Showing posts with label donna fargo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label donna fargo. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More Bad Years In Country Music

I was browsing our local record store with my husband today.  Local record store....that's a term that will cease to exist soon.  Like "pay phone".

I don't really buy music anymore, so I was just keeping my husband company, while he sifted through the shelves of used CD's.  (He insisted I buy something, so we could get the "buy four" special deal, whatever that was.  So, I bought the soundtrack from "Footloose" - $4.50!)

Calling this place a "record store" is to use the term loosely.  They do (still) have CD's and albums (for the pretentious music lover), but the store is mostly filled with tchotchkes of all manner; novelty key chains, little metal tins of "things", I guess; mood rings, t-shirts, posters.  The CD aisles keep getting pushed aside for the real money-making items.

As I was apathetically flipping through the selection of CD's, I saw one titled, "Top Country Hits of 1971", and I thought, were there some?  But thinking about it later, I realized that 1971 wasn't the worst seventies year for country music.  A lot of them were the worst.  You can't really pick just one.

But for fun, tonight I decided to pick on 1974.

What I remember about 1974 is driving around to various mobile home sales lots, to pick out just the right mobile home.  No, we didn't call them trailers, although they weren't exactly "mobile", either.  People like to use the pejorative, "trailer trash", to describe someone who's crude, disreputable, tawdry.  Oh, I could find many more adjectives.  But I don't remember being "trash"; I just remember being "poor".  The interest rate in 1974 was 17%.  Who could afford to buy a real house?  Not me.   And actually, as I was browsing, I found a lot of mobile homes that I thought were cute.  I liked them.  Sure, I didn't realize the issue of little-to-no insulation, which became a problem during the North Dakota winters, but overall, they mimicked a "real house" ~ they had real appliances and everything!  I didn't have to use a wood cook stove or a washboard to do my laundry, believe it or not.  People can be such snobs.

Anyway, I was driving around, looking, then coming back and looking again, and of course, the AM radio was keeping me company in my 1970 blue Chevy Impala.  So, I heard a lot of country music.  But, of course, one did not need to drive around to hear music.  Music was a big thing back then.  We only had about 15 TV channels provided by our cable "service", and you know, most of those were public access or other stuff that you just whipped right past, in order to get to the NBC channel to watch Phil Donahue.  So, we listened to music a lot, even at home.

When I browse the country music charts for 1974, I find a lot of either losers or completely forgotten tunes.  A lot of the songs were either boring or "icky", but we put up with them; tolerated them, because really what options did we have?

In featuring the hits of 1974 tonight, I'm going to randomly mix the good with the bad, and I'm not going to comment (too much), because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  Something that I just hate, hate!  is probably someone else's all-time favorite song.  But if you're unfamiliar with the year, you can certainly make up your own mind.  And, or course, the usual caveat is, I will feature what I can find.  There's not a lot of what you'd call "historical" music available on YouTube, because, you know, technology was so bad back then.  We barely had electricity most of the time.

TOM T. HALL (dueting with Dolly Parton here - which he didn't actually do on the record; fyi.)

Speaking of DOLLY PARTON:

Let me just say that I know a lot of people love this song.  I do not.  I think it's one of Dolly's lesser efforts, but if you listen to a bunch of Janie-come-latelys in the music biz, you would think this is one of the best songs EVER.  While it's always a temptation to write a song completely in minor chords, it rarely turns out well.  Because it's just too depressing.  And I don't like the sing-songy, "Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jo-LEEEN"; it just grates on my nerves.  I said I wasn't going to comment "much".  Sorry.

I always loved JOHNNY RODRIGUEZ.   Here is his version of a song written by Lefty Frizzell.  You may be more familiar with the Merle Haggard version.

The song that probably most defines 1974 for me, was recorded by CAL SMITH.  This was a number one song, and possibly the number one song of the year.  Lord knows, it was played often enough to become the number one song.

I'll just be honest here, and admit that I HATE recitation songs.  Hate them.  They're always maudlin and sickly sweet.  Are they supposed to make you cry?  Of course they are!  But I don't really find them "sad", per se.  Well, yes, they're "sad", but not in a good way.

And I liked Melba Montgomery.  By the way, before Tammy came along, ol' George recorded a lot of duets with Melba.  And I like the name "Melba".  You don't hear that name anymore.  Unless you're having some toast.

