Showing posts with label jeannie seely. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jeannie seely. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2022

Reviewing The Top 10 Country Singles From This Week In 1973


Why 1973? Why not? 

I enjoy reviewing country music's changes across the decades, and frankly my resource only lists a finite selection of October country music charts. Plus, 1973 was a seminal year for me. That was the year I graduated from high school, which makes me approximately 132 years old. 

What was I doing in '73? Well, by October I was ensconced in my first "real" job (defined as a job that didn't involve my parents as employers). My years-long best friend and I had drifted apart, since I had a serious boyfriend and she had a bar band. At my job, though, I made a new friend who shared her name with my now-distant compadre. Thenceforth, I only made friends with girls named Alice (not really). 

I was still living at home, mooching off my parents. I suggested to my mom that month that I would move in with New Alice, but Mom threw a fit and decreed that I most certainly would not be moving out. I didn't argue, because nobody argued with Mom. I guess I saved money by living at home, though I never seemed to have any money because I got paid a pittance. 

I was a Clerk Typist II (the "II" being absurdly important because it conferred a lofty status that a measly "I" could only hope to attain). I worked the front desk of the Division Of Vital Statistics for the State Health Department, on the seventeenth floor (the top floor of the Capital Building if one didn't count the mechanical room on Floor Eighteen) and waited on the occasional visitor who needed a certified copy of a birth or death certificate. I'd dutifully type up the document, then toddle over to my scary director, Elna Kavonius, to scribble her signature and clamp her official stamp atop it. The remainder of my day was spent filing documents ~ climbing up on a rolling step stool and yanking heavy folders out of their slumbering cocoons. It wasn't the worst job in the world; it was undemanding. It sure beat cleaning motel rooms. And anyway, I wasn't demanding much. 

Friday and Saturday nights were date nights, but the rest of the week wasn't all that different from when I was a school girl. My parents never made me pay rent because they didn't need the money, and I barely ate anything, so I wasn't a drain on my mom's grocery tab. I essentially had my own "apartment" at home, having claimed Motel Room #1 years before, when I became too damn old to share the second bedroom with my little brother and sister (for God's sake). My older brother cut a hole in the wall leading from our industrial garage and installed a door leading to my new room, but I found a chain lock among the junk littering the garage and screwed it in myself to keep out unwanted visitors (which included my entire family.) Eventually Mom moved my little sister into my room, so we squeezed another bed inside, but my sister was a gadfly and seldom home anyway, and surprisingly my new roommate became welcome company. I still had a mostly private bathroom and a little black and white TV beside my bed and a long cubby to house my polyester dresses. Thinking back, it was probably the richest I'd ever been and I failed to appreciate it.

I still bought the occasional '45, but I'd mostly graduated to LP's. Most every track that appeared on the charts was contained within an album I'd already bought. Scanning the Top 40 chart from October 20 of that year, I don't recall purchasing any of them as singles. To be frank, there were few worth laying down ninety-nine cents for.

Regardless, I am primed to review the Top Ten. As usual, my rules are thus:

  • I review the single as a first-time listener.
  • I must listen to the entire track before offering my critique.  
  • I stick with the Top Ten only.
  • I do my best to find music videos. If all else fails, I use a video of the recorded song. (Since this is 1973, performance videos may be difficult to find.)

Let's look back! 

#10 ~ Don't Give Up On Me ~ Jerry Wallace

Immediately I'm reminded of Mickey Gilley, sans piano. This track is but one of the treacly country-pop singles emanating from Nashville around this time. It's not horrible; just not memorable. Wallace had a single that went to Number One last year (1972) ~ If You Leave Me Tonight I'll Cry ~ that my parents loved, and I will admit it outshines this one, but neither are exactly to my taste. Perusing Jerry Wallace's discography, it seems that he makes a good living recording songs that sound like 50's pop hits (a la Perry Como), but aren't actual remakes, but rather "sound-alikes", with only enough country touches to endear him to the charts. I don't want to be cruel, yet I really don't consider this country, so...

#9 ~ Sunday Sunrise ~ Brenda Lee

If this track is even remembered, it will be as an homage to early seventies cookie-cutter country pop. I get it; an artist needs to stay relevant, but Brenda Lee is so much better than this. Utterly forgettable.



