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Country music fans of a certain generation probably consider 2020 to have been a pretty bad year. Other people on Ricochet have written about the passing of some of the giants, such as Charley Pride, Charlie Daniels, Joe Diffie, and Kenny Rogers. But only a few days ago I found out that K.T. Oslin died on December 21st last year. I suppose between Christmas and the never ending coverage of election and COVID news, there wasn’t much mention of K.T. Oslin’s passing.
Although K.T. had been in show business for a while (acting and writing songs for other people), she did not became a household name until she was 45 years old when her song “80’s Ladies” made her a star. It wasn’t a whole lot of years later that she retired from performing due to health problems. So although she did not make very many albums, they sure were good ones. Since there were so few albums, I reckon I’m going to go over my favorite tracks from each one and I invite fans to talk about their favorites in the comments.
1987: ’80s Ladies
Most of these songs were either written or co-written by K.T. herself. The biggest hit from this CD was the title track and it’s a good one, but I really like the song “Lonely But Only For You.” Sissy Spacek – the actress who played Loretta Lynn in the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter – also recorded this song in 1983 and got a fair amount of airplay.
I also favor “Old Pictures.” This also was recorded elsewhere that same year; it was on The Judds album, Heartland.
1988: This Woman
This is the album that really kicked it into high gear for me. Every song here was written or co-written by Oslin.
Let’s start with “Money.”
This next one is one of my very favorite songs of hers and won her two Grammys, for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
I don’t recall the song “Jealous” ever getting any radio airplay, but boy, it sure deserved to. A heartbreaking song about unrequited love, but so very beautiful.
1990: Love in a Small Town
Most of the songs on this one were once again written or co-written by K.T., but there are a couple of old classics. She does an excellent cover of the old Mickey & Sylvia song “Love is Strange,” and “You call Everybody Darling” which was first recorded in 1947. It’s kind of hard to choose which songs to feature here, because there are so many good ones. If you’re going to buy one album by K.T. Oslin, this would be the one.
Let’s start off with the most obvious one. This song was a radio hit and is the best song on the album, in my opinion. It’s musically beautiful and I find the lyrics to be compelling. Oslin’s vocals are just perfect.
OK, I’m going with “New Way Home.”
And heck, let’s go with the aforementioned “Love is Strange.” I never liked the original version of this song, but the K.T. Oslin cover is just terrific.
1996: My Roots Are Showing
This album breaks from the pattern of being mostly original songs. It’s even got an Irving Berlin composition. To be honest, not many of the songs on this one grab me, but I do love her cover of Tear Time (written by Jan Crutchfield).
Pretty sexy album cover, too. Let’s go ahead and cue up that Irving Berlin song. People unfamiliar with the history of Prohibition may not have a clue what this song is about.
2001: Live Close By, Visit Often
I never expected to see another album by Oslin after My Roots Are Showing. She had retired due to a bad heart and other health concerns and we all figured that was that. But then came this one and it had some really great stuff on it. About half the songs on here were written or co-written by the star. I don’t recall anything from this album (or the previous album, come to think of it) ever getting any airplay. This is a shame, because some of these tracks are definitely airworthy.
Let’s start with “Drivin’, Cryin’, Missin’ You.” Just lovely. I really enjoy some turns of phrase that stick with me, in this case the lyric, “I’m a member of a heartbreak club, I’m still paying dues.” As with Sunny Sweeney, K.T. Oslin really had a talent for making beautiful songs about heartbreak.
It’s too bad the industry had long lost interest in K.T. Oslin (and really, almost every artist over age 55 by this time) because I could picture an interesting music video based on this next song. On the other hand, the song will paint a picture in your mind anyway. And let me ask you, who else has written a lyric like “Love’s like wrestling alligators?”
We’ll finish this album with one more sad song. This is a song I would like to sing along with but depending on my mood I get choked up just a few lines in by the lyric, “Now it’s getting harder to make my baby smile.”
And that’s about the end of major releases. Since she died just a few days before Christmas, let me throw in a Christmas carol she sang with Martina McBride. They really sound lovely together.
And finally, here is a delightful interview from 2019, from a show called “The Songwriters.”
Rest in Peace, K.T. Thank you for all the years of enjoyment.Published in