Showing posts with label clint black. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clint black. Show all posts

Friday, November 8, 2019

Clint Black

For a variety of reasons, barroom songs are the best songs. I grew up around bars, or what one might now call "tap rooms", with a juke box and a local band playing on weekend nights. The whiff of stale tobacco mixed with gin and bourbon smells like home. There's nothing like the morning after, when tables need to be cleared, to soak in that cloud of obliterated good times.

As a kid I only knew about the music and that people seemed to be having tons of fun. I could perch right outside the entrance of my uncle's bar, and later my dad's bar and take in the abandon displayed before me and the thumping of an electric bass and the crash of drums; even though I couldn't quite discern which song the band was playing. I didn't even think to make judgments about the masses inside ~ the sad men bumped up against the bar nursing a tall frosted glass or the wiry arms draped around hairspray-stiffened fake blondes in red booths in dark corners. Once a quarter got dropped into the juke box slot, men who had, after three whiskey sours, developed a certainty of their dancing prowess would coax the ladies into their arms and onto the dance floor, and they would two-step to Ray Price's "Crazy Arms" or Buck Owens' "Foolin' Around".

It was all exciting to me because it was different; foreign.

For reasons that all pointed back to my dad, I renounced bars for a couple of decades thereafter. The fun is fleeting; the repercussions are piercing daggers that stab for a lifetime. But sometime around 1987, I felt a craving to re-immerse myself in the fun times ~ experience the abandon as a fully-grown woman. There was a renowned country bar in my town called The Dakota Lounge that brought in all the best regional bands on weekends and had a scrolling neon sign inside that flashed all the upcoming acts. The club was dark, as all bars should be. Faux cowboys strolled in around eight o'clock, black hats perched atop their sideburned coiffes; shiny pointed boots inadvertently pinging against bar stools. The gals would saunter in as a clutch around nine; red kerchiefs circling their slender necks, a powder puff of Jovan Musk wafting off their breasts. The cowboys began to circle, scoping out the prettiest, and then the juke box would kick in as weary bar maids took drink orders.

Decades had passed since Ray Price had boomed out of a Wurlitzer's speakers, but the tableau was just the same. It requires a special vibe to commence the ritual; mystic, yet immediately agreed upon. The song is a toasty embrace with a pulsing heartbeat.

This was that song:

Had Clint Black never recorded another song, "A Better Man" would still be celebrated as the ultimate country hook-up song of the nineteen eighties.

But he did record more:

What Clint did was, he didn't forget country music:

And Clint was no flash in the pan. This track, from 1997, is as good as it can be:

Thanks to Saving Country Music, I found this wholly original video:

Ken Burns may have brushed Clint Black aside, but I won't.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Tracy Lawrence

I'm beginning to get a bit pissed off about nineties country artists being ignored. It may have begun with Ken Burns' "Country Music" series, which completely overlooked the most iconic artists of a decade when country music was at its best (see: George Strait). For me, country was represented by artists like Tracy Lawrence, Mark Chesnutt, Clint Black, Diamond Rio, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, Collin Raye, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, Clay Walker, Restless Heart, Earl Thomas Conley, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Foster and Lloyd, Ricky Van Shelton, Trisha Yearwood, et al.

The nineties was when country and our hearts soared. Even the sad songs made one at least feel alive. I don't know what country's like now; and frankly, from everything I've read, I don't care to know. Country for me was laid to rest somewhere around 1999. I'm told, though, that it's a pallid imitation of the genre formerly known as country.

So for the uninitiated, I'm bringing the nineties back. Mark Chesnutt warranted his own singular post, but let's not overlook the others. In posts to come, I will introduce novices to actual country music and remind those of us in the know of artists who may have slipped our minds.

I'm a big booster of Tracy Lawrence, as described here. 

In case you've forgotten or never knew, watch these:

Yep, I'm bringing nineties country back. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Ken Burns "Country Music" ~ Episode 8 ~ "Sorry, We Don't Have Time For You"

Some Guy

"George Strait racked up sixty number one hits, more than any artist in any genre, so here's a thirty-second clip about him."

I don't want to let my disappointment with Episode 8 of Ken Burns' "Country Music" sour me on the entire series. The documentary truly was a relevatory event. However, aside from the sixties, this was the episode I was anticipating the most, and....well, wow.

I'll do a summation of the series in a subsequent post, but for now, let's address the time period of 1984 to 1996.

The good:  Dwight Yoakam. 'Bout time, is all I can say. Dwight has been snubbed by the Nashville community for...well, forever; inexplicably. I thought the industry liked hits, and Dwight certainly racked up those. Yoakam, however, was "different", and we can't have that. Unlike some of the obscure artists and songwriters Burns spent too much time chronicling, Dwight Yoakam has bona fides.

Kathy Mattea: Although Ken didn't feature any of Mattea's best tracks, I was still heartened that she was included. In a previous post, I noted a few of the female artists from the era; and Burns could have highlighted any of them ~ Pam Tillis, Paulette Carlson ~ at least he picked one of the good ones.

Vince Gill:  Vince's music resides in a special chamber of my heart. It's all tied up in memory, naturally, as music is; and "Look At Us" is the last song on a special 50th wedding anniversary cassette I created for my mom and dad (I still have that cassette somewhere.)

The bad?

Ken Burns is a country music neophyte. However, as a documentarian, he was obligated to do his research, and he either didn't or he had predetermined agenda.

How impactful was George Strait in country music? I came back to country in the mid-eighties, and if George Strait hadn't existed, I probably would have stayed, but my eighteen CD's (and one box set) attest that he deserved more than an obligatory nod. Much more.

I was so disturbed by George's diss, I couldn't drive it from my mind. I contemplated adding a comment to Burn's "Country Music" site, but what was the point? What was done was done. Ken wasn't about to undertake a do-over.

Randy Travis ~ Burns seemed more interested in Randy's hard-luck early life than the fact that he created the neo-traditionalist movement. Back of the hand, Randy! On to Garth!

Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Mark Chesnutt, Travis Tritt ~ ppsshhh ~ mere footnotes.

I like The Judds; I like Reba to an extent; I'm not a big Garth fan, but okay ~  I'll give him his due. But we can quarrel 'til the end of time over which artist had the biggest impact on country music in the eighties and nineties; and if you want to argue that it wasn't George Strait, you lose.