#8 ~ The Midnight Oil ~ Barbara Mandrell

One thing I've always admired about Barbara Mandrell is her hair. And her petite frame. Oh, and her voice. I don't know where her career will take her, but I like the hard country tilt of her singles. Maybe she's not the preeminent country singer of her era, but her producer certainly knows what works. And there is maybe only one other female singer filling the vacuum in 1973. I like this; I like her. 



#7 ~ Blood Red And Goin' Down ~ Tanya Tucker

For someone three years younger than me, I hate her....for being so damn good. I hated her when I first heard Delta Dawn on the radio and found out she was only thirteen. Well...just wait until she's sixty-four...then we'll see. 

Back to the song, however. This is so unlike the other songs in the Top Ten that I'd rate it as stellar, just for that fact alone. But this track is about the stars aligning ~ writer Curly Putman (Green, Green Grass Of Home, He Stopped Loving Her Today), producer Billy Sherrill, and naturally that Texas Tanya twang. Tanya is hard-core country, and just my cup



#6 ~ Can I Sleep In Your Arms ~ Jeannie Seely

As a natural talent, Jeannie Seely is vastly underrated. She has just the right amount of cry in her voice to fit right into the sweet spot of country. I don't know if her producer just isn't a good song-picker (although Owen Bradley is no slouch) or exactly what derailed this promising career, but as a songwriter and singer, I think she's top-notch. 

That said, clearly this is Red River Valley, but I guess if you find a melody that works, why deviate? I hate to be a purist, but this track gets knocked down a notch simply for its unoriginality. 



#5 ~ Rednecks, White Socks, And Blue Ribbon Beer ~ Johnny Russell

I know a person who's really taken with this track...freakishly taken with it...but musical taste is personal. I'm more interested in seeing the writer of Act Naturally in the flesh. As a simple country song, one can't argue with this, and I do appreciate Russell's nod to the working man. It's difficult to rate "meh" songs. I can't picture myself ever deliberately listening to it, but still it's fine for what it is.


#4 ~ Ridin' My Thumb To Mexico ~ Johnny Rodriguez

This singer's on my list of "new guys to watch in '73". Heaven knows, country has been in a drought. I am a booster of Rodriguez, ever since he released Pass Me By earlier this year. Shoot, I rushed out and bought his debut album. This one was written by Johnny himself, unlike his debut single, penned by his mentor, Tom T. Hall. This guy has something special. If he doesn't squander it, he can have a career in country for years to come. Nice, excellent track.


#3 ~ You've Never Been This Far Before ~ Conway Twitty

Well, what the hell is this? Buh-buh buh? Is it just me, or is Conway Twitty just...icky? I feel myself shivering (and not in a good way) as I write this. I wish I knew what this guy's deal is. He needs some beta blockers or something else created in a future lab to decrease his libido. At the very least, he needs to stop foisting it on innocent radio listeners. As a recording, this doesn't have a terrible melody. Twitty probably could've come up with better subject matter if he wasn't such a horn dog. And let's face it, he's no Chad Everett.

Simply for the shudder alone...



#2 ~ Kid Stuff ~ Barbara Fairchild

My initial thought is, what's with the hand claps? Were they just thrown in as an afterthought? I have not been a fan of Fairchild since that horrendous hit from 1972, "The Teddy Bear Song". Please, artists, have mercy on fans who aren't a hundred and seven years old. My mom probably liked How Much Is That Doggie In The Window, but we're more sophisticated in the seventies. I believe that if Fairchild embraced her country roots, she could have a substantial career. She's a fine singer, just out of her realm. 



#1 ~ You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me ~ Ray Price

As a life-long Ray Price super-fan, I can't tell you how much I hate this track. Oh, the singing is fine. But if this is country, so is Tony Bennett. Guys who abandon their roots lose a modicum of respect with me. Truth be told, I kind of gave up on Ray Price around 1965, when his Texas drawl disappeared and he embraced the singing book, Bel Canto. I can only hope that a few years into the future, Ray will reclaim his first love; maybe move back to Texas and remember the guy he used to be. As for this Tonight Show affect, consider me gone.



As an eighteen-year-old, if I was to guess based on this chart alone, I would put my money on Tanya Tucker and Johnny Rodriguez withstanding the vagaries of the recording world. Perhaps Barbara Mandrell. But life is funny. Who knows what events, twists in the road, might intrude. Patsy Cline was inducted into the Hall Of Fame this year. Could Tanya Tucker someday be likewise honored? Stay tuned.

Conway? Maybe if there's an Oily Pervert Hall Of Fame.



Friday, September 27, 2019

Ken Burns "Country Music" ~ Episode Five

Proportionally, "Country Music" has become The Johnny Cash Show. I admit I don't see, and never have seen the allure. If country fans in the nineteen sixties had been tasked with listing their top ten favorite artists, I'm skeptical that Cash would have even made the list, except for sixty-year-old bachelors who lived in a tin shed with a broken-coil mattress and a bottle of Jack.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's move on.

I truly appreciated the minutes dedicated to the Nashville session players. I was quite the scrutinizer of  album liner notes back in the day (what else does one do while the LP is spinning?), and certain names checked in the episode bring back fond memories ~ Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Lloyd Green, even Charlie McCoy, who I was completely unaware played the lead guitar intro to Detroit City (Bobby Bare's voice singing in the background of the segment was the only nod to him in this series ~ the story of his sadly uncelebrated career). We even got to see Green play a few bars of Steel Guitar Rag.

I was heartened that Roger Miller got his due. There was no one bigger in the first years of the sixties, except for Buck Owens. And I always liked Miller ~ the guy ~ as well as his goofy, dizzy songs. I haven't mentioned in past recaps how much I love seeing Ralph Emery, the "DJ Exalted", recount his memories. Ralph knows a lot, and I'm glad he agreed to share some of those secrets with the director. (I suspect there's a bunch that are best kept close to the vest.)

The first bars of Buckaroo gave my heart a jolt. This is my country. As much as I've denigrated what Buck Owens sunk to in later years, he re-ignited a country music that had slumbered into unconsciousness, thanks to Chet Atkins' "Nashville Sound". Based upon the outsize influence Owens had on country, his time on screen was unfairly brief and mostly dedicated to The Beatles having chosen to record Act Naturally. I think Don Rich was mentioned once. People who know country, as opposed to neophytes, know that Don Rich deserved more than a single name-drop.

"I guess you had to be there.". Okay, I was there, and I still didn't quite get what Loretta Lynn did ~ until now. In the moment, one judges music for its immediate appeal. We don't consider the sociological implications (hello?). I used to find Loretta corny. Don't get me wrong ~ I liked her early songs. I saw her in concert a couple of times, the first when I was around ten at Panther Hall in Fort Worth, Texas. And I bought her albums, but again, I pretty much bought what was available. I find Coal Miner's Daughter tedious in its repetition. But Loretta put herself out there ~ all her inner feelings and hurts ~ and didn't care who liked it and who didn't. Today I give her props. She wasn't singing songs penned by men who "imagined" how women felt. She wrote her own, and they were true.

Charley Pride's first album may have been the first country LP I purchased. When Alice and I first heard "The Easy Part's Over" on the radio, we agreed it was a good song. We didn't know he was African-American. Radio hid that, as if we'd care. I vaguely remember learning that fact and being flabbergasted, not because I was racist, but because I didn't think Black artists would stoop to singing country. My one-time favorite singer, Faron Young, became Charley's champion. So much crap has been written about Faron, it's heartening to hear sweet stories, especially coming from Pride himself.

Then there was Merle. Wow, did he get short shrift. How about if Ken re-packages the series and replaces all the Cash segments with Haggard? Let's' just get this out there ~ Merle Haggard was the most influential country artist ever. But thanks, Dwight Yoakam, for tearing up recounting Holding Things Together. I get a lump in my throat every time I see Merle on screen or catch the intro to one of his hundreds of songs.

Surprisingly Connie Smith got her due. Let's be frank ~ I bought far more Connie Smith albums than I ever considered buying by Loretta Lynn. Frankly, Connie Smith was the female artist of the sixties. I'm also glad that Marty Stuart got to relay the story of their relationship. I'm a fan of both of them.

Sooo....then we begin Dolly Parton's story. The episode forgot to mention that Dolly met her future husband, Carl Dean, on her first day in Nashville, at a laundromat. Otherwise, it told her early musical story competently. It kind of brushed past the part about Porter and Dolly's many, many hit albums ("recorded a few duet albums together" ~ okay).

"Ode To Billy Joe" was mentioned, although frankly, that track got played a lot more on pop radio than on country. And how could we escape the sixties without "Harper Valley PTA"? (Tom T, what do you have against writing choruses?) back to Johnny. Yep, he recorded Folsom Prison Blues around '68, live, at a prison. And the rest of us were imprisoned by that song for about one long year (chunka-chunka-chunka).

