My Kind of Country

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

Daily Archives: February 20, 2018

Classic Rewind: Reba McEntire – ‘One Promise Too Late’

Album Review: Moe Bandy – ‘Soft Lights and Hard Country Music’

Moe Bandy released his eighth album, Soft Lights, and Hard Country Music, via Columbia Records in 1978. It was produced, as per usual, by Ray Baker. Both of the album’s singles were excellent honky-tonk numbers. The title track hit #13, while “That’s What Makes The Jukebox Play” stalled at #11.

Divorce plays a central role in the second and third songs on the album. “Darling Won’t You Marry Me Again” has Bandy playing a dad who recently sobered up, and after three years is face-to-face with his kids and the ex who asks him to take her back. The engaging “Paper Chains” is an uptempo number, about a marriage at the point where it falls apart and the couple is on the brink of divorce. “This Haunted House” is a clever take on the well-worn theme of the man dealing with the memory of his ex. Bandy knows his ex is gone and even has a woman to take her place on “If She Keeps Loving Me,” but he’s still in love with her and can’t let her go.

“There’s Nobody Home on the Range Anymore” is a classic western with an impeccable lyric crafted by Ed Penney and Robert Shaw-Parsons. It’s the tale of an old farmhand dreaming of days gone by:

The old man used to dream of the fortune he’d seek

Now he lives in the room where you pay by the week

His hands are all bothered and his pony’s gone lame

And his bones always ache when the sky looks like rain

 

Well he dreams of the old days with bronc bustin’ tails

And the wide open spaces where buffalo plays

Deep in his mem’ry wild horses ride on

But he knows the good times have all come and gone

There’s nobody home on the range anymore

 

They closed down the bunkhouse and had locked the door

Now there’s oil wells and motels and folks by the score

But there’s nobody home on the range anymore

 

Now the eagle stop flyin’ the night wind is still

And the last cayou’s hawlin’ on some lonely hill

The old man is longin’ to lay all down

In his final box canyon the poor side of town

 

‘Cause he knows his last mantel is two flights two stairs

And his saddle’s turned into an old rocking chair

Mornings he wakes up and wonders what for

‘Cause there’s nobody home on the range anymore

I don’t care much for the arrangement on the song, which hasn’t withstood the test of time. “Are We Making Love or Just Making Friends” finds Bandy portraying a man who cannot get affection from the woman he’s dating. “A Wound Time Can’t Erase” is an excellent weeper, but the heavy production and intrusive background vocalists don’t do the track any justice.

“A Baby and a Sewing Machine” has a gorgeous melody, but the lyric seems backward to me. She dreams of being a mother and a homemaker as though that’s all she can aspire to be in life. I’m thrilled the guy definitely wants more for her, but she seems limited in her perspective.

Soft Lights and Hard Country Music is a very strong album from Bandy. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the album’s tracks. The album isn’t widely available but all the tracks are on YouTube if you search for them.

Grade: A-