One major component Burns missed was that, while he was so focused on songs with "deep meaning", that's not all that country music is. Sometimes music is FUN. In fact, MOSTLY music should be fun. I don't want my musical life to be a job. While "Go Rest High On That Mountain" is a stirring song, you can't exactly dance to it. And maybe that was Ken's innate bias and downfall. He thinks country music fans are sitting at home, soberly contemplating the cryptic message in every song. Maybe that's why he dismissed George Strait in favor of Cash's prison laments.

Sad songs can be fun, too. Not fun in the sense that listeners are dancing on a grave, but stunning in the searing pain that punches them in the gut. That's what Burns, as a non-country chronicler, didn't grasp.

I've read that Ken might do an "addendum" to his series. I say, too late. "Oh, there was George Strait and Randy Travis, too." No thanks. George, Randy, Alan, Clint, Mark, et al, aren't after-thoughts.

If you don't know country music and are relying on Ken Burns to provide you with the essence, let me offer another perspective:



Oh, gosh. This track doesn't say one word about prisons...or trains. It doesn't talk about a hardscrabble life. It's just fun, and we can't allow that.


Ken, you tried. Mostly you did well. I don't want to come across as a stern school marm, but frankly, for this episode you didn't do your homework. I'll get over it, truly. I won't ever watch Episode 8 again, but I'm pretty okay with the others. And let me say that no one else would ever do it, would ever even try. You did it.

This series in many ways was the highlight of my year. I know that if I had the resources to create a series about country music, a bunch of people would be mad at me, too; for too much focus on somebody and not enough on somebody else. But really, Ken? You don't get George Strait?


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Did Country Music Die In 1998?

 (Somehow he got a record contract)

As stressful and time-consuming as my job was in 1998, at least it sheltered me from the tunes on the radio.

The last thing I wanted to do was give up on country music. I'd been drenched in country for thirty-odd years by then. That was a hard habit to break. I think country radio knew how bad the songs were, but they were slaves to programmers  -- no more would a disc jockey break a hit record -- there were no more Ralph Emerys or Bill Macks. Spinning records was akin to a job ringing up a cash register. 

The country landscape was barren. George was beginning to drift toward treacle (it would get worse). But he still had a couple of good tunes:

Diamond Rio was close to wrapping up. They'd had a phenomenal run, but I guess everything (except George Strait) comes to an end eventually:


Yes, this was an Aerosmith song, but Mark Chesnutt was always a good song picker. He would get better after this (believe it or not), and would go on to reach the pantheon of my all-time favorite country singers. This isn't my favorite, but hell, Mark was still keepin' on. 

Clint was back. He wrote this song with Steve Wariner. Aside from "Better Man", this is one of my favorite Clint Black songs:


I thought I would throw Reba in here, because she actually recorded a country song in '98. I wasn't a fan of Reba's theatrics. They were "tricks". I like a singer who sings.


Who was hot in 1998? Well, there was Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. There was Jo Dee Messina. There was the Dixie Chicks, who I liked a lot until they (Natalie) went nuts. A lot of my standbys had hits, but not hits that I liked -- Steve Wariner, Brooks and Dunn, Shania Twain, Randy Travis.

Somebody who didn't even reach the Top Country 100 had the best album of the year. I don't understand popular tastes. I don't understand why this wasn't one of the top hits of the year. But you know what? Quality survives. That's why Dwight Yoakam is still one of my all-time favorite singers. 

From "A Long Way Home":


Sometime in 1999 I abandoned country music all together. That's where it ended for me. I miss it, but it's not coming back. Now I listen to Sirius, when I listen to music at all. I don't listen to music much.

Things change, Dwight told me. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

1989 In Country Music Was Damn Good

Sometimes I wonder if my life can be measured by the jobs I've held. I sincerely hope that's not true. But when I think back to 1989, I remember my work life being in flux. I'd left eight comfortable years of being the girl behind the desk on the medical floor of our local hospital, and I distinctly remember why I left. Monday evenings were a flurry of activity on the medical floor. Folks who'd been sick all weekend, but who'd told themselves, just hold on -- maybe I'll be better by Monday -- had finally given in and made an appointment to visit their personal physician, and found out, why yes, I really am sick! Sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, in fact. Thus, admissions came fast and furious on late Monday afternoons. The medical floor had three wings. One was for telemetry (heart) patients, and the other two -- Central and West -- were for general illness. I juggled admissions as best I could between the available wings. The nurses were sorely overworked and I endeavored to rotate new patients so none of the RN's and LPN's became overwhelmed. Sometimes that was an impossible task. I guess my final room assignment was the last straw for one of the RN's who I'd considered a friend. She took a moment out of her whir of vitals and wheelchairs and sputum cups to voice her displeasure. Essentially, her position was that I was deliberately tormenting her and she was disappointed and disillusioned with me. I don't think I said a word in response; I just stared at her, feeling like a bug she keenly wanted to stomp beneath her white oxfords. She and I had shared breaks -- sat in the nurses' lounge and smoked our cigarettes on moonless nights -- laughed together about goofy goings-on in the Pharmacy Department; shared anecdotes about our kids. And now she hated me. I left the hospital at the end of my shift and went home to my torture chamber bed and tossed and scrunched around most of the night. I felt unjustly accused. I had simply done my job the best I could, in impossible circumstances.

The next day I scanned the hospital bulletin board for open positions and promptly applied for one in the Admissions Department. I was hired in a flash. The medical center had a policy of filling jobs from within. Thus, I sat in a high-backed chair in an office with three open-air slots, evening after evening, right next to the switchboard operator's glass-encased cubicle, and awaited new "check-ins". Every department within the facility had its specific wardrobe requirements, so I switched from navy blue polyester uniforms to some kind of baby blue stiff starched linen. I guess that was how one could be readily identified -- slotted in, as it were. I hated registering new patients. I felt clumsy and asked the wrong questions or inevitably forgot to check a specific box on the admission form. I couldn't remember which forms I was supposed to stamp beneath the heavy iron contraption, and creating the little plastic identification cards with a "C" for Catholic and remembering to include the "Mrs." before Verna Schuffeltd's name seemed beyond my brain's capacity. The truth was, I simply hated my new job. I missed knowing what I was doing; missed the breezy efficiency with which I'd whipped out lab orders and missed the nurses I'd come to know so intimately. I hated the stilted quiet of the admissions office and longed for the familiar cacophony of real life.

