Mar 262021

Mr Mod has long been mystified by country music, as the following statements on the public record indicate:

  • It all sounds the same.
  • Can’t they get over the heartbreak and disappointment already?
  • How can such a long-time, deep genre never have produced an interesting drum or bass fill?
  • Elvis Costello’s self-penned country numbers, like “Motel Matches,” are the best country songs ever…because he lets the rhythm section play cool parts.
  • Some of those country cats are so good that they might as well just play rock ‘n roll.

“I don’t want to get bogged down in defending or explaining my long-held feelings about this genre,” Mr Mod continued. “I suspect the problem is with me, not them.”

Mod explained that he first saw Jimmie Dale Gilmore on a late-night show when he first came out. “It was the late-’80s or early-’90s, right? This skinny guy came on with that weird voice. He made me think of Buddy Holly and what his music would have sounded like had he lived long enough to become a country artist.”

The founder of Rock Town Hall wanted to be clear: “I’m cool with rock ‘n rollers getting old and shifting gears down into country music.”

“So yeah,” he continued, “from the opening track ‘Dallas’ through ballads like ‘Just a Wave, Not the Water’ Gilmore grabs me. I like the fact that his voice straddles that line between annoying and cool. The band always hits the mark on their rhythms. The slide guitar or pedal steel guitar – or whatever instrument makes those noises – never sound canned. I like the fact, too, that his lyrics have imagery that is not reliant on knowledge of rural settings and lifestyles.”

The World’s Biggest Fan of “Satisfaction” closed with this ringing endorsement: “People who don’t get what’s special about country music should check this album out! If you’re like me, you may still have trouble listening to other country records, but you may come back to this one.”

When told that Don’t Look for a Heartache is a compilation of songs from his first 2 albums, Fair and Square and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Mr Moderator said, “Oh. Well, in that case I practically like 2 country albums.”


  23 Responses to “Self-Described “Country Music Idiot and Skeptic” Declares Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s Don’t Look for a Heartache the Greatest Album the Genre Has Ever Produced”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    I tried. I just couldn’t wait for the singing to stop. And that slick studio production is a non-starter. Nope. Listen — I bought a record collection from an 80 year-old west Texan a couple of years ago, and it was a life-changing pile of honky-tonk vinyl from the 50s through the 70s. Let me burn you a few CDs’ worth of that stuff. *Then* you’ll know what good country music sounds like. My offer is sincere; I just want to spread the goodness.

  2. I don’t know what HVB has in that pile of vinyl but, sight unseen, I encourage you to take him up on it, Mod. I didn’t dislike this song as much as HVB seemed to have, but you are cheating yourself out of some great music by painting an entire genre with the same brush.

    Can’t they get over the heartbreak and disappointment already? I DON”T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN HERE.
    How can such a long-time, deep genre never have produced an interesting drum or bass fill? WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE SONGS IN OTHER GENRES THAT ARE NOT BEING HELD TO THIS STANDARD?
    Elvis Costello’s self-penned country numbers, like “Motel Matches,” are the best country songs ever…because he lets the rhythm section play cool parts. STOP IT

  3. cdm, any song in any genre that does not give the drums and bass something cool to do it DEAD TO ME. I don’t have time for fucking tight-ass bandleaders and producers. I am totally consistent in that belief. I’m talking about a WHOLE FUCKING GENRE OF MUSIC THAT HAS KEPT DRUMMERS AND BASSISTS IN CHAINS!

    You know I’m kidding with my blue language and stuck caps keys. It’s not like I haven’t had what I’m sure are excellent country comps pushed on me through the years. Sometimes, I even enjoy them more than I think I’m capable. At some point, though, I keep coming back to at least one of the Get Off My Lawn-style views that I sincerely have on the genre.

  4. And before anyone starts burning their country 78s and trying to sell me on some band or Sweethearts of the Rodeo, although this post is partially tongue in cheek and partially for trolling purposes, I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that I sincerely like this Jimmie Dale Gilmore album. You “woke” country fans can judge me as you like, just as Billy Joel fans squirm over my belief that “Uptown Girl” (and that whole album) is the best thing their hero ever did.

    That last bit of Joel-oriented trolling, by the way, was not meant to diminish my sincerely appreciation for Jimmie Dale Gilmore. I wish I were good at breaking down lyrics, but I’m telling you: that guy is not like “the others” in that genre.

