted home a bundle of awards over the years, and who, by the way, made her own foray into pop music later, if you recall), and Tanya Tucker. Well, Tanya was what? Fourteen then? She had plenty of time.

And just for the fact that she didn't wear long Little House on the Prairie dresses, I think Olivia deserved the award!


Olivia Newton-John

I don't know who could harbor resentment against Olivia Newton-John. I mean, just look at her, with her Bee Gee shiny white teeth. I'm thinking that Australia had a lot of fluoride in their water. And she had nice hair. I wished my hair was like that in 1974. I've got no problems with Olivia winning the female vocalist award. For cuteness alone, she deserved the prize.


Ronnie Milsap

I see no reason why the Pissed Off Brigade would have any problem with Ronnie Milsap. Unless they were prejudiced against the blind. And that would really garner no sympathy for their movement.

There's a couple of really good singers from the country genre who get little recognition, but nevertheless, they're (as I said) really good singers. One of them is Ray Stevens, whom I've written about before. The other is Ronnie Milsap.

Listen to this rendition of a Don Gibson song, "Legend In My Time", and see if you don't agree that Ronnie is a really, really good singer.

Wow! Great ending here! I frankly have always been a Ronnie Milsap fan, and I wish he'd gotten his due, like he deserved. Maybe one day.....


A Very Special Love Song - Charlie Rich

Charlie'd been around for a long time before he got any kind of recognition or fame. He didn't just start out with "Behind Closed Doors", you know. He was one of those artists who just kept on keeping on, and hoping that maybe lightening would strike one day.

And I guess it was sort of like lightening, because one year he was on top of the world, and then one day, people were asking, "Whatever happened to Charlie Rich?" Fame or popularity is a weird thing. I think that Charlie was supremely talented, but he only had a couple of years on top, really, and then we never really heard from him again, unless we were paying close attention.

So, 1973 - 1974 were Charlie's years. Here's a major hit from (I'm guessing) the album of the year:


Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn

Okay, here's a video for which I apologize, because it's got a bunch of that Hee Haw "comedy" before we actually get to the song. But in watching this, I realized that I'd totally forgotten about this song, and it's pretty good! In fact, it's way better than a lot of the duets that C & L were famous for. My memory being jogged, I realize now that this was the lead-off track to Conway and Loretta's first album. I'd sort of gotten tired (or "tarred") of posting C & L videos, but I just kinda really like this one!


The Statler Brothers

Yes, the brothers win once again! I'm hoping (selfishly) that they don't keep winning, because I'm running out of video choices.

As I've said before, I like the Statler Brothers. They maybe did some stuff sometimes that wasn't my cup of tea, but they more than redeemed themselves over the many, many years that they were on the country music scene.

So, here's one of their nostalgic songs (again) that most likely kept them running up to the podium year after year.

Wow, one of these guys actually graduated in 1957! And I thought I was old! I guess age is relative.


Country Bumpkin - Cal Smith


Country Bumpkin - recorded by Cal Smith; written by Don Wayne

I've searched and I've searched, but unfortunately, there are no videos to be found of Cal singing this hit song from 1974. I was almost going to skip 1974, since I couldn't find a video of the song/single of the year winner. But then I thought, no. That's not really fair. So, I'll give you a link to the song (no video, however).

But if you want to know how the song went, it was basically: A guy walks into a bar and orders a beer from the barmaid, who proceeds to cut him down relentlessly, calling him a hillbilly and worse. So he marries her! The end.

I don't mean to be flip about this song. It's just that I heard it so dang many times in 1974, I don't care if I ever hear it again. But it was a good song. And the only song that I know of that rhymed "bumpkin" with "pumpkin".


Charlie Rich

Charlie won the big prize! Yay for Charlie! This was Charlie's heyday. Never to come again. So let's just enjoy Charlie performing live here:

So, if you think the Pissed Off Brigade was pissed off in 1974, just wait 'til 1975......