I lasted a week or so in my new position, and then I lied and told my new supervisor some tale about how the schedule wasn't working for my family.

If I hadn't been shot through the heart, maybe I'd still be at that hospital today. I'd be the elderly gray-stranded woman everyone allows to cut in front of them in the cafeteria line, because, you know, she reminds me of my grandma!

I padded across the sliding-door threshold of the hospital one final time. I had no plan. I had no options.

In my small town, the newspaper's want ads for "clerical work" encompassed a line space approximately the width of my thumb. I innocently assumed I could always get a job with the State Government -- my fallback. I'd begun my "career" working for the State, and trust me, they'd hire practically anyone they could confirm was actually drawing breath. And I sort of did get hired by the State, but it was a downtown (not at the State Capitol) temporary part-time job as a receptionist for the Teachers Retirement Fund. My duties consisted of passing out mail and typing occasional letters on an IBM Selectric with a correctable ribbon. No more Wite-Out for me! No sirreee! I worked from eight a.m. to noon and couldn't wait to escape that soul-sucking receptionist's desk when the big hand clicked on the twelve. Between mail delivery and the two letters per day I was required to type, I had approximately three hours of non-productive time. I don't recall how I filled those hours -- I'll guess by jamming a Kleenex between the numbers on the switchboard and whisking away the dust. If one wants to achieve invisibility, she should get a job as a receptionist. Most of the staff to which I delivered mail rarely bothered to show up for work, so I had no clue what they actually looked like. They were simply names on a business-sized envelope. Thus, I was taken aback when I finally found what I thought would be a better position -- and full-time! -- and hovered in the doorway of my anonymous supervisor's office to give my notice, and this woman, Mary Smith (as far as I was concerned) expressed dismay and told me they'd been thinking of offering me a permanent full-time position. What? And why? I only had fifteen minutes worth of work to do in the first place. But who knows? If I'd hung around, maybe I'd be the soon-to-retire director of that God-awful place today. I honestly still don't know what they actually did there.

I saw an ad in the newspaper for a medical transcriptionist. No, technically I'd never transcribed medical records, but I did know medical terminology and I certainly knew how to type. Voila, I was hired. This job did not work out well. The owner assured me that a "transcribing machine" was on order and I would settle into my new position just as soon as it arrived. In 1989, a transcribing machine was a 21-inch television-sized word processor. I don't know what was packed inside that behemoth, but knowing technology as I do today, I'm guessing it was a pile of lead plates that served no discernible purpose other than to make the contraption a hernia-inducing heave up a flight of stairs for two unfortunate delivery persons.  Alas, the transcribing machine was a mirage. I sorted mail (yep!) for months into individual slots, drank gallons of coffee, drove to the McDonald's window for a hamburger every day at twelve, came back and tossled envelopes around for a few more hours before checking out and heading home. I know transcribing machines actually existed, because the company had two busily-finger-tapping transcriptionists I envied daily for the fact that they actually had something to do. The highlight of that position was the company's annual trip to Kansas City for, I guess, a transcribing convention. I boarded the plane to KC with the two actual typists and proceeded to get sloshed. Once there, after our sirloin steak dinner, one of the girls (I'll call her "Jill" because I have absolutely no recollection of her actual name) cornered the company's CEO and vented all her frustrations about our boss. Jill then pointed to me and promised I could vouch for everything she was saying. I think I drunkenly muttered something about "not getting my machine". The next day we flew home. Come Monday, each of the three of us typists got called in separately to the boss's office to discuss our Kansas City faux paus. When it was my turn, the office maven asked me if I was dissatisfied there. I piped up that I still hadn't gotten "my machine". "I told you it's on order!" she huffed. "Well, it has been six months," I responded timidly. She then asked me if I wanted to retain my employment with the company. "," I said. And thus I tromped down the stairway and out the front door. That was the last day I had a single burger and a small fry for lunch from McDonald's.

My job prospects were dire. My family was incomprehensibly understanding. If I'd been a bystander, I wouldn't have been so patient. I compare the employment opportunities at that time to a choice between three entrees that are all putrid -- let's say, liver, seared cow brains, and boiled chicken hearts. Hmmm, what to choose? Okay, I'll take the liver. Maybe I can at least choke that down. Before long, I found a posting for a "Farm Records Secretary". I had no idea what that was, but I understood the three words, singly. I figured stringing the words together would produce a job I could perform, albeit begrudgingly. The Farm Credit office was located on the far edge of a different city from the one in which I resided, but there really was no such thing as "traffic" -- the interstate highway was clear and the morning drive was rather lovely. I could zone out and listen to the radio as the sun rose behind me. I did have a bias against the word, "secretary", since in my experience, secretary meant shuttling a mug of coffee to a man who didn't take the trouble to glance up from his paperwork and make eye contact. Fortunately, my new boss wasn't a man, but a woman who didn't take the trouble to glance up from her paperwork and make eye contact. She was prim. And awkward. Conversation didn't come easily to her. She'd migrated years before from someplace like Oklahoma and hadn't yet lost her Okie accent. Transcribing her recorded correspondence was a challenge. At first I would ask her to clarify a word, but later, finding our interactions less than scintillating, I simply typed the word that seemed to fit best. The previous secretary, who had recently been promoted, trained me, and she was impatient. She kindly ignored me when not giving orders. I didn't like all. In a couple of months, we would become the best of friends. I'm not sure how things like that happen. Maybe we had a common enemy....Mrs. Park. I spent half of 1988 and the entirety of 1989 doing my farm secretary duties. One winter morn, as I endeavored to cajole my rear-wheel drive Ford up the steep hill to the FCS office, I found myself sliding backwards. I flipped the butt of the car into a roadside snowbank and tried again...and again. We'd had a rare freezing rain storm and I was not a well-lit bulb. After about fifteen minutes of fruitlessly trying to push up the hill, I gave up and backed/slid down to the intersection, parked and found a nearby telephone. I called up the guy whose office abutted my receptionist desk -- an older guy who spent his days jawing with ranchers -- kind of a dad-like prince of a man. He soldiered out to where I sat shivering in my Taurus and loaded me in his pickup and shuttled us to the office. As much as may hate our circumstances, there are always angels. Farm Credit Services was full to the brim with nice, nice people. Had it not been for Mrs. Hateful, I might have stayed. But I was basically miserable.