So, MELBA MONTGOMERY (not the original performance, obviously):

In 1974, RONNIE MILSAP was a new performer on the scene.  Sometimes somebody comes along who has staying power.  Here's the proof (and have you ever heard Cap'n Crunch referenced in a song before?  Silly question.)

You know, Whitney Houston didn't originate this next song.  While everybody else was oohing and ahhing over this "new" hit song by Whitney, country fans were like, well, that's a different take on an oldie!

Here's DOLLY again:


While not an original MICKEY GILLEY song, it was still a good one.  Again, this is not a 1974 performance, obviously.  My dad always liked this song, and that's good enough for me.  Unfortunately, this performance is a "medley", so you don't actually get the full benefit of what the song was like in its entirety, but doesn't he sound more and more like his cuz all the time (and I don't mean Jimmy Swaggart)?  Mickey had a good run in the Urban Cowboy days, but more power to him, I say.  At least he wasn't Johnny Lee.

BOBBY BARE has never gotten his due.  We're really quick to move on to the next big thing, and we forget people.  Bobby Bare belongs in the Country Music Hall of Fame, but I'm not holding my breath anymore.  I fought that fight, and nobody listened to me, but I keep listening to Bobby anyway.  This is a novelty song, really, but it was a big hit in 1974, and I did have the single.  Of course, I bought a lot of singles back Woolworth's.

I don't know what to say about DONNA FARGO, really.  Let me say that she is, I understand, a really nice person.  I'm sure it's my personal problem that I just can't forgive her for The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA.  I wrote about that song in a post a long time ago, and, let's face it, the lyrics of that song were some of the stupidest, most asinine lyrics ever written ever.

But Donna had other hits, too.  Here's one (but she really should have lost the coveralls):

BILLY "CRASH" CRADDOCK was the precursor to Billy Ray Cyrus, I guess.  That faux-sexiness, that wasn't really sexy at all, unbeknownst to the Billy Rays.  He did try hard, though, and he had dazzlingly white teeth.  Here is "Rub It In":

I know people are going to flog me, but I think this next song is FAR BETTER than He Stopped Loving Her Today.  I know it's heretical to say this, but the truth is the truth.  It's a better song.  Better written; more soulful.  Says the EXACT SAME THING, essentially, as that other song.  Norro Wilson wrote this.  He wrote a great one, and this is a great performance, by GEORGE JONES:

WAYLON JENNINGS was represented (well) in 1974.  Here is Ramblin' Man:

Did I say before that I hated the song, Jolene?  I was maybe too harsh.  If my choices were to listen to Jolene, or to listen to this next song all day long, I'd go with Jolene.  You know that sensation of fingernails on a chalkboard?  Well, here's DOLLY again (and why does she keep wearing that purple jumpsuit every time?  Doesn't she have any other outfits?):

I used to be so biased against JOHN DENVER, back then, in the seventies.  I don't even remember why.  There was something; something going on, but I forget what it was.  Because, actually, in hindsight, this next song is more country than most of the so-called "country" songs that I have featured in this post.  I don't get it.  But I'm not going to lose sleep trying to remember, because I was obviously wrong.  And this song proves how wrong I was.

Another song I blithely dismissed, back then, in 1974, was this next song, recorded by BILLY SWAN.  Because, every time I hear it now, which isn't too often, but occasionally it gets played on oldies radio, lo these 38 years later (seriously?), I like it, and I completely enjoy hearing it.  I'm beginning to think I was just stupid 38 years ago.  Or I had bad taste, or no taste.  But I still hate Love Is Like a Butterfly.  That hasn't changed.

Here is "I Can Help":

So, I scrolled through the list of number one songs from 1974, and then I moved on to what Wikipedia labels "other singles released", and I realized that some of the best songs apparently never hit that number one spot.  Well, there's no accounting for taste, as evidenced by the fact that I hated John Denver, inexplicably.

Here's one of those "other songs".....CONNIE SMITH:

In case you forgot, and you probably did, MEL TILLIS had a slew of hit records in 1974.  Here's one of them:

Speaking of novelties (which I think I did at some point, earlier), here's one.  Do you remember JIM STAFFORD?   Maybe you had to be there.  Jim Stafford was kind of an odd duck, but an entertaining one!  I remember working at my first ever real job, at the State Capitol, and they'd play this song on KFYR (AM) a whole lot.  My Girl Bill:

Can't believe that one is considered one of the "others", because I sure heard it a lot in 1974.

