Showing posts with label john anderson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label john anderson. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

2024 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees

Rarely does the Country Music Hall of Fame announcement pass by without my comment. I've been a bit distracted by other projects, but that doesn't mean I didn't notice. Truly, though, last week's announcement was neither surprising nor particularly interesting. 

As you no doubt know, three individuals (or duos, groups) are inducted into the HOF each year, based on the following categories:

Modern Era ~ an artist is eligible twenty years after they first achieved national prominence. 

Veteran Era ~ an artist is eligible forty years after they first achieved national prominence. 

The third is a rotating category, consisting of either a recording and/or touring musician, a songwriter, or a "non-performer" (generally a music executive). Since a songwriter was inducted in 2023 (Bob McDill), this year was a musician's turn.

The problems with these arcane rules are obvious. First of all, the "electors" are completely anonymous. This naturally leads to suspicion about campaigning. And campaigning absolutely happens. It's widely known that Keith Whitley was chosen a few years back because his widow, Lorrie Morgan, campaigned hard for him to be elected. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame does things differently. It creates a list of nominees based on "historians'" recommendations. Again, we don't know who these people are and what exactly qualifies them as historians. Shoot, I could be a historian ~ you don't know that I'm not. Then the winners are voted on by "an international body of some 500 rock experts". However, fans are now also able to vote for up to seven artists from this list. This comprises the "fans' ballot", although it's unknown how much weight those votes are given. 

Generally, anywhere from six to a dozen artists are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame each year, compared to three (one a non-artist) for the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Three. Know how much of a backlog this creates?

The CMHOF claims that this keeps the process "exclusive". Oh, it does. It excludes an artist who has died (and there have been many) from celebrating their eventual induction. It's shameful. Jerry Lee Lewis was lucky, I guess. He was finally inducted at the age of eighty-eight and died only a few months later. I'm dubious that any of the rock and roll inductees refused their award because it wasn't "exclusive". Yet, despite numerous calls for the process to be revised, the cabal remains recalcitrant. It seems that they are the ones who want to remain exclusive.

All that said, my quibble with the 2024 inductees is not with who was elected, but with who wasn't.

Modern Era

An artist is not eligible for election within one year of his or her death. As it happened, Toby Keith was voted in before his untimely death in February. No one can say he's not deserving. He scored a total of twenty number one hits and several top tens. Pretty good career.

Though his music mostly wasn't to my taste, millions upon millions of fans loved him. And, as I wrote before, he was by all accounts a good man.

Which other artists were eligible? Dwight Yoakam, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Tracy Lawrence, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Lorrie Morgan, Steve Wariner, Trisha Yearwood, among many others.

Clearly, the one overlooked (again) is Dwight Yoakam. I don't know any artists that the others on the list may have influenced, but there is no denying that Dwight influenced a bunch. He is uniquely Dwight. The open secret about the HOF, however, is that it is very Nashville-centric. It's a wonder that Merle Haggard and Buck Owens got in. My prediction is that Yoakam will never be elected, unless the process is radically changed. The cabal simply doesn't want him.

Veteran Era

I like John Anderson; love a couple of his hits. When he was still being played on radio, no one had to hear a song and wonder, "Who's singing that?" Anderson's voice is unmistakable. That said, he only had five number ones. It wasn't so much the quantity, but their ubiquitousness. Who in God's name hasn't heard "Swingin'"? I bought exactly one John Anderson album, just as I purchased one Toby Keith album. That shouldn't be confused with dislike. 

The veteran era category is the one most backlogged ~ criminally backlogged. Many, many deserving artists will never be inducted. This era encompasses decades, from the nineteen forties and forward. And let's face it; artists get forgotten.

The list is far too long to enumerate, but here are a few of the eligible artists:

Johnny Paycheck, Johnny Horton, Eddie Rabbitt, Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers, Lynn Anderson, Gene Watson, Rosanne Cash, Johnny Rodriguez, Gary Stewart, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

As I said, artists (and apparently history) can be forgotten. From the late sixties to the mid-seventies, there were three female artists who dominated country: Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Lynn Anderson. Look it up. I don't know why Lynn has been overlooked (not saying it's because she began her career in California. Not not saying it's because of this.) Nevertheless, it's tragic that the HOF has swatted her away. 