Thus, the music of 1989 was my salve. The Dakota Lounge was full of sawdust and regional bands and a loud juke box. Fridays and sometimes Saturday nights we ventured there, and here are the songs I remember:


I wonder if this was the number one country single of 1989. I'm going to guess yes:

I haven't left out the king. I wanted to give him a special place of honor, because in 1989 he released one of his top two best albums, "Beyond The Blue Neon"

Ahh, 1989 in country music was damn good.

Friday, December 30, 2016


I don't know if country bars even exist anymore -- I mean the old-fashioned kind -- a live band, a little sawdust on the floor. Sure, I know about Billy Bob's, which is apparently akin to a gigantic convention center, but I'm talking about local watering holes that are a bit more intimate.

There was a time when I and my then-partner visited our hometown nightclub, the Dakota Lounge, every Saturday night. It was a way to get out of the house, out of our rut, and practice our dance moves while discreetly blending in with the other (better) dancers. I wasn't much of a drinker -- three beers made me three sheets to the wind -- but I liked nursing a bottle of Miller Lite and observing while I waited for the band to start their set. The regulars showed up every weekend -- the tall faux cowboy wearing his black cowboy hat, nonchalantly leaning against the bar while scoping out the single ladies. The brunette female bartender who had a gaggle of guys clamoring for her attention, and not because she was a world-class drink mixer. Three girls at a table and the same one getting hit on for a dance to the juke box over and over, while her two friends tossed their heads and tossed off the slight. Fake cowboy inviting himself to the table where a blonde in a fringed western skirt sat pretending not to notice him. Fake cowboy excusing himself five minutes later and sidling back to the bar.

Inevitably there was a group of people (from work?) who got up and line danced to someone like Charlie Daniels. Non-regulars. Some groups were actually quite good; some were embarrassing. But it was all part of the (my) show. It was a diversion before the real music started. Line dancing wasn't the name of the game at the Dakota, nor was showing off in general. Line dancing was for those not in the know.

The Dakota displayed its roster of upcoming bands on a scrolling marquee and I made note of the weekends when my favorites would be playing. The bar booked regional and local bands and some of them were awesome -- Me And The Boys, The Back Behind The Barn Boys, Firehouse, and my favorite, Live N Kickin', a North Dakota band that was so good they landed a label deal in Nashville. Alas, it was the nineties and nothing blossomed from their debut single, but they were good.

There were certain songs, no matter the band, that had to be played. The Dakota's goal was to sell lots of drinks; the single boys' and girls' goals were to find comfort for the night. My goal was to dance without tripping over my feet or otherwise calling undue attention to myself.

Hence is my short list of the best two-stepping songs.

The ultimate (this one got 'em every time):

There was one song, immensely popular at the time, that was impossible to dance to. Trust me, I tried. A great song, but getting a bead on the beat was impossible. Know people who have no rhythm? That was me, trying to wrap my body around this song. I looked like a toddler having a temper tantrum.

Thus my primer on basic two-stepping. Pick any of the songs above (except Fishing In The Dark) and you can't go wrong. You, too, can be a faux cowboy!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Talkin' About More Nineties Country

What happens to these guys?  Do they just go POOF! and disintegrate into a cloud of dust?

Clint Black was the quintessential black-hat wearin' cowboy in the 1990's, and where is he now?  I don't know.

The 1989 newcomers to country music were Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Suzy Bogguss, Lionel Cartwright, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.  The only one of that bunch still (barely) hitting the charts is Alan Jackson.

Yet, Clint Black was huge in his day.  And he was good!  I'm sure he still is good, but if you're a 51-year-old country singer, you're approximately 30 years too old.  You know, they put them out to pasture once they hit thirty.  That's the rule.

Nevertheless, I still think this is a killer song.  This was Clint's first hit, in 1989:

The problem with having a "killer song" right out of the chute is that nothing much lives up to that.  That still didn't stop him, though.  This song was also released in 1989:

I don't know if the music video budget ran out after those two songs, but there appears to be no official video for "Nobody's Home", which is, regardless, a great country song; plus, it makes excellent use of the pejorative, "the lights are on, but nobody's home".

One year later, Clint was still pumping out hits; one of which I found on an unknown site; and if it gives my computer a virus, I'm going to be seriously upset with Clint for not just sticking it up on YouTube, although I understand he doesn't actually have any control over that.  Here it is:

"Burn One Down" was released in 1992.  In my book, the mark of an excellent country song is if even an amateur like me could do a passable karaoke version of it, and I do believe I could.  I don't know if an official music video was ever created for this song, but if it was, it's long gone, so stare at the black-and-white photo as you listen:

Clint had some other hits between then and 1995, but I didn't really care for them, so I'm ignoring them.   This one, however, is sort of good (sorry the sound quality is lacking):

Fast forward to 1998, when Clint released this song, co-written by Steve Wariner.  I really like this one; and again, I don't know if an official music video was ever created for it, but I sure can't find one.

Still a really good song, though; and it hit number one on the charts::

After that, eh.  Clint did have a number one hit  in 1999 with a duet he recorded with that girl from Knot's Landing.  I figured that was just a vanity project; since he was married to her and all, and therefore it didn't exactly lodge in my memory bank.  However, I bet the royalties were great, since they deposited them in their joint bank account.

After 1999?  Well, much like Joe Diffie, Clint Black went POOF!

Kind of doesn't seem fair, but who am I to quibble with the unwritten guideline that once the twenty-first century hits, those old timers are out on their ear?  It's the circle of life.

I'm just here to make sure that we don't forget those grey-bearded relics.


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.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Aftermath of Music

I wonder if even adults outgrow things.

I was born loving music.  When I was small, we lived in the country, and I had to find ways to amuse myself.  A lot of my time was spent outdoors, exploring and pretending.  I'd walk through the shelter belt of trees back behind the house, where a large tree had fallen many years before, and I'd balance on that hollow log, as if I was walking the tightrope at the circus.  Or I'd wander along down the gravel road, and meander off onto different dirt paths, just to see what I would find.  All the while I was doing those things, I had my own melodies streaming through my head.  Sometimes I would make up words and sing my songs aloud.  I was alone, after all.

My older sisters and brother listened to the early sixties music on the car radio, or on that big Philco radio that was perched astride a side table in the kitchen.  Early sixties music was its own unusual genre.  It was straddled somewhere in the middle between Chuck Berry and Motown.  It was a lot of doo-wop and girl groups, like the Chiffons and the Shirelles.  It was Eddie Cochran, with his Summertime Blues.