I'm guessing Tammy Wynette is featured in Episode Six. I'm guessing Lynn Anderson is not. We already know that Bobby Bare is apparently a footnote.

As much as I like and appreciate "Country Music", Ken kind of fumbled this particular era. And no mention of Conway Twitty? I'm no fan, but come on.

But hey, Jeannie Seely, nice to see you! And "Don't Touch Me" is a great song.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hank Cochran

One thing that troubles me about amateur songwriting boards is that most of the people posting on them seem to have no knowledge of music history.

How do you know where you're going if you don't know where you've been? This goes for Nashville, too, and its so-called songs. You know, the ones that are tuneless and soulless.

I read the news about Hank Cochran this morning, and browsed on over to the two songwriting sites that I frequent, to read what others had to say. Someone on each of the sites had mentioned Hank's passing, but very few members even bothered to respond. One poster said, "Wow - he wrote, I Fall To Pieces? I didn't know that!"

Really? You didn't know that? And you profess to be a "country music writer"?

Anyway, enough complaining. Let's celebrate the songs of Hank Cochran, shall we?







UNDO THE RIGHT ~ WILLIE NELSON (The premiere recording was by Johnny Bush)

And my all-time favorite:


Rest in peace, Hank Cochran. Thanks for the songs.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Blast From The Past - Top Country Hits Of 1966

I had so much fun with 1963, I thought I'd stick with the sixties for awhile. I chose 1966, because it doesn't really hold any significance for me, so therefore, it'll be a surprise to see what top songs I can find for that year. And it's fun to be surprised. This isn't a class lecture, after all. It's supposed to be fun.

Here's someone I haven't had the pleasure of featuring yet on my blog, but she has always been one of my favorite singers. And boy, she really had a lot of hits in 1966! I guess that was her year.


Introduced by Bill "Endless Recitation" Anderson, here's Connie performing at the most uncool high school prom ever. "Who's going to be singing at the prom? Frankie Avalon?" "No, Bill Anderson and his Po' Boys." "Yay!"

As I mentioned, the Po' Boys are backing up Connie here. And they do a good job. I did think it was totally inappropriate, however, for the drummer to snicker, "Shake your BOO-tay!" Go back and watch. Read his lips. That's just rude in any decade.


Admittedly, this is a shaky amateur vido, but a shaky amateur video of Merle is still better than a professionally-produced video by any other artist.

I would advise the videographer (?), however, to practice panning a bit. It's kind of static and, well, not boring, really, but okay, boring. Not that Merle himself is boring. But it would have been nice to see the band, too.

Good tip for beginning guitar players....This song has only two chords in it. So, really easy to learn! Trust me. As a novice player myself (for about mumble mumble years), this song is easy to play!


Wow ~ this was fun to watch! Boy, I haven't heard this song in a long time. I can't even find anything to make fun of in this video. Excellent performance; she looked good; she sang perfectly.

Jeannie wrote this song ~ she was a really good songwriter, having written hits for other artists as well.

It struck me, as I was watching, that this is the chord progression I use in 99.9% of my songs. Hey! No wonder I sound dated! Cool ~ now at least I know! If 1966 music ever comes back in style, I'm ready!


Lest we forget Roger Miller, here's a live performance of one of his hits from 1966. I personally don't think anyone should forget Roger Miller, but you know how people's attention spans are nowadays.

I'm not sure what TV show this is from, but the teenage audience certainly was enthusiastic. Later, they all discovered The Who, and they subsequently hid their Roger Miller albums under their beds.

Ah, but in 1966, Roger was cool. I think he always was cool. He was a tremendous songwriter. Although, to sing one of his songs, one needed great breath control, because you will notice, there were very little pauses between words in his songs. He wrote a lot of words!

This is by no means my favorite Roger Miller song, but this was a hit.


Hey, The Statler Brothers just got inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame, didn't they? I'm asking, because my memory is really bad. And the sad part is, I think I blogged about that not too long ago.

So, this was their first hit, featuring the late Lew DeWitt. Look how young they look here! The brothers have now retired. So, they're now sitting on that white-painted front porch with the red gingham curtains, just rocking away. Well, all of them except Lew, I guess.