But before we say goodbye to 1974, let's take a look at the Hall of Fame inductees.....

Owen Bradley

Legendary producer Owen Bradley, famous for Bradley's Barn, and famous, of course, for producing Patsy Cline's records, among many others, including Brenda Lee, Conway, and Loretta. Bradley had his own team of hand-picked session players, and he developed a sound that became legendary.

Here's a glimpse of Owen in this fun video featuring KD Lang, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, and Miss Kitty Wells.

Pee Wee King

Here's a really old video of Pee Wee singing the song he wrote, Tennessee Waltz, which later became the state song of Tennessee. That's a pretty good accomplishment! And a very pretty song.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The CMA Awards - 1973

1973 was a banner year. Not necessarily for country music, but for ME! Yes, I was eighteen in 1973, and I graduated from high school.

I may SEEM like a dork, concentrating so much on country music during my teen years, but let me assure you, I didn't spend 1973 locked away in my room. (I did that from approximately 1967 to 1972.)

But, on the bright side, look at all the useless knowledge I accumulated during those years! I always wondered what I would do with these needless facts, and now here I am today, authoring a blog that no one reads! That's redemption!

But enough about me. Let's just get this out of the way, right off the bat:


Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass


Charlie McCoy

(I told you that there would be no more videos of these guys, and I'm sticking to that. Again, it's nothing against Danny Davis or Charlie McCoy; it's just that they just kept winning, and I don't know what I'm supposed to do -- post the same videos over and over?)


Loretta Lynn

Well, there's just no decent videos of any of Loretta's songs that won her this award in 1973, so using my editorial discretion, I decided to go back to 1968 instead.


Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn

No doubt, C & L were on a roll during these years. They'd wrestled the title away from Porter and Dolly, and they were reveling in it. They had a bunch of hit records in a row, and while the following video isn't chronologically correct, I thought I'd just put 'em all out there and we'd watch.


The Statler Brothers

Here we are again, Statlers! I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to be repeated for years to come, so let's post some videos while the video postin' is good.

This is an example of the songs I was talking about in my earlier post, about how they did that reminiscent stuff, about when they were kids, that I really couldn't relate to. But who am I to judge? I just got done telling you about locking myself away in my room, so watching Saturday morning serials really doesn't seem so odd, now, does it?

So, here's one of those.


Behind Closed Doors - recorded by Charlie Rich; written by Kenny O'Dell


Behind Closed Doors - Charlie Rich


Behind Closed Doors - Charlie Rich

Well, here we go. After all these years, thirty-five, I guess, here we are with a song that stands the test of time; in fact, one of my top twenty country songs of all time, "Behind Closed Doors".

I guess one could say that 1973 was Charlie Rich's year.

Forgetting about Charlie Rich would mean forgetting about the essence of country music, really. Country music has always been a blend of a bunch of stuff -- gospel, pop, twang, bluegrass, the Nashville Sound -- I'm probably leaving out some stuff. But is there no finer example of what country music truly is? That indefinable "something"? Here's one of the best, not only one of the best songs, but one of country music's best interpreters.

And that piano riff hooked me right off the bat. If anyone deserved these awards in 1973, it was Charlie Rich.


Roy Clark

I guess it was the Hee Haw phenomenon (ha! if you can call Hee Haw a "phenomenon"!) The other nominees for entertainer of the year in 1973 were Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall, Loretta Lynn, and Charley Pride. Which of these names stand out today? I'm thinking not Roy Clark. But hey! Maybe he put on a good show - I don't know.

Of course, the CMA's are not been to be looked at for historical relevancy. They are a snapshot in time. Sometimes they got it right (from a historical aspect); most times they got it wrong. Hindsight is 20/20.

So, here's a look at Roy Clark (a performance from Hee Haw, of course). And he certainly seems like a jovial fellow, so I guess, congratulations, Roy.


