Showing posts with label jimmie davis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jimmie davis. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Old...I Mean, Old Music

A guy at work posted a classified ad, looking for old 45's; specifically country singles from the 1940's through the 1960's.  I contacted him, because I have a trunk of old singles, for which I have no use.  I told him, though, that the oldest singles I have are most likely from the seventies.

He responded with an odd (to me) statement:  The 1940's through the 1960's were the best times for country music.  Really?  This guy is younger than me!  I can get on board with the sixties.  After all, that was my time ~ you know, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, Loretta, to some extent.  But that's as far back as I go.  I didn't even know they made 45 rpm records in the nineteen forties!

It got me to thinking ~ was there actually good country music in the nineteen forties?  Yes, I am familiar with Hank Williams; thank you.  I mean, besides Hank.

Wikipedia to the rescue!

Off the bat, I will admit to having a sonic bias.  While I detest the current trend of recording songs "hot"; I also do not like "tinny".  I'm sure Hank and the boys sounded great at the barn dance, but, had the technology been available at the time, it would have jazzed things up a bit.

(Also, I do not understand how they made do, mostly, without drums.  Apparently, the Opry, at the time, banned them; because I guess they were the devil's handiwork or something.  Ahhh, times were different....)

Nevertheless, let's travel back about seventy (!) years and see what was hot in country when my mom and dad got married.

This video is apparently a mash-up of news footage and random Hank mutterings and/or singings (sort of like when Hank, Jr. did the Tear in My Beer video).  I am assuming that there is little actual film documentation of Hank, Sr. performing.  Shame.


Wikipedia is rapidly teaching me that there were but a handful of big country stars in the 1940's.  One of them was obviously Eddy Arnold, because he seems to pop up all over the '40's record scene.

My dad was a big fan of "Make the World Go Away", but that song was recorded in the sixties.

This is 1948:

In 1947, Merle Travis had a hit record with Steel Guitar Rag.  Astonishingly (to me) this song actually has lyrics!  The only version of Steel Guitar Rag that I knew was an instrumental.  It really was an old standby for any guy (and later for Barbara Mandrell) who could play the steel guitar.  My friend Alice's band's steel guitar player did this number for a statewide competition and won first prize for instrumentalist.

This video is not the Merle Travis version, but it is from the 1940's.  In all honesty, it was the only song title I recognized from the list for 1947.  This is Leon McAuliffe and the Cimmaron Boys, YouTube tells me:

1946 seems to be the year of Bob Wills.  Now, I wouldn't really know anything about Bob Wills (and his Texas Playboys) if it wasn't for Merle Haggard and Asleep at the Wheel introducing them to me.  But make no mistake; this guy and his band were huge in the forties, especially in Texas; which to Texans is the be-all and end-all of the world.  Just ask them.

In this video, we apparently find Bob and the boys setting up to play a concert in the county jail.  I do not know why ~ perhaps they didn't have money for bail, so they had to work it off.  I'm just conjecturing.  The ways of the world in 1946 are foreign to me.

Interestingly, a big, big hit in 1945 was a song called, Smoke on the Water.  I'm guessing it was a different song from the Deep Purple hit, but I would be flabbergasted if it had a guitar intro as memorable.  Nevertheless, I don't know that song, so I have to pick one that I've actually heard of.

In the 1940's, too, covering other artists' records ran rampant.  My Wikipedia list shows hits of the same name by two, and sometimes three different artists.  Which leads me to ask, were songwriters not yet invented?  You know, songwriting isn't rocket science.  Seems like pretty much anyone could have done it; had they put their mind to it.  

This song was written by Woody Guthrie, and became a hit for his cousin, Jack.  But I remember the Hank Thompson version (also a big star in the nineteen forties), so I'll go with that one:


Cindy Walker wrote tons (by which I mean about 400) top hits.  So, Ah Ha!  There was a songwriter in the 1940's!  But just one.  I only learned a bit about Cindy Walker through an album of her songs that Willie Nelson later recorded.  It's good that guys like Willie and Merle educate people like me; or we'd be musical imbeciles.  

Cindy had a top hit in 1944 with this song:

1943 found a man named Jimmie Davis topping the charts with a song that we all, unfortunately, had to stand up on risers in the second grade and sing, as an ensemble.  (Thanks, Jimmie!)

Jimmie Davis later became the governor of Louisiana, solely because Louisiana voters really liked sunshine.  No, I'm sure there were other reasons.

Let me say, off the bat, that 1942 was a very patriotic year, judging by the list of hit records.  I like patriotic.  Too bad we lost that somewhere.  Titles like "Goodbye Mama, I'm Off to Yokohama", "I'm a Prisoner of War", "Mussolini's Letter to Hitler" (bet that was a bouncy tune), "Remember Pearl Harbor", "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere", etc.; dominated the charts.

I'm not going to feature any of those songs.  Because Texans TOTALLY RULE! ~ I wanted to showcase this song by Gene Autry.  I do know that Gene Autry was a Hollywood cowboy.  His horse was named Champion (I looked up), but the only famous Hollywood horse I am familiar with (besides Mr. Ed) is Trigger, because I once saw some black and white episodes of Roy Rogers' TV show, featuring his wife with a man's name, Dale Evans.  (I really wasn't into TV westerns at all as a kid).   

Patsy Montana, I've read, was considered the first female country singer.  In reading her Wikipedia page, I learned that she grew up near Hope, Arkansas (I think there was some guy who also grew up there ~ can't put my finger on his name, though).  She went out to Hollywood and worked with those famous pseudo-cowboys, Gene Autry and Pat Buttram; and also with Red Foley (another huge country star of the forties).

I like this song from 1941.  Yodeling really is a lost art, isn't it?  Remember those TV commercials with Slim Whitman, hawking his album of yodeling songs?  

He yodeled every song!  And yet, he sold more records than the Beatles and Elvis combined!  (they said).  When you think about it, though, it's quite a feat to turn every song into a yodel.  I would love to hear his yodeling version of something like Norwegian Wood or Jailhouse Rock (speaking of the Beatles and Elvis combined).

Yes, I have digressed.  Sorry.

But back to Patsy Montana, Suzy Bogguss also did a great version of this song on one of her albums.   

1940 found the charts being topped by that good ol' country boy, Bing Crosby (?)   Here was another guy who bugged the hell out of me.  He was always walking around with his stupid pipe and his stupid golf club; wearing his stupid Scottish hat.  My sum total of knowledge regarding Bing Crosby:  He played a priest in some movie; he had some kind of vocal tic that made him pronounce "B" words as ba-ba-ba.  Or maybe that was SCTV.  I get my history mixed up sometimes.  

Regardless, he, like singers who came after him, such as Pat Boone, liked to appropriate other artists' songs and turn them into bland cocktail-party hits.

The most famous version, though, of Tumbling Tumbleweeds was recorded by the Sons of the Pioneers, who were also apparently featured in TV westerns; understandable since Roy Rogers was a prominent member of the group.

For someone like me, who loves to blog about music, this was certainly the most excruciating exercise I have ever done.

I don't want to offend anyone who may still be alive from that time period, but aside from Hank Williams and maybe Bob Wills, the music was....let's just say, "not good".

I would imagine that people like my mom and dad probably preferred listening to the Glenn Miller Orchestra, but I may just be projecting my own tastes onto them.  I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that if I have good taste in music, I must have gotten it from them.

Too, there was no differentiation in music back then.  Much like the early sixties, one heard ~ maybe not on the radio, but let's say, on the juke box ~ both b-b-b-Bing Crosby and Hank Thompson.  And people accepted what they liked, and discarded what they didn't.

In a future post, I will explore the nineteen fifties in country music.  You and I both know that the fifties will be better.

But that guy who told me the '40's totally rocked?  I guess we'll just agree to disagree on that.



Saturday, October 4, 2008

The CMA Awards - 1971

In 1971, country music was ever so slightly starting to turn toward the "sappy". Most of the year's awards don't reflect that; however, as you watch the progression from the 1971 awards into those of 1972, I think you will start to see a trend emerge.

Overall, the 1971 CMA's rewarded some stellar songs and stellar performers. And the best news of all was, they eliminated the Comedian of the Year category!

I'm going to run these two awards by you early in the post, because frankly, these performers kept winning these awards year after year, and I've run out of videos.


Jerry Reed


Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass


Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton

Technically, this single was released in 1971, so it didn't help Porter and Dolly win the 1971 award, but geez, give me a break. I'm running out here. They just keep winning.

This performance of "The Right Combination" is from the Porter Wagoner Show, and once again, I must comment on P & D's lack of color coordination. The deep red "cactus" coat with the princess pink dress just clash, in my estimation. Nevertheless, they do have matching towering blonde bouffants, so that's a plus.

Dolly has a bit of a laughing fit during this performance, and I think I can guess why. It seems to me that fiddler Mack Magaha was just a bit too "enthusiastic" during his solo. Not that I'm complaining - it was fun! And I guess when you've got the spotlight, even for four bars, you've gotta make the most of it!


The Osborne Brothers

Wow, I love these guys! Sonny and Bobby, the Osborne boys. Bluegrass, yes, but some really great bluegrass! As Sonny notes in his introduction here, the Osbornes were the first to record the song, "Rocky Top", and I think they did it the best out of the hundreds who subsequently recorded the song, including our female vocalist listed below.

I love the banjo here; I love the mandolin. I love the harmonies. Gee, I kinda miss these guys.


"I Won't Mention It Again" - Ray Price

Funny, but considering that this was the album of the year, the only way one can buy it on Amazon is in the LP format. Now granted, if this was 1971, sure, I'd buy an LP. But I'm not what they call an "audiophile", which is just a fancy word for people whoe are living in the past. I no longer own a turntable.

