“Good Ole Boys Like Me”

I’m from Pensacola, Florida.  I lived there from birth until approximately 2015.  And I had no idea that Don Williams lived just an hour or so away in south Alabama until he passed away.  I did not care for his music when I was a child.  Now I love it, especially this song, which is a beautiful work of art.

I was just a young ‘un back then, but I suspect that country purists (and I sometimes consider myself one!) were skeptical of this classic.

He had some of his hits covered.  Remember when Alan Jackson did a masterful remake of this song?

Don Williams could also cover others’ classics.

Not as good as the original, but I’d still rather hear this version than much modern music.

But enough of that. Rest in peace, Gentle Giant.

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“Rhinestone Cowboy”

Merle Haggard once said that if there was an example of a person given too much talent in one body, Glen Campbell was that person.

When I was a little girl, “Sunflower,” written by Neil Diamond, was my favorite Glen Campbell song.

But then I was blessed enough to be at this concert over a decade ago.  The song became my new favorite that night.  (Ah, remember that song “New Favorite” by Alison Krauss?  I’ll have to come back to that later.)

(Steve Wariner’s pretty awesome, too, but I’ll talk about him another day.)

The most poignant song of all may be this one.

I’m going to miss him. May he rest in peace.

“You’re Just a Coca-Cola Cowboy”

 

Yesterday, I posted about Daryle Singletary.  We’ve lost some country music greats in the last 6-8 months, so I want to give each of the persons his or her due. Today, I want to talk about Mel Tillis.

I don’t remember really knowing who Mel Tillis was when I was a child.  I just knew he stuttered, and I was familiar with his Whataburger commercials.  In fact, I thought he owned the place.

(Also, I now live in Virginia, and I miss Whataburger.  But I digress.)

I know a lot about Mel Tillis today, though, and my favorite is this classic.  The song is definitely a little countrypolitan, but in retrospect, wouldn’t you rather listen to this than what’s on the radio today?

My other two favorites were remakes.  This is one.

This is the other, performed by Mel and his band the Statesiders at the Marty Stuart Late Night Jam a few years back.

You remember he wrote this number, right?

He also recorded “Diggin’ Up Bones” before Randy Travis.

He was such a talent.

“Footlights”

“More soon,” I said in June.

Clearly not.

I was jarred into a post after learning of the death of Daryle Singletary at age 46. (Sorry.)

I just can’t believe it.  I first encountered Daryle Singletary when he was a guest at a Randy Travis concert in March 1995.  In the 20+ years he spent in the music industry, he created a great body of work.  Like this debut single, which wasn’t well received at radio (I know you’re shocked), but which was nothing short of pure country.

And he got better with time.

That band is awesome there. Catch Jimmy Capps on electric guitar.

Daryle and bluegrass queen Rhonda Vincent had paired on some duets recently. “American Grandstand” is just lovely.

But I love Daryle’s duets with Charli Robertson equally. In fact, they nailed “We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds.”

I think it’s better than the version by George Jones and Melba Montgomery.

Daryle Singletary was one of the last torchbearers.

When I moved to Nashville in 1990, I left Georgia telling my Daddy, “I want to make my living in country music.” I didn’t tell him I wanted to be played on the radio every day or be on a video channel every day.”

The Dierks Bentleys and Brad Paisleys of the world have sold out for greater commercial success. Daryle Singletary didn’t do that.

I’ll miss him. If Conway Twitty was the best friend a song ever had, Daryle Singletary was at least a close second.

One more thing: If you’re lamenting Daryle Singletary’s death on social media but haven’t bought an album of his in years, put your money where your mouth is–today!

“The Girl Who Waits on Tables”

I’m on vacation, spending a few days with my parents, who live very far away but whom I see a few times a year.  We’ve talked a bit about country music and the artists that some purists complain about.  Like Ronnie Milsap.

It’s pretty country, isn’t it?  Not exactly like this.

See that strings section?  Nonetheless, I personally believe that is still good music.  Just like much of Kenny Rogers’ music wasn’t hardcore country, but was pretty good.

Listen to those background vocals.  Recognize them?  (Hint:  Barry Gibb wrote this song.)

And speaking of pop music’s infiltration of country music, this one is still one of my favorites.

Love that.  Love that a lot.

More soon.  Maybe after I return from vacation.

I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes

I talked yesterday about Goldie Hill.  Perry Como had a pop hit with “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” which was written by Slim Willet.  At the time the song was popular in the early 1950’s, answer songs were a big thing.  Slim Willet and Goldie Hill’s brother Tommy Hill co-wrote the answer song to “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” titled “I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes.”  Goldie recorded it.

She sang it at a Country Reunion show many moons later.  I love her interaction with a young Craig Morgan.

I also enjoyed the huge hit Skeets McDonald had with the original “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.”

It was produced by Ken Nelson, who is my favorite producer ever, but if I had to tell you my favorite version of this song, Jones’s is better.

But back to Craig Morgan.  I met Craig in 1999 at a Country Radio Seminar, before he had any hits–or failures at radio.  He was such a personable guy, and I liked him instantly.  Although some of his later music wouldn’t thrill me, my household enjoyed multiple copies of his first CD.  This particular song was my favorite:

That perfect representation of country music was written by Bill Anderson.  Bill was writing great songs back in those days.  Was there a time when Bill wasn’t writing great songs?  How about Connie Smith’s first hit, “Once a Day”, from the 1960’s?

And “The Corner of My Life” from the 1970’s?

That is my favorite Bill Anderson song.  The steel is gorgeous when it’s done live.

And as I said, Bill is still writing great songs.  While you won’t hear me rave much about Kenny Chesney’s recent work, Bill (and Dean Dillon) gave him a stunning song with “A Lot of Things Different.”

Stars?  Bill Anderson is definitely one, don’t you think?

Falling Leaves

My preschooler was playing with her Calico Critters this morning and in the process said something about falling leaves.  If you know me at all, you know I pulled out my phone and played this gem, my favorite Grandpa Jones song:

How many people recorded “Falling Leaves”?  Porter Wagoner did, as “Fallen Leaves.”

It’s a good version–but not as good as Grandpa’s.  Grandpa Jones wrote it.  I do love a video on YouTube of Jack Greene singing it, as it has so many of our country legends that have since passed on.  I can’t embed it by the uploader’s request, so you’ll have to search for it.  But you can watch this lovely interview by Grandpa Jones’ wife, Ramona.

Speaking of leaves, Ms. Ramona mentioned Grandpa’s love of “Tying the Leaves.”  It’s a beautifully sad song.  Check out Wilma Lee Cooper’s version.

It is, like Wilma Lee’s music in general, very rootsy, perfectly fitting for the song’s lyrics.  But I might actually prefer Kenny Roberts’ version, recorded on the Starday label and produced by Tommy Hill.

You see from that song why Kenny Roberts sometimes recorded the same songs as Slim Whitman, right?  And do you know who Tommy Hill is?  If not, you at least should know his sister.

Wasn’t she a beauty?  I saw her once at the Golden Voice Awards and was so in awe of her class and the way she carried herself.  I was thrilled to see her, but I won’t lie that I hung around hoping to see her husband, Carl Smith.  I would like to point out, though, that she had a career before she married Carl.  I hate to see “Wife of Carl Smith” emblazoned across the Country Reunion videos because she was so much more, even if she was proudest of her role as wife and mother.

You thought from my previous posts that I primarily listened to 1980’s country?  Oh, dear goodness, no, although 1980’s country is my favorite because it’s what I grew up on.  But I might bust out some Jimmie Rodgers and Carter Family for you soon.  Come again and see.