Chet Atkins

Much has been written about Chet Atkins and his career as both a performer and a producer. So, I'm not going to get into all that now. I thought maybe we'd just enjoy Chet picking the Wildwood Flower.


Patsy Cline

Well, there will never be another like her. It's such a shame that her life was cut short so prematurely. I think she'd still be making and selling records today, albeit on an indie label, of course. And she'd be laughing about the histrionics of today's female country singers. She didn't need to do any vocal gymnastics, because she had a pure, natural talent. To me, she will always be the queen of country music.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blast From The Past - Top Country Hits Of 1973

Unlike most years that I pull out of thin air to write about, 1973 actually does have significance for me. That was the year I graduated from high school. Ahhh, 35 years ago. And yet, I'm so young! So, I thought I'd go back and take a look at the year 1973 in country music. And hope for the best.

Surprisingly, as I scan the list of top hits on my trusty Wikipedia site, I find that there are number one songs that I don't even recognize, and yet there are songs that were considered "major hits", but not number ones, that are clearly recognizable. Wonder why that is. And you don't need to tell me that people had bad taste back in 1973......I was there........I had the clothes to prove that.

So, I'm not just going to stick with number one songs, because frankly, there were a lot of better ones that didn't make that list.

Just for fun, I thought I would start out with a video from a 1973 performance by Barbara Mandrell, on the Wilburn Brothers Show.

I really like Barbara Mandrell. But is it just me, or does she seem unnaturally pale in this video? I mean, not only the platinum hair, but the white lipstick (yes, I used that shade as well, back then. It helped one achieve that "fashionable ghoul" look).

One common thread that seems to run through this review of the year 1973 is that all the female singers seem to be wedded to those "Little House On The Prairie" dresses. I don't know what the scoop is on that. I, for one, distinctly remember wearing dresses that were, if anything, too short, NOT too long.

Perhaps I was a bit behind the times, fashion-wise, but I swear, I NEVER wore a floor-length dress; well, except at my wedding.


In keeping with the prairie homesteader look, here's Nellie Olson -- I mean Tanya Tucker, again from 1973, performing on Hee Haw.

Remember Hee Haw? Trying to forget, you say? Back when there were only 3 channels to choose from, and this was the only place you could get any country music, except for those syndicated shows that ran on Saturday afternoons.

The thing about Hee Haw was, you had to sit through a bunch of stupid, unfunny "bits", mostly about how stupid country people were -- you know, chewing on a piece of straw, missing several teeth, illiterate -- you know, just your typical country person, before you could get to see some actual musical performances.

So, upon further deliberation, I guess Tanya's dress fits right in with the overall theme. Cuz, you know, when I lived in the country, I always put on my long go-to-meetin' dress (and my bonnet) on Saturday afternoons and jumped in that old horse-drawn carriage to drive on down to the general store.



Here's Jeanne Pruett, performing on one of those syndicated shows I mentioned earlier, That Good Ole Nashville Music.

Jeanne, while still technically wearing a long dress, at least has "glammed" things up a bit. And she apparently is not missing any teeth.

I like this song. It was a HUGE hit. Jeanne does a great job on it.


Not to quibble, but isn't the subject matter of this song a bit too sophisticated for a flower girl at a wedding to be singing?

And I can't NOT mention the hairstyle. I think everyone I knew back then had this EXACT hairdo. I think even I had it at one time. I hope we weren't copying Marie Osmond. No offense.


I can't begin to tell you how much I HATED this song, back in 1973. Watching this performance, however, was enjoyable! How can you beat a drunken Waylon Jennings trying to remember the words to the Teddy Bear Song? And everyone around him pretending that he's not really drunk. Excellent!

I love these group performances anyway. You get to see a bunch of people that you haven't seen for awhile; for example, BOBBY BARE! (I'm still waiting, Country Music Hall of Fame!) Gene Watson is here, along with BJ Thomas, RAY STEVENS! Glen Campbell, Crystal Gayle, trying not to scream as the others accidentally sit on her hair. And, of course, leave it to RAY STEVENS to change the words to, "I wish I was Bobby Bare". So, fun!