Like Dwight, I don't believe that Lynn Anderson will ever be elected. I can't put my finger on exactly why. I was semi-kidding about the California bit. It certainly can't be that toward the end of her chart-making days, she had veered into pop-country. Plenty of other artists with similar repertoires have made it in. Perhaps if some current star scores a hit with a remake of Rose Garden, similar to how Luke Combs resuscitated Tracy Chapman's legacy, the HOF deciders' memories would be jogged.

Recording/Touring Musician, Songwriter, Non-Performer

(They really need to come up with a better moniker.)

When I hear the name James Burton, I think, "Oh, the Elvis guy." Sure, he was a member of Rick(y) Nelson's, Emmylou Harris's, and John Denver's bands, but other than Emmylou, the others aren't (weren't) exactly bastions of country music.


Hmm, who's that fat off-key singer behind him? 

I like this one better:

Again, what will it take to get Don Rich into the hall of fame? As Saving Country Music wrote: "There was arguably never a side player more important to a superstar than Don Rich was to Buck Owens."

Face it, Buck Owens wasn't exactly a powerhouse. He had goofy mannerisms and he claimed credit for songs he didn't write. Still, he was huge, and in large part that was due to Don Rich. Not only a virtuoso guitarist, but an accomplished fiddler, and a harmony singer beyond measure. Does the cabal hold Rich's home base of Bakersfield against him? Hmmm...

Another musician will not be eligible until 2027. I hate to say it, but the inductee won't be Don Rich.

I suppose these announcements hold some modicum of interest. I do at least know who the artists are, as opposed to today. But seriously, hall of fame, you guys need to get your act together.



Friday, October 14, 2022

Reviewing The Top 10 Country Singles From This Week In 1992


Ahh, where did the last three decades go? The first Bush was president, the Mall of America opened a few miles away from my home (I've been there once, which was more than enough), Seinfeld was a hit, George Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame, and at the CMA's it was Garth Brooks' year.

I was fully ensconced in country music, and music-wise I remember it as a happy time.

Well, let's see, shall we?? 

I've done a few retrospective chart reviews before, and it's always a fun, and generally surprising exercise. (See this, this, this, this, and this.)

The 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 10, because dang, this takes a long time!
  • I do my best to find music videos. If all else fails, I use a video of the recorded song.

I'm using the American Country Countdown wiki as my reference.

Okie doke! Let's go!

#10 ~ Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man ~ Travis Tritt

The track begins as kind of an homage to Jimmie Rodgers and the Dust Bowl years, with a dobro and a slide guitar, which sets the downcast mood. Then the chorus kicks in with more modern accoutrements to bring us into the singer's present circumstance. This song offers probably the most important component of a memorable composition ~ a singalong chorus. I like the group of background singers punching up the last chorus, signaling that many people are drowning. I can imagine this one going over HUGE at the artist's concerts thirty years in the future.



#9 ~  Cafe On The Corner ~ Sawyer Brown

Honestly, from these first two tracks one would think that 1992 was an awful year. I don't remember it that way. I and my family were doing fine. My career was humming along, my kids had new clothes, I didn't worry about paying the bills. Was I living in some kind of alternate universe?


Despite the rather jaunty instrumentation, this song is a downer. It's well-written, no question, but I question whether anyone will remember it thirty years hence. My impression of this group is that they whirled around from performing goofy little ditties to morose "message" songs in a flash. I do appreciate their foray into serious music, but my optimistic nature prefers one of their earlier hits, The Walk. And songs do need to match the times. Who knows? Thirty years in the future, this might fit right in. Nevertheless, societal realities aside, this ranks a strong...



#8 ~ The Greatest Man I Never Knew ~ Reba McEntire

I'll just be upfront ~ I don't care for all. Ballads really need to be majestic to succeed. This one isn't. Reba is a great singer, but it sounds like she's straining to hit the high notes on this one. I get that this is about her dad, and I loved my dad, but that love would impel me to write him a better song. Nobody will ever remember this. I've almost forgotten it already.



#7 ~ Wrong Side Of Memphis ~ Trisha Yearwood

One immediately has to acknowledge the singer's superb instrument. But this song's structure is too repetitive, and has nothing for the listener to latch onto. It seems this is a case of a great singer searching for a style. I hope she finds it. I wouldn't purchase this, and if it were included on a greatest hits CD, I'd skip it.



#6 ~ Seminole Wind ~ John Anderson

Few singers are truly original; John Anderson is. One can never mistake him for someone else. The production on the track is outstanding, but a memorable song generally can't be all mood. It would benefit from some change-ups. The track benefits from the singer and from the production.



#5 ~ Going Out Of My Mind ~ McBride And The Ride


My first thought upon hearing this is Little Texas. The two groups could be interchangeable. I don't know if this one will stand the test of time. It has an unmistakable nineties vibe. That's not to knock it. I like it for what it is. And not to beat this issue to death, but a memorable chorus is key, and this song has one. As a moment stuck in time, this isn't bad.



#4 ~ Jesus And Mama ~ Confederate Railroad

I have a natural antipathy to songs with Jesus and Mama in the title, unless it's Mama Tried. It seems this group tried to branch out from its rowdy reputation, but sometimes you just gotta stick with what you know. This is certainly not I'm The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised, unfortunately. It's cloying and pandering ~ an automatic letter grade deduction from me.



#3 ~ In This Life ~ Collin Raye 

This is how a ballad is done. I can't find a single thing to criticize here. What a universal message. Singer, production, song ~ all superb. Instant classic. This makes me not even want to listen to the others remaining on the chart.



#2 ~ No One Else On Earth ~ Wynonna

Fans will probably remember this one, but more for the singer than the song. Frankly, there's far too much going on in it. It's like it has to check every box, which in the end turns it into one sloppy mess. Hopefully Wynonna as a singles act will discover her actual sound.



#1 ~ If I Didn't Have You ~ Randy Travis (official video only watchable on YouTube)


I kept looking for something to say that'd boost this one. I really like the singer, but this is by far not his best effort. I guess the chorus is pretty good, but to be frank, only the singer saves it.



So, there you have it ~ a snapshot of the top ten singles from thirty years ago today.


My report card:

In This Life ~ Collin Raye: A+ 

Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man ~ Travis Tritt: A-

Cafe On The Corner ~ Sawyer Brown: B

Going Out Of My Mind ~ McBride And The Ride: B

Seminole Wind ~ John Anderson: B-

If I Didn't Have You ~ Randy Travis: C+

Wrong Side Of Memphis ~ Trisha Yearwood:  C-

The Greatest Man I Never Knew ~ Reba McEntire: D

Jesus And Mama ~ Confederate Railroad: D

No One Else On Earth ~ Wynonna: D


I believe that if you find one gem, all is right with the world.

I definitely found one.










Friday, February 4, 2022

Reviewing The Top Ten Hits From This Week In 1982


One wonders if the hits of yesterday can possibly be as bad as the dreadful chart toppers of today. I'm on a mission to find out. Looking at the top ten charts for a particular week is an eye-opener. I've made the point in a previous post, but most weekly top ten singles are utterly forgettable. Take the week of February 6, 1982, for example. Only one of the top ten immediately conjures a melody in my head. A few of the others have somewhat familiar titles, but the songs themselves are mysteries. The rest I've never in my life heard of.

Thus, as this experiment goes, I will review each song as if this is the first time I've heard it (which in some cases is true). Please note that since these singles are forty years old, finding performance videos will be hit or miss.

Let's go....

#10 ~ Diamonds In The Stars ~ Ray Price


Love the singer. The recording? Not so much. This may have been a decent country song with the proper arrangement. I prefer fiddles to violins and I prefer country to Jimmy Webb-style country pop. The song itself is inoffensive, though not terribly original. There's a fine line between "a little sophistication" (take, for example, a song like Burning Memories) and "a little too much". This is an entirely forgettable track; one that I wouldn't listen to again.