My own personal radio time began in 1964.  I was in the third grade, and I distinctly remember having a conversation with a girl named Debbie from my class, on the walk from my elementary school to Wednesday catechism.

We solemnly discussed a new group we'd heard on the radio, and which of their songs we adored the most, and which of the four guys was our favorite.  It was all a very mature discussion.  We both agreed that we liked I Wanna Hold Your Hand better than She Loves You.

I had pondered the import of this new group for a good couple of months, and had determined that the cute one was my favorite singer, although it turns out I was completely misinformed, because the songs I liked the best weren't actually sung by him, but by that other one; the one who was married.  Things began to clear up for me once I actually had the opportunity to see the group perform on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Then, of course, along came other groups, like the Dave Clark Five.  And then came Motown and the Supremes, in their lovely chiffon gowns.  They were so elegant.

The song I loved the best, though, was performed by a guy wearing dark sunglasses.  He stood stock still on the stage, and he seemed sort of like a stone, since you couldn't see any expression behind those glasses.  But his voice was anything but a stone.  It soared; it growled.  It started way down here and then it glided way up there.  And he had those female backup singers, adding their "la la la's".  It was heavenly music.  The song was called, as my Monument 45 record told me, "Oh, Pretty Woman".  People think it's just "Pretty Woman", but they obviously never owned the 45, because if they had, they would know.

This is how I first saw it, back then:

Music was so exciting!  It was something new and somebody new every day.  I had little to no money, but every time I saved up a dollar, I walked across the bridge to Poppler's Music and bought a 45.  And since I so seldom had any money, I really had to ponder my purchase in advance; weigh my options.

My older brother, though, had tons of LP's.  He had everything that was worth having.  I was exposed to "Help" and "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" through my brother.  When he was away, I would sneak his record albums out of his room and spin them on my little portable record player.  Those were heavenly times.

As times and locales changed, I met the girl who would become my best friend.  She was a country singer.  I had known country music from my parents' records and from their radio listening habits, so it wasn't foreign to me.  I did like Buck Owens and I liked Ray Price.

Alice introduced me to a whole bunch of country artists I had heretofore had little, if any, acquaintance with.  Porter Wagoner, Jim Ed Brown, Bobby Bare.  I don't know if I liked country music because Alice was my friend, or because I liked it.  Either way, I turned away from rock and roll, and became immersed in country music.

I didn't have to wonder if I really liked a new singer who came upon the scene around that time.  I knew I really liked him.  He was young and good-looking, and he had a sound that wasn't like the stuff coming out of Nashville.  They called it the Bakersfield Sound (or at least they do now).  The electric guitars were upfront.  He didn't have any silly strings, like Chet liked to throw on every record by every Music City artist her produced.  Listening to Merle was like watching a bar band in concert (a really good bar band).  And his songs were so profound in their simplicity.  I still don't get how he does that, but he does.

There were others, too.  Another new guy named Waylon Jennings.  I liked him a lot.  This Tammy Wynette gal.  Wow, she could sing!  Porter, around this time, found himself a new girl singer and duet partner.  She was really different, but Porter and Dolly made beautiful music together.

Popular music went through some long stretches of bad times, but I still always managed to find the gems.  There was always good music; it's just that sometimes there wasn't a whole lot of it.

Sometime in the 1980's, I just said the hell with it, and turned my radio dial over to the rock station, because country music had lost its way, and I felt embarrassed for it.

1980's rock was great.  Hall & Oates, Prince.  Huey Lewis & The News, Springsteen.  Journey, Tom Petty.

I'm not sorry I changed that dial. 

When I finally decided to give country music another go, I found out that I had missed out on the cutting edge of country music.  In my absence, it had once again changed.  It had found its way back to its roots, and I had been completely oblivious.

I heard artists who would forever be my favorites:  George Strait, Dwight Yoakam.

I heard awesome folks like Highway 101 and Restless Heart.  Earl Thomas Conley, Clint Black.  Randy Travis.

Country music was once again alive for me, and I was exhilarated!

Around the year 2000, music changed, and I changed.

There was no longer any joy in the music.  It became contrived, and I was tired of being a patsy.

For solace, I would turn to my older recordings, but how many times can one listen to the same songs over and over?

And slowly, music lost its glow for me.

I have tons of music on my computer.  Tons.  I never listen to it now.  The closest I come to music nowadays is finding videos on YouTube to paste here.

I listen to talk radio; not "music" radio.

I'm thinking of selling my CD's to the local record shop.

Today, when someone says that I need to listen to some new artist that they found, I will listen out of politeness, but I already know I will be bored.  I'm jaded.  I rarely listen to the whole song.

I thought I would love music forever.  Strolling along those country roads, music was as natural to me as breathing.

As a child, I used to make up melodies.  A few years ago, I used to write songs.  My guitar looks sad, there in the corner, neglected.  Don't tell it this, but I walk past it every day, and I don't even notice it.

Maybe in my old(er) age, I will lean back in my easy chair and play some of those songs again that I love.  I hope so.

I can't place the blame entirely on the music.  Sure, it's all been said and it's all been done, and all the same chord progressions have been played over and over.  We've seen and heard it all, and nobody is going to surprise us anymore.  And even if they could, their record producer would ensure that they come out sounding like strained baby food.

I think maybe I just have outgrown music.

I'm mourning the loss, though.

Friday, April 29, 2011


My husband, who is not a country fan, mentioned the other day that somebody at work had the radio tuned to the country station, and he heard a song he really liked.

He asked, "Have you ever heard of someone named Alan Jackson?" ha ha ha

Well, yes! I believe I have!

For a country fan, that's akin to asking, "Have you ever heard of a group called the Rolling Stones?"

Let's travel back in time, shall we? If one remembers the 1970's in country music, she will admit that it was the worst of times (I'll leave out that part about "the best of times", because there wasn't much of that). What I remember about the seventies is Kenny Rogers and Barbara Mandrell, and that's about it. A bunch of pop-country "stuff" (to be polite). Even poor Charley Pride was embarrassing himself, recording crummy throwaway songs. That was when I finally, reluctantly, twirled that radio dial over to the rock station. And I'm glad I did, because I really love the rock/pop music of the eighties. But that's neither here nor there.

