Tag: country music

Will Eastern Kentucky Save us from Bad Country Music?

 

“Country” artist Luke Bryan.

I don’t know much, but I do know that “Today’s Hot Country Music” is an abominable soulless mass of bland generic garbage, full of cliches and put-on accents, and so devoid of anything worthy of attention that I can’t even enjoy hating it. All the songs are like little musicalized Facebook posts, a dispiriting pile of vapidity and artistic apathy unrivaled in the history of Western Civilization. My wife will listen to nothing else.

I’ve done everything I can do, from helpfully providing her with the above description of her favorite music, to recommending more pleasant alternatives, such as the ‘80s station, or maybe the sound of an ice pick entering my own ear canal, and these suggestions went over just about as well you would imagine.  She only gave serious consideration to the latter, but ultimately decided against it.

An Overdue Farewell to a Country Superstar

 

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.

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OK, I’m getting tired of waiting.  In 1976 George Jones had a hit song called “Her Name Is” that was written by the prolific Bobby Braddock. There are some lyrical blank spots in the song, and Jones sings that some day he will fill in those lines.  Well, The Possum died in 2013 so he’s […]

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Can someone explain to me the lyrics of the beloved classic country music song, “Gentle on my Mind?” I love the melody, by the way. It’s an enjoyable song to listen to, but the lyrics have always confused me. It’s obviously popular, having been recorded by over 30 artists and bands. Why do people find […]

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Kenny Rogers Breaks Even

 

Kenny Rogers has died. He had been in ill-health for a couple of years and was 81 when he died. It was not unexpected. He had received his three-score and ten, with more than a little change back.

Still, it is sad. He was one of my favorites when I was young, and the master of the storytelling ballad. My title for this borrows from one of his most famous ballads, “The Gambler.”

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I was planning on putting a little something up in the Ricochet group, The Country Jukebox but decided there may be country music fans who haven’t discovered that group and want to be in this conversation. I reckoned that in honor of Saint Valentine’s Day, we ought to put together a list of the most […]

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A Calico Christmas

 

Spending my teenage years growing up in Laredo, TX, was not a particularly easy or pleasant experience. Amongst the many annoyances one had to deal with in a culturally isolated South Texas border town was a lack of quality English-language programming on the radio. If you weren’t into silly bubble-gum pop or a multitude of Spanish-language musical genres, you were out of luck. Thus, I had to rely heavily on AM radio stations broadcasting from San Antonio, some 150 miles up I-35.

Among the ones I listened to most were KTSA 550-AM, a talk radio station (on which I would discover a dynamic young conservative talk show host named Rush Limbaugh in June 1991) and KKYX 680-AM, a country music station that every Friday featured a college football program hosted by then-Texas Tech head coach William “Spike” Dykes.

While listening to the latter in December 1990, a beautiful, sentimental song was played over and over again. The name of the song was “Calico Christmas.” It had wonderful lyrics, telling the story of a soldier stationed overseas who was missing Christmas in his Texas hometown, dreaming of his bride in her favorite calico dress. It received a lot of airplay likely because hundreds of thousands of American troops had been recently deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield. War was imminent, and no doubt the song helped sooth the angst of many on the home front.

Ricochet Goes Country!

 

Or more precisely, went country some two decades ago. *record scratch*

Twenty years ago?! Before the website even existed, were Peter, Rob, and James singing to the sound of fiddles and Fender Guitars? No. Back in the mid-to-late ’90s, there was a country band named Ricochet that had a few chart-topping hits, one of which was “He Left a Lot to be Desired” off of their 1997 album Blink of an Eye:

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What do you suppose are the best country & western songs about rodeos? Not songs about cowboys in general, because there are a thousand of them. We’re looking specifically for songs about rodeo, although I will give an honorable mention to Caballo Diablo by The Charlie Daniels Band because it is a song about breaking […]

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Ok, let’s not go that far. Baby steps…..It all started back on the Ranch…..just kidding. It really all started one innocent evening when I tuned the channel to Austin City Limits. Willie Nelson was crooning away with that distinctively low, gravel voice and unique acoustic guitar sound. A classical and jazz snob, typically I’d run […]

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Requiem for a Coca-Cola Cowboy

 

I am saddened to hear of the death of country music legend Mel Tillis, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 85.