MY RATING: B- (points for the singer)


#9 ~ Midnight Rodeo ~ Leon Everette

This singer is so unfamiliar to me I looked up his discography, and I do not recognize a single one of his tracks. I'm not a fan of his voice, nor of the song. It's got that kick drum beat that seems to be prevalent in songs of the era, one that adds no nuance to the song. It's straightforward and dull. It might have gone over well on the dance floor just before closing time. From the YouTube comments this was apparently considered "racy" for its time. Meh. 


#8 ~ I Just Came Home To Count The Memories ~ John Anderson


The singer has a unique, very appealing country voice. A country ballad should ramp up the emotion when the chorus hits, and this one does. The song itself is so-so, but the singer saves it. I wouldn't purchase this single, but it's solid, as country ballads go.


#7 ~ Shine ~ Waylon Jennings

While I definitely like the singer, it seems that all his hits have approximately the same melody; only the lyrics change. But if you find a winning formula, I guess why change it? I could listen to any Jennings hit and hear, in essence, the exact same song, so no, I wouldn't buy it. Like the Anderson track above, the singer saves this one.


#6 ~ You're The Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had ~ Ed Bruce

The singer has a presence, reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot to a degree. The chorus saves the song. It's a singalong and sticks in your head after you've heard it. And that's what good songs should do. Though it's not a track I'd lay down money for, it's solid.


#5 ~ Watchin' Girls Go By ~ Ronnie McDowell

It must have been easy to memorize the lyrics. Not sure what this is. Never trust a country singer who can't or won't play guitar. That only leads to embarrassing "dancing". It's unfair of me to base my ranking on a video, though, so I'll just say that the song is imminently forgettable. I've already forgotten it! There is really nothing to recommend this track.


#4 ~ Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good ~ Don Williams

Original message, pleasing melody, wonderful arrangement, comforting vocals ~ this seems like a track that will stand the test of time. There's a bit of gossamer that distinguishes a great song from most any of the ones referenced above. A guy named Dave Hanner wrote it and he has an interesting life, documented on his website (check it out). This is my top hit of the week.


#3 ~ Only One You ~ T.G. Sheppard

I probably shouldn't like this one, but I kind of do. Not every country song has to follow the same formula. And yes, he's a microphone-holder, but at least he's not "dancing". It seems to me, judging by his previous hits, that this singer has a keen ear for what works, or at least what works for him. A good track is really a melding of singer and song. I wouldn't buy this, but I give Sheppard props for staying true to himself.


#2 ~ Someone Could Lose A Heart Tonight ~ Eddie Rabbitt

This is a disappointing effort from an artist who can do much, so much better. One wonders what he was thinking when he recorded this. This track is utterly forgettable and mercifully so. I didn't expect this one to be the worst on my top ten list, considering that I love the singer. But it is; it truly is.

MY RATING: D (and that's being generous)

#1 ~ Lonely Nights ~ Mickey Gilley

If I heard this for the first time on my car radio, I'd change the station out of boredom. Somebody obviously talked Mickey into abandoning his signature piano and adopting a Casio keyboard. I hate this. I hate Eddie Rabbitt's song for different reasons, but at least his is ambitious. This is paint-by-number pap. 


It's actually serendipitous that from the top ten chart of February 6, 1982 I found one rare gem. So 1982's chart was only nominally better than 2022's. That kind of shoots down my theory that country music has gone to hell. Oh, it has, but it's eye-opening to know that the sum total of country music was always crap. Don't be deceived by the Haggards and the Yoakams. Those are the ones we choose to remember. To save our musical sanity. 

This experiment is a valuable wake-up.


Friday, April 13, 2012

The Country Single

By 1981, I had had it with my parents' cast-off console stereo.  The sound that came out of it was a muffled, bassy grumble.  One could fiddle with the so-called controls, but nothing really ever changed, no matter how much I swirled those knobs around.

Also, by 1981, we had a little extra spending money.  We had finally paid off the hospital bills from my last maternity stay.  I remember the hospital calling me once, saying, "You have to give us more than $5.00 a month", and I replied, "That's all I have!"  And it was.  Often, the check register showed a balance of about $2.00 in those early days. 