I've mentioned before here that when I finally gave country music another chance in the eighties, I found out that I'd missed a bunch of stuff. There was some guy named George Strait, who was introduced to me by my parents, of all people! They'd bought a VHS tape of one of his concerts, and I was over visiting one night when they had the tape running. Reluctantly (to myself), I admitted that this guy was damn good. (I was a complete snob about country music at that time, much like now). So, I thought, hey, this guy is good; I wonder if there are any others out there. Right away, when I punched the button for the country station, I heard this one dude, Dwight Yoakam, who was doing some hillbilly rockin' country sort of thing.

The first cassette tape I bought, once I decided to give country another whirl (and yes, they were cassette tapes then), was by the Sweethearts of the Rodeo. I carried my boom box from room to room while I was cleaning, listening to that tape: "I'm a midnight girl in a sunset town". I thought I was kinda cool and avant-garde (idiot).

From there, it snowballed. I started watching CMT. I waved goodbye to Huey Lewis and the News. I'd now found Randy Travis.

In 1989, a trio of new singers debuted. One was named Garth Brooks, and he had some maudlin song about tomorrow never coming. In his video, he wore a black hat and a striped shirt, and strummed his guitar. I found it utterly boring, but for some reason, a bunch of people seemed to be overly excited about it.

Then there was this guy, Clint Black. He also wore a black hat, but he was singing about killing time. His songs had a recognizable beat; they weren't sappy pop. They were stone country. One could two-step to them.

The third guy had a debut that would be best forgotten. He was clearly uncomfortable "acting" in the video (special bonus: check out that HUGE cell phone!) The song, too, was, shall we say, under par. Check it out here:

(Or apparently not, since it seems to have been removed. Suffice it to say, it wasn't very good, or it would still be available for viewing).

I chalked him up as another flash in the pan. Good looking, nice voice, but bad song.

The next time I saw him, lo and behold, he had a song that captured my attention, every time that video came on. And this guy wore a WHITE hat. THIS TIME they didn't make him try to "act"; they just let him sing:

Had Alan only had "Blue Blooded Woman" in his arsenal, he would be back fixing cars in Georgia today. His record company made a huge misstep in releasing that song first. Fortuitously, he had "Real World" in his back pocket, and that is the song that cemented him as a star to watch. It's still one of the best country songs ever, in my opinion.

So, I was on the alert for new Jackson songs and videos, and he never disappointed. The next one that instantly springs to mind, for me, in chronological order, of course, is this one (but I'm a sucker for black and white):

You can't fault this one:

By 1982, Alan was WAY more comfortable in front of the camera. I liked this a lot:

As much as I liked "Chatahoochie", I LOVED this one (maybe my favorite):

All I can say is, YEE HAW.

That deadpan "yee haw" is one of the best lines ever uttered. It will live forever in the annals of country music. I've heard "yee haw" yelled and shouted, but before this video, I'd never heard it spoken in such a sad way. Perfect.

Alan (or his record company) apparently did not deign to film a music video for this song. Big mistake. Aside from "Rhythm and Blues", this is one of Alan Jackson's best songs, ever. Killer chorus.

The other thing I like about Alan Jackson is, he doesn't forget. He recorded an album, titled, "Under The Influence" (great title, by the way), in which he included songs from his bar gig days, and bless you, Alan Jackson, you recorded this Jim Ed Brown song. Campy, maybe. But to me (and to Alice, if you're listening from heaven), this was one of the coolest country songs from the sixties:

So, there are a bunch of Alan Jackson songs I could include here, but then, this post would go on forever. Let me just say, though, that here in the real world of the year 2011, Alan is still relevant. Here is the Zac Brown band, featuring ALAN JACKSON:

And yea, I guess if you are around long enough, they'll even include you in a commercial:

And, oh, by the way, THIS is the song that introduced my husband to Alan Jackson:

So, have I ever heard of Alan Jackson?

I do believe I have.

Yee haw.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The CMA Awards - Welcome To The Nineties!

Yes, I have counted down (or up, as the case may be) the CMA awards, all the way from 1967 through 1989. Whew! That's a lot of years. And frankly, I needed to take a break. It started to feel like a homework assignment after awhile, and you know, I have enough "have to's" in my daily life, as is.

But now I'm back! I'm not one to leave a job unfinished, so I'm back and refreshed and ready to tackle the nineties!

First, as usual, a bit of background about the year 1990.

In the news, well, the first Gulf War began.

Here's the first President Bush announcing that fact:

I really have no comment about this, other than that George H.W. Bush should've followed my lead and finished what he started. Could've saved us a lot of grief.

But, if I've said it once, I've said it a whole bunch of times, what we really remember about a given year isn't that world event stuff; it's pop culture!

One of the top movies of 1990 was this:

I could've gone with the top, top movie of the year, "Pretty Woman", but I decided not to be so cliche. But suffice it to say that 1990 was apparently the year that the chicks got their flicks.

In the world of pop music, Michael Bolton was being overwrought, as usual. (I wonder if Michael still has that mullet). Here's one of the top pop songs from 1990 (yes, really):

Another top pop hit from the year featured Wendy, Carnie, and Chynna (thus "Wilson Phillips"). Here's "Hold On":

Which leads us to the 1990 CMA Awards.

Once again in 1990, the Musician of the Year award was won by fiddlin' Johnny Gimble. I'd thought I'd exhausted all the Johnny Gimble videos, but I found a new one! Here's Johnny with Floyd Tilman, doing a number called, "I'll Keep On Loving You":

The Vocal Duo of the Year was, yes, once again The Judds. Sure, in this twenty-first century world, the Judds might seem like old-hat. But there's a handful of artists (and I think I could actually list them on one hand) that typify the 1990's, and on one of those fingers I would count Wynonna and Naomi.

Here's "Born To Be Blue":

Enjoyably (for me), a new name appeared in 1990 to take home the Vocal Group of the Year award. And that new name was the Kentucky Headhunters.

Here are the (older) boys performing on the Marty Stuart Show, doing my favorite and yours, Dumas Walker:

Glad to see that Fred Young still has his coonskin hat!

Anybody who ever stepped foot inside a honky tonk in the early nineties knows this song, inside and out. Who hasn't two-stepped to this song? Well, I, for one, definitely have. And I like the Kentucky Headhunters!