I'll leave you with this, because I'm tired, and there were a lot of songs that charted in 1974; too many for one post, and maybe 1974 wasn't as awful as my selective memory told me that it was.  I will say that, surprisingly,  the "others" were some of the best ones.  I don't get that.  But hindsight is 20/20.



Friday, April 22, 2011

Songs That Just Never Go Away

I was sitting in the dentist chair yesterday afternoon, and those places are always tuned to the most innocuous radio stations, since sitting in the dentist chair is stressful enough; one does not need to be subjected to aggravating music, besides.

So, they've got the oldies station blaring away, which I like. And the hygienest's got that cavitron buzzing, and I'm just thinking, will this be over soon?

When what, pray tell, comes on the radio, but this:

Watching Van's discomfort while lip-synching this song is much like the discomfort I feel whenever I hear this song.

Granted, this was a good song at one time. But you know what they say about familiarity breeding contempt? Well, there you go.

It's funny how with some songs, one could hear them a million times and still enjoy them. Other songs just don't wear that well.

By way of contrast, I could hear this (awkwardly lip-synched) song over and over and over, and I would still get a little thrill every time:

So, what is it? The melody? I say yes. Some melodies are "decent"; some are timeless.

This proves my oft-repeated opinion that melodies are what counts.

Because, frankly, the subject manner of both "Brown-Eyed Girl" and "Don't Worry, Baby" are basically the same. Just little bits of fluff.

Thus, my little songwriting lesson of the day, because there really should be a point to this post, other than just posting videos of songs that I'm really sick of (although that does make me feel better).

So, seeing as how I'm old, and I remember stuff from back in the gramophone days (seriously, I don't), these are some of the songs that, in my opinion, just got overplayed ad nauseum on the radio, back when people used to listen to the radio. And if I hear these songs today, after lo these many years, I'm still sick to death of them.

In this particular performance, the tempo is sped up from that on the record, which is a good thing, because the song gets over sooner.

Even "moderned up", while the performance is nice, the song is still sickening. Sorry, Joe South.

Remember this? 1968? Most played to death song of the year. I like Tom T. Hall; he wrote a lot of good songs, but....

Okay, yea, Johnny Cash is a legend and all that. I'll grant you that, but this song isn't even that good! And it's so repetitive. If you overlook the fact that you're viewing a performance by one of country music's icons, you will admit that this song is just tiresome:

Even as a non-songwriter in 1972, I realized how bad these lyrics were. And I was sort of offended by the inanity. But the radio station just kept playing it!

Let's see if I've got this right: "Skippity doo-dah, thank you, Lord, for makin' him for me"......"I'll fix your lunch if you fix mine".....

No offense, Donna Fargo. I understand you're a really nice person. But back then, I was cleaning motel rooms for spending money, carrying my portable radio with me, and I had to keep hearing this whole skippity doo-dah nonsense, and it made me irate. It was bad enough just cleaning those rooms. I was seventeen, it was hot, and I just wanted to be lying out by the pool, and not getting up at 7:00 a.m. every day in June to clean toilets.

Fast forward to the eighties (all decades should be well represented). I was searching for this video, and I found some comments to the effect of, "thanks so much for the memories". Well, yea, I have memories of this song, too. Memories of every freakin' time I got in the car to drive somewhere, I had to be subjected to this song. "Uh-huh":

I've mentioned this song before, but it just has to be included here. Back in the sixties (I'm told), there was a big counter-culture drug thing going on. And it makes sense when one listens to this song. I'm imagining Hoyt Axton scribbling these lines on a napkin, and somebody saying, "that's heavy, man", when in reality, it's obviously complete nonsense.

Unfortunately for us (the listeners), and fortunately for Hoyt Axton, this song achieved heavy rotation on the rock stations. But anytime I hear the words, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog", I just have to punch that button to change the channel.

So, there you have it. Some of my least favorite, albeit, overplayed songs of the millennium.

I didn't include my all-time least favorite song, because, thankfully, it hasn't really been overplayed. But readers of my blog know what that is.