We bought necessities at a discount store called "Tempo" (gee, wonder why that store went out of business).  The clothing items would practically fall to shreds before we got them into the trunk of our car.  We didn't have Target then, and certainly not WalMart.  We had Woolworth's...and Tempo.

But, by 1981, I was back at work, and we'd determined that we could afford to make payments on a new stereo "component system".  

So, off we went to a place called Pacific Sound, which was a little shop tucked inside what was generously called a mini-mall; a shop that you had to meander your way through some barely-lit hallways to find.  But it had a reputation as the place for audiophiles in my little town, and it wasn't Woolworth's, Sears, or JC Penney.

The sales guy obviously knew he had a "mark" when he saw us.  He dazzled us with his displays of various shiny sound things (which was basically what they were to me).  He spoke the language of output and channels and dynamics and equalization.  But all I could see was shiny sound things.

He told us we could mix and match different brands, which was just amazing to me, because my mixing and matching consisted of a JC Penney console stereo in a lovely artificial wood tone color that matched the faux-wood paneling in our living room.  But the one thing he insisted upon (insisted!) was that we purchase the Bang & Olufsen speakers, or B&O, as all the cool kids called them.  They were Swedish!  I guess that meant they were good.  Good, but wow ~ more than I wanted to spend ~ but then again, if you put something on credit, you're not actually paying for it, right?  I mean, not right now.  Our big worry was that we wouldn't get approved for credit.  How naive!  As I gained wisdom in my life, I realized that everybody gets approved for credit!  That's why we're all here where we are now, isn't it?

(And I still have those B&O speakers today.)

So, we got all the paperwork done, and got it all delivered and put together, and stood back and admired it all.

And then I played my country singles.

One memory I regret that I can't share with my husband is a reminiscence of favorite albums.

Country never was about albums.  It was about singles.  If I was asked what my favorite country album was from back in the 1960's/1970's, I would stammer something about, "The Best of......Buck Owens"?   The only concept albums I recall from the late 1960's were done by Merle Haggard, so maybe I would cite, "Hag", or "Let Me Tell You About a Song".  Even "Wanted:  The Outlaws" wasn't actually a concept album.  It was a bunch of leftover tracks thrown together by a producer and released as an after-thought.  Willie and Waylon didn't sit down together and decide how they were going to configure their new, great, groundbreaking release.  They didn't even know about it.

I bought a bunch of albums in the sixties by artists like Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Lynn Anderson, Buck Owens, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings, Porter & Dolly, Merle Haggard; and they all, except for Merle, just covered each others' songs.  Yes, Waylon, too.

I wasn't really all that keen on hearing Loretta's take on,  "I Don't Wanna Play House", or Tammy singing, "You Ain't Woman Enough".  I always figured (and still do) that the original version was (is) the best, so why bother or care? 

Music Row producers were focused on the next big hit single.  Then they would slap that on an album, and surround it with a bunch of filler.  They didn't give the public a whole lot of credit for being discerning, and, I guess they were sort of right, because we ate it all up.

Honestly, I owned (and still do) a whole ton of country albums from that period of time, and I can honestly say that there are maybe three or four that I've ever actually listened to all the way through.  Maybe five or six.

So, in 1981, after I got my new shiny sound machine, I slapped on some 45's.  Ones that I'd bought at Woolworth's.  I think you could get them for less than a buck, and I bought a lot of them.  But, in retrospect, I am now in possession of a bunch of singles that I can't even identify by their titles, because I just scooped up whatever was available, and the selection was woefully limited.  The singles were situated on an end cap; at the end of a long row of albums.  I didn't even shop the albums.  Which was strange, because I'd been a big album-buyer in my younger days.

It did seem like every time I went into Woolworth's to sift through the latest singles, my eye would catch this blue album with a cow's skull on the cover; something about the Best of the Eagles, and I thought, oh, another one of those rock groups that I'm not interested in.  I had no conception of the Eagles.  That was how splintered the musical genres were.  It's ironic that this so-called rock group that I turned my nose up at was more country than the country junk that I was piling up at the cash register.  I was late to the Eagles.

1981, though, did have some nice country singles.  And some bad country singles.  I bought all of them, willy-nilly.  I bought what I could find.

This song is one that has stayed with me, and I still love it. 

