Apr 062016
 
As good as it gets?

As good as it gets?

My 18-year-old son was telling me last week about his recent mission to spend entire days listening to the complete catalogs of artists who have interested him. One day, through Spotify, he listened to every Creedence Clearwater Revival album in order. He dedicated another day to Lynyrd Skynyrd. His growing interest in rootsy music has led him to investigate a genre I’ve never come to terms with: Country music.

“You know what’s the best driving station on the radio?” he asked me, to kick off this conversation.

“What.”

“92.5, the Country station.”

“Really?” I tried to hide my concern over imagining my usually hip, somewhat snobbish son as a budding Bro-Country guy, clutching a Solo cup in the parking lot.

“Yeah,” he said, “the thing I’m realizing about Country music is that although not much of it is great, not much of it sucks.”

This is the kind of insight that has led me to lay the plans for one day turning over the “family business” of rock snobbery to my boys!

What musical wisdom has come from the mouths of your babes in recent months?

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Stone Country

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Sep 212015
 

Mick Jagger helps his old pal Don Henley sing a Tift Merritt song “Bramble Roaw” on his new Cass County album out this week. My first Stones record was Some Girls, and before I knew any of the backstory of the Stones and their dalliance with Gram Parsons, I was surprised by the stone country sound of “Far Away Eyes.” Now I always got the joke, but damn, I always enjoyed the song, and I’m sure it was one of the reasons I became more open to listening to my mom’s Johnny Cash records, and later fell into the rathole of alt-country for about 10 years. (Aside — a guy who worked at country station in Belle Fouche, SD, told me he almost got fired for playing “Eyes” in the early ’80s — he spun it once and only once.)

My question is — what songs would you put on a Stones, Jagger, Keef country compilation? Are there any country-tinged songs on solo records that are not well known for this compilation? In addition, I’ll offer up Mick’s “Evening Gown” above. Thanks for your ideas!

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Aug 102013
 

Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

Summer vacations aren’t over just yet and there is nothing quite like traveling the open road while listening to country, roots-rock, Americana, No Depression, or whatever term you choose. While I know that full on country or country rock(ugh) scares a lot of people in the Hall, I’m hoping we can find common ground with tonight’s set even though all of the songs aren’t really country to begin with. Enjoy!

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[Note: You can add Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your iTunes by clicking here. The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player.]

If The River Can Bend

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Aug 072013
 

I read that Sheryl Crow is taking a page out of the old time rock ‘n roll playbook and shifting to country music full time — complete with visits to country radio stations, right out of Coal Miner’s Daughter. It seems to be in the grand tradition of Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins, and others to move down the dial to country after the rock hits have dried up. This summer “Hootie” grabbed an Old Crow Medicine Show song “Wagon Wheel” — a hit that is hard to avoid — so good for him.

Does anyone remember Chris Hillman’s Desert Rose Band, who a had big country hit in the late ’80s with a John Hiatt song via Nick Lowe, “She Don’t Love Nobody”?

I recall the country sheen was a little hard for me to take at the time. but I do like Chris’ nod to the Burritos with the Nudie suit.

Who’s your favorite rocker turned country — or would-be country star?

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Jun 052013
 
Transcendental.

Transcendental.

The following song by Kelly Hogan, “Strayed,” always seems to come up on my iPod at just the right moment while I’m running it on shuffle during a long car ride. It sounds especially good late at night, while I’m driving the family through Connecticut en route to Maine.

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The boys are asleep. They don’t have the patience for this slow-burning, atmospheric song. My wife is usually half asleep, keep herself just conscious enough to confirm which way I’m supposed to go at a certain fork in the journey. The first few times she heard “Strayed” she stirred more than usual at 3:00 am and asked, “Who’s this?”

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Apr 262013
 

No more show for the Possum. This morning came word of the passing of George Jones at 81. Not unlike Keef and Ozzy Osbourne, his death has been looming for many years but he managed to keep hanging in there. Peering through the haze of insobriety and violence was a passionate guy with a huge soul. His charm and quick wit endeared him to millions outside of the country world. His influence is staggering not solely in music but also his credibility in Nashville if he chose to make or break someones career. His era of duets with Tammy Wynette are his peak. Please sign in the comment section with your recollections of the man.

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Jan 172012
 

In the recent Laura Nyro thread Townsman alexmagic made some hyperbolic statements regarding Mike Nesmith. (Seriously, Mike Nesmith “is the most indefensible omission from the Hall of Fame?” I think I could successfully defend his exclusion from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as easily as I could defend his exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame.) However, he touched on one point that I think the uni-mind that is Rock Town Hall should explore, to whit, the thought that Mike Nesmith is “often given credit for launching the ‘country rock’ genre.”

There seem to be a lot of candidates for that. There are The Byrds, whose Notorious Byrd Brothers showed a bit of country and was released in January 1968, or the more often cited Sweetheart of the Rodeo, released in August, 1968. The latter made it all the way to #77 on Billboard and featured a number by another candidate for country rock launcher, Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

And there’s Graham Parsons & the International Submarine Band, whose Safe At Home came out in 1968. Wikipedia says their b-side cover of Buck Owens’ “Truck Drivin’ Man,” released in April 1966, is “now largely considered the first country rock recording.” It starts at 2:11 of the following clip:

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