Dec 022012

Any therapist will tell you that a necessary step in reducing psychic pain from a traumatic event is to confront it, head on — or at least to acknowledge it happened, by describing it if possible. That principle forms the root of this, the first of a series of posts in which we gather together in a healing circle to group-confront an egregious example of poor Rock behavior that might otherwise leave us scarred.

I am a huge Charlie Rich apologist. Like my fandom for Rory Gallagher, I admit my desire to like his music is almost greater than the amount I actually like it— so I am thrilled when I discover a bit of audio or video that bolsters my opinion that the Silver Fox was a true country music maverick, a magnificent pop songwriter, and a closet Southern soul master of the highest order. On the flip side… well, when I found the video clip you see here, I felt a new level of pit open up in the pit of my stomach. It did more than humanize Rich: it cast him out of the musical heavens at the white-hot burning end of God’s own flaming sword, branding him charlatan.

I have been transfixed by this video since discovering it. I know it captures a performance when Rich was at the pinnacle of his fame — also a time when he was least happy, and most prone to hitting the bottle. (Oh, how I wish there was a clip out there of the CMA awards ceremony when Charlie, presumably stoned out of his gourd, set John Denver’s award for country music male entertainer of the year on fire.) And, Charlie Rich fans, please spare me your explanations about how the Silver Fox was a balladeer, and not an uptempo performer. The plain and simple fact is that this video destroyed a part of my soul. I need your help confronting it. I need your help discovering all the ways I’ve been hurt by this performance of “The Dance of Love” from 1975. So, tell me: what’s hurtful; what’s painful; what’s just downright wrong about this performance?

I look forward to your responses, and I look forward to this opportunity to bond and heal together.



  9 Responses to “…So That By Confronting the Pain, We May End It: Charlie Rich”

  1. For all the performance’s sins you weren’t charmed by the appearance of The Blond Fox Pup on guitar?

  2. ladymisskirroyale

    Charlie Rich’s white suit was clearly the prototype for Joe Gideon’s disastrous experience with white pants in the excellent dance movie, “All That Jazz.” I’m glad that Bob Fosse was able to see performances such as Rich’s and use them for therapeutic effect. Poor Fosse/Gideon did not have such a hip-shaking experience as Rich’s. NOW I know why Fosse has his performers wear black at most times.

    My summation of CR’s clip: Richard Simmons, eat your heart out.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    His appearance was more than offset by the Vegas show band conductor, who looks like somebody with all kinds of frightening personal secrets to me.

    There are so many heinous, tragic moments in this film clip. Not least of these is the half-hearted, hand-on-his-hip twitch we get to see when Charlie sings: “so, let’s do the dance of love!”

  4. #1: The main thing I see wrong with Rich’s performance is the positioning of his feet. A man’s ankles – a MAN’S ankles – should not be touching while he sings. Then, from that dainty stance he does a little leap at the 1:08 mark. I see nothing more egregious in this clip than that moment.

    #2: The conductor looks like Dick Cheney in his long-buried swingin’ days.

    #3: No artist in the rock/country vein even needs a conductor. This ain’t classical gas.

    On the plus side, I still maintain that the Blond Fox Pup is a delight. How about his face at the 1:37 mark. It’s like he’s experiencing an enjoyable burp. “I’m a little embarrassed by this gas,” he’s saying, “but damn if that meal wasn’t good!”

    At the 1:47 mark the Blond Fox Pup mixes it up with the fine-looking backing singers. You can tell he’s surveying the scene, excited by his future prospects once Charlie kicks it and he ascends to the Silver Throne. For me the good outweighs the bad.

  5. BigSteve

    That was painful. I think hvb knows I am a huge Charlie Rich fan too. His mid 60s records on Smash are some of my favorite recordings of all time, so the fact that he’s playing one of those tracks in this clip is especially painful, even if it indicates that he knows what his best material was. Here’s the original for comparison’s sake:

    Perhaps we can agree that Rich is not at his most masculine when he tries to dance and leave it at that. The man belongs seated at the piano.

  6. cliff sovinsanity

    I was going to say that the Blond Fox Pup or Mick Ronson look-a-like needs to lay off the coke.

  7. cliff sovinsanity

    This stuff is hideous. It was around this time when country moved from the hills to Hollywood to Vegas and became hugely popular. You can’t count on the everyday record buyer of the times to have any sense good taste. Shows like Pop Goes Country and Hee-Haw made a spectacle out of country and made it more palpable for city folk. And most respectable artist of the times CASHED IN. It’s just hard to accept because of his freewheeling early songs make the 70’s stuff look forced.
    HVB, can’t you simply dismiss this junk as easily as some of us dismiss the 70’s output of The Beach Boys, or the 80’s output of George Harrison.

  8. Possibly because of his later success the portrait of Charlie in Peter Guralnick’s “Feels Like Going Home” is one of the most interesting in the book. I have always thought that Rich was a countrypolitan hack but I liked the anxious, self destructive journeyman taking gigs where he could find them & hoping for another hit.
    This clip is awful but so was everything else in Vegas (probably still is). Charlie got his turn & as long as he didn’t bother me I was OK with him giving the folks what they thought they wanted.

  9. diskojoe

    This clip reminds me of Elvis during the same time period, with the difference that Charlie is thinner, moving around a lot more & having a white jumpsuit w/no glitter. In fact, I think that it looks like Steve Martin (who was rocking an all-white suite at the time) trying to impersonate Elvis. The way Charlie was jumping around was a bit silly, but his guitarist was rocking a SG 335 (I think).

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