I would be interested in knowing what your most overplayed song is. Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Since I'm Posting Videos....Here's One For North Dakota!

I did this one for my North Dakota friends. It's kinda cheesy, but I wanted to celebrate my home state. I wasn't going to share this video, but it actually turned out to be fun.

I was strict with myself when creating this one ~ all the pictures had to be authentic North Dakota pics. There are two photos that are generic, only because I needed them to match the storyline. The rest are from North Dakota.

Yes, North Dakota does seem to revel in kitschy monuments scattered across its prairies, but that just adds to its charm.

You should visit one day. It's not all blizzards and floods, you know.

Here is Let's Go To Town:

Monday, October 6, 2008

CMA Awards - 1972

Again, like 1971, there was good and bad to be found at the old Ryman Auditorium in October of 1972.

In some ways, these posts are getting easier, because there are so many repeat winners, and I'm just not gonna fight the futile battle to find videos on YouTube that just aren't there. C'mon country fans! Somebody must have some old obscure videos of some of these folks!

But, on the plus side, we do find some new winners each year, so that makes it interesting (at least to me).

A strange thing happened with the Song of the Year category in 1972. The winner repeated from 1971. Now, I don't know how that's possible exactly. Aren't there cutoff dates for eligibility or something? I don't know what the other nominees were, but they couldn't have been so bad that the voters decided, ah, the hell with it, let's just go with last year's winner. I don't know. But kudos, I guess, to Freddie Hart, because he won again!


Easy Lovin' - written by Freddie Hart; recorded by Freddie Hart

Here's the link again, in case you missed it the first time: Easy Lovin'


Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass

(Just a heads-up -- this goes on for a few more years). You know, I liked these guys, but I'm ready to move on already. Aren't you?


Charlie McCoy

We have a new winner! Yay! Charlie was a very much in-demand session player in Nashville back in the day. I don't know how much harmonica gets put on country records anymore. Lord knows I don't listen to the radio, so how would I know? It could be rampant.

I am not a big harmonica fan. Hey, did you ever get one of those cheap 25-cent harmonicas at the five and dime when you were a kid? They were just worthless. They played about three notes, and it was hard to find a lot of three-note songs. Three Blind Mice is the only one that comes to mind, and that's really a boring song, and it probably has some sinister hidden meaning, going back to the late 1600's or whenever the hell the song was written. And here they were, marketing the song to kids. I hope kids nowadays aren't forced to listen to that macabre song.

Yes, I do digress sometimes. But I was just bored thinking about Charlie McCoy and his harmonica, although I'm not denigrating his talent at all! He was (is) very talented.

So, let's give a listen to the Orange Blossom Special. And I'll just alert you ahead of time, he will continue to win this award for a few years to come, and I'm not going to post any more harmonica videos in the future. Sorry, Bob Dylan.

So, now we come to Single of the Year. Remember I told you how much I HATE the song, "Honey"? Well, here's another hateful song. Again, I'm sure the woman is very nice, and I would love to have tea with her sometime, if she promised not to sing this song in my presence.

It's a funny thing about songs. Obviously, this was a major, major hit, and thus won the award for Single of the Year. So, a lot of people liked it. And I (generally) like three-quarter time songs, so what's my problem with it? Maybe it's because I left nursery rhymes behind when I was about, oh, five years old. I know (in hindsight) that she probably used those types of words to express her "exuberance" about being in love or something, but that still doesn't excuse the "I'll fix your lunch if you fix mine" line. What kind of Candyland world is this woman living in? I can barely muster the energy to fix my own lunch in the morning. Everybody else is on their own, as far as I'm concerned. So, as I said, she is no doubt a wonderful woman, and it's nothing personal. I just REALLY dislike this song.


Happiest Girl in the Whole USA - Donna Fargo

P.S. I had a bridesmaid's dress in 1974 that looked a lot like the dress she's wearing.


Charley Pride

There's not one iota of doubt in my mind that the song I'm posting here won the male vocalist award for Charley in 1972. That doesn't mean I have to like it. Perhaps I'm coming across as an old curmudgeon. I don't mean to. This song is nowhere near as hateful as Donna Fargo's song. It's just that it was done TO DEATH on the radio! And it wasn't that interesting to begin with! I mean, it's just verse - chorus - verse- chorus - chorus. Blah, blah, blah. I think Donna and Charley should get together and compare notes. He's kissin' his angel good morning and she's fixin' lunch for her zippity-do-dah guy. Gag me.