If you lived in Texas or anywhere in the South during the 1970s and 1980s, the Florida-born Tillis was a ubiquitous presence. Not only were his songs a staple of country radio, but he also appeared on such popular television programs as “Pop! Goes the Country,” in the Clint Eastwood action-comedy Every Which Way But Loose, and also as the pitchman for Whataburger in numerous television commercials.

Tillis’ voice was the first I can remember hearing over country radio, growing up in late 1970s/early 1980s El Paso, TX. My introduction to the wonderful world of country music came with these lyrics from “Coca-Cola Cowboy”:

Texas, our Texas?

 

Last night, as I was driving down Highway 281 across the Texas Hill Country from Marble Falls to suburban San Antonio, my way home was illuminated by a September harvest moon. It was an unusually cool late summer evening, indicating the chill of an early fall and evoking an ambience of ominous serenity. During my drive south, my mind wandered to an obscure yet thrilling film from 1975: Race with the Devil.

Set in south-central Texas and filmed on location in San Antonio and various Hill Country burgs like Bandera, Castroville, Leakey, and Tarpley, the film stars Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, and Lara Parker. Fonda and Oates portray the owners of a motorcycle shop in San Antonio who, in mid-January, decide to drive their new $36,000 motorhome up to Aspen, Colorado with their wives for a much-needed vacation. The film unfolds innocently enough, with the two couples motoring through downtown San Antonio past such landmarks as the Alamo and the Cenotaph and then out into the countryside. As evening approaches, instead of heading to an RV park, the main characters drive off of the road and park next to a remote river, hoping to enjoy some pastoral peacefulness and solitude. They find just the opposite.

Later that night, while Fonda and Oates are outside of their motorhome taking in the chilly Texas winter evening as their wives prepare for bed, they notice a bonfire off in the distance. Drawing closer, they observe what they think are a bunch of hippies celebrating some kind of nature festival. Odd, but apparently harmless. That is, until a young, nubile woman is stabbed through the heart in an act of human sacrifice. At just that moment, one of their wives opens the door to the motorhome, illuminating the outdoors by the light within. The satanist hippies notice and start coming after them. The “race” is on.

Michael Johnson (1944-2017): A Requiem

 

I recently learned that one of my favorite singer-songwriters — Michael Johnson – passed away on June 25, 2017 at the age of 72. A classical guitarist by training, Johnson’s musical heyday was more than three decades ago. He is best remembered for a number of hits he had from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s in the soft rock and country genres, among them “Bluer Than Blue” (1978), “This Night Won’t Last Forever” (1979), “Give Me Wings” (1986) and “The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder” (1987).

Prior to his ventures into soft rock and country, Johnson performed as a folk artist, signing on with the Chad Mitchell Trio in 1967 along with then-upcoming artists David Boise and John Denver (the group was subsequently renamed Denver, Boise, and Johnson). Here is Johnson signing lead vocals on “Both Sides, Now” with Boise and Denver:

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Are you ready for some football? Are you ready to party? If so, get ready, because Hank Williams, Jr. is returning to Monday Night Football! From Breitbart News: After firing him six years ago because his politics leaned too far to the right, cable sports network ESPN is rehiring Hank Williams, Jr., as its face […]

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Quote of the Day: What I Like About Texas, 29 April 2017

 

You ask me what I like about Texas? Well aside from the obvious, such as @rightangles’ posts and pics, and the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes in full bloom at the height of spring, the list is exhaustive. We could be here all night long.

Fortunately, 31 years ago during the Texas sesquicentennial, country singer-songwriter Gary P. Nunn put that question and its many answers into a song, from which the following verse comes:

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Over in the group The Country Jukebox I will mention various country stars on their birthday. So I started writing a little piece on it being Gill’s 60th birthday and realized I’ve got enough to say about about the subject to justify a stand-alone post. Along with Dan Seals and Ronnie Milsap, Vince Gill is […]

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