  5. I’m just providing you with the ball-busting that you seemed to intentionally set yourself up for, Mod. I get it if people don’t like old time country or R&B or whatever. The heart wants what the heart wants.

  6. BigSteve

    I ought to like Gilmore, but I just always found his voice off-putting. Same with Lyle Lovett. They’re the kind of alt-country songwriters that should appeal to me, but some voices just leave me cold, and there’s no explaining it.

    I do love that song Dallas, but I first heard it from Joe Ely, and that’s the version for me.

  7. So “Dallas” is a Joe Ely song? I did not know that! What I know of that guy (and yes, I know him more than most country artists, thanks to his association with The Clash) I like. He has some song called “She Never Spoke Spanish to Me,” or something like that. I like that one a lot.

  8. Gilmore wrote it. It first came out on the Flatlanders record which was Gilmore, Ely and Butch Hancock. The Flatlanders version has musical saw. It’s closer to folk than modern country even for then, 1971..

  9. BigSteve

    I got into Joe Ely by way of the Clash, and he covered Dallas on the 1981 Musta Notta Gotta Lotta album in a straightforward country-rock arrangement. That was where I heard it. At that point the Flatlanders album was more a legend than an album.

  10. BigSteve

    Sorry, I meant to post a link to the Ely version.

  11. Funny, BigSteve, I *just* put on that Ely album and realized that I did know his version of “Dallas”! I like that one, too, but I actually like the laid-back feel of the Gilmore version a bit better.

    Recently, I watched the movie Paris, Texas for the first time in about 10 years. Like all Wim Wenders movies I’ve ever seen, they get a little better each time I watch them, especially if I wait about 10 years between viewings. If I live to be 80, I’ll likely think he’s as great a director as he’s long been regarded.

    Anyhow, I mention Paris, Texas, because this Gilmore album sounds – to me – like whatever it is Wenders and Harry Dean Stanton are going for in that elliptical movie.

  12. Just for the record, those who claim to love country and did not grow up in the south or in some other redneck locale are most probably lying. This is coming from someone who comes from a redneck town, owns at least 5,000 plus country records, and still has major problems with the genre. The Moderator is correct. Country as a whole is a very boring form due to the fact that there’s way too much “you can’t do that” crap going on. What’s allowed drum-wise, for example, is very limited. Not so with rock and r ‘n’ b in which just about anything is acceptable.

    A very close friend of mine still sends me comp CDs of things he thinks I need to hear, which is wonderful, but for the most part, they are usually insufferable.. It’s always 80 minutes or so of the same genre on one CD: 80 mintues of ska, 80 minutes of prewar blues, 80 minutes of country, etc. And it’s a real shame because the treasure on the comps remains buried. Initial listener interest is killed by the lack of variety in the introductory tracks. I still make comp CDs for my buddies, and when I do, I always mix it all up: rock, r ‘n’ b, country, ska, you name it. Nine times out of ten, I’ll hear back from someone with a comment such as “Jesus, that Loretta Lynn song, ‘Honky Tonk Girl,’ was unbelievable. How many more of those does she have?” I believe it’s my duty to make sure something that great is given the attention it deserves, hence its placement on one of my comp CDs between a garage track like “Face to Face” by the Enfields and “Under the Street Lamp” by the Exits, a soul record that always gives me goosebumps just by typing the title.

    Truth be told, the moderator continues to be an absolute pain in the ass, but I’m proud of him for finally telling it like it is, calling bullshit on all this, throwing caution to the wind, and not giving a damn about the harm it may have caused to his cred: Again, he drives me up a wall, but I greatly respect his honesty.

  13. One more thing, and know that I’m placing the post here because I don’t know where else to stick it.

    In a 1966 interview with Bob Fass, Bob Dylan takes a few phone calls and has a field day. One caller asks him if he’s heard the new John Hammond LP. Dylan replies that he hasn’t and is told he’s missing out. What follows is absolutely hilarious. The caller tells Dylan that Hammond does an incredible job interpreting the blues. Dylan takes all this in and tells the caller that Hammond is more or less an actor, interpreting something Dylan already understands with no problem whatsoever. Hence, why should he listen to Hammond’s interpretation of a Robert Johnson recording? I more or less agree with Dylan, yet love the Rolling Stones’ covers, which is probably because they do much more than interpret. They consistently take a lot of old blues tracks and make them their own. The Beatles did much the same with “Twist and Shout”. “Money”, “You Really Got a Hold on Me” etc. With all that in mind, I ask that you listen to the following John Mayall recording:

    What’s your take? Did the interpretation do anything to strengthen your appreciation of Robert Johnson’s original recording? I’ve never understood the whole John Mayall thing. Apparently he was pretty big around Philadelphia, based on record collections I’ve purchased. I can understand buying an album or two by him and his gang, but 10? Am I missing something here?