You're The Reason Got Made Oklahoma

Here are some other songs from 1981, that I'm sure I purchased.  That does not mean they have my stamp of approval.

I Was Country (When Country Wasn't Cool) ~ mmmm, no, but I still like Barbara.  It's just not a true statement.

Party Time ~ TG Sheppard

There is no decent performance video of this song.  I don't know why, because I love this.  So, I guess, listen to the record, like I used to do.

I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink 

Fancy Free  (I've posted a lot of videos on this blog, but this one, by far, has the best definition of any I have ever posted):

I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal

It's a Lovely, Lovely World (preceded by "I'll Be There") ~ Gail Davies

When I first heard "Lovely, Lovely World" on the radio, I was thrown, because I had no idea that my best friend, Alice, was on the radio.  Well, she wasn't.  It was Gail Davies.  But this is almost exactly what Alice sounded like.

Midnight Hauler ~ Razzy Bailey

Seven Year Ache

I can barely express how much I admire Rosanne Cash's music.  She had a few hits that year, but I like this one possibly the best.

Well after this next single was a hit, we got HBO.  I think it was one of those special deals ~ the first month free, and then $10.00 a month if you decide to keep it.  (Can you imagine?  $10.00?  I don't have HBO, but I bet it's way more than $10.00 now, and they don't even hardly have movies anymore!)

I watched the movie over and over, many times.  And it's still a fun film.  Sometimes it's available on "On Demand"; sometimes one can catch it on one of the free channels.  And I always pause and watch at least part of it. 

Kudos to the person who put this video together; "ifonlytheeighties".  It makes me want to watch the movie again, for the 89th time.

Waylon & Jessi ~ Storms Never Last

So, you see, there were a lot of nice singles for me to buy in 1981, and to play on my new shiny stereo system.

There are more that I remember (in scanning the list of top singles for the year), but, you know how it goes.  Videos are often impossible to find.  Other songs, well, I've featured them in other posts.  That doesn't mean they're not good; it actually means they're really good.  I just didn't want to repeat myself.

Sure, I'd slap on an album, if I was busy cooking, or cleaning.  But if I was really listening to music, and just listening to music, it was the singles, I'm afraid.

Billy Sherrill would say, "See?  I told you so."

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Music Cycle

I distinctly remember, around 1980 or so, desperately searching for some good music. Anything!

1980 was kind of a seminal year for me, because it was shortly after this time that I just finally GAVE UP on country music. I mean, gave up. I think Charley Pride did it. (Thanks, Charley!)

I remember house-sitting for my parents when they took their trip to Vegas. I had my four-year-old, and my two-year-old, and me just hanging around, kind of faux-housecleaning, and tuning the stupid console stereo to the country station, and longing...yes, LONGING for one, just ONE, decent country song.

I had gotten the Thorn Birds from the library, so that was a nice distraction, but something was still missing. And that missing piece was some decent country music.

You see, there was no such thing as DECENT country music in 1980.

You can look back now, and pinpoint some classic songs, but truthfully, if one is honest, it was all Crystal Gayle and Sylvia, and others. And this chart will point the way.

It was a sad, demoralizing time for country music.

I just scrolled through the chart, and I don't even recognize most of these songs. That's how bad it was.

Sure, I can pick out some good ones. But that really doesn't give you the flavor of 1980.

I would hate to be someone who charted in that year, because, well, if you were still doing concerts, you'd have approximately three people show up for your show, and two of them would have been dragged by their wives, just to keep peace in the family.

Country music in 1980 deserved what it got.

I wonder sometimes about cycles in popular music, and what causes them. Is it societal? Does the culture dictate what kind of music is created?

If we're feeling complacent, and not challenged, is the music complacent and unchallenging? The answer must be yes.

But what about music now?

One would think that the times we're living in would create angst and disharmony. Instead, it's blase. Maybe everyone has just given up.

In the sixties, everyone was ticked off. They were all mad about the war and about this and that, or at least they pretended to be mad, when they weren't prancing around with flowers in their hair. And look at the music of the sixties. It was great!