Anyway, here ya go:


Loretta Lynn

It's not often that I get to feature a video that has an introduction by Kermit the Frog, so hey! Unique!

I can never hear or watch a performance of this song without being reminded of the movie, Coal Miner's Daughter. I'm almost surprised to see someone other than Sissy Spacek singing it. I'm kidding, of course. I remember this song. I think I even had the album. In fact, I know I did.

1972 was Loretta's turn, so here's You're Lookin' At Country (backed by the Muppet Show Band):


Let Me Tell You About A Song - Merle Haggard

Now, there are no videos available of any songs from this album, but I will tell you, I had this album, and I now have it on CD, and it's worth buying! Merle actually did "tell us about a song" as an intro to each track. It was an early concept album (for country, at least). It's really quite good. I recommend the old Bob Wills song, "Bring It On Down To My House, Honey". I'd post it (not that I would know how to do that), but that would be copyright infringement, and I'm not of a mind to do that.

But here's a link to the CD (combined with the album, "Hag"; another one that I highly recommend):

Hag/Let Me Tell You About A Song


Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn

Yes, sadly (for them), Porter & Dolly got shut out in 1972 for the vocal duo award. Well, time moves on. Not that it was a new generation or anything. It was basically their peers (or older) who took the mantle.

I'm sure Porter was hoping to win, and he probably spent hours in front of the mirror, getting his blonde bouffant just right for the big awards show. And picking out which upholstered sports coat he was going to wear. And Dolly was probably still in the dressing room when the nominees were announced, combing out one of her many frosted wigs.

Well, you know, these things happen. And Conway and Loretta, while certainly not my favorites as solo artists, did seem to meld quite nicely as a duet. And, if you think about it, they were kind of the anti-Porter-and-Dolly, looks-wise. They were both dark-haired, as opposed to bleached blonde. And they certainly dressed way worse (at least Loretta, with her patchwork quilt dresses). Anyway, I always really liked this one:


The Statler Brothers

I like 'em! They've been around for a long, LONG time. And I just like 'em. I liked 'em when Lew DeWitt was the tenor, and I liked 'em when Jimmy Fortune assumed Lew's role.

I'm not saying that all their songs were stellar. Cuz they really did have a lot of clunkers. That whole "back when I was in high school" bit got old after awhile.

But I even liked the Lester (Roadhog) Moran and his Cadillac Cowboys albums. And, before that, when they were featured players on the Johnny Cash Show. And when they recorded "Flowers On The Wall". The Statlers certainly earned their awards.

This song is from 1970, so a couple of years before they were voted vocal group of the year, but I think this is one of their best, and I'm sure the CMA voters were thinking about this song when they checked off the little box next to the Statlers' name in 1972.

I love Lew's high part at the end.

And now we get to the entertainer of the year category. Well, unlike real life, it really didn't take too long for a woman to win the top award. Let's see, the awards were first given out in 1967; this was 1972. I'm no math genius, but I'll guess that's roughly five years.

I really don't know what kind of entertainer this woman was (is). I did see her around 1964 at Panther Hall, but c'mon! I was, what, nine? I was too fixated on the whole atmosphere of Panther Hall, with the long, white-clothed tables, where people had to sit with a bunch of strangers to eat (interesting concept), and the fact that people were carrying around booze in a brown paper bag, to notice how well or not well the show was going. But I take the CMA voters at their word, and concede that she was (is) a pretty darn good entertainer.


Loretta Lynn


(Governor) Jimmie Davis

I think, if you write a song like, "You Are My Sunshine", you can just sit back and say, "Okay! My work is done!"

Because who, as a child, didn't sing this song? And this guy wrote it!

We don't see videos of Stephen Foster, because obviously, video wasn't yet invented when ol' Stephen was writing his songs, like Camptown Races or Old Folks At Home. But, like those songs, "You Are My Sunshine" is a standard. One that kids all over the world are forced to sing in elementary school.

So simple, yet so annoyingly catchy. It's not rocket science, folks. You're singing it now in your head, aren't you? See? That's the mark of a standard.

So, here you go, Governor Jimmie Davis: