Showing posts with label everly brothers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label everly brothers. Show all posts

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Don Everly

When I was nine, I along with my two closest cousins took accordion lessons (it was something our dads wanted). Music lessons, regardless of the instrument, are a valuable tool -- studying an instrument enhances brain development and memory and concentration, as well as coordination. And it can be fun if the kid is matched to the right instrument. Accordion wasn't for me, but learning how to play pleased my dad, so that was a net plus.

Our teacher decided it would be fun for the three of us to form a little trio. I don't know if it was simply a fun diversion for her or if she actually saw something in us (it was the former, no doubt). Thus, I got moved to the drum (yes, drum, singular -- a snare drum), my cousin Paul stuck with the accordion, and his sister Karen got to learn some guitar chords. For the life of me, I don't remember what we called ourselves -- something Ramblers, I think. Our moms were excited. They outfitted us in fringed felt skirts (not Paul), plastic boots and matching black bolero hats. We memorized our meager repertoire and showed up to entertain at nursing homes and street fairs. I liked performing, really liked it. Our appearances were a welcome diversion. I've always been prone to boredom, and these little entertainment moments stirred up a bit of excitement.

What does this have to do with Don Everly?

Well, our trio's big "hit number" was Bye Bye Love. Though my teacher favored my cousin Karen, she inexplicably gave me the first verse to belt out. I felt like a star. And our version of the song was a hit, at least with the geriatric crowd and later with my uncle's bar patrons, who proffered dollar bills or a couple of quarters to have us sing it again.

So, Bye Bye Love has always held a special place in my heart.

There goes my baby with someone new

He sure looks happy, I sure am blue

Frankly, at nine, the Everly Brothers were a little bit before my time. I'd of course heard them on my mom's kitchen radio, but Bye Bye Love was the only track of the brothers that actually registered with me. My brother, who was nine years older then me and owned (it seemed) every album in the world, possessed their greatest hits album, and I eventually, after I got done secretly borrowing every other LP he owned, got around to listening to the Everlys.

Little kids don't like ballads. Their musical taste is sadly unsophisticated. So I was drawn to more peppy, simpler tracks, like this:

 This one, though, written by Don, might be my favorite:

Later, of course, I was introduced, sometimes in a roundabout way (hear me, Nazareth and Krauss/Plant?) to their phenomenal ballads.

(best quality video I could find)

As my tastes (and I) matured, I grew to love the Everlys' ballads, like these:


Their hits that were written by Felice and Beaudloux Byrant weren't among my favorites (except for Bye Bye Love), maybe because they smacked of novelty songs, although Wake Up Little Susie wasn't bad. (Don's opening guitar riff improved the track by miles).

In 1984, when an Everlys track blasted out of my radio speaker, I was happy. Though this is nowhere near the best song Paul McCartney ever wrote, it's all in the presentation, kids:

What did the Everly Brothers do for music? From The Guardian:

Quite aside from the Beatles, the Everly Brothers were feted by everyone from the Rolling Stones – Keith Richards hailed Don as “one of the best rhythm guitar players I’ve ever heard” and called their voices “almost mystical” – to the Beach Boys. Paul Simon called them “the most beautiful-sounding duo I ever heard”, Bob Dylan claimed “we owe these guys everything – they started it all”, while Neil Young suggested his entire career was based on trying and failing to sound like them.
The duo fractured acrimoniously in 1973 and would remain broken for almost ten years, until a breathtaking reunion concert at Royal Albert Hall in '83 reminded everyone of the treasure we'd all been missing. I can't count the number of times I watched the concert on HBO; then ran out and bought the live album. I'm not sure I really, truly appreciated the brothers until then.

Phil Everly passed away in 2014. Don Everly died August 21, 2021 at the age of 84. 

Nobody (nobody) is going to come along to replace the Everly Brothers. And that's okay. Some artists are considered singular for a reason. 

And thanks, Don and Phil, for providing me with my short moment in the sun.

Friday, January 24, 2020

My Fleeting Music "Career"

I've sung a lot of songs in my life. Granted, most of them were to my reflection in the mirror, but it still counts. When I was a kid, around seven or eight years old, my heart's desire was to be a famous singer. I had no particular talent, but I sounded pretty good to myself in the backyard, performing atop the picnic table. I loved music with my whole heart and if I could only play piano, my career ambitions would be realized. Alas, my dad thought the accordion would be nifty, so off I toddled to lessons downtown. I don't recall having a voice in the ruling, nor any objections. Dad didn't make a lot of the decisions in our household, so when he did, he meant business. Admittedly I was curious about how to make music and if I could actually do it, but oom-pah-pah wasn't my first choice.

Dad's younger brother, always readying to copy whatever Dad did, swiftly enrolled both his kids in lessons, too. Thus I got to be admonished by my teacher, "Karen doesn't drag her basses like that." Accordion solos are supposed to be crisp. I preferred a longer, drawn-out, sound, so I chose not to snap those buttons like they were meant to be snapped. Or maybe I was simply lazy, lethargic; bored.

Our instructor, however, hit upon a great scheme ~ form a trio, Paul, Karen, and poor pathetic me. She broadened her horizons from simply accordion and assigned each of us our own instrument. Paul got to stick with the squeeze box, but Karen (the favorite) was taught some chords on acoustic guitar, and I was given a couple of brushes and tasked with swishing them across a snare drum. We commenced practice in the basement studio, then set off to entertain elderly residents in nursing homes. We were nine, ten, and eleven; so the shut-ins found us cute and strained from their wheelchairs to pinch our cheeks. Our confidence grew. We started to believe our own publicity.

We advanced to street fairs and downtown Crazy Days. Paul and Karen's mom sewed costumes for us ~ fringed black billowing skirts for Karen and me; matching western shirts for the three of us; dime store plastic cowboy hats. I think we may have even had faux-cowboy boots. I sadly can't recall what we called ourselves; maybe something like The Westernaires. Karen could tell me, but she's most likely not reading this.

It wasn't until we moved in 1964 to my bachelor uncle's establishment that we realized some return on our efforts. There, we made serious coin ~ playing just outside the bar for tips. Even then it was sort of a drag, having to change into our costumes after school and dragging out the caved-in snare drum; screwing it into its stand. But money was a motivator. If you're ten years old and can't get anything new without begging your mother for money, being an independent contractor was heaven. And tipsy patrons are exceedingly generous. Each of us toddled down to the local Woolworths and bought amber-tinted glass piggy banks and proceeded to fill them. We were rich!

I learned that performing the same song over and over, though, wasn't all performing was cracked up to be. Even then I could grow bored in a hurry. I wished we could change our repertoire, but without our accordion teacher in close proximity, the three of us were adrift.

My singular claim to fame was that I got to sing the opening verse of "Bye Bye Love". Seeing as how I was the weak link in the chain, I considered it a high honor. I still don't know how I obtained it.

Today whenever I hear The Everly Brothers and that guitar riff, I'm whisked off to those days; and I sing along with pride:

There goes my baby
With someone new
He sure looks happy
I sure am blue

Once upon a time, I was a world-renowned singer.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mundane '62

In 1962 all everybody cared about was space. Not me, mind you. I know everyone was supposed to be in awe of space travel, but all I knew was that the "astronaut" zipped through the sky in a "capsule", of which my only frame of reference was an Excedrin my mom took for a headache. When I was still in first grade that winter, my teacher wheeled a portable TV into our classroom so we could watch John Glenn do whatever he was doing. I was more fascinated by the diorama of songbirds Mrs. Fisher had built in a back corner of the room.

I wasn't completely disinterested in space. I did like this:

My interests were simple at age seven-going-on-eight. I got a sparkly paint set for Christmas and I liked dabbing it into my coloring book--sapphires and emeralds and rubies. I loved my phonograph. I had paper dolls-- cardboard cutouts of (generally) girls or sometimes someone older, like Patty Duke, for which one would cut outfits out of the book and drape them on the cardboard figure with little paper tabs that folded across the model's shoulders and hips. 

I liked TV. I never gave a second thought to the fact all the actors on television were black and white, whereas the real world bloomed with color. I would watch anything, which included my mom's soap operas. I learned that doctors led really melodramatic lives; at least Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey did. Matt Dillon was a sheriff of few words; Alfred Hitchcock was a fat scary man. Ed Sullivan had a lot of really crappy acts on his show, even a guy who talked with his hand and one whose claim to fame was spinning plates in the air. Lawrence Welk was woefully out of date, but my dad liked him. Game shows were a staple of prime time--they required you to "guess" something--what someone's job was or which one, out of three gamesters, was actually telling the truth. I lay on my stomach right in front of our big TV and absorbed every single thing that flashed on the screen. My favorite shows, by far, were Dick Van Dyke and The Andy Griffith Show.

In the fall, when I entered second grade, I transferred to Valley Elementary, which was a brand-spanking new school. I would spend four and a half years at Valley; years that would shape me into a semblance of a human person. Valley was where I would write and perform a play at the Hootenanny. Valley was where I would be chosen by my teacher to become part of the safety patrol, an awesomely responsible post in which I got to carry an official flag. Valley was where I blossomed, albeit temporarily, and learned to embrace my creativity.

In second grade, though, life was terribly mundane. I did worksheets and printed words on rough double-lined paper tablets, when I really preferred to write in cursive, which we weren't allowed to "learn" yet. I was a bit ahead of most of my classmates because my big sister had already taught me how to read and write before I even began kindergarten. However, one was not permitted to outdistance one's peers, so I was bored and fidgety. I did discover the school library, which flowered a whole new world. I devoured Laura Ingalls Wilder books, all eight of them; and then moved on to other biographies. I read every book in the library that was worth reading.

My mom bought me a lunch ticket every month, which the lunch matron punched each time I alighted the line of horizontal aluminum bars and plastic trays. I understand now why I was so skinny. Some people have fond memories of school lunches. Those people are freaks. I dumped more food in the giant trash receptacle than I ever ate. Nothing in the line ever looked appetizing--hamburger mush, gloppy mashed potatoes, possibly accompanied by carrot sticks, which were at least edible. Mini-cartons of milk were the only saving grace. Fridays were always fish sticks, in honor of the Lord. Granted, I was a very picky eater, but "Spanish rice" combined all the ingredients of horror.

The most consequential event of my second grade year was when the school caught on fire. It was a dreary sun-deprived winter day. I don't remember even smelling smoke, but our teacher hastily informed us that the "superintendent" (which was what the head janitor was called) had informed her that fire had broken out somewhere in the vicinity of the furnace room. We were all shepherded out to waiting buses (single file, of course), and a gaggle of teachers alighted the open bus doors and dumped cardboard boxes of rubber snow boots onto the slippery stairs, from which we confusedly tried to snatch a matching pair. I arrived home with two red boots, one of them two sizes too large for my feet. I guess I was lucky to escape the (supposedly) roaring blaze, but I was mostly upset that I couldn't gracefully clomp through snowbanks wearing one jumbo boot.

Apparently the school was grievously damaged, because my class ended up attending class in the hallway of a neighboring elementary building for two very long weeks, with kids who belonged there staring derisively at us as they made their way to the lavatory.

In music, my tastes were influenced by my big sisters -- actually one big sister. My oldest sister was mercurial. She flitted in and out of the house like a sprite, mostly unseen. She was eighteen after all, and soon to march down the aisle. My sisters shared a record collection, however -- all '45's. My brother had yet to blow my mind with actual reams of astounding LP's. So I lived in a world of little vinyl discs. And unlike my brother, my sister didn't care if I played her collection. Her tastes, however, leaned heavily toward Elvis Presley, who I always wanted to like, but for the life of me just couldn't.

I think my favorite record my sister owned in 1962 was this, and I don't quite remember why:

One of the few times I remember my oldest sister being around, she and Rosemary did a little demo on our kitchen linoleum in front of Mom and me of this dance; and Mom, by the way, was mightily impressed (although in reality, it's a pretty easy dance, and I don't know why they called him "chubby"):

But, as the early sixties could do, popular music often devolved into syrup. I don't know anything about Bobby Vinton, except that he recorded the cheesiest songs this side of Bobby Goldsboro. But, hey, it worked for him. Bobby Vinton was an early-sixties phenomenon, with recordings like this:

One artist Rosemary liked a lot that I could get on board with was Dion. She had good taste.

My sisters shared an album that was, I think, one of two long-playing records they owned (I wonder how they divided their record collection once Carole was married). It's sort of funny in hindsight that this was considered pop music, when in actuality it foreshadowed my immersion into country, but, truly, it was pop in 1962:

This was neither pop nor country nor anything other than, I guess, Broadway, but Gene Pitney was a sensation in 1962. And rightfully so:

Every era produces timeless artists (so they say). My sister can claim these as hers:

The truth is, we and radio were a bit behind the times. So the hits of 1962 were probably not on any of our radar until '63. Not that it matters. My family owned a circular cardboard ice cream container of 45-RPM records, some of which I have no doubt my parents picked up at rummage sales, and we played them all on a scratchy phonograph.

It wasn't so much a year as a feeling. A reminiscence of soot and red rubber snow boots and twisting in the kitchen. 
Music was always there.

Saturday, July 7, 2018


I'm a chronic non-sleeper.

When I was thirty, I had to work the day shift at the hospital on alternating weekends. My normal schedule was second shift, 3:30 p.m to 10:00 p.m. Invariably on Friday nights before that seven a.m. call, I remained excruciatingly conscious. I'm a guilt-ridden Catholic soul who has an aversion to calling in. However, for the majority of my first shift obligations, I staggered off the sofa sometime around four in the morning, dialed the automated mailbox number and declared that I was "sick". In retrospect, I could have sucked it up and just went to work (like I do now). At that time, though, I regarded sleeplessness as such a dire condition that at one point I actually considered killing myself.

I remember arising from my agonizing cocoon on the sofa, switching on the tiny kitchen nightlight and thumbing through the Yellow Pages to find the Suicide Hotline number. I was all ready to dial it, but then I imagined the conversation.

"Why do you want to kill yourself?"

"Well, I can't sleep."

Long pause.

"That's it?"

I didn't kill myself because I thought my reason wasn't good enough. That, plus I really had no means of accomplishing it. What was I going to use? Aspirin? How many tablets does one need to take to get the job done? There was no internet, so it would have been just a guess, and what if I guessed wrong?

Now here I am, thirty years later, and the scourge continues. The difference is, while it's still unbearable at three in the morning, I've accepted it as a fact of my life. And I buck up and plow through.

I used to think I was all alone, but I've since learned through offhand conversations that more people than not suffer right along with me. Selfishly, that makes me feel a little bit better. Nobody wants to feel alone.

I'll say right now that all the advice about how to sleep is utterly worthless. These "experts" a) never in their lives have had a sleeping problem; and b) are just spouting nonsense.

  • Don't consume caffeine after 12:00 noon.

  • Use your bedroom only for sleep.

  • Meditate or "journal" fifteen minutes prior to bedtime.
         I neither meditate nor jot thoughts down in a little notebook, and
         why would anyone do that? 

Here is the only advice that might work:  drugs. But good luck there. My doctor won't prescribe anything, such as Ambien, and I admit I'm not keen on that anyway. I don't want to find myself in the kitchen at 2:30 a.m., baking up a late-night entree of roasted boot. Or driving around aimlessly, firing up a cigarette and stubbing it out on my car's leather upholstery. Or even worse, posting nonsensical comments on social media, inadvertently starting a Twitter war over my professed hatred of Ariana Grande's shoes.

My doctor actually told me I'm going to bed too early. She said I should stay up until 11:30. I get up at 4:30 a.m. for work! Following her advice, assuming I fell asleep the minute my cranium alighted the pillow, I would get four complete hours of sleep.

The things I have tried:

Watching TV until my eyes flutter closed.
The way this works for me is, sure, I catch thirty seconds of snooze time; then a commercial jars me awake. I am then bleary-eyed for approximately three hours.

NOT watching TV. 
The whir of my bedroom fan, initially soothing, begins to grate on my nerves. The longer I lie awake, the more irritating it becomes. I get up and switch it off; but soon the room turns infuriatingly quiet.

Don ear plugs and a sleep mask.
Now I'm left alone with my thoughts. Plus my back hurts.  My mind WILL NOT SHUT OFF. I eventually begin to drift off, but the snort that wheezes through my nostrils jolts me awake and the cycle begins anew.

I only fall asleep after four or so hours once my body has acquiesced to utter exhaustion.

I believe I am genetically melatonin-deficient. And speaking of melatonin, ingest it at your peril. I tried it ONCE. I lay awake, bug-eyed, for an entire night.

My remedy is, there is no remedy.  Perhaps alcohol, but I can't function at my job while hungover. Thus, the real remedy is acceptance. Accept the things I cannot change.

I haven't tried these, and maybe they would work (but I doubt it):

These songs make sleep seem so romantic, wistful, enveloping; don't they? I wouldn't know.

The truth of the matter is, like John Lennon, who, from his songs I suspect was an inveterate non-sleeper like me, this is what it's really like at 3:00 a.m.:

I've decided I'm going to call it a "personality quirk"; one that I can regale strangers with for hours. If someone at work greets me brightly in the morning, instead of replying offhandedly, I will say, "Well, you know I only got two hours of sleep last night." Then I will sigh dejectedly. Granted, people will search for an excuse to slink away, but hey, spread the pain, I say. If I have to hear tales of your 2006 Alaskan cruise every freakin' day and how you spied a seal reposing on an ice floe, well, it's time to share MY world. And by the way, can you sit at my bedside and repeat those stories again? 

That just might work.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

People Who Don't Like Country Music...

My husband, no country music fan, remarked the other day that the reason early-to-mid-sixties rock was so good was because of the harmonies. "That's when producers were still in charge," he said. His unspoken conclusion was that the rock artists of the late sixties weren't overly concerned with production. It's true. There were exceptions, but the late sixties were an anarchic time; artists were naive in their "let it all hang out" mindset toward music. Unlike now, which is essentially an anarchic time, too, but artists are now willing to bend a knee in worship of dollars and "likes". Perhaps that's why I find modern music tiresome -- it's so blatantly manipulative. I'll gladly take the naive badly produced song. At least it was honest.

But as my husband uttered the word, "harmonies", I thought, exactly! That's country music!

If the Everly Brothers had begun their career only a few years later than they did, they would have been country artists. Because country music is (or was) all about harmony.

There is an innate reason why humans are drawn to harmony. I'm not a scientist, so I don't know the reason for that. Maybe the answer is found in nature -- the way the flutter of the wind through the trees mingles with a bird's trills; and we feel alive and soft, cradled inside the earth's hands.

We're drawn to harmony and yearn to sing along. Even if we do it badly, it doesn't matter because it feels so good, so natural.

When I was sixteen or so, I'd recently purchased my first "real" reel-to-reel tape recorder, and I impressed myself with my wondrous ability to sing three-part harmony to this song, by bouncing tracks (the recording itself only featured two-part harmonies, but I said, let's go all out!):

In the early sixties, country music featured not only two-part, but three-part harmonies, where I no doubt got the idea for my "Silver Wings" rendition.

For example:

The absolute master of harmonies was Ray Price. Ray had his Cherokee Cowboys, of which a guy named Roger Miller was once a part. As an added bonus, Roger wrote this song and added his half-step to Ray's vocals:

And don't forget Buck Owens and Don Rich. In the early sixties, country music basically drizzled down to Buck Owens. The Grand Ol' Opry kept doing its thing, but nobody could compete with Bakersfield, and Nashville keenly knew it. If it wasn't for Don Rich, well...

There is no question what my favorite harmony song from the late sixties was. I know I recently featured this video in another post, but bear with me -- I can't find an original performance video of Mel Tillis doing:

From the Everlys to Porter and Dolly to Restless Heart to Brad and Dolly to Waylon and Willie, to Naomi and Wynonna, up to Vince and Patty, harmony is what country music is known for:

My visceral reaction to harmony singing, when it's good, is that it stabs me in the heart.

Everybody needs that little stab sometimes. That's how we know we're alive.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

And Now This Brief Interlude

I watched this concert on HBO, oh, about...twenty years ago or so. Know how you forget about certain artists? They fade into the background; while newer, hipper acts supersede them?

That's because people are stupid. If you ever get the opportunity to view the whole Everly Brothers reunion concert online (I'm sure it can be accessed via YouTube), do it!

I was well aware of all the animus between Don and Phil. Let's face it; you grow up with somebody; they're always there; in your face. You can't ever be rid of them. Then your mom and pop decide, heck, let's put 'em together in an act! They sing like angels!

And they really do. They sing like angels. Two-part harmony is one thing - between acquaintances; professional counterparts. Two-part harmony between brothers is sort of like God meant music to be.

My husband and I are going to be recording a cover of "Love Hurts", so I searched for a video online. I only found this trilogy, but I found it to be ultimately cool and mind-blowing in its precision.

One just can't do it better than this. Forget the eighties hair bands who appropriated the song. They're all fine and dandy, but they just can't ever measure up to the original.

This is just...smooooooth.


Friday, April 5, 2013

The Nineteen Fifties in Country Music Were Ripe With Promise

It's not as if I'm so conceited as to think that music was invented in the nineteen sixties.  Sure, that's maybe when my musical education began, but I am vaguely aware that music actually existed before I was born.  Not good music (ha)....I'm being facetious.  I know there was good music in the fifties.  And I have the Ray Price albums to prove it.

But there's most likely a lot about the fifties that I don't know, so, since a person I work with is so enamored of it, I wanted to at least give it a shot.

My retrospective of the '40's was excruciating.  I have much higher hopes for the ten years hence.

1950 found us still HANKering for Hank Williams.  I'm sorry that no music videos exist of Hank.  I, as much as you, hate staring at a static picture while listening to a song.  The person who slapped this up on YouTube maybe could have put a smidgeon of effort into the project; I'm just sayin'.

Nevertheless, here is Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do:


An artist I know very little about is Lefty Frizzell.  I do know that he was most likely Merle Haggard's favorite singer, since Merle started out his career sounding just like Lefty, until someone pulled him aside and said, "Uh, you might want to just sing like yourself".  Merle was always adept at impressions, though.  He started off sounding a lot like Lefty; a lot like Wynn Stewart, somewhat like Bob Wills.  

I do not know why Merle Haggard always factors into every music post I make ~ I'm thinking I might as well just shoot for the stars and write a damn book about Merle Haggard.

But, Merle aside, 1951 found Lefty Frizzell hitting the top of the charts with this song:

1952 finally found a woman topping the charts!