The Vocal Event of the Year is bittersweet for me. Keith Whitley had already passed away, and his widow, Lorrie Morgan, recorded her vocals over a demo that Keith had done of a song called, "Til A Tear Becomes A Rose". Alas, there couldn't be a video of the two performing this song together, but I still wanted to include it. This is a beautiful recording.

Here's "Til A Tear Becomes a Rose", by Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan:

The Song of the Year was written by Don Henry and Jon Vezner, and was recorded by Jon Vezner's wife, Kathy Mattea. The song was "Where've You Been":

A beautifully written song, to be sure. Just not country, really.

Which leads us to the Female Vocalist of the Year award, and that award was bestowed upon Kathy Mattea. Here is "Battle Hymn of Love" (and I actually like this song better than the other one, but maybe that's just me):

The Male Vocalist of the Year was another one of those "count on the fingers of one hand" artists, Clint Black. Amazingly, I had to find this video on MTV. Sad. Here's Clint's single from 1990, "Put Yourself In My Shoes":

That new-fangled award, Music Video of the Year, was given to this celluloid performance. It's kind of sweet; kind of heart-rending. Tony Arata wrote this song:

The Horizon Award winner in 1990 was, inexplicably, Garth Brooks. I guess my thought is, by 1990, Garth wasn't really what one would consider a "newcomer". Maybe the CMA was catching up.

Garth had a couple or three big hits in 1990, but I had to include this one, just for the fact that the song annoyed me so much. Granted, the first one or two times I heard it, I thought it was catchy. After the 2,501'st time I heard it, I just wanted to pound my car radio into millions of pieces. Seriously. I remember driving home from somewhere?......and that damn song came on the radio once again, and I just wanted to kill myself. Luckily, I didn't actually kill myself. If I had, I wouldn't be able to post this video.

And yes, Garth is one of the five fingers of the 1990's. And yes, I was never a big Garth fan, but I did see him in concert with my mom (the last concert I ever attended with my mom), and yes, he was impressive. So, (ten gallon) hat's off to Garth Brooks.

And here you go:

On the other hand, the Single of the Year is a song that still holds up! And I really don't want to kill myself when I hear it! I guess that's why it was named single of the year!

Here's Vince Gill (with a shadowy Patty Loveless singing harmony), doing "When I Call Your Name":

By my calculations, that only leaves the BIG award of the night, Entertainer of the Year. I spent way too much time trying to find videos of this guy's hit songs from 1990, with no luck. Finally, in desperation, I decided, the hell with it, and I decided to go with this instead. And YOU'RE WELCOME:

Ah- Ha! (as Bob Wills would say). Yes, my favorite artist of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 1990's entertainer of the year, George Strait.

Hall of Fame

Yes, in the deepest recesses of my memory, I remember seeing this guy on TV (black and white TV). And frankly, to a five-year-old, this guy was sort of scary. I mean, he had that deep voice, and that Snidely Whiplash mustache.

Turns out he wasn't really scary and mean. I learned this from watching reruns of "I Love Lucy". And any guy who would say, "Bless your little pea-pickin' heart" was okay in my book. My thin little book of five-year-old knowledge. Still, I much preferred my daddy.

Anyway, this is a really poorly-thought-out tribute to Tennessee Ernie Ford, but I'm kind of tired, and I've been writing and researching for a few hours, but you can see him for yourself here:

Thus ends my first foray into the world of the CMA's in the 1990's.

I do want to recap the fingers of my one hand, however. Here's what I came up with:

The Judds
Clint Black
Garth Brooks
George Strait

That leaves one more finger, and I have a feeling that there will be a couple of more names popping up as we peruse the decade that is the nineties. Which means that I am going to have to grow one additional finger. I can live with that. Being deformed and all. It's all for a good cause.

See you in 1991.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The CMA Awards - Feelin' Fine in '89

Almost all the way through the eighties! Wow! Time flies!

I wonder what happened in 1989. Well, let's take a look.

In the world of news, the Berlin Wall came crashing down:

Remember in 1961, when JFK said this?

"Ich bin ein Berliner"......He learned it phonetically, of course.

I myself prefer this one:

But enough about world events. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The only thing we truly remember about a certain moment in time is ~~ entertainment!

So, let's take a look at the top movies of 1989.

Remember when Tom Hanks was co-starring in a lousy sitcom? I do. "Bosom Buddies" - with Peter Scolari. Who knew? Now, Tom Hanks is a "major motion picture star". Here's a clip from when he was still starring in comedies, and hadn't yet become a serious "AC-torrrr":

And remember when Robin Williams was still funny? Here's an example of Robin Williams being funny, in "Good Morning, Vietnam"; a movie that featured a great performance by the late Bruno Kirby:

In pop music, the downturn continued. There were some good songs, but overall, pop music began to bite the dust in 1988, and 1989 was no better.

Here's one you've probably forgotten, by the Fine Young Cannibals:

Here's a much better one. A live performance by Aaron Neville (what a voice!) and a much thinner than now Linda Ronstadt, of "Don't Know Much" (introduced by Garry Shandling, with Japanese subtitles!):

With that bit of background for the year 1989, let's move on to the CMA awards, shall we?

Normally, I don't start out my posts with one of the highlights, but I don't really do anything "normally", so here's the MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR and VOCAL EVENT OF THE YEAR, Hank Williams, Jr. AND Hank Williams, SENIOR! "There's A Tear In My Beer":

Digital "trickery" wasn't as advanced in 1989 as it is now, but this is still pretty good! And it kind of puts a lump in your throat, watching Hank, Jr. singing a duet with his long-departed dad. I give this video two thumbs up! Of course, I'm actually using my thumbs to type this, but the two thumbs up are implied.

The MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR award, settled by an arm-wrestling contest with Chet Atkins, was ultimately bestowed upon JOHNNY GIMBLE!

I've posted almost all of the embeddable videos available of Johnny in previous posts, but here's one I haven't posted yet. And, as an extra-added bonus, it features my hero and yours, Merle Haggard! With the Strangers! Featuring Roy Nichols and Norm Hamlet!

SONG OF THE YEAR, given to the songwriter, went to this fine song, recorded by Vern Gosdin, and written by Vern and Max D. Barnes, "Chiseled In Stone":

The ALBUM OF THE YEAR in 1989 was "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I love the Dirt Band, but I'll admit, I'm more partial to their country hits, a la "More Great Dirt"; songs such as, "Down That Road Tonight", "Workin' Man", et al.