You see, I'm old enough to remember how aggravating the whole vinyl record-playing process was. Almost as aggravating as computers! You'd either have to listen to the whole album, or else get up off your chair, go over and lift up the stylus and try to place it exactly at the beginning of the song you wanted. Oh, and you'd have to scrape the dust off the needle every so often with your fingertip. Then, sometimes you'd get records that weren't exactly "round". You'd hold them up at eye level, and the warpness was evident. And I don't know why, but some of the albums were of a harder vinyl material, while others were like limp paper. And then storing them. You'd have to have a whole long bookcase row of LP's, and then, because they were positioned right up against each other, some of the album covers would have those black round indentations on them, from snuggling up too close to their next-door neighbor.

So, I'm not gonna buy this, or any other, album on LP.

But, all ranting aside, Ray Price is one of the legends of country music, and one of my all-time favorites. YouTube doesn't seem to have any of the cuts from "I Won't Mention It Again" available, so I just thought I'd throw in this one, because, after all, it is on the list of my top twenty country songs of all time.

Wow, not only a steel guitar prominently featured, but three, count 'em, three fiddles! Nice going, Ray!


Help Me Make It Through The Night - Sammi Smith

I'm psyched to get to include another of my top twenty country songs of all time here! This song, as you know, was written by Kris Kristofferson; one of many great songs by a "how does he do that?" songwriter. Man, if only I could write like.......oh, sorry; I'm off topic again.

A lot of people recorded this song, but Sammi had the hit, and while a lot of people did a great job on it, none did better than this (even if she had to sit on a hay bale in her evening gown to sing it):


Charley Pride

While this is not a vintage performance, it's still a good quality video (not one of those hand-held video camera operations), and thus it is actually enjoyable.

Well. It seems that old Charley has put on a few pounds since 1971. And I'm glad he could come in from doing his gardening to perform this number. What's with the lime green sweatshirt?

I don't know why none of these videos of this song have him whistling at the end, like he did on the record. Has he lost his whistling capabilities? And it was just a sorry sight to see him try to hit a low note instead of doing the whistle, and he couldn't quite do it. Low note, indeed. Not to pick on ol' Charley.

I'm just going to get this out of the way now, with apologies. There's no embeddable video of the song of the year winner by the original artist. I will give you a link to a non-embeddable version, however. But since I still wanted to include this category, I did find an alternate version, done by, I'm sure, the runners-up for the Vocal Duo of the Year award. So, here's:


Easy Lovin' - recorded by Freddie Hart; written by Freddie Hart
; done here by Conway & Loretta:

I don't want to be mean to C & L, since they are the substitutes here for the original, but they really did this badly! Why were they so far behind the beat? Geez, did they just get awakened from a nap?

Here's how it really goes: Easy Lovin' - Freddie Hart

Just so you know, Freddie is a very nice gentleman. I have an autograph from him on my bulletin board (on the same sheet of paper as MERLE HAGGARD's autograph!), where he wrote, "To Shelly, a little doll" (I was just a kid then). This version is the superior version of the song, by far.


Lynn Anderson

Now, I like Lynn Anderson. She had a lot of great songs, especially during her Chart Records years. You know, she did do other songs besides "Rose Garden". As I've mentioned before, yes, she is a distant relative of mine, a fifth cousin once removed or something equally obscure, but that's neither here nor there. I just happen to like her.

This video is from a 1970 single, and probably helped her win the award. It's an old Hank Snow song, without the nice lead-up, which she just conveniently left off...."I was totin' my pack along the dusty Winnemucka road......." (you know how it goes). This song is a tongue-twister, and I was just dorky enough back then to learn it. I could probably remember it now. Let's see.....hang on.......Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota........yup! I can remember it!

Funny that this performance is from the Lawrence Welk Show (she was, early in her career, a regular). Lawrence, you know, is from Strasburg, North Dakota, not too far from my old stomping grounds. And I used to play the accordion, too (dork alert #2!)

So, here we go with "I've Been Everywhere"

Okay, hold on here. First of all, she's lip-synching this! And thus, I feel kinda sorry for the goofy guy who has to "fake" playing that xylophone/harmonica contraption (what the heck is that?). Then, did you notice that she looked down at her wrist before one of the verses? She's cheating! She wrote the words on her arm! Lynn, Lynn, Lynn. I took the stupid time to memorize this song; you could have at least done the same. I'm terribly disillusioned.

Well, that just leaves the Entertainer of the Year, and here we go again.....

Now, I see this video is also from the Lawrence Welk Show. Hey, I didn't plan this! I didn't even know ol' Charley ever appeared on the LW Show.

But I will say this: Charley certainly looks younger and thinner here, and he was nice and polite. And Lloyd Green is here on the steel! Okay, Charley had two hits in 1970 that probably garnered him this award, and I already featured one of them. The other one, "Wonder Could I Live There Anymore" isn't available on YouTube, so I decided to just go with one that I like.

So, here's the 1971 ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

Charley Pride