Kitty Wells always struck me as being a reluctant star.  It was almost as if she was embarrassed to be up on the stage, when she had clothes to wash and dinner to fix at home.

That's always been the conundrum.  I'm no feminist, but I understand that women, as well as men, can have artistic leanings, and while the men have no compunction about expressing their artistic side, women feel the need to apologize for theirs.  I'm guessing that in 1952, it was almost shameful for someone like Kitty to have a career, although no doubt, her husband Johnnie didn't mind depositing the royalty checks.

Irrespective of Kitty's reluctance, this song sort of started it all for women in country music:

Webb Pierce was huge in the nineteen fifties.  I admit that I don't know why.  He had an odd voice; nasally.  But there is no denying that he was the king of kings in Nashville.  He even had a guitar-shaped swimming pool.  My theory is that he had a lot of dirt on a lot of people; and thus he ruled the Nashville culture with an iron fist.  Songwriters quivered in his doorway and practically pleaded on hands and knees for Webb to record their songs.  He got the pick of the litter; song-wise.  Probably like George Strait; except George can sing.

In 1953, Webb Pierce had a monstrous hit with this song, which anyone with a rudimentary acquaintance with an acoustic guitar can replicate, because the chord progression is so simple, my dog could play it.

Speaking of nasally voices, another big star of the 1950's was Hank Snow.  

I mainly remember Hank Snow because of the song, "I've Been Everywhere", which has a bunch of town names that one has to sing really fast, because, well, it's a fast song.  

As a challenge to myself once, I memorized the lyrics to that song, because I was young, and I didn't have hardly anything clogging up my brain at the time.  It's not as if that knowledge was ever any use to me.  It never came up in a trivia contest or anything.  Nowadays, I can barely remember my own phone number.  

But it wasn't "I've Been Everywhere" that had country fans singing along (as if) in 1954.  It was this song:

You may not think it's a good song, but you should hear Martina McBride sing it

Not to belabor this, but I have never been able to figure out if it's "I don't hurt anymore", or "It don't hurt anymore".  Wikipedia says it's "I", but then, why do they sing "it"?  Grammatically, of course, it should be "I", but since when did good grammar factor into country music?

In the year of my birth, 1955, we were once again entertained by Eddy Arnold, who definitely put the "western" in country and western with this song about doggies, which Clint Eastwood and John Wayne informed me were not actual doggies, but rather cows.

There were tons of great songs in 1956, such as Why Baby Why, I Walk the Line, Singin' the Blues; as well as Blue Suede Shoes and Heartbreak Hotel, which were not technically country songs, but rather, rockabilly.   Distinctions used to matter then.

I, however, feel that it's high time we feature some Ray Price.  My mom wasn't a real savvy music connoisseur, but she loved Ray Price.  She, in fact, had a giant crush on him; while my dad just appreciated his music.  I, too, appreciate Ray Price's music; especially from the time before he went all countrypolitan on us; when he just sang stone country songs.

Like this one:

1957 was another banner year for country music.  Again, like 1956, there are loads of hits from which to choose; like A White Sport CoatGone ("since you've gone..."), My Shoes Keep Walkin' Back to You.

But I've chosen this song, which could perhaps also be called rockabilly, but to me, is more of a rock 'n roll/country hybrid.

Why did I choose this one?  Silly ~ I always have to get a book plug in somewhere.  I wrote a bit about this song in my book, Rich Farmers; but even more than that, I have placed this song on my list of the 20 Best Country Songs of All Time; and that's a tough list to crack.

Here are the Everly Brothers:

I feel kind of (not really) bad featuring Ray Price again, but I can't let this song go unposted.  In 1958, Ray had a monster hit with a song written by Bill Anderson (the young'ns will recognize Bill by the song, "Whiskey Lullaby")

It was a tough choice, though.  1958 was swimming with great songs:  Great Balls of Fire (yes, technically, rockabilly again, but dang!  That song will get you up off your chair and dancing!  Alone With You (Faron Young ~ love Faron Young); All I Have to Do is Dream

Pick Me Up on Your Way Down by Charlie Walker (again, give a listen to Martina, if you think this song isn't quite your style.)  

This is such a great song, though; I could not, in good conscience, ignore it.

Once again, Ray Price:

By 1959, the winds of change were blowing.  Soon, Buck Owens and his Buckaroos would light a fire with a telecaster; Tammy Wynette would tear our hearts out with a crying steel and a voice like a wrenching sob.  Loretta would get all feisty about the man who did her wrong.

Kris would have one more beer for dessert.  Bobby (and Mel) would go to sleep in Detroit City.  Tom T. would gossip about the PTA.  Lynn would refuse to promise us a rose garden.


Yet, before the decade turned, a four-minute, thirty-eight second song would tell us a tale about a young man who fell in love with a girl named Felina; and about one little kiss.

Here is Marty Robbins:

While the 1940's were essentially a bust for me, country music-wise; the fifties were ripe with promise.  Granted, I never heard these songs (or don't remember hearing them) until a few years down the road; but I can thank artists like Martina for bringing some of them back.  And I can thank my "best of" albums for introducing the songs to me a couple (or ten) years later.

The nineteen fifties in country music were not throwaway years.  Nay, they were classic years; if  for no other artists than Ray Price, Marty Robbins, and the Everly Brothers.

Oh, but the winds of change; they were a'blowin'.......


Monday, January 24, 2011

May 19 - A Not-Too-Shabby Date For Music Lovers

Since I'm just sitting around with nothing to do; no projects on the horizon, I thought I would continue with my "Number One Song on the Day You Were Born" theme. I love music videos anyway, so it's fun to rediscover some old tunes that make me happy.

So, yes, the year of my birth (05/19/55) does not reflect the best in the annals of music. Granted.

However, to compensate for that, I checked out the charts for May 19 in subsequent years, and found stuff such as this:



all shook up elvis presley (oldies)
Uploaded by onizuka-junior. - Explore more music videos.

Unfortunately, this video is from the "Karate Elvis" years, but it was the only decent one I could find.


See, this is more my speed. Okay, the video isn't from 1958, but let's allow for better sound quality, shall we?

I was a big Everly copier, it seems. My little three-piece band, back in 1964, specialized in Everly covers. Not this one, but still. Beautiful song.


Okay, I do know that the Beatles didn't originate this song. It was Wilbert Harrison. But this is where I first heard the song, and c'mon, it's the Beatles!


Unbeknownst to me, Elvis played a big part in my early development, and I'm not even a big Elvis fan!

However, I do admit, this is one of my favorite Elvis songs. I clearly remember singing along to this, even though I just made up the words as I went, since I didn't quite catch them all:


Now we're talking. This is one of my all-time favorite rock & roll songs. And yes, I was well aware of this Del Shannon song in 1961:

Fast forward to 1964, and this:

Now, of course, we move to the truly important music of my life, this one from 1965. I love this live performance, interspersed with the "music video" the boys did for the song (which is really dumb, when you see Ringo standing over the drum kit, looking embarrassed as hell, and why wouldn't he be, with that setup?)

This song was number one in May of 1966. Here are the Mamas and the Papas lip-synching to Monday Monday.

Can anyone explain to me why the Mamas and Papas songs were mixed so strangely? Any of them you hear, half the sound comes out of one speaker and half out of the other. Who's bright idea was this? Lou Adler's, apparently. Maybe he was deaf in one ear.

1967, the summer of love. Here's an iconic song, and surprisingly, one can only find one performance video of the Rascals, doing "Groovin'". I don't know for sure, but I'd guess this was from the Ed Sullivan Show, because Ed's people did NOT know rock & roll. They focus on the harmonica player almost the whole time! Or the tambourine guy. Basically anyone except Felix, who is the star of the band. Alas. But here is "Groovin'":

I would include 1968's Archie Bell & the Drells ("Hi everybody! We're Archie Bell and the Drells! From Houston, Texas!"), doing "Tighten Up", but the only available video is of horrendous quality, so just sing the song in your head. You remember it.

Ahh, the famous rooftop performance from 1969. The swan song, as it was.

1970, from the Midnight Special. Ha ~ remember that show well. I'd come home on a Friday night, after having a few too many.....Diet Cokes....and flip on my little portable TV, and catch the last acts on the show.

Seriously, along with Felix Cavaliere, one of the greatest voices in rock & roll, Burton Cummings. Here are the Guess Who:

1971, eh? No wonder the seventies sucked for music. This has to be one of my all-time most annoying songs. Maybe it's just that I had to hear it seventy thousand times back then, or maybe it's because it's a really stupid song. No offense, Hoyt. And can you imagine how much the Three Dog Night'ers hate doing this song, as they make their rounds of the various Indian casinos? Of course, money in your pocket cures a lot of heartburn.

And, believe it or not, it goes downhill from there. So, I'm going to stop with 1971.

Oh sure, I could include "The Streak", from 1974, but really, why would I want to? I could include some bombastic Whitney Houston songs. Or Madonna, or Paula Abdul. But why ruin a nice post about music with that kind of stuff?