I always thought Phil had the toughest job of all the "brothers". Harold did the lowwww part, Don sang the lead, Lew (and later Jimmy Fortune) had the high harmony, and there was Phil, somewhere in the middle. Kudos, Phil! I know you haven't gotten much recognition over the years, but where would these songs be without your "somewhere in the middle" part?


Ooh! My teeth are starting to hurt, watching this video! Hey, they can't all be winners. Apparently, someone liked this song, because it was one of the top hits of 1966.

In retrospect, Bill would vow never to write another song that had sssso many s's in it. Because it really sounds lame when you sing it: "I love you, dropsssss. I miss you, dropsssss." Sort of sounds lisp-ish.

I make fun of Bill (and his endless talking songs), but he was and is an excellent songwriter. Starting with "City Lights" for Ray Price, up until today, with "Give It Away" for George Strait, hey, I bet the guy is really rolling in dough!

And so what if someone played a practical joke on him, and told him he'd make an excellent singer. You have to laugh at yourself sometimes. And laughing is especially easy when you are rolling in dough.


The first thing one notices about this video is that Johnny is stoned.

With that in mind, it is a wonder that he actually remembered all the words, and only slightly messed up one time.

And what the heck is he playing? A ukelele? Or just a mini-guitar? No matter.

This song is some kind of political protest song of some sort. I don't really get into those, but I guess it was clever. Not by any means one of my favorite JC songs, but my dad always liked this song, for some reason. But he was known to like quirky things.


No quibbles here. Because Bobby Bare is cool.

You know, I can keep saying it and saying it until I'm blue in the face. But it's time to put Bobby in the Hall Of Fame. If you need more videos, there's plenty more where this one came from. I'm getting a little tired of repeating myself, but c'mon, powers-that-be! Do you have dementia? I can stop this tirade at any time. It's up to you. And by "you", I mean whoever the heck it is that votes for the Hall Of Fame. I shouldn't have to remind you. Geez. Don't you have an alphabetical list you refer to, or something? Morons.


You know, every time I see Loretta performing, all I can think of is Sissy Spacek in "Coal Miner's Daughter". I saw that movie (more than) a few times, and I liked it a lot. Just a tip, though. Mooney Lynn looks nothing like Tommy Lee Jones. I mean, if he did, who wouldn't have married him? (I mean, back when Tommy Lee Jones was hot.)

One of the funniest parts of that movie, for me, was when Mooney (or "Doolittle", as Loretta called him) took publicity photos of Lorett-y, and used the bedspread as a backdrop. "Put the backdrop back on the bed", Tommy Lee (Mooney) said, when the photo shoot was over. I thought that was funny. Sort of like how our band works now ~ improvising as we go. Okay, maybe it was just funny to me.

I remember seeing Loretta (the real Loretta) in concert at Panther Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, when I was just a young'n. It was pretty cool. This was a place where you had to bring in your own booze, but you could buy "mix" there. Well, of course, I wasn't drinking or anything.......I just mean, this is what I saw.

Yikes. Anyway, I did get Loretty's autograph, and I remember telling my mom that it looked like she signed it, "Buffalo Lynn". She had terrible handwriting. But I guess when you get married at age 13, you probably miss the penmanship class at school.

So, to sum up 1966, did you know that the CMA awards were not presented until 1967? I didn't know that. However, the Grammy awards for that year included:

  • Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Female -- "Queen of the House," Jody Miller.
  • Best Country and Western Vocal Performance, Male -- "King Of The Road", Roger Miller
  • Best Country & Western Single -- "King of the Road," Roger Miller.
  • Best Country Song -- "King of the Road," Roger Miller
  • Best Country & Western Album -- The Return of Roger Miller, Roger Miller
  • Best New Country & Western Artist -- Statler Brothers
So, it looks like it was a "Miller" year pretty much all around. Notice how they call it, "Country & Western". How quaint.

And also notice how, "Queen Of The House" was simply a ripoff of "King Of The Road"? I mean, nothing against Jody Miller, but I think there had to be other records more deserving. Well, the Grammys were still learning about "country & western" music back then.

And, for my usual disclaimer, there were several hit songs from 1966 that were unavailable on YouTube. I don't know for sure, but I'm thinking, "Almost Persuaded" was probably the top song of that year (by David Houston, by the way), but this one is nowhere to be found, video-wise.

So, I'll leave you with this one: