My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Monthly Archives: January 2010

Classic Rewind: Patsy Cline – ‘San Antonio Rose’

This is believed to have been Patsy’s last TV appearance, on February 23, 1963:

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Week ending 1/30/10: #1 singles this week in country music history

1950: Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy — Red Foley (Decca)

1960: El Paso — Marty Robbins (Columbia)

1970: A Week in a Country Jail — Tom T. Hall (Mercury)

1980: I’ll Be Coming Back For More — T.G. Sheppard (Warner Bros.)

1990: Nobody’s Home — Clint Black (RCA)

2000: Breathe — Faith Hill (Warner Bros.)

2010: Southern Voice — Tim McGraw (Curb)

Week ending 1/30/10: #1 albums this week in country music history

1985: George Strait – Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (MCA)

1990: Randy Travis – No Holdin’ Back (Warner Brothers)

1995: Garth Brooks – The Hits (Capitol)

2000: Dixie Chicks – Fly (Sony)

2005: Shania Twain – Greatest Hits (Mercury)

2010: Taylor Swift – Fearless (Big Machine)

Grammy Rewind: Keith Urban – ‘You’ll Think of Me’

Keith Urban won his first Grammy award in 2006 for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for ‘You’ll Think of Me’.  He repeated the victory with ‘Stupid Boy’ at the 2008 show, and is nominated in the same category this year for his single ‘Sweet Thing’.  Here’s Keith performing his first Grammy-winning song in 2006.

Grammy Rewind: LeAnn Rimes – ‘Blue’

Bill Mack wrote this song back in the early 1960s for this month’s Spotlight Artist Patsy Cline, but her tragic early death meant she never recorded it. Over 30 years later it was revived to become the debut single and career record for a 13 year old named LeAnn Rimes. The song itself won the Grammy for Country Song of the Year in 1997, and LeAnn’s performance won her Best Female Country Vocal Performance and the cross-genre Best New Artist title. Here she is singing ‘Blue’ on her Opry debut:

Patsy Cline: The live recordings

The major contribution to Patsy Cline’s legacy made by these live releases, the first coming some 25 years after her death, was that they offered the listener a side of Patsy Cline that wasn’t heard on her studio recordings with Owen Bradley.  On the three collections of live recordings by Patsy Cline released in the span of about a decade by MCA, we get to know Patsy Cline as a woman, a performer, and a personality.

The performances on Live at the Opry were recorded as part of as a substitute for the actual Opry show for stations who could not get a live feed of the broadcast. The Opry engineers would record the transcripts of the stars performing and distribute them to affiliated stations.  The tracks on Live at the Opry were recorded between 1956 and 1962.  All her biggest hits are here including ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’, ‘I Fall to Pieces’, ‘Crazy’, as well as her take on other artists hits.  She ably tackles ‘Loose Talk’ and ‘There He Goes’, both hits for the recently deceased Carl Smith and Hank Williams’ ‘Lovesick Blues’.

Patsy’s personality comes across beautifully in these recordings too.  You can hear her growling and snarling, and even scatting a bit in between lyrics.  Additionally, the disc features introductions and commentary by fellow Opry stars Little Jimmy Dickens, Ray Price, Jim Reeves, and Hank Snow.  Upon its release in 1988, it peaked at #60 on the country albums chart, but served as an important footnote in country music’s history as the first collection of live recordings by one of the genre’s most important female vocalists.

Released as a companion set to Live at the Opry the following year in 1989, the title to Live Vol. 2 is a bit misleading, as the tracks weren’t recorded in front of a studio audience, but in a private studio as part of a series of military-themed radio shows.  To give the recordings a live feel, you can hear the musicians clapping and shouting out words of encouragement at the end of some of the songs.  Six of the tracks were recorded for 3 separate miliatry-recruitment ads, which featured Patsy fan Faron Young as the host.  These 6 come from a single Summer 1956 session.  The other half are from various military broadcasts, recorded between 1960 and 1962.  The disc doesn’t contain any of Patsy’s hits, with only 7 of the 12 being in her recorded catalog, the material leans heavily on covers.  Notably, Patsy’s swinging rendition of the pop standard ‘Side by Side’ is a personal favorite.  Also good is her take on Roger Miller’s ‘When Your House Is Not a Home’ and her own ‘Stop, Look and Listen’.

Live at the Cimarron Ballroom was recorded live at the venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 29, 1961.  This collection features all of Patsy’s hits to date, with sublime versions of ‘A Poor Mans Roses’, ‘I Fall to Pieces’, and ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’  Of the two new songs, it’s telling that ‘Stupid Cupid’, the Connie Francis hit is also found on Live Vol. 2.  The song was obviously part of Patsy’s regular repetoire, and one she was clearly fond of.  Closing the show is the previously unrecorded ‘When My Dreamboat Comes’.  In between the hits and covers, the most enjoyable part of this set is the dialog, where we find the singer talking about country music being the ‘sweetest music this side of heaven’.  On another track she is discussing her car crash and the plastic surgery still needed to ‘make her face look like new’.  She comes across as a confident woman, and one able to see the humor in her own hard times.  Proving Patsy’s continued popularity, the album managed to chart at #32 on the country albums chart upon its release in 1997.

Both Live at the Opry and Live at the Cimarron Ballroom are available very reasonably from amazon.  Live Vol. 2 is since out of print, but available if you really want it.

Grammy Rewind: Randy Travis – ‘Forever And Ever, Amen’

This was Randy Travis’ biggest hit, and in 1988 it won him a Grammy for Best Country Male Vocal Performance, and a trophy for Best Country Song went to writers Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet.

Our Grammy predictions

The 52nd annual Grammy Awards show airs January 31, 2010 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Earlier we told you who we’d each like to see winning in the country categories this year. Now it’s time to go out on a limb and say who we expect to win. We didn’t do very well last time, due to collectively underestimating the CMA voters’ enthrallment to commercial success.

Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Trace Adkins – ‘All I Ask For Anymore’: Chris
Billy Currington – ‘People Are Crazy’
Jamey Johnson – ‘High Cost Of Living’: Jordan Stacey, Occasional Hope, Razor X
George Strait – ‘Living For The Night’: J.R. Journey
Keith Urban – ‘Sweet Thing’

Jordan: The Grammys always go for this type of song: critically acclaimed, sold a lot of albums, and has been listed in best of lists all year. The Grammy’s won’t ignore Jamey Johnson.
Razor: While I like the Trace Adkins song very much, I think the award for Male Vocal Performance will – and should – go to Jamey Johnson. It received a tepid response from country radio, but the Grammy’s are somewhat less inhibited and Puritanical in their selections. This was a true highlight of 2009, and I expect that the Grammy voters will recognize that and reward the song appropriately.
OH: See my comments below on Song. I believe Jamey will win at least one of these categories, but possibly not both.
J.R.: Strait is long overdue for a string of trophies from the Grammy’s. His first-ever statuette came from the NARAS last year in the Best Country Album race, and I think he’ll add to his collection this year.

Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Miranda Lambert – ‘Dead Flowers’
Martina McBride – ‘I Just Call You Mine’
Taylor Swift – ‘White Horse’: J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope
Carrie Underwood – ‘Just A Dream’: Chris, Jordan Stacey, Razor X
Lee Ann Womack – ‘Solitary Thinkin”

Razor: ‘Just A Dream’ and ‘White Horse’ are the only two songs in this category that can legitimately be called hits. It would be a further travesty for Taylor Swift to win over Carrie in a vocal performance categeory. The Grammy’s are more prone than the CMAs or ACMs to reward artistry over commercial success. While ‘Just A Dream’ is no artistic masterpiece, Carrie is hands down the superior vocalist.
OH: The Grammy voters don’t always care if something’s a hit, but nothing here is sufficiently artistically compelling to win on that account. I agree it’s between Taylor and Carrie, and travesty or not, I think Taylor will carry it on her current awards and commercial momentum.
J.R.: Taylor is white hot right now, pardon the pun. Grammy voters have traditionally either went for tracks that make strong artistic statements or the flavor of the day. This year, with nothing really standing out from the pack as brilliant in this category, I think name-recognition will swing it for Swift.
Jordan: They seem to like Carrie, and it’s a much stronger song than ‘Last Name, so she will probably walk away with this one.