Well, okay, I do like 1981's selection. No, it's not Madonna or Paula or Mariah. It's someone I actually enjoy listening to.

No, really there is. Just one more. 1976. It's not entirely a performance video, alas. But it is the official video, apparently, And what's wrong with that? I'd like to know. So here I go. Again.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Fond Look At Duets

One doesn't hear too many duets anymore. I guess it goes in cycles. There was a time when duets were, apparently, the thing to do. Especially in the sixties. People were always pairing up, sometimes with one duet partner for awhile; then they'd switch to a new one.

For example, in country music, Loretta Lynn started her duet career recording with Ernest Tubb. Then she later joined up with Conway Twitty and became quite successful. Even Porter Wagoner didn't start out with Dolly Parton. His previous duet partner was Norma Jean. And, of course, Dolly later went on to record some hits with Kenny Rogers.

In pop music, people seemed to stick together more. There were, of course, Sonny & Cher. But also Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell. The Everly Brothers (duh). Sam & Dave. You get the picture.

This gal started out singing with dear old dad, but she later had a lot of success teaming up with Lee Hazelwood.


Of course, that's all well and good, for camp's sake, but here's the original:


Speaking of MARVIN GAYE and TAMMI TERRELL, here's:


Marvin Gaye was cool.

Well, you gotta include Sonny and Cher, but I just can't watch "I Got You Babe" another time. So, here's a song of theirs that I always liked:

know I've mentioned this in the past, but one reason I love watching these old videos from the sixties is because they usually include cheesy dancing. And, you know, let's face it, the jerk was not compatible with a lot of songs. You can't just dance the jerk to every song - especially a ballad. I don't know why they tried. But they did.

I do want to throw in some not-so-obvious selections, and this is a cool one, from the eighties.

Who could ever forget those memorable lines, "What have I.....what have I......what have I......"


And, like Marvin Gaye, Dusty Springfield was cool, too.

Speaking of legends, here's:


I'm so excited that I found this one: Barbara Mandrell also had a duet partner in her early days, and it was David Houston. I love this song:

She was so cute, wasn't she?

Oh, let's just get it over with and watch this one. Thanks, Barry Gibb. I think every time I turned on the radio in 1978, I heard this song. And then I'd get it stuck in my head.

Earlier, of course, Dolly had another duet partner. Here's one I like:


I don't want to intimate that the only country duets were done in the sixties and seventies. They went on as long as the 1980's! (Okay, yea, I know about Brooks & Dunn and Sugar & Spice, or whatever the heck the rest of them are called). I like Brooks & Dunn. I'll try to find some videos, but I'll betcha they're not embeddable - how much you wanna bet?

Anyway, here's a duo that I just happen to love. And this is one of my favorite songs of theirs:


FIVE STARS on this one!

And while we're on the topic of my favorite artists, here's two for the price of one!


Before we leave country (for now), let's listen to my favorite Conway & Loretta duet:


Okay, that concludes our country segment for now. Now on to "Midnight Special". Remember that show? It was on Friday nights, late, and I'd happen to catch it just as I was coming home from my late-night drinking.......I mean, bible study.

Of course, Kenny Loggins went on to a great career in movie soundtracks. I don't know exactly what Jim Messina went on to, but here's a good one:

Yikes, this was from 1973? Man, that's old! Hey, wait a minute - I graduated in 1973! Man, I'M old!

Even older, here are Seals and Crofts, from 1972:


I do want to know, however, how they managed to get jasmine in their minds. Cuz that's kind of strange. I mean, I don't have lilac bushes in my mind (I don't think).

Older still, although the video is newer:

I had to include this, since I watched "The Graduate" again a couple of weeks ago on Free In Demand movies. I love watching old movies (old, meaning, from the '60's). Then I watched "Rain Man" last week, because I hadn't seen it for awhile, and I wanted to compare Dustin Hoffman's performance in that movie to the earlier one. "Rain Man" is a really good movie! I really dislike Tom Cruise, but Hoffman was great in that.

This is really off-topic, but there is a song in the movie, "Rain Man" that I just love. It's called, "Beyond The Blue Horizon", and I had to watch the end credits to find out who sang it. Surprisingly, it was Lou Christie. The falsetto man himself! I downloaded the song from Amazon, because I am just so taken with the song. I've completely gained a new respect for Lou Christie.

I guess I'll close out this post with just one more song. I think this topic deserves to be continued, don't you? So, I'll pick up on it in another post.

Well, I really love the Everly Brothers. It all goes back to, "Bye Bye Love" and me performing that song as part of a trio, when I was just nine'ish.

But aside from that, this is a lovely song, and a good way to end this chapter.