    I look forward to your responses.

  14. BigSteve

    The interesting thing about the Bob Dylan anecdote is that the John Hammond album from 1966 is So Many Roads, where the backing band was basically a version of The Band/the Hawks. Hammond was definitely not a songwriter, which is probably why Dylan turns up his nose. I wonder if Dylan’s comments were before or after he hooked up with the Hawks. I recently decided to find out what that album sounded like, and I was underwhelmed. I feel the same way about the Stones’ cover versions.

    This is Hammond doing Robert Johnson’s If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day. You can really hear Robbie Robertson’s trebly Telecaster as well as Garth Hudson’s organ fills.

  15. EPG, I think most of the Philly love of Mayall stems from his album, “The Turning Point,” which was huge, and deservedly so, on Philadelphia radio. It’s a departure from Mayall, with a band built around acoustic guitar and woodwinds with no drummer. A lot of the material is original and tends toward jazzy rather than standard blues. It was a live album, but basically a new sound for him at the time and he followed it up with a studio album by the same unit called “Empty Rooms.” The guitarist and Woodwinf player then formed the Mark-Almond Band, who continued with the basic sound but added a drummer and some other pieces.

  16. Big Steve, I had a lot of similar thoughts. Talk about balls. First he takes Hammond’s band, and then he takes the piss out of him in public No mercy indeed!

    Geo, that album is always in someone’s collection. “Room to Move” is one of the standouts, and that’s one of the few Mayall tracks I enjoy along with “Hideaway” (not a Clapton fan, but he is really something else on that track) and “It Ain’t Right” (a nice update of a Little Walter cut).from the Beano lp.

    Rereading Revolution in the Head. by Ian Macdonald. Required reading for all Beatles fans. I urge all to read his analysis of “She’s a Woman.”.

  17. I’m a Jimmie Dale Gilmore fan, although I agree that his voice can get grating at times, and this album is also my favorite of his. I’m coming in late here, but has no one mentioned The Flatlanders, the band that Gilmore and Ely were both in and from which the first version of the song “Dallas” comes? To me, that Flatlanders record is the genius work out of which the rest of the music by those guys comes (Butch Hancock also has a solo career). There are a lot of good records by both Gilmore and Ely but I like them best together, even if that time period was only brief.

    These guys are at the heart of the original alt-country concept in turning their backs on Nashville along with some other musicians who were just too radical or far out in some way or other to make it in straight country during the early 70s.

  18. BigSteve mentioned The Flatlanders, I believe, Mwall. I’m going to have to search out this record. I suspect I’ll like it, as that crew from Texas seems to approach rock ‘n roll more than most country artists allow themselves.

  19. Also worth a listen is the Joe Ely live album (I know, I know) Live Shots, recorded in the late 70s in the U.S. when Ely was the opening act on a tour with… The Clash.

  20. I like the Flatlanders record, but don’t go there looking for rock’n’roll. It’ more like bluegrass psych-folk. No drums, string bass, mandolin, fiddle and musical saw.

  21. I’m listening to The Odessa Tapes, a collection of the first Flatlanders recordings, some of which I believe never saw the light of day in the early ’70s. I’m digging this stuff. It sounds human, like a band I’d like a lot more than expected if I saw them at Fergie’s or Old City Coffee. And I continue to dig Gilmore’s voice. Maybe it’s like black licorice. Most people want nothing to do with it. That’s more for me!

  22. The Odessa Tapes seems to be a demo that landed them the session that was the first album, released only on 8-track originally. They seem to take things a bit slower and dreamier than the final record, which doesn’t seem to be on Spotify. Surprisingly, the nice open wash of these demos downplays the weird elements like the musical saw which really jumped out of the very staid, early 70’s sound of the official release. I like weird, but this is better.

  23. And I like Gilmore’s voice. It sounds just one step to the left of Willie Nelson to me.

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