Showing posts with label Nashville. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nashville. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Back when country music was

I was of a mind to listen to some country music this evening. So I went back to 1972, and a classic Loretta Lynn album.

On vinyl.

I liked it when I was young, and thin, and had more hair, which wasn't gray, and it sounded exactly like country music when you put on a country LP.
Thus concludes this late-night rant by a nostalgic old man who's just sick of it all.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Who's gonna fill the Possum's shoes?

I wonder whether St. Peter has ever had anyone pull up to the Pearly Gates on a riding lawn mower.

Well, he has now. The Possum has left this vale of tears and taken off on the grandest tour of them all, one on which all broken hearts are mended and all tears are wiped away forever.
George Jones, the definitive country singer of the last half-century, whose songs about heartbreak and hard drinking echoed his own turbulent life, died on Friday in Nashville. He was 81

His publicists, Webster & Associates, said he died at a hospital after being admitted there on April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.

Mr. Jones’s singing was universally respected and just as widely imitated. With a baritone voice that was as elastic as a steel-guitar string, he found vulnerability and doubt behind the cheerful drive of honky-tonk and brought suspense to every syllable, merging bluesy slides with the tight, quivering ornaments of Appalachian singing.

In his most memorable songs, all the pleasures of a down-home Saturday night couldn’t free him from private pain. His up-tempo songs had undercurrents of solitude, and the ballads that became his specialty were suffused with stoic desolation. “When you’re onstage or recording, you put yourself in those stories,” he once said.

Fans heard in those songs the strains of a life in which success and excess battled for decades. Mr. Jones — nicknamed Possum for his close-set eyes and pointed nose and later No-Show Jones for the concerts he missed during drinking and drug binges — bought, sold and traded dozens of houses and hundreds of cars; he earned millions of dollars and lost much of it to drug use, mismanagement and divorce settlements. Through it all, he kept touring and recording, singing mournful songs that continued to ring true.

Mr. Jones was a presence on the country charts from the 1950s into the 21st century, and as early as the 1960s he was praised by listeners and fellow musicians as the greatest living country singer. He was never a crossover act; while country fans revered him, pop and rock radio stations ignored him. But by the 1980s, Mr. Jones had come to stand for country tradition. Country singers through the decades, from Garth Brooks and Randy Travis to Toby Keith and Tim McGraw, learned licks from Mr. Jones, who never bothered to wear a cowboy hat.

“Not everybody needs to sound like a George Jones record,” Alan Jackson, the country singer and songwriter, once told an interviewer. “But that’s what I’ve always done, and I’m going to keep it that way — or try to.”
ANOTHER GREAT ONE is gone at a time when we seem to be losing great ones at a quickening pace.

That leaves me with one big question -- a question Jones once asked himself.

REST IN PEACE, Possum. Your music lives on. Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The world I used to know

I just turned 50. That's a blessing and a curse.

The blessing of making it to 50 is the wisdom that comes from remembering 50 years' worth of stuff. The curse is the burden of remembering 50 years' worth of stuff.

See, in some respects, ignorance
is bliss. There is a certain contentment in not knowing what you don't know.

Take the state of radio, for example. It's the little story that tells the big story of life in these postmodern times.

If you don't know anything about what radio was, it's difficult to get all grief-stricken about what radio -- and by extension our society -- has become.

I have loved radio for as long as I can remember. When I was a little kid -- back when music came on records, sound got recorded on reel-to-reel tape and computers were the size of small rooms -- I used to trek up and down the dial of our big five-band transistor set, listening to all the world that would fit in
(and squeeze through) a six-inch speaker.

I would listen to a wonderful world of music -- all kinds of music. I would listen to network broadcasts from New York . . . and the world. I would listen to, and wonder about, life in exotic places like . . . New Orleans. Nashville. Little Rock.

Little Rock? Little Rock. When you're 8 or 9 and growing up blue collar in Baton Rouge, exotic is a catch-as-catch-can affair.

Little Rock was the Mighty 1090, KAAY, with rock 'n' roll in the night. And as I was to learn through the magic of someone long ago hooking a reel-to-reel tape recorder up to an AM radio, Little Rock also was
KARK. Or, as the announcers there said back in 1971, "Kay! A-R-K."

IF YOU'RE a lot younger than my 50 years, the above hour of KARK, circa May 19, 1971, must sound like a transmission from an alien culture. That's because it is.