"Will The Circle Be Unbroken" was one of those "concept albums", and it got a lot of press and a lot of kudos. Have you ever listened to it, though? I bought it later ~ much later, and I listened to it exactly one time. Maybe I need to listen to it again, because, let's just say, I wasn't knocked out by it.

Regardless, it won album of the year in '89, and seeing as how the Boys were on a roll, they decided to record volumes 2 and 3. This one is from #3:

I have to say, I do like this performance. So I guess I do need to dig out that CD one more time, and give it another chance. Bluegrass is a genre that had to grow on me, but once it did, I became a fan.

The SINGLE OF THE YEAR was recorded by Keith Whitley: "I'm No Stranger To The Rain":

It always makes me sad to watch clips of Keith in performance. What a shame. And what a loss.

The VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR was, once again, The Judds.

In total, the Judds won the duo (and strangely at one point, "group") of the year award seven times! Had they not broken up, who knows? Maybe they'd still be winning! Rather than Wynonna doing commercials for Alli. You know that drug that, hey, might work, but the side affects really aren't worth it! So, I'm guessing that Wynonna is sticking pretty close to home these days.

And now that I've veered completely off track, here's "Give A Little Love""


Having aced the Horizon Award the previous year, Ricky Van Shelton was victorious in 1989 in the Male Vocalist category.

Again, I enjoy RVS a lot, but I do have to repeat my previous quibble regarding all of his remakes. You know, there's a lot of starving songwriters out there, and Ricky could have thrown them a bone, and recorded a new song once in awhile. But no.

So, here's "Statue Of A Fool" (originally recorded by Jack Greene):

Okay, "Statue Of A Fool" is one of my favorite country songs, so I'm just going to forgive Ricky this one time.

The VOCAL GROUP award again was won by my favorite country group, Highway 101. I have searched, and I have searched, and believe me, there are no videos to be found on the net of the original Highway 101, except for "Who's Lonely Now", and I'm not going to post that again. I'm guessing there's some kind of legal mumbo jumbo going on; probably because the Highway has gone through a couple of lead singers since Paulette left the group. But dang! It sure would be nice to be able to watch some of those videos!

So, in lieu of any additional videos from Paulette and the guys, let's all look at the nice old-fashioned radio, as we listen to, "Whiskey, If You Were A Woman":

The FEMALE VOCALIST winner was one of the best voices in country music, Kathy Mattea. I'm glad to hear that Kathy is doing her own thing, her own way, nowadays.

This single is chronologically incorrect (it was from 1994, actually), but I find what I can find!

In 1989, the HORIZON AWARD was given to an artist who actually ended up having a career! (These things are hard to predict, and as you know, the CMA has messed up a couple of times).

If you ever ventured into a honky tonk in the late eighties/early nineties, you, of course, heard this song on the jukebox. Here's Clint Black:

Which leads us to the BIG award of the night, ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR.

I'll just preface this by asking, whatever happened to this guy?? Man, you'd think he could've had a real career in music, had he played his cards right. Surely, you'd think he would've had an ace in the hole.

I will console myself, however, with the knowledge that he did have a couple of hit songs, and I guess he did win a couple of awards during the course of his career.



Three folks were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989. I always find it interesting reading about people of whom I'm only semi-familiar. It's a real lesson in the history of country music.

Jack Stapp

Jack Stapp began his career in broadcasting by becoming program director of a radio station located within a hotel! And the station was only heard by the hotel's guests. Cool! Too bad they don't do that now. I could go for a gig like that!

From there, he moved on to much bigger and much better things ~ program director for WSM Radio in Nashville. Since WSM broadcast the Opry, Mr. Stapp also was involved with auditioning new talent for the broadcast. Thus, during his tenure at WSM, artists such as Hank Williams, Eddy Arnold, Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, and many more, joined the Opry ranks.

From WSM, Mr. Stapp moved on to create Tree Publishing. Well, that turned into a nice little endeavor! He hired some staff writers, such as Roger Miller, Curly Putman, Bobby Braddock, and a bunch more. And the hits rollled on in....

So, there you go. A very influential pioneer in the world of country music.

Cliffie Stone

Cliffie Stone did his work far away from Nashville ~ in that other (soon-to-be) bastion of country music, California.

Mr. Stone was a musician, a comic straight man, a record producer, a personal manager, a publisher, a talent scout, an emcee, a TV personality. Whew! I'm tired just from typing all that!

Cliffie Stone worked at Capitol Records in the mid-to-late forties, both as a session player, and as a producer. Acts such as Tex Ritter and Merle Travis were recording for Capitol at that time, and in fact, Cliffie signed Merle Travis to the label.

Mr. Stone's most famous discovery was Tennessee Ernie Ford, who had begun his career as a disc jockey. Later, Mr. Stone went on to become TEF's personal manager.

It is also interesting to note that Cliffie Stone is the father of Curtis Stone, who was a founding member of my favorite country group, Highway 101! So, the apple does not fall far from the tree, or some other cliche like that.

Another true country music pioneer; Cliffie Stone.

Hank Thompson

Of course, today's country fans have no idea who Hank Thompson was.

Let me tell you, if you are a Willie Nelson fan, read the biography, "Willie Nelson - An Epic Life", and you will find just how influential Hank was to not only Willie, but to other artists of refined taste, such as Dwight Yoakam and our one and only George Strait.

Hank was a pioneer in the western swing style of music, along with Bob Wills, of course. And he had a bunch of hit songs. Here's his most famous:

Of course, Hank had other hits as well. (Oh, and by the way, Kitty Wells can thank Hank Thompson for, in essence, creating her career. See "I Didn't Know God Made Honky Tonk Angels").

All in all, though, it's really hard to compete with the lovely words of one of Hank's other hit songs; that go something like this: Ooga ooga mush-ka, which means that I love you. Ahh, were truer words ever spoken?

I am a Hank Thompson fan, and I didn't need to read his bio to come up with stuff to say about him. Maybe I'm just old, but I haven't forgotten Hank Thompson.

So, whew! We got through the eighties! And to think, it was only a short time ago (or was it?) that I started writing about the CMA awards, beginning with the very first awards in 1967.

That's a lot of ground covered! And a fun time, for me, at least.

Oh no, I'm not done yet, but it's important to mark the milestones, isn't it?

I'm looking forward to finding out what the last decade of the twentieth century holds for country music. So onwards and upwards, as the decades turn.