My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Bob Marley

Johnny Cash: A Look Back

We lost Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash within months of each other back in 2003, so 2018 marks a very sad 15th-anniversary farewell to the “Man In Black”.

The release last year of UNEARTHED, a nine album 180 gram vinyl box set (originally released on CD two months after his death) of unreleased tracks recorded by Rick Rubin, (it features some interesting pairings such as Fiona Apple providing guest vocals on Cat Stevens’ “Father & Son,” and the late Joe Strummer’s duets with Cash on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”) provides us with a excuse to take another look back at his career.

While modern country radio has no use for the likes of Johnny Cash, preferring more commercial fodder, other sections of the music industry have kept his music alive, whether on Willie’s Roadhouse (Sirius XM Radio) or through the musical press. Cover bands continue to play his music and while younger so-called country singers play music that bears little connection to country music, his music remains a staple of Roots-Rock, Texas Red-Dirt and Bluegrass performers

Make no mistake about it: Johnny Cash was a huge commercial success, despite his own apparent lack of concern about how commercial his music was at any given moment–Cash’s inquisitive artistry meant that he flitted from realm to realm, sometimes touching down in areas with limited commercial appeal.

Cash had 24 songs reach #1 on the Billboard, Cashbox or Record World country charts (often all three), but unlike more chart-oriented artists including Webb Pierce, Buck Owens, Sonny James, Alabama, Conway Twitty or George Strait, Cash never ran off a long string of consecutive #1s, with his longest streak being four during 1968 when “Roseanna’s Going Wild,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” “A Boy Named Sue,” and his iconic “Folsom Prison Blues” all reached the top of one of the charts.

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Album Review: Dean Brody – ‘Dirt’

Canadian Dean Brody’s third album sees him building on his past work with a few moves in new directions.  He wrote all the songs, with pretty good results, but his main strength is his voice, which has a quite delicious tone which can elevate mediocre material and make it listenable.

For instance, the title track, a co-write with Nashville-based songwriters Marty Dodson and Jimmy Yeary, is a pleasant sounding but lyrically unmemorable about the joys of mud, from childhood to romance with a female rodeo rider, and ending with an oddly cheery anticipation of the grave.  The vocal, however, makes it far more enjoyable than most country living songs.  ‘Rural Route #3’ is an affectionately delivered tribute to rural living which is better than most of its kind because it is detailed enough to feel real, and deeply rooted in personal experience, and once more a beautiful sounding vocal.  ‘Canadian Girls’, while not particularly interesting, is similarly precise, with his portrait in the verses of a specific girl who grew up watching hockey and playing winter sports before veering off in the chorus into something more general.

Dean’s voice sounds lovely on the pretty ‘Underneath The Apple Trees’, a wistfully sweet invocation to an undiscovered future love, which is one of my favorites.  ‘Flowers In Her Hands’ is also charming, a story song with a delicate arrangement about a childhood friendship which grows into love (although he has trouble saying the words) and eventually tragic loss.  ‘Nowhere USA’ is a more mysterious and dramatic story song with an armed woman who picks up a man on the highway.

In the mildly amusing ‘That’s Your Cousin’, a potential new romance is thwarted when a young courting couple find out they are distantly related.  An alarmed father warns them,

You don’t wanna go swimmin’ in the same gene pool

Don’t be touching

That’s your cousin

The shock news “broke the law of attraction almost instantly”.  In the coda, the girl ends up deciding international online dating is the safest option.

‘Losing My Balance’ is an attractive sounding but somewhat fillerish contemporary country love song.  The conversational ‘The Sleeping Bag Song’ sets up a weekend campout to revive a tired romance, and is okay.  ‘Bob Marley’ is less successful, with a meandering melody and uninteresting lyric about bonding with a grandmother.

‘It’s Friday’ is a cheerful Celtic drinking song featuring rough-edged fellow-Canadian folk rock band Great Big Sea, about partying at the end of the working week, which is fun and an unexpected change of pace.

The songs are good, but Brody’s voice is what really sets this album apart.

Grade: B+