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Grammy Rewind: Willie Nelson – ‘Always On My Mind’

Willie Nelson’s recording of ‘Always On My Mind’ won three Grammy’s in 1983: Best Male Country Vocal Performance for Willie, and Best Country Song, and the cross-genre Song Of the Year (a very rare accolade for a country song) for the writers, Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson. It was also a massive commercial hit for Willie. It was originally recorded by Brenda Lee in 1972, becoming a minor hit.  The same year, Elvis Presley released it as a B-side to his ‘Separate Ways’ single, and had a double-sided hit.  It has since been recorded over 300 times in different versions by dozens of artists.

Terri Clark talks Tootsie’s, touring and taking charge: The Interview

I first saw Terri Clark about 20 miles from where I now live. She was playing the Scioto County fair in Lucasville, Ohio in 2003. I was 19 years old that Summer, and life was a blast. About a year before, I had become captivated by country music, and the Terri Clark show was the only reason I was on the fairgrounds that night. The date was August 5, a date I later learned was Terri’s 35th birthday. I’m not sure she acknowledged that fact onstage, but it had already been made apparent by the singing of a small group of fans congregated backstage. These people had traveled to southern Ohio from various states to be at Terri’s show on her birthday. Terri Clark’s fans obviously adore her, and always have. I feel lucky to be numbered among them – especially after I heard her channel Patsy Cline in one breath and then do a pitch-perfect John Anderson impression in the next.

I still have my autograph from that hot August night, and I still drive to see Terri Clark when she comes close. Over the years, I’ve watched and listened with fascination to her since she was the lone female hat act in the mid-90s parade of Stetsons. I soaked up the imagery and personal songs on Fearless, rocked with her for the past few albums. And now that I’m being forced into maturity, Terri’s music is still relevant to me. Not many artists have maintained my attention as long and as consistently as the tall brunette from Alberta, Canada.

After being a consecutive hit-maker for over a decade, Clark felt the restraints of major label politics weighing her down, and like so many other artists, went the indie route with her latest album. The result couldn’t be more organic or more rewarding to the listener. Raw and real, The Long Way Home, has many saying the singer has finally reached her potential as a recording artist. I’m no expert, but I think that means the best is yet to come.

When I talked with Terri, we discussed her early days as a barroom singer at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, the fast track to fame, and her goals for her career in the long haul. I also asked about the album, writing and recording it, and also about her new unplugged tour. Here’s the conversation between one very happy fan and one talented woman.

J.R. Journey:  The first thing I want to say is that I absolutely love your new album, The Long Way Home. It topped my best of 2009 list. I just want to say thanks for giving your fans such a great album.

Terri Clark: Well I want to thank you for that. That, that means a lot. When I get to put something up on my website saying it made the best of 2009 list somewhere, it means a lot because I really put my heart and soul into it. So I really appreciate that very much.

J.R.:  I’ve always loved the story of how you began your career in Nashville as a singer at Tootsie’s downtown. How did you come about that gig?

T.C.: Well, like any other tourist, I was walking around, and I was doing the tourist trap thing. I was 18 years old and it was my first week in Nashville of course I wanted to see Tootsie’s, being a history buff. So I wanted to know what that was all about. So we went in there, me and my mom and a friend. And there was virtually nobody in there. I asked the guy sitting there on the stool if I could sit in at some point and sing a few songs. He said yes and I got up and started singing. The door was open and people started filtering in. And the owner of the place, the manager, saw that it brung some people in. So he gave me a job. I got my first gig there for $15 a day plus tips.

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Grammy Rewind: Charlie Rich – ‘Behind Closed Doors’

‘Behind Closed Doors’ was a hit for Charlie Rich in the Spring of 1973.  Songwriter Kenny O’Dell was awarded the CMA and ACM Awards for Song of the Year.  In addition, Rich won the Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, and #1 hit was named Best Country Song at the 1973 show.

Our Grammy picks

Yes, it’s awards time again, with the 2010 Grammy’s due to be handed out on January 31 this year.

Who do we want to win this time around?

Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Trace Adkins – ‘All I Ask For Anymore’: Chris, Jordan Stacey, J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope
Billy Currington – ‘People Are Crazy’
Jamey Johnson – ‘High Cost Of Living’: Razor X
George Strait – ‘Living For The Night’
Keith Urban – ‘Sweet Thing’

Jordan: Trace gives one of his best vocal performances on record, on an above average song. Among the nominees it fits the “Vocal Performance” part the best.
Razor: While I like the Trace Adkins song very much, I think the award for Male Vocal Performance should go to Jamey Johnson. This was a true highlight of 2009.
OH: I think Jamey’s song is better, but Trace’s vocal is outstanding. I’d be really happy with either winning though.
Chris: I’m not a fan of Jamey Johnson because of his voice, but I understand the merits of his work – but Adkins can really knock stuff out of the park when he picks the right song.
J.R.: I prefer ‘High Cost of Living’ as a song, but am definitely more into Trace Adkins’ vocal performance than Jamey’s.

Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Miranda Lambert – ‘Dead Flowers’:
Chris
Martina McBride – ‘I Just Call You Mine’
Taylor Swift – ‘White Horse’
Carrie Underwood – ‘Just A Dream’
Lee Ann Womack – ‘Solitary Thinkin”: Jordan Stacey, J.R. Journey, Razor X, Occasional Hope

Jordan: Give Lee Ann Womack one of the worst singles of the year (‘There Is A God’) and she can still somehow make it enjoyable simply ’cause of her beautiful vocal delivery. ‘Solitary Thinkin” in my opinion is a better performance and song overall than ‘Last Call’ which was robbed last year; hopefully the voters get it right this time.
Razor: I can’t recall any other year with a such a weak offering of choices for Female Vocal Performance. ‘Solitary Thinkin” is not my favorite Lee Ann Womack song, nor is it particularly vocally challenging, but I’d still like to see this one win, simply because I don’t like any of the other choices at all.
OH: I’m really uninspired by all of these. I think I’ll go with ‘Solitary Thinkin”, because although I’m not crazy about the song, Lee Ann sounds good and the vocal works with the song rather than overwhelming it (‘Just A Dream’) or being simply inadequate (‘White Horse’). Martina’s song is forgettable, and Miranda’s is far from her best work.
Chris: Underwood’s performance is great, but a little bombastic for my taste. ‘Dead Flowers’ has just always struck a chord with me and I love how she sings it – she deserves the award with Lee Ann Womack being next in line.
J.R.: Weak, yes. I’ll go with Razor’s reasoning that I ‘Solitary Thinkin’ is the only one I don’t actively dislike. Plus I think Womack is the best of this bunch presently.

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Grammy Rewind: Sammi Smith – ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’

‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ was written by Kris Kristofferson, with credit given to Fred Foster as well.  This classic has been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, to name a few.  Kristofferson himself recorded a version of it, but Sammi Smith’s 1971 recording shot to #1 on the Country Singles chart, and pushed the song to nationwide recognition.  The NARAS awarded it Best Country Song in 1971.

Sweet Dreams – Motion Picture and Soundtrack Review

The Story of Legendary Country Singer Patsy ClineAnd I’m crazy for loving you.’ The closing line of her signature song sums up the main focus of the 1985 biopic “Sweet Dreams” based on Patsy Cline’s life from 1956 through 1963. Hollywood loves to explore the life stories behind great talents, usually offering a particular interpretation of what makes the artist tick. Screenwriter Robert Getchell, producer Bernard Schwartz and director Karel Reisz portray Patsy’s relationship with her second husband, Charlie Dick, as being a core element of what fueled her passion as an artist.

The film begins when Patsy (played by Jessica Lange who received an Oscar nomination for her performance) is married to her first husband, Gerald Cline, pictured as a guy who’s more interested in his own hobbies than in Patsy or her musical talent and career. In an early scene, the rigging on his model ship, for example, is more exciting to him than how Patsy’s performance had gone at a particular club that night.

On the other hand, a man she met at the club couldn’t take his eyes off of her. That man turns out to be Charlie Dick (Ed Harris) who gives her all the attention she’s been starved for, including attention for her music, and who has a passionate personality to match her own. It isn’t long before Patsy leaves Gerald.

As Patsy and Charlie fall head over heels, Patsy shares her dream of becoming a singer, making enough money to have the house she’d always wanted, having kids and then being able to retire to raise them. They are sweet dreams. Charlie proposes and they get married. They’re both crazy in love and off to set the world on fire.

However, where there’s fire, there’s beauty and power, and the danger of getting burned. The film depicts their marriage as both passionate and rocky, with flair ups due to their strong wills, and Charlie’s drinking, philandering and temper. In the midst of the tumultuous episodes, they share the joys of two children together and Patsy’s career successes – Charlie serving as one of her biggest fans.

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Classic Rewind: Patsy Cline – ‘So Wrong’

Week ending 1/23/10: #1 singles this week in country music history

1950: Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy — Red Foley (Decca)

1960: El Paso — Marty Robbins (Columbia)

1970: Baby, Baby (I Know You’re A Lady) — David Houston (Epic)

1980: Coward of the County — Kenny Rogers (United Artists)

1990: Nobody’s Home — Clint Black (RCA)

2000: Breathe — Faith Hill (Warner Bros.)

2010: Consider Me Gone — Reba McEntire (Starstruck/Valory)

Week ending 1/23/10: #1 albums this week in country music history

1985: George Strait – Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (MCA)

1990: Randy Travis – No Holdin’ Back (Warner Brothers)

1995: Garth Brooks – The Hits (Capitol)

2000: Dixie Chicks – Fly (Sony)

2005: Shania Twain – Greatest Hits (Mercury)

2010: Taylor Swift – Fearless (Big Machine)

Classic Rewind: Alison Krauss – ‘Restless’

Classic Rewind: Patsy Cline – ‘She’s Got You’

Album Review: ‘A Portrait Of Patsy Cline’

June 1964 saw another posthumous release of previously unreleased Patsy Cline material, in the form of this album. The majority of the songs had been recorded at her final recording sessions, a month before her death, with a handful left over from previous sessions. It does however end up feeling one of her most cohesive albums, and the logical progression from Patsy’s previous studio albums, Showcase and Sentimentally Yours. As was now her trademark, the material mixes country and pop songs, all given orchestral arrangements, and if anything she was moving further away from her country roots.

Opening track ‘Faded Love’ had been a posthumous top 10 country single for Patsy in 1963, and was a Bob Wills cover transformed into an intense torch ballad with a typically exquisite vocal performance wrenching every morsel of regret from the words, and a production laden with strings giving it a sophisticated sheen, but one which supports rather than overwhelms the vocal. ‘I’ll Sail My Ship Alone’ was an old Moon Mullican country song (a #1 hit in 1948) which sounds even more changed under the Cline/Bradley treatment, and the end result is less successful than ‘Faded Love’.

‘When You Need A Laugh’, another single, charted less well, although it is a lovely Hank Cochran ballad of obsessive love, sung beautifully with a melancholy tinge to Patsy’s vocals. The protagonist is so desperate to be with the one she loves, she doesn’t care if he is laughing at her:

At least I’m on your mind when you’re laughing….
Even if the laugh’s on me I don’t mind at all
So when you need a laugh give me a call

It was one of the songs resurrected from a previous recording session (in September 1962), as was ‘Your Kinda Love’ . The latter was also released as a single but did not chart at all despite a beautiful, nuanced interpretation. It was written by Roy Drusky, another country artist who Owen Bradley was producing at the time, and who subsequently went on to a long and reasonably successful career.

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