The early 1990s saw all the major country labels scrambling to find new talent, and a number of fine artists got lost in the mix. Among them was Bobbie Cryner, a singer songwriter in her early 30s with a velvety voice and a bluesy edge, who was signed to Epic Records in 1993. Sadly, none of her three singles for the label peaked higher than the 60s on Billboard.
Her debut single, the self-written ‘Daddy Laid The Blues On Me’, was perhaps a little too bluesy for the neotraditional sounds in vogue, but it is a great record. The pacy tune, possibly autobiographical, relates the tale of a teenage lover turned walkaway father and the effects on his child:
Way back in their younger days, when they were running wild,
My Daddy had a dream, and Mama had a child
He said: “Girl you can’t be tying me down, I’m only
And a man’s gotta get around, if you know what I
Then my Mama said: “Go on” as she stood and cried
And my Daddy said:”I’m gone, I gotta live my life”
And I was born one summer night,
When the world loved Patsy Cline.
I was raised by the tracks
In a tar-paper shack
On the Georgia Alabama line
Mama taught me how to play and sing
And we headed up to Tennessee
Mama sold my soul on country, rock and roll
But Daddy laid the blues on me.
Well I signed that dotted line
I climbed my way to being a star
When I ran across my Daddy in a downtown Tallahassee bar
He said “Girl there ain’t no life on the road
You’d better come with me.”
I said “Dad, I gotta get around if you know what I
Well my Daddy said “Come on” with a tear in his eye
I said: “Sorry Daddy, I’m gone
I gotta live my life”
Some great piano and harmonica backs Bobbie’s strong vocals.
The follow up, ‘He Feels Guilty’ is a sultry mid-paced ballad written by Verlon Thompson and Tommy Polk about a relationship growing cold, and foundering under suspicion of infidelity.
The last single, my favorite of the three, is ‘You Could Steal Me’, an exquisitely beautiful ballad which Bobbie wrote with Jesse Hunter. A subtle cello backs Bobbie’s unhappy trophy wife longing for love.
She cowrote ‘I’m Through Waitin’ On You’ with Tim Nichols and Zack Turner, in which her character displays more agency and attitude telling an unsatisfactory spouse he needs to do his share:
We both work hard bringin’ home the bacon
You want me to cook it whileyou sit there waitin’
Well, those days are over
Round here things are gonna change
I still love you but I didn’t take you to raise
I’ve waited tables till I ain’t able
I’ve taken orders till I’ve turned blue
From now on baby
You can make your own gravy
Cause I’m through waitin’ on you
Give you an inch and you think you’re a ruler
My feet are hurtin’ and I won’t stand for what you’re doing
The other songs written by Bobbie are solo compositions. My favorite is the devastating ballad ‘I Think It’s Over Now’, in which she gently but firmly calls the bluff of the man who is juggling two loves:
You don’t have you say you love me
If you think there’s any doubt
But if you have to think it over
Well, I think it’s over now
Also excellent is the downbeat ‘Leavin’ Houston Blues’, a closely observed about a woman packing up her things and planning on leaving town post-divorce, with some lovely fiddle. A simple acoustic guitar leads into ‘This Heart Speaks For Itself’, a gently delivered ballad about heartbreak which betrays itself.
‘Too Many Tears Too Late’, written by Carl Jackson and Jim Weatherly, is a lovely sad country ballad in which the man who broke her heart is back again, but
There’s no way we can turn back time
I don’t want to hear you say how much you love me
Now that I’ve cried all my love for you away
Here is some gorgeous fiddle and steel on this.
Another outstanding traditional country ballad is ‘The One I Love The Most’, an agonised cheating song written by Gene Dobbins, Michael Huffman and Bob Morrison. The protagonist is torn between loyalty and passion, and we are left to wonder what her final choice will be:
There’s a letter in my pocket I don’t know where to send
Telling someone that I love I won’t be back again
But who will I address it to
Who’ll read these lines I wrote?
The one I’ve loved the longest
Or the one I love the most?
One has stood beside me in the good times and the bad
One has brought out feelings I never knew I had
One’s a burning ember, the other’s fire and smoke
One I’ve loved the longest and the one I love the most
You can’t stand at a crossroads
You’ve got to move along
I know either way I turn I’ll do someone wrong
So who do I hold on to and who do I let go?
The one I’ve loved the longest or the one I love the most?
Dwight Yoakam duets with Bobbie on a wonderfully authentic Bakersfield style cover of the Buck Owens classic ‘I Don’t Care’.
Beautiful vocals, excellent songwriting and tasteful production combine to make this a favorite album of mine, which I have loved for years. It is available on iTunes, and I highly recommend it.