1980? I don't know. I'm thinking, we were at the tail end of that "long malaise" that the guy in the White House told us we were in. Way to buck everybody up, there, Jimmy! Such inspiring words!

And thus, the music on the radio was still malaise-ackal, as well. The music said, "Really, we just don't care. Don't listen to us ~ we're hideous! Just like the economy!"

Amazingly, after 1980, the music started looking up! Coincidence? I think not.

The nineteen eighties were really some of the best times country music has ever seen. If you don't believe me, check out these songs and artists.

So, maybe if things get better, the music will get better? There's always hope.

Like I said earlier, you can pick out the good songs from any year, even a crummy one. And that's what I'm going to do.

I don't feel like depressing myself, or you, and as you know, my motto is, music should be fun.

So, no Sylvia; no Crystal; no Charley Pride (sorry, Charley).



Sorry about the re-route. I don't know what's up with that, but at least this video works!

One of the best country voices EVER ~ GENE WATSON


Sorry, no performance video available of this song, but I still feel it needs to be included:



It's becoming an unfortunate pattern that I am not finding performance videos of some of the best songs of 1980, but to leave them out would be unthinkable:


I honestly didn't even remember that this song charted on the country charts in 1980, because this isn't a country song. Is it? Yes, to me, it's an homage to Roy Orbison, so I guess, since Roy charted on the country charts, why not JD SOUTHER? Plus, I love this song! So, fine by me!

My son probably wouldn't admit it, but he was obsessed with this TV show in 1980. Remember, he was four.

So, we had to rush home on Friday nights (from Happy Joe's Pizza Parlor) to tune in to CBS to watch Bo and Luke. This was one of the worst shows I was ever forced to watch (ha!), but I did it for my kid.

By the way, my son, Chris, thought the sheriff's name was Roscoe PEE-Co-Train, when, in fact, it was Roscoe P. Coltraine. I'm sure he knows the difference now.

Here is WAYLON JENNINGS (at least here are his hands):

(Note to YouTube posters ~ you can "disable embedding by request" all you want. One can find ANYTHING on the internet. It wasn't hard, really. And by the way, who is requesting that you disable embedding? CBS? This show was 32 years ago, for God's sake! Do you (CBS) think someone is going to steal your "intellectual property"? C'mon).

So, here we are. The best songs from a bad, bad year in country music.

Yes, you think, well, these are pretty good! Sure! I cherry-picked them! Just check out my Wikipedia link to see all the bad ones! You know, ten songs, out of all the records released in a year, is a woefully bad percentage.


Just trust me on this ~ it was a bad year. I was there.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. Aren't you forgetting one, oh Sage?

No, I didn't forget it.

Here's the deal. When anybody says, "This is the best song EVER. The best song that mankind ever created", well, I kind of bristle at that. The truth is, there is no such thing as the best song ever. There could be a best song today. A best song that you like a whole lot, because you heard it on the radio when you were driving to work, and you forgot how much you liked it, but now you think you should get home and download it, because it's the best song EVER. At least, that's how you feel today. Tomorrow, there will be a new best song.

So, I like Bobby Braddock's and Curly Putman's writing a lot. They wrote a ton of classic country songs.

And this is a good song. No doubt. But is it the best country song ever? No.

Because there is no such thing.

But no, I'm not going to leave out GEORGE JONES.

So, eleven. Eleven good songs from 1980. And you could quibble about whether a couple of them are even country songs. That's a bad average.

I guess, though, you could take any year and dissect it, and find that there weren't a whole lot of good songs. But music is meant to be taken in its entirety. Our brains don't sort songs by year (leave that job to me ~ ha).

I do find it interesting, however, that when you take even a bad year like 1980, the usual suspects pop up ~ the classic artists ~ Merle, Gene, Emmylou, Ronnie, George, Roy (of course), Waylon. There aren't any one-hit wonders (and JD Souther, by the way, wrote some classic songs for the Eagles, so no, he's not a one-hit wonder, either).

The cream rises to the top. Even in 1980.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The CMA Awards - Yippee For 1983!

Greetings once again, fellow time travelers! I'm still here; still countin' 'em down, year by year.

And this time around, it's 1983! Yes, ten years after I graduated from high school!