Hey! Wasn't this a Coca-Cola commercial?

I bet if Coca-Cola uses your song in a commercial, you can start counting your money. All she needed to do was change one line. Easy enough.

Dottie West was a great writer. Probably my favorite song that Dottie wrote is, "Here Comes My Baby", which was a big hit for Ray Price.

Toward the end of her career, Dottie sort of meandered off into something else. I can't really put my finger on it, but it was, I guess, commercial, so who am I to judge? I just personally prefer her earlier stuff.

And sadly, all her Coca-Cola earnings didn't help Dottie towards the end. I remember she had to have a garage sale or something to raise money to pay her back taxes.

If I remember correctly, Dottie was killed in a car crash while on her way to perform at the Opry. A sad, premature end to a life of great talent.

Okay, yes, I started out my review of 1973 with all female performances. I hadn't intended to do that, but I became fascinated with all the long dresses, so I kept looking to see if I could find one female performer wearing a "regular" dress or pants.

It's a quirky thing, yes. But it's a footnote in the world of country music, circa 1973.

And then. I found one!


I always liked this song. Olivia got a lot of flack back then from the country music establishment. But I don't think she was trying to "horn in" on country music. I think she was just doing a song, and it caught on with the record-buying public; then all of a sudden, she was nominated for country music awards and stuff. And she was caught in this big backlash. Kind of unfair, really.

Fortunately, all was forgiven by 1978, when she co-starred with John Travolta in "Grease".

Yes. I always like to throw in a "Grease" reference whenever possible. This has nothing to do with 1973. I just like "Grease".

So, on to the men:

Now is the time to tell you that, unfortunately, there were a lot of GREAT hit songs by men in 1973, but I couldn't find videos of them.

The great songs include:

Ride Me Down Easy - Bobby Bare
Why Me Lord - Kris Kristofferson
Southern Lovin' - Jim Ed Brown
Whiskey River - Johnny Bush
Pass Me By - Johnny Rodriguez
If We Make It Through December - Merle Haggard
Everybody's Had The Blues - Merle Haggard
Lovin' On Back Streets - Mel Street

Among others.

Luckily, I could find a video of one of the songs that I happened to place in my Top Twenty of the Greatest Country Songs Of All Time:


So, in essence, 1973 wasn't that bad, overall, country music-wise. There were a few great songs (not that I could find videos of them, but take my word for it).

And while my high school prom theme was this (really):

I was listening to country radio, and from time to time, some rock, like this, that I think you will agree, is FAR SUPERIOR to Precious And Few.


While I may have been out of the mainstream back in 1973, I believe my taste in music has triumphed in the end.

That's all I ask.

Just to be vindicated.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Forgotten Artists

(originally posted 12-29-06)

I’ve got many, many songs ripped to my computer. When I’m relaxing after a hard week, I scroll through the songs to find something to listen to that fits my mood. Often I marvel at the quality of music that I stumble upon by accident. And I think, what a shame that these artists are probably long forgotten. Some of them are no longer with us, but damn! They sure made some good music.
So, here’s a few of my recent finds (and some people that you’ve probably never heard of):

David Houston ~ Anyone who has listened to country music for as long as I have (hmmm…….40 years?) will remember David Houston. He is one of the artists who is no longer with us, but he had a great voice, and a great vocal range! The songs that I rated as 4 stars or more are “You Mean The World To Me”, “Baby Baby (I Know You’re A Lady)”, and “After Closing Time”, which he recorded with Barbara Mandrell.

Brenda Lee ~ Well, happily, Brenda Lee is still alive and kickin’. “Fool #1″ ~ she has a great smoky quality to her voice on this song. She sang the hell out of it. She was produced by Owen Bradley, which accounts for the great arrangements, but she is one helluva singer. Other recommendations include “Break It To Me Gently” (yes, she did it long before Juice Newton), “All Alone Am I”, and “Too Many Rivers”.