In 1971, the mass media was just that. While in many respects, we were just as much a tribal society 40 years ago as we are today, all our various tribes were on a first-name basis. Even when we hated one another's guts.

Though alienation was a fact then just as it is today, alienation was not a business model for mass media. Though we often screamed at one another four decades past, radio and television by and large weren't about displacing light with heat.
Or hot air.

Radio stations like
KARK -- those one's parents were most likely to favor -- were all about being the voice of a community. Today, by contrast, the picked-over carcasses of stations like KARK (now KARN) are all about being the cynical voice of an outraged sociopolitical demographic, usually on the far right.

Today, if you don't want to listen to a single thing "The Other" has to say, you don't have to. You can get all your "news" from people who think just like you do. You can listen to radio stations that pull angry voices from the sky -- via satellite -- that tell you exactly what you want to hear.

YOU CAN wander across the AM dial in search of exotic voices from exotic places, only to find that everywhere is just like Nowhere . . . that nondescript backdrop for our unremarkable lives of quiet desperation. The voice from New Orleans is the voice from Omaha is the voice from Little Rock is the voice from the satellite.

The overwrought voice of outrage.

The voice that shouts but never sings.

A few years after the time of our 1971 archived transmission from an alien culture, Harry Chapin sang about a "bright good-morning voice who's heard but never seen." That guy got fired years ago.

Now there's Ryan, or Rush, or Glenn, or Laura, or Sean . . . or the conspiracy theorists selling doom late at night.
They're not from around here.

THE BLESSING of my 50 years on this earth is I can remember a time when I had a working knowledge of subcultures not my own. When the snot-nosed kid that I used to be couldn't help but have broad familiarity with my parents' Squaresville landscape. With their history, their cultural underpinnings.

Memory also is the burden I bear. This curse is born of a half century of learning the hard way that "progress" oftentimes isn't -- that things don't always get better and better.

When I close my eyes and shut off the noise we can't ignore, I hear music. I hear exotic voices from magical places. I hear New Orleans. I hear Baton Rouge.

I hear Omaha.

I hear Nashville.

I hear Little Rock.

I hear 1971. It's right there . . . the troubled but magical world from when most of my life was ahead of me, not behind.

I hear it . . .
I can almost touch it. My blessing.

I open my eyes, and now it's gone.

My curse.

Friday, January 28, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: Ripples

We start out this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth with a little Gram Parsons -- "Cash on the Barrelhead" off of his "Grievous Angel" album.

It's a classic. It's also a cover version of a little something Charlie and Ira Louvin did years before. The Louvin Brothers made an impression on young Gram Parsons.

And Gram Parsons would carry the word. Carry it into the Byrds, onto their albums, and then onto his own. Of course, all that also makes its way onto the Big Show.

Ripples. The music of the Louvin Brothers -- of Charlie Louvin, who died this week at 83 -- splashed into our cultural consciousness in the early 1940s, really made waves in the '50s, and stuck around on the charts into the '60s.

Ripples. They rocked the Everly Brothers' musical boat. The Everlys rocked the Beatles'. The Beatles' rocked everybody's.

Ripples. The Louvin Brothers were Elvis Presley's favorite country act.

Those high harmonies ignited a fierce love of the same in young Emmylou Harris' heart.

Ripples. They keep going out from a long time past . . . from a couple of brothers growing up in north Alabama. They keep rocking somebody's world. Somebody carries the word, and the word -- the sweet harmonies of a long ago song -- inspires yet another generation, one unseen in 1955.

That's what 3 Chords & the Truth is all about this time -- ripples of the musical kind..

Elvis, the Everlys, Emmylou, Gram, the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Elvis Costello and on and on and on and on. Ripples.

Join us this week on the Big Show, and we'll float -- and rock -- your boat. All to the sweet sound of perfect harmony.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

What a difference nine years makes

Howdy, neighbor, howdy!

Welcome to
The Porter Wagoner Show, in wonderful black and white, with your guest star, Willie Nelson. It's 1965.

Watch the full episode. See more Austin City Limits.

THEN . . . the 1970s happened. And Austin, too.

Here's the Red-Headed Stranger a mere nine years after he was twangin' in Nashville and singin' on
The Porter Wagoner Show. It's 1974, Willie's a hippie, and he's starring on the pilot episode of some public-television show.

Austin City Limits, they call it.