Looking back to the news of 1983, I see that a record budget deficit was projected - ha! If only they knew! That's small change! Peanuts really, compared to now!

In pop culture, they were still making those new-fangled things called "music videos". This was one of the top hits (videos) of 1983:

On the TV front, apparently (since every time I search for events of 1983, this comes up), it was the final season of M*A*S*H. Now, yea, I watched M*A*S*H, too, but in the larger scheme of things, this was NOT the best television series ever. Not even close.

We lost a couple of music greats in 1983. Here's Karen Carpenter:

Dennis Wilson (and here, he is forced to keep time by clapping his hands):

But, back to country music.

We (again) saw some repeats in 1983; the first being the SONG OF THE YEAR. Now, I'm not here to judge, but I just think that the CMA's needed to stop repeating themselves. It's all well and good that they really (really) liked certain songs and certain recordings. But surely there was enough new material each year to choose something new.

But no. They liked what they liked, and therefore, once again, the SONG OF THE YEAR was this (as written by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, and Mark James - a true group effort):

ALWAYS ON MY MIND (and yes, this is a different video, because I really hate repeating myself)

And yes. CHET ATKINS was (again) the INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR. And no, I'm not posting any more Chet videos, because frankly, this is getting out of hand.

was, again, named FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR. As I've mentioned before, the CMA's are but a snapshot in time. And Janie certainly had her time. But to be honest, she didn't really have too many hits. I basically remember Janie Fricke as a duet partner to Johnny Duncan. (That's not necessarily a bad thing to be remembered for).

So, here's a duet:

(Did I say previously that 1982 was the most boring year ever for the CMA's? I want to change my vote.)

We can kill a couple of birds here, with the ALBUM OF THE YEAR and the VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR. I promised you earlier that ALABAMA would get their fair share of awards, and I didn't steer you wrong.


ALBUM OF THE YEAR - The Closer You Get - Alabama

Luckily for all of us, there was something new on the scene, and that was the SINGLE OF THE YEAR. Good ol' John Anderson.

Here's an acoustic version of the SINGLE OF THE YEAR, "Swingin'":

And, as if that wasn't enough, we also had a new VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR! Yes kids. Something pretty good.........pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty good.


The INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR, this year, 1983, was the RICKY SKAGGS BAND. Apparently, they didn't have an actual name back then, but they came to be known as KENTUCKY THUNDER. Here they are, in later years:

EDIT: Okay, this is actually NOT Kentucky Thunder. It's the Del McCoury Band. But Ricky is featured here.

Is it just me, or is this stuff great? There was a time when I hated bluegrass. Now I LOVE it. It is one of the purest forms of music. Kind of reminds you of what music was like before the "suits" got their hands on it.....and ruined it.

The MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR in 1983 was Lee Greenwood. And it was because of this song:

Yes, I'll admit, I'm a sucker for a good patriotic song. And, as patriotic songs go, this one is pretty hard to beat. I like the Star Spangled Banner, too, but this song ranks right up there.

I didn't even know that Lee himself wrote this song. So kudos to you, Lee Greenwood! This song has served us well in trying times. It kind of says it all. And it's been a staple of Republican stump speeches for lo these many years.

Of course, that leads us to the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR category. Had I been Randy, Jeff, Teddy, and Mark, I wouldn't have wanted to follow Lee Greenwood. Who would? But, after all, this was the primo award of the evening, and ALABAMA captured it!

Here they go:

As anthems go, this one is pret-ty, pret-ty good, too. It's no God Bless The USA, but it's still good! Congrats to Alabama for winning the entertainer of the year award for 1983!

Hall of Fame

Little Jimmy Dickens

Whereas, in 1982, three folks were inducted into the hall of fame, in 1983, only one person received that honor. Little Jimmy Dickens.

Yes, he's Little. Thus the name.

Here he is, with Brad Paisley, on his 60th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ol' Opry:

So, 1983, much like 1982, was not the most exciting year ever for the CMA awards. But it still had its high points. Namely, Lee Greenwood, John Anderson, and - don't forget - Alabama. A mixed bag, to be sure.

But we've got our fingers crossed for 1984!