Connie Smith ~ Yup, Connie’s still around, and married to Marty Stuart, I might add. Was there anything she sang that wasn’t great? Connie was a major influence on me as a singer. The young whippersnappers probably won’t remember Connie Smith, but at one time, she was the biggest selling female country artist, and rightfully so. Bill Anderson discovered her and wrote a lot of her songs, and it’s really difficult to single out any of her recordings as the “best”. I’m partial to “Just One Time” (written by Don Gibson), and “Ain’t Had No Lovin’”, which was a great country torch song.

Lynn Anderson ~ well, she’s actually a distant relative of mine (according to my mom’s tales); a second or third cousin or something. BUT, before I knew that, I LOVED Lynn Anderson’s songs. Her Chart records are the best, before “Rose Garden” came along. Geez, didn’t we just grow to hate that song? Sadly, I’ve lost all my albums, but I had a bunch of Lynn’s. I think her version of “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” (a Rodney Crowell song) is better than Emmylou’s. “Sing A Sad Song” is very, very sweet. Hard to top Merle’s version, but she comes close. And yes, she was on the Lawrence Welk Show, but hey ~ Lawrence was from North Dakota, just like me, so there.

Charlie Rich ~ Well, Charlie just happened to record one of the all-time best country songs ~ “Behind Closed Doors”. One of my favorite Charlie memories was watching him on the CMA awards show, setting fire to the slip of paper that announced John Denver as the “country” male vocalist of the year. I think he made his point. He was truly a country blues artist. Listen to “Sittin’ And Thinkin’”, which he happened to write. I’ve got the Essential Charlie Rich, which is a two-disk set, and it’s awfully difficult to narrow down the best songs.

Del Reeves ~ My husband thinks “Girl On The Billboard” is the funniest/cheesiest country song ever. He happened to discover that song on his own, and he put it on one of his compilation tapes. “A deedle-do-do-do”…. ha ha. But actually, Del recorded some very good songs. An obscure recording of his, “Landmark Tavern”, that he recorded with Penny DeHaven, is one of my faves. And none other than George Strait covered “Good Time Charlie’s”.

Faron Young ~ Well, don’t get me started. At one time, Faron was my ultimate favorite country singer. Well, let’s start with a Willie song, “Hello Walls’, and let’s just continue on. “Wine Me Up”, “Step Aside”, “Your Time’s Comin’” (a Kristofferson song), “If I Ever Fall In Love (With A Honky Tonk Girl)”, written by Tom T. Hall, “Alone With You”, which would be one of my choice songs to cover. There’s just too damn many to mention. Faron Young was the George Strait of his day.

Johnny Bush ~ Well, damn if “Undo The Right” isn’t one of THE best country songs of all time. I think Johnny Bush was unfairly labeled as a “Ray Price Wanna-Be”, but I think ole Ray loves Johnny’s recordings, too.

Mel Tillis ~ Okay, “Heart Over Mind” with those twin fiddles. He wrote it; he did the best recording of it. And you gotta admit, he was one of the best writers on Music Row. He launched Kenny Rogers’ career with “Ruby”. And he made Webb Pierce the number one artist of his day. This guy wrote some classic songs.

Eddie Rabbitt ~ Eddie Rabbitt is more than just “I Love A Rainy Night”, although I like that one! I bought his first album (and yes, they were albums back then) and my favorite of his is “Two Dollars In The Jukebox”, but of course, I’m a sucker for that honky tonk music. Sadly, Eddie is gone, too.

Marty Robbins ~ Well, okay, Marty deserves a topic of his own. And I’m going to write about him when I feel like I can do it justice. Marty left us in the ’80’s, and probably a lot of younger people don’t know anything about him. These people are FOOLS. I’m gonna save my words for another topic, but let’s just say, for now, “Don’t Worry About Me”.